Lord of the Wings: A Meg Langslow Mystery | Chapter 13 of 37 - Part: 1 of 5

Author: Donna Andrews | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 2435 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter 8

“Good evening,” Dr. Smoot intoned, in his best B-movie vampire fashion.

Out beyond the fence, the tourists murmured restlessly and several camera flashes went off.

Then Dr. Smoot’s eyes lit up as he recognized us.

“Meg! And Michael! Thank goodness you’re here!” Actually, it sounded more like “thank goodneth,” because Dr. Smoot was wearing a particularly prominent set of vampire fangs. Rumor was that the fangs were permanent—fang-shaped crowns created by a Goth-friendly dentist in New Orleans—but no one had had the nerve to ask, so everyone in town was obsessed with peering at Dr. Smoot’s mouth to see if the rumors were true.

“Happy to help,” Michael said. I could tell he was peering, too.

“Why were all those police cars hurrying out to the zoo?” Dr. Smoot asked. “More burglaries?”

Michael and I glanced at each other. Well, the chief hadn’t told us to keep our mouths shut.

“Yes,” I said. “And someone was found murdered in the bushes outside the zoo. A tourist, as far as we can tell.”

“Oh, my!” I wouldn’t have thought it possible for Dr. Smoot to turn any paler, but he did, and he sat down quickly on one of the spindly little black chairs that formed the only seating in his living room. “I’m lucky to be alive!”

“The chief may already have the killer in custody,” Michael said. “And they’re pretty busy down at the zoo with all the forensics, so Meg and I came to brief you.”

“And inspect your crime scene, of course,” I added. “Did they take anything from the Haunted House? Or leave anything behind.”

“Actually, it was the museum they broke into,” Dr. Smoot said. “Have you seen it yet?”

If I were wearing fangs, I’d have said “appear” instead of “seem.” And “intent on” instead of “interested in.” It would be possible to reduce the lisping, with a little ingenuity. But I was having a hard time thinking of a sibilant-free synonym for “museum.”

I focused back on the problem at hand. The thought of the museum seemed to have distracted Dr. Smoot from his anxiety. He was pointing to a sign printed in an ornate, almost unreadable medieval-style typeface. It took me a few seconds to puzzle out that it read CAERPHILLY MUSEUM OF ODDITIES AND ANTIQUITIES. At the bottom of the sign, an arrow pointed downward. Beside the sign, through an open doorway, I could see the first few steps of a circular stairway.

“A lot of people in Caerphilly have been saying that it’s time we had a museum,” Dr. Smoot said as he led the way down the steep steps. “The town and the county have so much interesting history! But since we’re still recovering from the tough times, I can understand that there’s not enough tax money to pay for it. So I decided to start it myself.”

He arrived at the bottom of the stairs and stepped aside, gesturing grandly to indicate the sights that lay before us.

I stepped out into the room and fought the impulse to stoop. The room wasn’t really that low, but the black ceiling, floor, and woodwork and the blood-red walls seemed to close in on us. Just the sort of environment in which Dr. Smoot would thrive, but I wasn’t sure how the rest of the town would feel about having our history displayed in a setting that seemed more appropriate for, say, a museum of medieval torture implements.

“Over there is the wax museum.” Dr. Smoot pointed to his left while reaching with the other hand to flip a light switch.

The lights came on, though since the lights were all flickering LED faux candles in medieval-style black metal wall sconces, we got only a slightly better view of the row of figures trailing off into the shadows.

But we could see the closest two, and they didn’t look like any wax figures I’d ever seen. In fact—

“Of course I haven’t got the budget for real wax figures yet,” he explained. “But I got a great deal on a large consignment of secondhand store mannequins, so I can get that feature going while I put together the funding for the real thing.”

“Very ingenious,” Michael said. Dr. Smoot probably didn’t know that “ingenious” was Michael’s tactful word, the one he used when he couldn’t think of anything else positive to say. I choked back “interesting,” since everyone in town knew that was what Mother had taught my siblings and me to say under similar circumstances.

We strolled down the aisle between the two rows of figures. Dr. Smoot—or whoever he’d enlisted to help with the fake wax museum—had obviously worked very hard on the costumes, including hats or hoods with as many as possible so it wasn’t really too disconcerting that Vlad the Impaler, Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein’s monster, and the inhabitants of the Zombie Apocalypse tableau had precisely the same tall, slender figures and bland, Barbie-and-Ken faces. In fact, it had a certain wacky charm. But the charm wore thin when we arrived at the second half of the exhibit, depicting events from Caerphilly history, and saw friends and neighbors depicted with the same smooth, blank features. I particularly disliked the diorama depicting me and my father and the penguins he had briefly tried to keep in the basement of our house.

“That doesn’t look a thing like me,” I couldn’t help muttering.

“Well, the face doesn’t, no,” Dr. Smoot said. “But I think we’ve got the hair and clothes perfect. And aren’t the penguins realistic! I found a Web site that sells fiberglass penguins for stores to use as part of their holiday decorations.”

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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