Gwen Mayo/Sarah Glenn – Murder on the Mullet Express

This week, I’m hosting authors, Gwen Mayo and Sarah Glenn.

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Gwen Mayo is passionate about blending her loves of history and mystery fiction. She currently lives and writes in Safety Harbor, Florida, but grew up in a large Irish family in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. She is the author of the Nessa Donnelly Mysteries and co-author of the Old Crows stories with Sarah Glenn.

Her stories have appeared in A Whodunit Halloween, Decades of Dirt, Halloween Frights (Volume I), and several flash fiction collections. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, the Historical Novel Society, and the Florida Authors and Publishers Association.

Gwen has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Kentucky. Her most interesting job, though, was as a brakeman and railroad engineer from 1983 – 1987. She was one of the last engineers to be certified on steam locomotives. http://www.gwenmayo.com

Sarah E. Glenn has a B.S. in Journalism, which is a great degree for the dilettante she is. Later on, she did a stint as a graduate student in classical languages. She didn’t get the degree, but she’s great with crosswords. Her most interesting job was working the reports desk for the police department in Lexington, Kentucky, where she learned that criminals really are dumb.

Her great-great aunt served as a nurse in WWI, and was injured by poison gas during the fighting. A hundred years later, this would inspire Sarah to write stories Aunt Dess would probably not approve of. http://www.sarahglenn.com

County Seat

By Gwen Mayo

While researching the first Three Snowbirds mystery, Sarah and I ran across a lot of interesting tidbits of history that weren’t relevant to the story, but gave us a lot of insight into the people who built Citrus County. One of the tidbits that amused me dates back to the founding of the county. It had no place in Murder on the Mullet Express, but I think it shows the character and determination of the people.

In 1887, Florida Governor E. A. Perry signed into law a bill dividing Hernando County into three counties: Citrus to the north, and Pasco to the south. Legislation stipulated that for two years the town of Mannfield would be the temporary county seat of Citrus County, as it sat in the geographical center of the newly created county.

Voters were to decide where the permanent county seat would be located. The county was pretty much equally divided over keeping Mannfield as the county seat or moving it to Inverness. The political fight that ensued while trying to decide the permanent location of the county seat continued for the better part of two years. Several votes were taken without either side winning a majority.

On May 4, 1891, the supporters of Inverness finally won in a very close vote. That might have been the end of the story, but the opposition had no intention of quitting just because they lost by a few votes. Many of the county officials simply refused to move. The fight raged on, including a few fistfights. Mannfield supporters took the case to circuit court and managed to get a court injunction preventing the move.

Word travels fast, and the Inverness backers were determined to claim their hard-won victory. Before the injunction preventing moving the county seat could be served, Inverness supporters staged a midnight raid. Horses and wagons manned by Inverness supporters arrived in Mannfield. Everything that had to do with County government: records, court furniture, and fixtures, were stripped from the old courthouse and moved to the new county seat. Captain W.C. Zimmerman, the County Clerk, was in his office at the time and refused to move. Inverness men picked up his chair with him in it, loaded him in the wagon with his desk, and transported him and his office to the new location!

Inverness is still the county seat, and one of only two incorporated cities in Citrus County. As for what happened to Mannfield, only a few foundations remain. During the Great Depression, the United States Government purchased the property as part of the land conservation effort. Mannfield is now part of Florida’s Withlacoochee State Forest.

Here is an excerpt from Murder on the Mullet Express.

The Ladies Settle Into Their Room at Riverside Lodge

 “I don’t know if buying a house here would be wise,” Teddy said as she hung her dresses in the wardrobe. “It’s not nearly as built up as the brochure suggested.”

“We haven’t seen where they’re building yet. Besides, not everything needs to be built up,” Cornelia replied, unrolling her stockings. “Quiet is its own tonic.”

“This is even more isolated than Fisher’s Mill. Only one store, no library, no sign of any nightlife—”

A shriek from the shared bathroom interrupted Teddy’s litany. The nurses dropped their respective projects and rushed to the door.

When Cornelia opened it, a young woman fell backwards into her arms. The girl screamed, and it was clear that she was the source of the first cry.

Cornelia stood her back on her feet. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s horrible!” she managed.

“That’s hardly helpful,” she snapped, and left her for Teddy to manage. Cornelia stepped into the frame of the bathroom door.

The opposite door was also open. An older woman with salt-and-pepper hair stood there, scanning the room with frightened eyes. The chamber behind her was strewn with clothing and hatboxes.

“Careful,” she said, “there’s a creature in here.”

“Creature? Where is it?”

“In the bath. A reptile or a snake.” The woman shuddered.

“Let me look.” Cornelia slid into the room, eyeing the crevices and corners with suspicion. At any moment, she might need to jump back if it were a poisonous snake.

The first and second corners were empty; a toiletry bag obscured the third. A strong chance of enemy action there. The fourth corner was hidden by the tub. She glanced over the top.

A small lizard blinked up at her. It was probably a gecko. Cornelia leaned on the edge of the sink and reached for the bath towel. She flung it over the creature, bundling the reptile inside.

“Coming through!” she shouted, carrying the wad of fabric into a hallway crowded with curious guests. “Out of the way, or I’ll drop this lizard down someone’s trousers!”

The crowd parted like the Red Sea, and she charged through the exit and onto the grounds. One snap of the towel, and the unwanted guest skittered into the bushes.

“I wouldn’t come back if I were you,” she warned the gecko. “They might make you into a change purse.”

The night manager, a Mr. Hoyt, was busy trying to calm his guests. “I’m very sorry, ma’am. I’ll check the room myself before you go back in.”

“I demand another room! Better yet, another hotel!” The woman with salt-and-pepper hair sounded bold, but her hands trembled.

“Ma’am, you can do what you think best, but I don’t have any open rooms, and I don’t think any other hotels in the area have an empty room, either.”

Cornelia sighed and looked at Teddy, who was trying to hide a smile. “If you’d like, I could check the bathroom regularly for varmints.”

“That would be very kind of you, Mrs.—?”

“Miss. Cornelia Pettijohn.”

“I’m Helen Minyard, and this is my niece, Kathleen Burnell. We’re indebted to you.”

I caught a lizard, not a rattlesnake, Cornelia thought, but merely replied, “It’s a small price to pay for everyone’s peace of mind.”

Later, after everyone had returned to their rooms, Teddy and Cornelia pushed the two single beds together.

“That was so funny,” Teddy said. “All that fuss over a gecko.”

“I remember another girl who made a similar fuss in San Juan. She was quite upset about a gecko.”

“That wasn’t a gecko; that was an anole. He puffed up his sac and made a pass at me, the masher.”

“But you screamed just as loud.”

“And you came to my rescue. I don’t recall dropping into your arms the same way, though.”

“No, you already had me just where you wanted me.”

They both laughed.

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About Evelyn Cullet

I write mystery romance and romantic suspense novels. I'm an avid organic gardener, and I play the piano. I have a spoiled Black Lab mix., Bailey, whom I adore. Visit my blog every Monday to discover new authors and their novels at: http://evelyncullet.com/blog/
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2 Responses to Gwen Mayo/Sarah Glenn – Murder on the Mullet Express

  1. Sarah Glenn says:

    Thank you for hosting us!

  2. Thanks for being guest authors on my blog, ladies. Murder on the Millet Express looks like a fun mystery, and another to be added to my TBR list.

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