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How About a Free Chapter? – Pt. 9

So…how about we all have another lazy weekend with some free chapters?  Weekends are a good time to get some reading done–and also a great time for me to be a lazy fat bastard.  So, really, this works out for all of us.  Here’s chapter 9 of MKPI Odd Case Files: The Cow & The Coven

Chapter Nine

“The Cavanaugh Estate”

The Cavanaugh home—or estate, really—was grand but not decadent.  The sitting room, where I was currently waiting on Mrs. Cavanaugh was comfy and inviting, but still had an air of being expertly decorated.  I still didn’t know what the Cavanaughs did for a living, but I had a feeling they didn’t work at the McDonald’s on the Parkway.  They could have come from family money, but I didn’t really think so.  Something about the home’s decor made me think they were nouveau riche.

Maybe it was the cheap glass tchotchkes displayed about the room as though they were Waterford pieces.  Or maybe it was the fact that everything in the room seemed a very calculated move at decorating the room to impress.  When I see a home as such, two things come to mind.  Either someone is living above their means or the homeowner wants to impress—but not invest significantly in the effort.

Mrs. Cavanaugh didn’t particularly strike me as flippant, someone that would waste money on things such as useless baubles.  However, she did pay us more on our retainer than necessary.  Was she the type of person that liked to appear wealthier than she actually was?  Maybe I was getting ahead of myself.  She might not even work—her husband might be the breadwinner.  Maybe he kept her decorating budget limited.

“I’m sorry I’ve kept you waiting, Mr. Klynick.”  Mrs. Cavanaugh pulled me away from my attempt at psychology.

“Your home is lovely.”  I replied as I stood.

I’ve always found that if someone apologizes for making you wait—and you feel they’ve done so flippantly—don’t acknowledge their apology.  They’re not really sorry, after all.  They simply want to appear more important and cultured than they are.  I was beginning to get a very good idea of what type of person we were dealing with in Mrs. Cavanaugh.

This was another reason that Dayl let me deal with people and she dealt with the magicks.  We both had our intuitive sides.  Mine was being able to mentally make a profile of a person within minutes of seeing them in their natural setting.  I pegged Dayl as a sociopathic potty mouth within seconds of meeting her.  Told you I’m good.

“Thank you.  I decorated every room myself.”  She smiled at her own decorating skills and then paused with a frown.  “Well, except for my husband’s study, of course.”

“Of course.”  I nodded.  I wanted to see that room as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Cavanaugh took this opportunity to sit down in the chair across the coffee table from me.  Using my manners, I lowered myself back into the chair I had arisen from seconds before.  I fixed a smile on my face, ready to spend as much time as necessary to get the job done.  Hopefully, that would be less than an hour.  I couldn’t stand being in the presence of so much intentional charm for long.

“Not to rush this along,” Mrs. Cavanaugh spoke as she straightened her skirt down her legs, “but, I’m not real sure I know what this meeting is about.”

“Of course.”  I suddenly realized I never fully explained why we needed to meet when we had spoken on the phone.  “I really need to ask more information about your husband, get intimate details, employment information, that kind of thing.”

“Intimate details?”  She raised an eyebrow and crossed her legs at the ankle.

“Financial, employment, romantic—things you would not want to discuss with a neighbor.”  I explained.  “No need to be concerned, though, Mrs. Cavanaugh.  I’m not going to ask any embarrassing sexual questions or anything I don’t absolutely need to know.  Also, we will hold this information to our highest privacy standards, as discussed at our office earlier.”

There was a slight release of tension in her shoulders.  Hopefully, that meant she was a willing interview.

“Of course.”  She nodded.

“Do you know of any extramarital affairs your husband was engaged in within the last two years?”  I asked, reaching into my pocket for my pad and pen.

“My.”  She chuckled.  “You didn’t even use any warm-up questions.”

I smiled at her.

“I don’t like insulting anyone’s intelligence.”  I stated evenly.  “Obviously, any private investigator worth his or her salt would assume a mistress could be the culprit in a situation like this.  It’s not uncommon for a spouse to run off with a lover or to be harmed by one either.”

“Yes.”  She agreed evenly.

“Are you saying ‘yes’ he had a mistress’ or ‘yes’ to what I said?”

“I’m sorry.”  She shook her head softly.  “Robert has had no affairs during the course of our marriage of which I’m aware.”

“Money troubles?”  I asked, writing in my pad.

“None since we were young and newly married.”  She shrugged daintily.  “And those troubles were very minor.  Mostly not getting to go out as much as we’d like.”

I smiled.

“Lately, things have been wonderful—as far as finances go.”

I continued to smile and write.  I find that during an interview, if you don’t interrupt more than necessary, some people will tell you their life story.  And many details you never would have thought to ask for normally are shared freely.

