Title: BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE
Author: Randy Overbeck
Genre: Ghost Story/Mystery
Wilshire, Maryland seems like the perfect shore town on the Chesapeake Bay—quiet, scenic, charming—and promises Darrell Henshaw a new start in life and a second chance at love. That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office. Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world—with the OCD scars to prove it—he does NOT want to get involved. But when the desperate ghost hounds him, Darrell concedes. Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.
The Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay
“You see that widow’s walk up there, with the white railing and the cupola in the center? That’s where they say he died.”
The high school secretary, one Mrs. Harriet Sinclair, stood beside Darrell Henshaw on the cracked asphalt parking lot, her small, blue-veined hand pointing up to the third floor.
Darrell’s gaze crawled up the two floors of traditional red brick and landed on the white fencing of the widow’s walk. He’d noticed the unusual feature of the building when he arrived for the job interview two hours earlier.
Harriett’s high voice continued, “Years ago, a student, some poor young black kid took his life up there. Some history, huh?”
Surprised, Darrell looked at the secretary, who kept her gaze focused on the top floor. She was serious.
Then Darrell returned his glance to the widow’s walk. The brass-topped cupola shone green in the morning sun and below it, a bare-chested, young black man leaned against the fence, his hands dark smudges on the white railing. The youth stared down and met Darrell’s gaze. Even though Darrell couldn’t read the features on the face three floors up, he was mesmerized. Somehow, an overwhelming sense of sorrow and regret seemed to emanate from the young man and, for an instant, Darrell felt it pierce him. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on edge. He shivered and stared, unable to look away. As he peered up, the figure at the fence shimmered and then disappeared.
Oh, God, no, he thought, shaking his head, and turned to ask Harriet, but she changed the subject, rattling on about some of the less morbid history of the school. “That walk is famous, all right. There was the great piglet race up there and the famous protest streamers on the walk…”
But Darrell stopped listening. He shook his head. He hadn’t felt that…that sensation for years. Ten years. A decade earlier, he’d had a confrontation with another ghost and it had not gone well. It still haunted him and he was not anxious for another visit from the spirit world.
Then, something Harriet was saying registered. “That window up there to the right, that’ll be your office.”
He struggled to find his voice. “My office?”
“At least, if Mr. Douglass likes what he hears when he calls your references.” She winked at him, one gray eyebrow curling like an albino caterpillar. “Our athletic office isn’t much, just a tiny space and away from the gym and locker rooms, but it’s got the best view in the building. I thought you might appreciate the vantage point better from down here.”
He got the job? He couldn’t believe it. After thirty-seven resumes, eighteen phone calls, four failed interviews, he’d done it. And just in time, too.
He stared open-mouthed at the building, trying to keep his exhilaration under wraps, and then remembered the young black man and realized the job may come with some extras. He definitely didn’t want to deal with any extras, but he really needed the job. Before he had time to think about it, Harriet was off.
For the next forty minutes, she took Darrell on a non-stop, guided tour of the empty high school, leading him past dueling trophy cases—one for sports, one for band—through run down classrooms and into a dilapidated gym with collapsing bleachers. Twice he paused, seeing an award or painting hanging crooked, and reached out to straighten it. He stopped himself and then had to hurry to catch up.
Oblivious, Harriet charged ahead, short legs pumping like pistons, all the while regaling him with more stories about the old high school. Darrell was hardly able to catch his breath. At her pace, he felt like he’d done a 5K, zigzagging through hallways and up and down creaking stairs. They finished by climbing two flights of stairs to arrive at the Athletic Office.
Just as they reached the top step, a door in the hall slammed shut. Darrell jerked. He glanced over to his escort, who hadn’t even flinched. Instead, the school secretary asked, as if reminded of something, “Mr. Henshaw, uh, do you believe in…uh, ghosts?”
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If you could dress up as anything or anyone this Halloween, what or who would it be and why?
With my two ghost stories/mysteries, I’d think that would be a no-brainer. Of course, I’d want to dress as a ghost, an eerie, creepy ghost I think.
Explain why your featured book is a treat to read:
For the spooky month of October, I can’t think of a more appropriate treat to read than a book reviewers have called “haunting,” “creepy,” “a spooky atmospheric mystery” complete with some “old-fashioned ghost whispering.” A perfect read for this time of year—just don’t turn the lights off!
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Dr. Randy Overbeck is a veteran educator who has served children as a teacher and school leader. For more than three decades, his educational experiences with responsibilities ranging from coach and yearbook advisor to principal and superintendent and he’s lived the roles of many of the characters in his stories. An accomplished writer, he has been published in trade journals, professional texts and newspapers as well as in fiction, with his third published novel. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.
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