As we get closer to Christmas, I wanted to share some of my Christmas mystery, Oh Holy Fright. I love creating characters for my little town, and one of my favorites is Lester Jibbets, the port-a-potty king. I couldn’t think of a funnier thing to make into a business empire than portable toilets, so Lester was born.
In this scene, which is the opening of the book, Aunt Maggie is angry because Joe, the choir director, gave her solo in the Christmas Eve production to another woman who can’t sing. She suspects something fishy is going on and vows never to sing another note.
Excerpt- Oh Holy Fright
“What would possess Joe Nelson to give the Christmas solo to a woman who sings like a washing machine full of rocks?” Aunt Maggie’s voice echoed in the community center gym, the location hosting many of the neighborhood churches for the Christmas Eve service. Her attitude was in direct contrast to Rudolph’s blinking nose on her fire engine red Christmas sweatshirt.
“Ooh. You better watch out,” Danny whispered in my ear. “When Mama says words like that, it’s best to look busy.” I had just picked up Danny from the Christmas party for people with disabilities held at his adult care center. Today he seemed especially happy for some reason. And from the way he kept giggling, I could tell Danny had a secret he was bursting to tell me.
“Joe!” Aunt Maggie called out.
The choir director, who was busily engaged in a conversation with Enid Sanford—solo-stealer and owner of the voice that sounded like a washing machine full of rocks—didn’t respond.
“Joe!” she bellowed.
When he failed to respond a second time, she stomped back, turned him around by the shoulders, and plopped her slender black music folder into his hands.
“Take it. I can’t sing in a choir where my voice isn’t heard.”
I had to admit, Maggie was one of the better singers in the holiday choir. Some of the other vocalists possessed lesser talent. One time when I was watching Joe’s friend Howard Gunther at the soundboard, I noticed he was turning down certain microphones. It was wonderful these people volunteered, but some of the singers could be described as cats screeching in the night. Enid Sanford was one of those people; when she hit the high C, it could make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
Leaving an astonished Joe, Maggie returned to us. “Well, that’s it. You’re hearing it right here and now. I am quitting the Pecan Bayou Singers. They can jingle their bells with somebody else.”
Lester Jibbets, a tall wiry man with protruding cheekbones and the owner of the most successful port-a-potty business in Central Texas, walked over waving a bony hand. “I totally agree, Maggie. What happened here is nothing short of criminal. It will ruin the Christmas Eve performance, uh huh.” He nodded his head to reinforce his point.
“Thanks, Lester,” Maggie said, about to continue her tirade, but Lester just kept talking.
“Yes, sir, I knew right away I needed to come over and help a beautiful lady in trouble, I did.” More nods.
“Thank you, Lester,” Maggie repeated, but this time she waited. Lester Jibbets was not an easy man to shut up once he got started. I guess the portable bathroom business is pretty lonely, even if you’re at the top of your game.