“In fact, he just bought a new boat.”   She rolled her eyes—but not without mirth.

“That’s nice.”

“Yes.”  She nodded.  “We sail often.  Not as often as we’d both like…what with work and all.”

“What does your husband do for work?”  I asked the logical question.

“He owns a metaphysical shop with my brother-in-law.  His brother.  Michael Cavanaugh.”  She stated succinctly.

“In Shepard’s Knob?”  I asked, still writing, but my ears perked up.

There were two reasons my ears perked up.  One—there was no way in Hell that a metaphysical shop owner (co-owner at that) could afford the house I was sitting in currently.  Two—all metaphysical business was located in the Shepard’s Knob section of town.  And if you owned a business there—well, there was a slight chance you were involved in crime on some level or another.  This was going to be a peach of an investigation if that was the case.

“No.”  I looked up to see Mrs. Cavanaugh staring at her lap and biting her lip.

“Ma’am?”  I asked after a moment.

“The store is…”  She looked to the side nervously and then brought her eyes back to mine, “at the Temple of The Blue Moon.”

She sat up straight.

“The Pagan Temple?”  I questioned, writing furiously in my pad, but trying to appear nonchalant.

“Yes.”

Why Mrs. Cavanaugh had hired Dayl & I was suddenly making sense.

“I wasn’t aware that they had a metaphysical store.”  I replied.  “Must be convenient for the Temple to have a store on site to buy supplies from?”

“Yes.”  She gave the same sharp reply.

I frowned.  Mrs. Cavanaugh was being elusive.  It didn’t take a seasoned investigator to figure that one out.

“Could his disappearance have something to do with someone he knew at the Temple?”  I asked evenly.

“I should say not.”  She recoiled.

I ignored the hostility and moved forward.

“Did your husband attend services at The Temple of The Blue Moon?”

“Um, yes.”  She looked down again.

I glanced up at her.  She was staring at her lap and wringing her hands together.

“Mrs. Cavanaugh?”

“Yes?”  She kept her eyes on her lap.

“What is it that you don’t want me to know?”  I asked the logical question.  No bullshit.

“I’m sorry?”  She looked up slowly.

“What does the Temple have to do with your husband?”  I asked again.

She frowned deeply.  Anger flashed in her eyes.

“I know what people think of Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, and Heretics…”

“Mrs. Cavanaugh…”

“…and I don’t want this to turn into a witch hunt.”  She stammered.  “I don’t want our spiritual beliefs to become the whole issue here.  Attending the Temple has nothing to do with his disappearance.  We’re not crazed, Devil-worshipping freaks!”

Mrs. Cavanaugh stared at me with enough anger to produce heat in the air.  I simply reached into the collar of my shirt and pulled out the necklace I wore, well, religiously.  Mrs. Cavanaugh’s eyes lit upon the necklace and the anger started to fade away.

“Do you know what this is?”  I asked, holding the pendant out for her to inspect.

The small pendant I wore was sterling silver, depicting the triple moon.  The middle of the silver pendant was a round disc depicting the full moon.  On either side of the full moon were quarter moons, pointing outwards.  It hung far down my chest from a thirty-inch silver Figaro chain.

“A triple moon.“ She stated simply, leaning forward to examine the pendant.

“I’m not here to judge you.”  I stated evenly as I leaned back and shoved the pendant back into my shirt.  “I don’t care if you’re Catholic, Baptist, Pagan or even a Devil Worshipper.”

She slowly sunk back into her chair.

“And the last thing I want is to make this a huge issue and draw attention to the matter.”  I continued.  “I’m merely asking these questions because they may be vital to your husband’s well-being.  Any information you give me that proves to be inconsequential to the investigation of his disappearance I will gladly pretend I never learned it.  However, I really need you to let me make the decision as to whether or not a piece of information is vital or not.”

She watched me for a moment and then nodded.

“Did your husband attend services at the Temple of The Blue Moon?”  I moved forward, not wanting to get stuck on her apprehension.

“Yes.”  She stated and then sighed.  “And no.”

“I’m sorry?”  I looked up from my pad.

“My husband is the High Priest at the Temple.”  She sighed again, obviously aware that she was giving out information to a stranger—something she would never do under normal circumstances.

“I see.”  I wrote this down quickly in my pad.  “I can understand your trepidation then.”

She gave a sharp, affirmative nod.

“Do you think his disappearance may be related to your spiritual beliefs?”

“No.”  She answered after a moment’s thought.  “I don’t really think this is that kind of situation.”

That kind of situation?

“We have no enemies of which to speak.”  She slowly shook her head back and forth.  “We get along with other religious leaders.  We have no political enemies.  I’m not sure why he disappeared, Mr. Klynick—but I’m almost one-hundred percent positive it was not because he is our High Priest.”

