31 days of Halloween – J Q Rose

Thank you, Brynna, for hosting me today. October is a frightening month and my mystery/horror novella, Sunshine Boulevard, is a scary story just right for the mood this month.
I wrote a spooky, perhaps true story, since I really am an undertaker’s daughter. What do you and your readers think? Did this really happen at my house when I was growing up?  Have fun!
Log line:
Mysterious deaths upset the Florida retirement community interfering with their seasonal activities and turning up more than dead bodies
Who or what is killing the seniors on Sunshine Boulevard?  Follow Jim and Gloria Hart, snowbirds who annually migrate to Florida for warm sunshine, fun, and games in snow-free winters. However this season, Jim Hart, a volunteer First Responder in his retirement community of Citrus Ridge, is drawn into the investigation of the mysterious deaths. Even in the midst of the unfortunate demise of the residents on Sunshine Boulevard, the Harts try to enjoy the winter with friends. They don’t realize that their friends are getting together for their own kinds of affairs with each other. The neighbors are in a dither over the deaths, but perhaps more intrigued by the gossip about the affairs and why the naked lady was found lying in the geranium bed

Undertaker’s Daughter
J Q Rose
I always thought of horror writers as rather eccentric, peculiar people. But my perception changed when a horror story sprang from my own mind. You can imagine my surprise when my mystery/horror tale Sunshine Boulevard was accepted and published by Muse It Up Publishing this year. That made ME a published author of horror stories.
Right away, I must tell you I am NOT an eccentric, peculiar person. I am just a regular woman who is a wife, mother, grandmother. But, perhaps some would think my childhood was different. You see, my father was an embalmer and funeral director. I was reared in a funeral home.
It was not unusual to have a dead body laid out in a casket in our living room several days in a row. In fact, sometime we’d have more than one in our home. The embalming room was in the back of the house, and yes, I wore lots of perfume and soap to cover the pungent odor of formaldehyde on my clothes and hair.
We had knee caps for ashtrays in the private area of our home…not in the public area because that may upset some folks. But Dad was a heavy smoker, so he appreciated having the convenience of an ashtray nearby at all times.
It wasn’t unusual to have boxes of ashes of the departed sitting in the pantry shelves next to the canned green beans and corn. Some families squabbled over who was going to pay for the funeral expenses for their dearly departed, so they never showed up to claim the ashes for fear of being left with the debt.  In one case the family of Ida Mayberry, their sweet aunt, never claimed her. So Aunt Ida took up residence in the cupboard next to the pork and beans.
Life as an undertaker’s daughter did not seem to be any big deal. My friends, well, most of them, were happy to come over and play hide and seek in the casket room or to swipe flowers out of the funeral arrangements to put in our hair for dress up.
My girlfriends did get upset when one of the spirits who regularly hung out in the funeral home flew by. The whoosh of air was the only indicator of their presence. Yes, I lost a couple of friends that way because they were scared to death…well, not literally. They just were creeped out especially when one of the spirits would knock over the Barbie doll house or send the family of Barbies swirling around the room.
Needless to say, I enjoyed going to my friend’s house. It was a treat to open their pantry door to get a can of pineapple and not see the boxed ashes of poor Aunt Ida. I could never shake the sadness I felt for her because noone cared enough to bury her ashes or at least sprinkle them on their garden.
So, yes, some may believe it was an unusual childhood compared to the experiences of others. But I felt loved, secure, and safe at all times. And that’s what counts for a kid.
The growing up years certainly shape the adult one becomes. I don’t know if this is the reason I can write a horror story or not, but I can assure you I am a normal, well-rounded person, not eccentric or peculiar at all. In fact I got rid of the knee cap ash trays just last week, but I do have Aunt Ida in the cupboard. Her family never claimed her and I have grown attached to her company.
Thanks for stopping in today at Brynna’s blog. Thank you to my hostess, Brynna, for inviting me to be her guest and let folks know about Sunshine Boulevard, a perfect scary story for October.
            “Hi, Gloria,” Pamela yelled waving to her from across the large room. As usual, Pamela’s make-up was perfect, and today she wore a matching pink outfit with coordinating tennis shoes and socks. Pamela took off her jacket revealing a slim, tanned figure to match her perfect make-up.
            Pamela gave Gloria a big hug as if she hadn’t seen her all season when they actually spent game night together the evening before last. Her big smile flashed her perfect teeth…all her own…and she stepped back to include Gloria in her conversation with four other women.
            At her age, Gloria thought she was done with role models, but Gloria admired Pamela as if she were the head of her high school clique. Not only was Pamela beautiful, but she was also gracious and self-confident, friendly and kind. Gloria wanted to be just like her.
            “Did you hear about George McDonnell? Did Jim hear anything yet?” Pamela’s best friend, Rosemary, asked. Joining the group took Gloria back to eighth grade memories of best friends, gossip, and popularity contests.
            “Is he sick?”
            “No, he’s dead.” Rosemary waited a beat, watching Gloria before going on. “I thought since Jim is one of the First Responders for the park, he may have been called to the scene.”
            Gloria looked at each of the women. It took her a minute to process the news. Many of the residents mistakenly assumed Jim attended every call because he was the volunteer co-captain of the First Responders Unit, but Jim wasn’t on call yesterday. They had shopped most of the day at the flea market and ate dinner at their favorite restaurant in the evening.
            “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. George has been ill for a while. I know after his wife passed, he didn’t want to live any longer.” Gloria dumped her car keys in her bag setting it along the wall. She unrolled her mat next to Pamela’s on the floor, and placed the dreaded barbells nearby with a quick prayer that the instructor wouldn’t make use of them today. She didn’t mind stretching and moving, but the bar bells were just too much.
            “Oh, no, it wasn’t his heart that killed him, Gloria,” Bonnie, another woman in the group, announced. Gloria was puzzled as she saw the looks exchanged by her friends.
            “What happened?” Gloria widened her eyes with concern.
            Bonnie puffed up her chest and pulled her elbows back as she leaned forward to deliver the big news. “His neighbor, Lottie Carpenter found him. She smelled him rotting in his house.”
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