Back of the book blurb:
“Jim, Jim!” Gloria threw her keys on the kitchen counter and then stashed her mat and barbells in the hallway closet.
“Jim!” She called louder. He was not in the Florida room. She gingerly stepped from the kitchen to the carport. She darted into the attached shed housing the laundry room with storage in the front and Jim’s workshop in back. She walked through the workshop and out the back door to the neat little back yard and found him watering their garden plot.
“Did you hear about George MacDonnell?” Gloria shook her auburn hair, compliments of her favorite brand of hair color #118. Her clear blue eyes filled with tears.
“Yes, I heard.” Jim kinked the hose to stop the water flow and dragged it to the faucet on the back of the house. He slowly turned the tap to cut off the stream of water and dropped the hose to the freshly cut grass.
“How sad that he died alone. Oh, Jim, he wasn’t discovered for so long his body just ro...” She couldn’t say it.
“Gloria, come in the house. I have to tell you something. I don’t want the neighbors listening in on this conversation.”Gloria knew her husband of thirty-five years well enough to realize something
As they stepped into the bright kitchen, Jim turned to her. Looking straight into her eyes, he said, “Royce called this morning. George’s death was peculiar. I guess, that’s what the Medical Examiner is saying.”
Jim was friends with the county M.E., Royce Williams. They worked together on investigations involving the First Responders Unit. Living in a retirement community, the Medical Examiner and medics were frequent visitors. An ambulance at a home was not a significant event at Citrus Ridge. It was part of life and death.
“Royce told us George’s body did not rot. It couldn’t have decomposed that quickly because Miss Lottie checked on him every day when she brought him the mail in the afternoon. She delivered it the day before he died. He was alert and talked about the weather.
“When Lottie called 9-1-1 at one o’clock yesterday, she was so upset she couldn’t even speak. They traced the call to her house. When the police arrived, she only pointed to George’s house.”Jim stopped a minute. Gloria saw the anguish in his face. “They discovered George sitting in the living room in his recliner. His body was mustard yellow. His clothes were melted to his body. The odor was not a rotting smell, but rather like burning or scorching. In fact the fabric in the chair was charred. Ron was the first responder. He told me when he and the paramedics touched the body, it turned to powder.”
Gloria cried out in disbelief. She covered her face with her hands. “Dear God. What happened, Jim? What could have caused such a thing?”
“Ron arrived at the scene first. You know Ron. Always talking and telling great stories.” Gloria remembered the usually fun-loving raucous Ron.
“Royce told me there was such a look of horror in Ron’s eyes. He was traumatized by what he saw. Ron told him he moved George’s wrist, and his hand fell making a pile of yellow ashes on the floor.”
“Dear God.” Gloria sat down at the dining room table feeling nauseous. Jim wiped his eyes. “I don’t know how Ron and Lottie will ever forget this nightmare.”
The ominous feeling of inexplicable danger washed over her. Jim sat down heavily in the chair across from Gloria reaching his hand across the table. She rested her hand lightly on his. After thirty-five years of marriage, she knew they needed no words; just a touch for comfort and strength to carry them through what she feared would be the difficult days ahead.