Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mystery at Bear Mountain



I’d worked late last night…into the wee hours of this morning. Rolling over in hopes of catching a few more zzz’s, I pulled my pillow, tight, over my head to escape the husband’s morning routine. Television blaring the morning news. Shower, all too merrily, spraying away sleeps lingering shadow. Coffee maker rumbling to a finish. Dogs bouncing around, slapping tails on the floor and whining to go out.

“Hey, honey! Isn’t that Babette’s real name?,” he shouts over the blow dryer.

“What the hell is he rambling on about?,” I think. Lifting my bed head out of hiding, I hear the newscaster continue:

“Early this morning, the body of Elizabeth Leann Evans, 54, of Redding was found by firefighters inside the wreckage of her burning double wide mobile.”

“For crissake, it is her!” I growl back as my stomach tightens with fear and anxiety. She’d been my best friend through high school. We’d been tighter than pegged jeans at one point in our lives but had slowly drifted apart. She’d headed down a haphazard and random path. And I? Well…let’s just say mine was orderly and calculated.

Our friends always seemed to think of us as the polar opposites of each other. The good and the bad. The light and the dark. The beautiful and the cute. The skinny and the fat. The sure thing and the not a chance in hell. Despite our differences, we were fast friends.

Babette had a thing for drugs. Hell, for a long time, we both did. After all, it was the 60s. Nearly everyone was trying everything they could get their hands on. In my case, it was always about having fun, experimentation and the thrill of getting away with anything I tried. In Babette’s case, obsession, compulsion, fascination and a deep, undying love of getting high motivated her every move.

Drugs shaped her entire existence. She followed the stem and seed laden trail of excess from pre-pubescent sex to alcohol to pot to psychedelics to snorting coke to freebasing to meth and beyond. Babette slung dope and rolled lids into joints for spending money. She gained notoriety as the best female grower in the area.

She went into nursing to be close to the drugs. It was no mistake that she was the best in her class at giving injections. She and the needle had become friends long ago. Not so much for herself, but she was good at hitting veins so her friends always asked her to tie them off and fire them up.

Over the years, she got thinner and thinner. She always had some lame excuse when asked about it. She was too poor to buy food. She was so busy and working hard at her new job. She was selling these fantastic new vitamins that just melted the fat away. And did I want to buy some because I could stand to shed 20 or 30 pounds. Why do people with addictions always think everyone falls for their transparent excuses?

Eventually, she became the lover of one largest pot growers in the area. Chief belonged to one of the Indian tribes that grew in the canyons between here and Humboldt. He was a good and handsome man and I truly believe that he loved Babette. But in the end, she went deeper into the murky forest of dealing than he wanted to go. And that is saying a lot.

After they split up, she kept company with some really scary and unsavory people. The few times I tried to visit her at her home, I was met by armed men and had to have her, personally, come to the gate to grant me access to her property.


A string of arrests followed. Babette pleaded no contest, in November 1996, to transportation or selling of a controlled substance. She also pleaded no contest, in February 1997, to possession of a controlled substance and illegal possession of ammunition. Deputies were called to her home, at Bear Mountain, numerous times on drug related issues. Her neighbors kept reporting her for running a meth lab and drug operations.

But, as of this morning, all that was left of  Babette for the corner to identify her charred body by, was her fingertips. 

Snapping out of my reminisce, I hear the newscaster continuing:

“A fast moving blaze gutted Ms. Evans mobile home, parts of an outbuilding, seared branches on overhanging trees and blackened two pickups parked in the driveway.

The investigators won’t say how she was murdered, but they say it’s obvious she died prior to the fire. About 35 crime scene investigators spent the morning sifting through the ashes and searching for evidence at the rural home, the surrounding 60 acres of property and the nearby road.


Furthermore, they say her case is eerily similar to two other cases in the area where people were murdered and then burned in their homes. But they don't believe there's a serial murderer -- one with a penchant for burning bodies -- on the loose.”


SUCKERS! I think to myself as I hop out of bed and head to the bathroom to tend my  burned and blistered fingers.


Baino said...

Ooh wasn't expecting fiction there I thought it was true. Nice surprise Rhonda!

anthonynorth said...

