Down & Dirty [Maxcine & Isabel Vol. II]
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by Sharon Kull
Description: While on an exercise walk, spunky Maxcine and Isabel find loot stuffed in a pillow case and become involved in a crime wave. But they aren't about to turn the jewelry over to the cops, as that would mean thwarting a pending adventure?
eBook Publisher: SynergEbooks, 2008 SynergEbooks
eBookwise Release Date: December 2008
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [394 KB]
Reading time: 227-319 min.
"Whatever's in that sack is mine!" Maxcine stated loud and clear as she made a beeline for it, well aware that Izzy was racing down the sidewalk beside her. The skirts of their dresses were billowing, knee-high stockings threatening to sag. Drizzling rain had her wiping her lower face with one hand, her other outstretched to grab this latest find.
"Ah no, it's mine!" Isabel countered at a full-fledged roar, which wasn't exactly reminiscent of anything at all ferocious. But then, pencil thin ladies in their seventies weren't exactly beasts.
"Not fair! You already have some treasures," she was breathlessly reminded. The soles of Maxcine's shoes lost traction in a puddle, making it imperative to grab onto something. Or in this case, someone. Two purposes were served. Maxcine didn't fall, and her sister didn't get to the sack first.
"Let go of me, Maxi!" she yelped good and loud, while struggling to maintain her footing as well as to gain her freedom. A bottle brunette, those carefully tended locks of hers could be seen below the brim of her royal blue, fleece, slouch hat as shoulder brushing clumps. Even the hat's yellow fleece flowers were clumping together because of the rain.
"Oops, sorry, Izzy," countered swiftly, although she wasn't at all sorry. Making certain not to release her sister's arm prematurely, she started them forward at a careful pace. Atop her normally fluffy, shoulder length silver gray hair, Maxcine was also wearing a fleece hat. Hers was purple to match her crocheted shawl, and had pink soggy flowers.
When they at last stood over their find, toes on decorative bark, heels on concrete, haste no longer meant anything. The reverse was quite true. It was as if warning vibes were radiating upwards from soaked, pastel striped cloth.
"What do you suppose it is?" Isabel muttered softly. Having lived over sixty years, she knew when retreat was better than valor. With the first sign of danger, she'd break the land speed record for getting the heck out of there.
Since Maxi had remained silent, the question was posed again. "What do you suppose it is?"
Canting her head to look at Izzy through water-drop speckled glasses, the upper half plain and the lower bifocal, then looking back down at the object resting partly beneath the shelter of neatly trimmed, thigh high myrtle, Maxcine shrugged. "A pillow case. More important is what's in it."
Those concealed contents appeared to be lumpy, and roughly the size of a six week old kitten. A perfectly motionless kitten. Carefully nudged with the toe of a wet orthopedic sneaker, the lump shifted only slightly.
"That felt kinda hard." Spectacles, the same mixture of plain glass and prescription bifocal as Maxi's, slipped along her wet nose and were shoved back into place with the heel of her left hand.
"But it moved!"
"So would a rock if someone gave it a shove."
"We've always wanted a pet rock," they stated in unison, and only then locking eye contact. They maintained that pose while inwardly pondering that a dead kitten could feel quite solid. Stiff as a board, solid.
"Are we cowards, or what?" Maxcine muttered, grimacing lips barely twitching. She sniffed, but didn't smell anything offensive.
"Depends on what, 'or what' is," she was told.
Having grown tired of procrastinating, as well as tired of standing like a couple of ninnies at the edge of the mall parking lot, four blocks from home, drizzle becoming a light rain, four gnarled hands grabbed the pillowcase, lifting it to their waist level, and pulling it wide open. Long-winded, certainly, with the actual doing taking far less time than the telling.
The sight magnified by raindrop splattered bifocals couldn't have come as more of a shock.
"Who the dickens robbed a jewelry store?"
Just whom, had blurted what, the stunned sisters were never to know. Not that it mattered. Both questions were in their minds.
"Is it real?" Isabel whispered, glancing around for eavesdroppers. There weren't any. There wasn't even anyone else braving the rain on foot.
Maxcine slowly stuck her left hand into the depths of the cloth, tentatively touching the contents. "Feels like it's real," she said.
"There's a difference in the ginger light feel of diamonds as compared to glass?"
"A ginger light feel of gold feels different than pot metal?"
Maxcine clamped her hand shut around a heap of the stuff. "No! But precious metals sure as blazes feels different than plastic!"
"Plastic?" Isabel questioned, a look of horror crossing her creased facial features. "This jewelry is plastic junk for little girls to play with?"
"You misunderstood me, Izzy. It's the real thing for big girls to toy with," giggled eagerly, tilting her face skyward and thanking the powers that be for being so overly generous. Within the depths of the pastel striped pillowcase was such an array of gold, silver and gem stones so as to boggle the mind just thinking about the cost. That value would be easy to figure because the price tags were still attached. A fortune undoubtedly lay at their fingertips. A fortune they dare not flaunt, because by all rights, it did not belong to them. She withdrew her hand from the pillow case and grimaced. "We can't expose this treasure to the light of day."
"Yeah," Isabel reluctantly agreed, "because it probably doesn't belong to us. Right?"
"I know you usually like me to agree with you, but just this once I wish it wasn't necessary."
"What do we do now?" she asked, looking to her older sibling for an answer. Speaking for herself, she suddenly felt like bolting for cover. Someone might be watching them with murder in mind. However, since she didn't want to drop the treasure and leave it behind, running for cover probably wouldn't accomplish much.
"I've got the creeps, Izzy. As if we're being watched by whoever gleeped this loot."
"I was just thinking something like that. Price tags are a dead giveaway. The stuff has to be loot, stolen, then either lost or hidden to retrieve later."
"Only we kinda did the retrieving."
Isabel changed her mind about refusing to abandon the loot. "Can we get away with dropping the sack and casually walking into the mall as if we'd never found this stuff?"
"Not if the thief is a hard-core criminal. We've seen the jewelry, and he's bound to think that sooner or later we'll go to the police."
"Can't we just start shouting that we won't tell anyone, let alone the cops?"
"Sure, but it wouldn't do any good, not even if we dropped the loot like a hot potato." It was too late to get away with that ploy. "I really believe our only way out of this, without getting any deeper in doo-doo, is to track down the guilty person. Or persons." She nodded her head once, took one last peek into the pillow case, and grinned.
"You're just saying that because you've got the stupid idea to become a P.I., or a gorilla."
"As in 'ape'?" inquired skeptically.
"Ah, come on. This could turn out to be a great adventure. Where's your gung ho spirit?"
"Well, certainly not begging to be shot over a handful of necklaces!" she stated emphatically. "Admit it; you want to live on the edge, to savor the thrill of eminent danger."
"Not true, not at all true," Maxcine said. "I'm a novelist, not a detective." But Izzy was correct.
"So since you failed to become a published author, you want to switch career choices at this late stage of the game?" The accusation was pointed. "What makes you think you'll succeed in this cockamammy plan?"
"People very seldom go through life as a total failure. My marriage failed, and I didn't get published. Third time's the charm, and the third item on my career agenda is coming up."