Book Description for Vintage Whispers by Riley Blake
Best friends since childhood, Mary Louise, Opal, and Pearl enter a retirement community with plans to live out their golden years reminiscing about the good old days while embracing the new, but when rocking chair discussions reveal different versions of bygone days, investigations are in order. Soon, three blue-haired ladies are doing what they must to find suspects in an unsolved murder, but a cold case is the least of their worries when they discover the buried body and inconspicuous clues are a little too close to home.
An hour later, another new resident strolled across the porch. With a welcome brochure in hand, he read, “Walk about six hundred feet or so and you’ll find an uphill trail leading to Downtown Bristol.” He took a few steps, counting them off as he paced.
“They have a small bus with four drop-offs each day, you know,” Pearl whispered, leaning sideways as she spoke.
“Shh,” Opal said. “I didn’t get the leaflet. I want to listen.”
As if he’d heard them, the older gentleman smiled and read aloud, “Follow our winding cobblestone paths to a spring fed pond. Located about a half-mile from the main house, the water is surrounded by concrete benches. There are several paddleboats and restroom facilities nearby.”
“Which is important, particularly if you’re wearing adjustable underwear,” Pearl said, nodding her head.
The man sent her a seething glare and Mary Louise halfway expected Pearl to remain tightlipped and wait for Opal to bail her out. Instead, she gave the fellow a kind look. “Don’t worry. Your secrets are our secrets. And besides, they sell them in the supply hall. Underwear, that is. Secrets are shared for free.” As if he needed verification. “But in case you haven’t noticed, you sign your name on an index card right below each product. That way the delivery guys can charge necessities to your account before delivering them to your room.”
The man turned in a huff and marched away.
“Did I say too much?”
“No, girl,” Opal replied. “Keep getting your ditzy on. Never let them know how intelligent you really are.”
Pearl frowned. “You just handed me the rope and watched me swing.”
“Why should I interrupt? I wasn’t the one presented with a sign-up sheet for disposable panties.”
“I was trying to talk my way out of a mess.”
“When you find yourself in the middle of a lion’s den, stop feeding the beast,” Opal said, breathing in the fresh air.
“I’m so depressed now,” Pearl said. “He struck me as a man of substance. I could use someone like that for entertainment purposes.”
Mary Louise paid attention then. “What are you talking about?”
“They host all sorts of tournaments and you aren’t exactly good card players,” Pearl explained. “That man had a good poker face.”
“Then I’d hate to see his war game expression,” Opal said.
Pearl moped. “You’re probably right. I don’t think he liked me very much.”
“Let’s just say your first impression left a lot to be desired.”
“But why? I was only providing information.”
“You basically implied that he wet his pants.”
“Don’t hold back now,” Pearl said. “And I did no such thing.”
“Think about what you said and how you said it.” Mary Louise hated to hurt Pearl’s feelings but she needed to learn when to speak and when to hush. And the latter would be an answer to everyone’s prayers.
“It sure is nice here,” Pearl said, shifting her focus. “Did you know that one side of the Bristol line is called ‘a good place’ to live?”
“So this side of the line is a good place to die?”
A few of the other residents stopped talking. Some left. Opal and Mary Louise rocked with a little more precision.
Pearl glanced over her shoulder when the front door slammed. “Opal, that was uncalled for. Maybe you should take a page from my playbook.”
“Why? It would be blank.”
“Discussing medical problems in a place like this isn’t good form.”
“Who started this conversation?” Opal waited before adding, “And not to be nitpicky or anything but I mentioned death. I don’t know anything about these people or their medical conditions.”
Pearl’s dreamy-eyed look appeared, the one where she really didn’t care if anyone listened while she babbled. “I don’t see why we all have to be so uptight. We’ll be like a real family living here together in harmony. I was telling the truth about the signup sheet, by the way. They display samples of their available items. Residents then sign up to receive their orders by a certain date. It helps with the community’s ‘no secrets’ policy.
“Oh and you can also schedule a time to meet with the funeral director and plan your entire wake, pick out your coffin, casket liners, and decide on the service that you’d like to have. It’s very convenient when you think about it.”
“Liners as in plural?” Opal asked. “People die once, Pearl. They need one liner, one casket.”
“Miss Layla says the reason for this practice is because there have been two incidences where they’ve accidentally buried people alive. After the first time, folks typically want a new liner and casket. The old one haunts them.”
“Why that’s not true,” Mary Louise said. “Someone is pitching that garbage so they can sell funeral packages.”
Opal groaned. “We gotta get out of here.”
“Tell me about it,” Mary Louise muttered, thinking they needed to keep Pearl away from the spirit guide who seemingly possessed the 4-1-1 on life and death.
About that time, Clarence called out to them. “How are they treating you, ladies?”
“Very well, Clarence.” Mary Louise shot him a warm smile. “It’s nice to see you.”
“Good to see you, too.” He shook his ax. “We’ll visit another day! I’m busy at the moment.”
He returned to his methodical swings. They returned to their rocking.