Now that kept me going from beginning to end. Excellent post.

Ronda Laveen said...

Baino: I'd hoped I was able to hide the surprise.

Anthony: Thank you!

Mrsupole said...

You are so bad, so bad. LOL

About 45 miles or so as we say, up the hill, is a small city filled with meth labs. Some on the news have said that they think every other house has a meth lab. Anyway they have a lot of those "accidents" up there. I think they are over estimating and it is probably only about one house in ten that has a meth lab. Meth is a very incidious drug that takes over ones life completely. It is very sad when you hear that someone is using it and sadly a lot of the girls start out taking it to lose weight. And I think it is true that they then think everyone else is fat and probably compared to them we are. Also it is sad that a lot of meth users have to toke so that they will get the munchies to even be able to eat and survive to take more meth. Such a sad way to live. I think I will keep my extra pounds and be happy. Nothing worse then a skinny bitch on drugs. Just kidding about the bitch thing, but nothing worse then someone needing to be so skinny that they are willing to ruin their life doing drugs.

LOL, I just realized the "skinny bitch" line goes so well with your great story. I enjoyed it a lot. Kept me going till the surprise ending.

God bless.

Kate Hanley said...

Great ending, I was completely hooked!

Brian Miller said...

yeah if i was within arm distance...smiles. nicely done ronda...oh so nicely done...

NanU said...

Now there's a girl can write!

little hat said...

great piece rhonda. kept me hurrying through the story hungry for the next line. You surprised me and it felt good.

Elisabeth said...

Wonderful writing, Ronda. I too thought it was autobiography, not that it matters much, but still you had me convinced that I was following a 'real' conversation and a 'real' life lost.

As with most writing. I suspect it's a bit of both, the so-called 'real' and the imaginative.

Whatever, it's wonderful writing - riveting. I did not want to stop reading. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

wow... the ending was just perfect... eventhough sick

Crazyasa said...

Very surprised ending. The name "Bear Mountain" has a special feeling of mystery to me. As a child we kids would climb a small mountain. At the top was a cross at the edge of a cliff. That was a mystery to us and the legend was a child our age fell to his death there. That cross kept us well away from the precipice.

willow said...

Oh, gosh, the end was really a jolt! Good one, Ronda!

Leeuna said...

You really had me going. I wasn't expecting this to be fiction. Great writing and a great Theme Thursday mystery.

TechnoBabe said...

Ronda, you vixen, you writing champ!
Really good. I was so tuned in and thinking oh no! Ya got me. Love it.

Dave King said...

Like others, I was completely taken in. Brilliant post, cleverly composed and engagingly written.

Sam Liu said...

Rhonda, you had me completely gripped throughout! I was hanging off you every enticing word, I was despairing at the terrible situation that your friend had found herself in. I thought it was a true story, and the surprise at the end was a real "wow!" moment...great story, the suspense is wonderful :)

00dozo said...

You had me going too! Great post, particularly the ending.

Jingle said...

a tale in depth and full of traps...
love it!
Happy Thursday!

Betsy said... got me there at the end!

Tom said...

what?! fooled me. nice bit of writing

Ronda Laveen said...

Sherry: you had me at SBOD! It does go perfectly with the story.

Kate: Thanks!

Brian: Gonna stay just out of your reach for a bit. Thanks.

NanU: Hi! Good to hear from you.

Little Hat: It is hard, at least for me, to not be obvious with the ending.

Elisabeth: You are right, is both autobiographical and imagination woven together. Sadly, a lot of it is "real."

Faery: I know the end was twisted but it was the only real surprise I could think up.

Crazyasa: There was a cross similar like that at a place at my grandfather's farm. True story or not, it did serve to keep us away.

Willow: Thank you.

Leeuna: There is a lot of non-fiction in this piece too.

TechnoBabe: Gotcha!

Dave: I tried for all of those things, thanks.

Sam: I read a few weeks back that a manuscript can never have too much tension or suspense. I'm practicing.

00dozo: Welcome!

Jinge: Ahh, you noticed the traps! Fantastic.

Betsy: Would you like to be my friend?

Leslie said...

