Kathleen Delaney
Author of the Mary McGill and the Ellen McKenzie cozy mystery series



My story in the April issue of
Mystery Weekly Magazine


Curtains for Miss Plym

Severn House Publishers
UK: January, 2016
US: April 2016

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“Mary and Millie…engaging characters…in this pleasant mystery.”
~ Kirkus


Millie headed through the tables, toward the dressing area, but not with her usual brisk trot. She crouched down, almost slinking, the rumble in her throat audible as she dragged her leash. Mary watched her for a moment, the unease she’d felt before returning and building. She’d never seen Millie act like this. Where was she going? Toward the curtains. There was no uncertainty in the dog’s destination. There was something behind those curtains she didn’t like.

Mary set her tote down once more but held tightly onto her phone. She clicked off the flashlight and set her finger on the red button AARP had so thoughtfully provided for quick access to 911. Surely she wouldn’t need it, but she didn’t like the way Millie was acting. Was there really something behind those curtains? Slowly she threaded her way through the tables, her eyes never leaving the dog.

Millie stopped in front of the faded green bedspread that closed off one end of the dressing area. She looked back over her shoulder at Mary then back at the bedspread, and the rumble in her throat got louder. Something stuck out from under the bedspread. Mary came to a halt and stared. Whatever it was hadn’t been there last night. She stepped closer. Slippers. Pink furry slippers. Had someone come in here last night to try on slippers? Irritation wiped away the unease that had filled her. Of all the idiotic things to do. Why anyone would…how anyone could have...puzzled, but no less irritated, Mary descended on the slippers, intent on putting them back on the correct table before everyone got here. She stopped.

The slippers had feet in them.

Her heart started to beat faster and her breath came out in little puffs. Holding her cell in one hand, she grabbed the bedspread with the other and pulled. They’d done a good job. It slid easily on the makeshift rod to expose the chair Mary had left in the dressing area. A chair that should have been empty but wasn’t. A woman sat sprawled in it. An old woman with wispy gray hair, her feet encased in the pink slippers. The rest of her was covered with a long-sleeved pink nightdress. A blue corduroy robe had come loose from its tie and fell open on each side of her, covering the chair. The tie lay on the floor beside her.

Mary gasped loud and clear in the empty room. It couldn’t be. It was impossible, only she was looking at her. Emilie Plym, poor little Miss Plym who wouldn’t hurt a fly, who most of the time didn’t know where she was or how she got there, but who never seemed to mind. Someone would gather her up and return her home, she was sure. Everyone was her friend, and she had a smile for them all. How had she gotten in here? Why had she? Mary made herself look closer. Miss Plym’s face was an odd gray color, and her eyes were open and bloodshot. Her mouth was slightly open and her tongue…Mary started to blink rapidly in an effort to clear her vision and she staggered a little. Whatever had happened, Miss Plym had not come in, sat down and quietly died.

Breathe deeply. Deep breaths, that’s right. She looked at Millie, who no longer seemed to want to growl. She stared at Miss Plym as if she, too, couldn’t believe what she saw.

Mary sighed and hit the red 911 button. “Hazel? Is that you? Yes, it’s Mary. No, I’m not all right. Hazel, I’m at St. Mark’s, in the church hall. No, no. It’s not on fire. I’m afraid it’s worse than that. Miss Plym is here. No, I can’t take her home and neither can anyone else. Hazel, she’s dead, and I don’t think from natural causes. Can you get Dan over here right away? Thanks.”

Mary hung up and slipped the phone in her jacket pocket before she addressed the dog. “I don’t know what happened, but I know there’ll be no rummage sale today.”

Millie whined.

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