KN, p. 148 “Is that a body under the deck?”



I was taking the recycles out to the bin and my leg went through one of the planks in the deck. Nothing was damaged except the plank. Well, maybe a scrape on my shin, but not much else. This was the second plank I had gone through – and replaced – in a week, so it was time to get the whole deck redone.


Normally I would replace the thing myself, but my doc said no heavy lifting while I was finishing up the rehab. So I got my former construction partner on the line and gave him the job. He owed me a favor so we agreed on parts + a percentage for labor. Basically I paid for the lumber and the salary for his helper for the day. He would not agree to my paying him for his own labor, but I twisted his arm with the promise of having his family over for a couple of barbecues once the deck was finished.


Sheila and I have had a snake problem under the deck ever since we built the raised garden beds surrounding it. We inadvertently blocked off any runoff and the critters soon had their own swampy little place to live, full of food, shelter and water. They’ve been happy, but us? Not so much.


Since Todd was pulling out all the boards, it was the perfect time to level the ground below, then dig a small drainage trench about three inches wide at the edge so that the accidental pond could empty. After the water ran off, the sun dried out the exposed dirt and for the first time in a couple of years, the frogs/toads were off to greener, damper grassland.


The next step was to put a layer of small stones on top of the leveled dirt. That definitely changed the animal habitat. Without the artificial pond, and no food source that we could see, we hoped that the snakes would be gone as well. Foolishly, we didn’t have all the facts, but that’s for another story.


As I watched Todd and his helper work, I got to thinking that the mini pond wasn’t deep enough to hide a body. The unbelievably rank smell of a corpse rotting in the summer would have been a dead giveaway if I had one lying around, but now there was gravel… and digging….


If I was inclined to do this deck myself, nobody could see me in back of the house and passersby would think nothing of shovels and lumber and gravel and even cement coming in and out of the yard. And Bingo! Hiding place for the body. Who would notice a bag or two of quicklime? The neighbors would be none the wiser.


Hmmm…come to think of it….Milly’s husband has been away on a business trip for a really long time and they have a new patio and a new deck and new, high, lush landscaping around it all. Just kidding. Maybe.


If you think nobody would really do that, take a look at these recent stories in the news.


In April, 2014:


and, in May, 2015:


As for us? We’re both healthy and enjoying the new deck.  🙂

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*Photos by Patti Phillips



KN, p. 147 “Is that a body in the dumpster?”


PMustangDr copy

Last summer, Bridget’s Mustang would not start, just as she tried to leave for the trip back to Texas. We called our trusty road travel service, but there was a problem with the tow truck people they sent out.

Read “How many tow trucks does it take?


After a full day of waiting, making phone calls and finally, giving up hope of Bridget getting on the road anytime soon, the car was delivered to the repair shop after hours. Sadly, the story didn’t end there.


A fuel pump was replaced at the repair shop before they gave up and delivered the car to the dealer down the road. The new fuel pump didn’t help get the car started, but I had to pay for it anyway. The dealer discovered that it was a battery that had been the issue. They were doubtful about the need for the fuel pump, but hey – Bridget had a new one.

Read “How many mechanics does it take?


Apparently, that was the week that never ended its gift giving.


Bridget called last night and said that the Mustang had been sputtering a bit, so she suspected coils needed to be replaced and they did. But that’s not all her mechanic discovered.


The fuel pump from last year? Proved to be an after market bust and it needs replacing. Yup. After only 5,000 miles and less than a year.


This is my kid sister and I let her down by suggesting she take her prized car to be fixed at our local shop. Sheila and I feel so bad about it and the more I think about it, the madder I get.


There will be bodies. Several of them.


And I know just where to hide them. There is a big tire pile next to the woods out in back of the repair shop, along with a very large dumpster. My buddies and I will find a way.



Just kidding. Maybe. There will definitely be some loud talking.


By the way, I did some research and could not find a single case of a mechanic ‘disappearing’ after doing a lousy job. Looks like lots of people choose ‘loud talking’ over body dumping. That’s probably a good thing. Otherwise, who would we get to fix our cars?


*Photos by Patti Phillips




Kerrian’s Notebook, p. 100 “100 Ways to Die an Unnatural Death”


Shovels anyone?

Kerrian’s Notebook has been around for 100 pages. That deserves some serious noisemakers. Maybe that should be 100 handcuffs rattling or 100 jail cells slamming shut on the bad guys, but whatever noise we use to celebrate? Make it loud. We love a party!