Cleaver - good to the last drop!!!

Cheryl said...

That was totally unexpected and a great read. My favorite bit was "We’d been tighter than pegged jeans..." Great imagery.

Happy TT.

Everyday Goddess said...

what a great job ~ i was totally believing.

Ronda Laveen said...

Tom: If I fooled you, I did my job.

Leslie: Thank you, have another cuppa?

Cheryl: I almost didn't use that line because I thought the young folk wouldn't know what pegged jeans were.

Goddess: Thanks for taking a peek.

nanny said...

Wow!! You had me!!

And to meet someone who loved Trixie Belden......

Me said...

Well done!

I too thought you were telling a true story...great TT! :)

Tracy said...

OMG. That turned out differently than I thought it would. Nice TT post!

Janice said...

You got me!

Gladys said...

Wow hook line and sinker!

DUTA said...

Ronda you're a writing champ!
I hope you didn't really have "a thing with drugs" or did you? Well then, that will explain a lot about motive. So will the fact that she was the best at a lot of things.

Ronda Laveen said...

Nanny: I LOVED Trixie!

Me, Janice, Tracy and Gladys: I really, really tried.

DUTA: In fact, I did drugs of the 60s mainly because of her and my curiosity. Today, I may have a drink here and there, but other than that, they're not my thing. But to many others, they mean everything. I try not to judge, really, that is HIS job not mine. In this story, the drugs are a symptom of deeper problems.

joanny said...


There is always some bit of truth to our fiction --- Like all the rest you had me believing this was a true story. The only part that I questioned was your husband not having a strong reaction just a causal comment about Babette - but you quickly convinced me otherwise and ran with the story. You certainly have one strong-well spring of an creative imagination that you draw from.

So when my heart stops racing after this read I will make sure the news is turned off of the T.V. - you know -- just in case. . .

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Hooked, lined and sinkered!!! -J

Stacy Post said...

Yowza. Maybe you should ghostwrite for true crime books? Good work at building suspense. :)

Ronda Laveen said...

Joanny: What you call a "well-spring of imagination," my mom used to call "being full of IT."

Jayne: I'm all for catch and release.

Stacy: I would LOVE ghostwriting for crime stories! Many years ago, it was my favorite genre.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank god this was just a story. jesus, mary and joseph.

GREAT story, though. Wow.

Joanna Jenkins said...

You totally fooled me! I believed every word.
Great job,

Anonymous said...

I was soooo feeling sorry for you and your lost friend all the way through that!!! Great ending ;)

tony said...

Re;Drugs.I Always Think It's Not The Drugs Themselves .Rather ,It's Their Uncanny Ability To Leech Out Whatevers Inside Us Already?

Deanna Schrayer said...

Oh Ronda - I want to whoop you and pat you on the back at the same time. Wow, what a story! This is fantastic! When the newscaster first reported the scene, I immedaitely was reminded of how Loretta Lynn learned of Patsy Cline's plane accident - via radio. Don't know why, but that's the image, (from the movie Coal Miner's Daughter), that came to mind.
You need to submit this girl!

Christina said...

Aaah! I wasn't sure WHAT to think. It sounded quite realistic but then I thought, how come these unusual things keep happening to Ronda?
I did have to read the last sentence twice, though. You still got me good somehow.
Great story!

Ronda Laveen said...

Reya: Kinda like Mr. Toad's wild ride.

Joanna and ED: Thanks!

Tony: Very well stated. All the toxicity bubbles to the surface.

Deanna: Yes, it is a draft for a story submission. Just gotta figure out where to submit.

Christina: I always want to keep you guessin:-)

Jen said...

I was feeling so bad for your friend, until the end. Great job!

lettuce said...

me too! you had me going!

i recommend aloe vera for those fingertips

otin said...

I was feeling sorry for your friend the whole time, and then BLAM! you tricked me! I feel like the sucker! lol

Ronda Laveen said...

Jen: Thanks!

Lettuce: That aloe tip is good...I'll give it a go.

Otin: Where do you think I learned to think up those twisted endings, huh?

JGH said...

That just seemed so REAL-- right up until that last line. Excellent!

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