COAST 2 COAST PEN PALS
If you like reading a laugh out loud, tear jerking mystery, you will enjoy this cozy puzzling story about a sassy newspaper columnist, Kate Lambrose. After she receives a cryptic poem asking her to locate a missing person, she discovers the mystery is a perfect distraction from her grief over the loss of her husband who isn’t dead, but gay. While Kate juggles her teenage daughter’s angst over her father’s revelation, surprise visits from family, and keeping her at-arms-length boyfriend at arm’s length, she unriddles the cryptic poem and discovers a 40-year-old murder. Unknowingly, she befriends the killer who targets her next.
Whatever, I cast Mack from my mind and gathered up the downpour of mail.
It tickled my ego that my column, In Sight, had survived for close to a year and my devoted readers kept me busy despite technology and the Internet. With a little self-initiative, our readers could investigate and resolve their own missing links without me. But, my compassionate humor kept them returning for weekly entertainment. Plus, the letter from the editor invited readers to send in their lost and found requests, promising success.
I gave birth to In Sight completely by accident. Armed with my new tote bag and a fresh film roll, I landed an assignment covering the Yardman's school committee lynchings. When Joe Deeter, the committee chairperson, was a no-show, the secretary suggested the “reporter”—air quotes and all—walk around the school to hunt down the MIA member.
Huh, why me? My brows knit into one joker style uni-brow, but I went in search of Joe Deeter’s lemon Subaru anyway. I found old Joe passed out, face down, blowing bubbles in a rain puddle. After I wrote a tongue-in-cheek feature about Deeter’s misguided use of cold medication, I developed a fan base. Readers requested more lost and found humor. The City Scope received hundreds of letters and emails weekly from readers who asked for my assistance in locating their lost items.
At first, I thought my readers invented their lost item stories just to test my humor and my resourcefulness. On occasion, I still thought that.
Today, I received at least a dozen letters, and I fanned them like playing cards. One too square and the size of a thank you note fought against me. The letters sent to me via snail mail came from the non-computer aged generation who generally sought ancestral possessions long ago lost.
I removed each letter, stapled the envelope to the backside of each letter, and made a neat pile in my inbox, savoring the card for last. Beck would grab the collection, hang over my cube reviewing which requests interested her, offer her anecdote, and provide me with the word count needed for the column. I wanted her job. I could do her job, but I wasn’t the daughter-in-law to the owner.
I fanned my hot-flashed face with the card before slicing it open. Curious to find the sender’s name, I flipped the envelope front to back, and a delicate whiff of gardenias filled my nostrils. I loved gardenias. I sniffed the card with a long inhale. Odd, the sender neglected to include a return address, but the postmark read Boston.
An ocean scene decked the front of the paper-thin card, the type received in bulk mail begging for a worthy donation. The scene highlighted a cliff side lighthouse overlooking a heaving ocean dotted with white caps, and a distant ship cruised along the horizon.
Inside the card, hurky jerky cursive mixed with uppercase printed letters stretched across the card in a downhill slant—four lines of text and a signature line.
Seeking my conscience to be set free.
Find Rosalyn Kohler out at sea.
Before death severs all ties.
Surface the buried lies.
Speed-reading through the note, my brain twisted threads to connect the card to a personal sentiment. The odd prose and staggered wavy letters triggered a vertigo attack. The words confused me, and I squeezed my eyes into slits, expecting to ooze a clear understanding from my brain. I read it again, one line at a time. The second line rhymed with the first. The fourth line rhymed with the third. A shiver rattled up my spine. My shoulders shuddered. A bona fide puzzle and I just smeared my fingerprints all over the card.