Excerpt: The Helena Diaries

Excerpt: The Helena Diaries

Book 1.5: Ghost-in-Law Mysteries

Trouble in Mudbug—Chapter One

Wherein Helena thinks she’s being used in a cult ritual by rogue Baptists

I’m calling my lawyer and CNN. Those Southern Baptist cultists drugged me, dressed me in a hideous, pink polyester suit, did my makeup like a streetwalker, and stuffed me in a casket. They were having some sort of ceremony—probably a sacrifice to ask permission to drink wine or play bingo—when I woke up.

Apparently, whoever administered the drugs did not take into account my staying power.

Immediately, I crawled out of the casket and yelled at that idiot, Pastor Bob, who stood at the pulpit droning on and putting everyone to sleep. As one of the last conversations I recall was a completely mundane and useless conversation about the benefits of owning a goat—with said Pastor Bob—I suspect he was, in fact, the drug used to knock me out.

Pastor Bob completely ignored me and kept talking, but that’s not unusual, so I turned my wrath on everyone else. It was the weirdest thing—not a single person said anything to me. I mean, it’s Mudbug, so it’s not like I was expecting witty retorts or anything, but at least one of those small-minded fools should have been able to find a word or two in their limited vocabulary.

Then I saw that lying, cheating, worthless idiot of a husband of mine, and I knew straightaway that he was at the root of all of this. Everything bad in my life starts with Harold Henry or Wild Turkey. In fact, it was a combination of both that produced that useless son of mine. But I digress.

I walked straight up to Harold, fully intending to strangle him where he sat. After all, there was a coffin and a preacher available, so it seemed like the perfect time to correct an old wrong. But my hands passed right through him. That’s when I realized they were all holograms. I’ve seen that freak show Criss Angel on cable so I know how it works. The only thing that so-called magician ever made disappear for real is good taste.

The hologram thing was a smart move, though. It limits victims.

So I moved on from Harold and headed down the center aisle. After all, they couldn’t hologram the whole town, right? But no matter how loud I yelled or how many faces I waved my hands in, not a single one of them flinched. Since most of them cross the road in front of traffic when they see me coming down the sidewalk, I had to assume they weren’t real.

Then I realized one person was looking at me—Maryse, that unfortunate daughter-in-law of mine. Whatever possessed her to marry Hank, I can’t even imagine. You’d think if your life was at that low a point, suicide would have been a more pleasant option than the slow, lingering pain of marrying my son. She’s supposed to be smart, but I have my doubts.

Anyway, she stared at me with an utter look of morbid fascination and horror, and I figured it was the suit or the makeup, but as I started toward her, she bleated like a frightened sheep, then dropped to the floor, out like a light. That tea-leaf-reading friend of hers squatted beside her, shaking her arm and tapping her face with her fingers, but Maryse was out cold.

She’s probably on one of those newfangled diets where she’s been living for a week on gin and two blueberries.

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