High Priest.  Hmmmm.  The Temple of The Blue Moon was the largest Pagan organization within the surrounding four states. Actually, not including large cities like Los Angeles and New York, it was probably the largest in the country.  No wonder Mr. and Mrs. Cavanaugh had a bit of dough.  I glanced around the room inconspicuously again.

“How does your Temple work?”  I asked.

I’m fairly familiar with Pagan Temples—having belonged to one a long time ago.  But just like churches, Temples can be run very differently.

“How do you mean?”

“Your husband is the High Priest.”  I began.  “Are you the High Priestess?”

“Yes.”  Her shoulders got tenser.

“You have a…coven?”  I wasn’t sure if that was the termed preferred by these particular Pagans.

“Congregation is fine.”  She sighed.  “Yes.  As of present, we have five-hundred local members.  Nationwide, we have…I believe five-thousand and some odd members.”

Wow.

“Do you hold…services…daily, weekly?”

“We have gatherings weekly on Friday evenings.”  She explained.  “That is our largest gathering each week.  We usually have between three-hundred and five-hundred show for the gathering.  But through the week we have classes on the metaphysical—some are free and some are for a fee—and we have several employees to meet all of our congregations’ needs.”

“What kind of needs?”

“Emotional, psychological, metaphysical.”  She continued.  “We have licensed counselors for the first two, which my husband and I often assist with.  We have experienced witches, exorcists and the like to deal with the metaphysical.”

“Exorcists?”  I raised an eyebrow.

“Yes.  Catholic.”

Ok.  This was something new to me.  And I’ve considered myself Pagan—or, at the very least, a heretic—since I was thirteen years old.  Let’s just say that’s been almost two decades ago.

“Do you have office staff for keeping books, financial business, scheduling meetings, filing and etcetera?”

“Yes.  We have a pool of four employees that handle all of that.”  She nodded.  “Plus a company lawyer—though he is on retainer off-site and we have a Public Relations rep that is also off-site.”

The way Mrs. Cavanaugh said ‘off-site’ sounded as though she had no intention of letting “the help” into their inner sanctum.

“Ok.”  I continued writing in my pad.  “And your husband and brother-in-law run the shop?”

“Yes.”  She agreed.  “With my sister-in-law.”

“Any other services provided on site?”  I asked, still writing.

“We have several independent contractors who provide Tarot readings, palm readings, crystal ball work, rune work, roots, astrology, Reiki, massages, that kind of thing.”

“How many…independent contractors…does that amount to?”  I asked.

She glanced skyward for a moment, calculating.

“Fifteen, I believe.”

My stomach sank.

“How many do you have teaching classes?  Free or otherwise?”

“Seven.”

My stomach sank further.  I mentally calculated the employee tally.  Fifteen independent contractors, seven teachers, a PR rep, lawyer, a wife, brother and sister-in-law all had almost daily contact with the subject.  Well, if we excluded the PR rep and lawyer since they were not located on site, that still left twenty-five daily encounters Mr. Cavanaugh had just at work.

All of these people needed to be interviewed.  Once that was done—and if no results were obtained—five hundred congregation members would need to be interviewed as well.  If not all five-thousand plus nationwide members.  I was not going to ask if there were any international members.  At least, not right away.

“I think we’ll need to start speaking with employees first.”  I explained.  “Then go from there.”

Mrs. Cavanaugh frowned.

“Don’t worry.” I smiled.  “I won’t tell anyone more than they need to know.  My partner and I will use the highest discretion during our interviews.”

Mrs. Cavanaugh hesitated and then nodded.

“Let’s just finish up here and we’ll see where we need to go from there.”  I smiled.

Again, she simply nodded.  This case was going to be a shithole of a problem.  Normally, I hated those.  However, in the back of my mind, I knew we’d hit a good case.  This case could take a long time to solve.  That’s a lot of billable hours, and the Temple of The Blue Moon had the money to pay it.  I love it when that happens.

So…do you adore the book after reading 9 chapters?  If so, why not buy it by clicking on the picture below?

And did you know that the sequel, MKPI Odd Case Files: The Corpse & The Crossroads comes out July 10th, 2018? You can preorder an ebook here.  Also, don’t forget to sign up to be an Advanced Reader on the main page of The Midnight Goose!  Just look for the sidebar survey on the right (if using a desktop/laptop) or near the bottom of the main page (if using a smartphone/tablet).

Have you entered to win a stack of books in The Great Book Giveaway 2018? We’re on week 3–and there are soooo many good books you’ll receive if you win the stack! Books like The Bell Jar, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Brave New World, and A Monster Calls are all included!

And in the words of Supertramp, give a little bit.  Help out the K9 PRIDE Fund if you can!

Until next time…

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