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They Always Came at Night

They Always Came at Night

Appeared in the Fourth Annual Osprey Mystery Series and featured in the anthology Mystery Ink by The Ginger Press 2007.

Mystery Ink
180 pages
Publisher: Ginger Press
ISBN: 978-0-921773-11-0

Read an excerpt below.


Stan Collister’s eyesight was still strong after all these seventy-five years as he directed his attention from his porch to the thick forest at the western edge of his property. It was a pretty piece of land near the Soo, at the secluded end of what had to be one of the world’s lonelilest lakes.

Flashlights pierced the pines as those two fellas, the new ones, went about their business. They’d come up from Detroit, drove across the International Bridge in that big shiny Chev. They were big men, hard workers who hardly spoke. They’d just plopped the fat envelope on Stan’s kitchen table, and set off to a spot out there beyond the meadow.

It was a peaceful night, the kind of night that leads man to a decision. And Stan felt one coming on. Had felt it coming on for some time. He gazed up at the sky and the constellations wheeling above him. He never paid much mind to TV, newspapers and such. And while he treasured his solitude, he still enjoyed receiving visitors from time to time.

Now take these fellas working down there beyond the meadow. Now these fellas, and if the truth be told, Stan had known quite a few of them over the years, these fellas always came at night — once, maybe twice, a month, because that’s the way they conducted business. They’d come from Montreal, Toronto, New York, Philadelphia, Newark, Boston. A few even came up from New Orleans and Miami — a long way to drive for this sort of thing.

But, well, business was business.

Stan never really minded that they always showed up at night. It was understandable. They never ever gave him any trouble. They were always gentlemen. Except that pair from Atlantic City, licked their fingers while they ate. Then there was that trio of brothers from Cleveland who seemed a bit edgy and swore more than Stan cared to hear.

But for the most part, Stan had to say they were all pretty much well behaved, considering their line of work. And you just never spoke of those things — not directly.

A visit would start with a call. A short conversation that went something like: “This Stan? We’re coming to see you. Be there Friday night.”

Always well-mannered. Did their work and paid cash. And that’s the way it had been for as long as he could remember.

As Stan watched them tonight, the thud and scrape of their tools blended with crickets and owls. And as he listened, his mind rolled back through the years to how he came to live here and how this whole enterprise first started.

With that incident.

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