In honor of the 100 pages, here is a list of 100 ways to die by unnatural causes. A death certificate (which lists the cause of death) is issued after any death in the USA, whether natural or otherwise, but if the attending medical practitioner notes anything suspicious, an inquiry may or may not be conducted. Keep in mind that a law enforcement officer will only investigate these deaths if a dastardly deed is suspected. Sometimes, foul play is not always apparent.

Can you spot the ones in the list that indicate murder was afoot?

1)   Drowning in bathtub

2)   Drowning in ocean because of undertow

3)   Drowning in a molasses spill

4)   Suffocation by pillow

5)   Suffocation after entire body has been painted

6)   Hanging by rope

7)   Electrocution for death penalty

8)   Electrocution by hairdryer

9)   Electrocution by electrified fence

10) Electrocution while changing light bulb

11) Hit by lightning

12) Knife in the chest

13) Knife in the leg

14) Axe to the head

15) Bleeding out because of slit wrists

16)   Arson

17)   Gas leak in house

18)   Smoke inhalation

19)   Bullet to the head

20)   Accidental drug overdose

21)   Medical malpractice

22)   Tripped and hit head, cracking skull

23)   Beaten to death

24)   Death by roller coaster

25)   Vending machine fell with your arm in it

26)   Lethal mix of drugs and alcohol

27)   Alcohol poisoning

28)   Radiation poisoning

29)   Arsenic in tea

30)   Baked in an oven

31)   Allergic reaction to shellfish

32)   Allergic reaction to nuts

33)   Attacked by wolves

34)   Bitten by cobra

35)   Clawed by tiger

36)   Mauled by a shark

37)   Attacked by alligator – C.C.J.

38)   Bitten by several fire ants

39)   Bitten by poisonous spiders

40)   Crushed by boa constrictor

41)   Thrown from a horse

  42)   Trampled by elephants

  43)   Gored by a bull

  44)  Bitten by scorpion

  45)  Bitten by mosquito during sleep – allergic reaction to bite – B.R

  46)  Poisoned by contact with weed killers

  47)  Poisoned by ingesting toxic flowers/leaves


48)   Crushed by falling tree

49)    Stepped on a land mine

50)    Bomb explosion

51)    Rocket attack

52)    Hit in the head by a pitched ball

53)    Death in a boxing match

54)    Car accident, crushed

55)    Car accident, gas tank explodes

56)    Car accident – car ripped in half by telephone wire – anonymous

57)    Hit by a car while crossing the street

58)    Hit by commuter train

59)    Propane tank on BBQ exploded

60)    Chemical spill

61)    Airplane crash

62)    Airplane mid-air explosion

63)    Parachute didn’t open

64)    Parasail collided with cliff

65)    Choked on food

66)    Choked on bottle cap

67)    Pushed off a cliff

68)    Fell off a roof

69)   Jumped out a window

70)   Froze in a snow bank

71)   Stabbed with icicle

72)   Buried in an avalanche

73)   Fell off a ski lift

74)   Starved to death

75)   Mercury poisoning

76)   Asbestos poisoning

77)   Decapitation

78)   Strangled by another person

79)    Strangled – tie caught in laminating machine while wearing it

80)    Sword fight

81)    Sniper bullet

82)    Stabbed with knitting needle

83)    Hung upside down by feet until dead

84)    Death by dehydration

85)    Sinkhole collapsed with person in it – C.C.J.

86)    Latrine on flatbed of truck fell onto your car – J.P.M.

87)    Death by barbed wire fence – J.P.M.

88)    Cyanide salts in an almond cake – E.M.

89)    Elevator doors malfunctioned and closed on neck

90)    Walked into empty elevator shaft

91)    Jumped off diving board into empty pool

92)    Got stuck in a storm drain while trying to retrieve wallet

93)    Trapped inside a folding bed

94)    Buried under falling bookshelves

95)    Mangled by farming/industrial machinery

96)    Botulism

97)    Shot yourself while cleaning a gun

98)    Crashed into tree while ziplining

   99)   Bungee cord broke while jumping

  100)  Hypothermia


Sources? I’ve lived longer than I’d like to admit and over 90 of these deaths are ones I’ve heard about in the news or seen in the movies over the years. Some of the Kerrian’s Notebook readers have told me about a few more. Thanks to Barbara Rosario, Christy Crowley Johnson, Jessica Pettengill Messinger, and a person who prefers to remain anonymous, for their ripped-from-the-headlines suggestions. Thanks to mystery writer Edith Maxwell for an intriguing cause of death. I wonder if one of her books will include that COD? Remind me to stay away from any almond dishes at her house.  😉



*Photos by Patti Phillips, but nobody died while she was shooting them, nor is the body part in the fourth picture real flesh and blood.




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