My name is Samuels Harper Hayes, but, much to my highfalutin mother’s chagrin, my father Harley Hayes (aka Scoop) nicknamed me Sam, after his favorite Detective Sam Spade. The name stuck. Several years ago, I took perhaps the biggest risk of my risk-averse life when I left my luxurious condo in Chicago and a fairly boring job with a textbook publisher to return to Cotter’s Corner, Michigan, and my father, a sometimes sober and nearly-totally debauched newspaperman. I told myself the move was to save my father and his paper by using some of the mega-million trust fund established by my mega billionaire stepfather to buy into my dad’s paper The Corner News. Though it is a move I question almost daily as I verbally joust with my father and ward off my mother’s pleas to return to where I belong: big city and big money, it turns out that Mother doesn’t know me half s well as she thinks she does. I’m happy in my little three blocks and one stoplight small town. The following five places and the people associated with them are the reason that I don’t think I’ll ever want to return to bright lights, big city.
The Corner News
This is my dad Scoop’s paper. He bought it when he and my mother left Detroit and the Detroit Free Press. He’d come in drunk once too often so he landed in Cotter’s Corner and a paper with a circulation smaller than his Detroit zip code. It’s home to me, though. It’s the place where I played all those summers when the custody agreement ordered me to be there after my parents’ divorce. Scoop was far from Father of the Year, but even when I was very young, I realized the worth of the quirky people who wandered in through the Corner News’ door. Now I still cherish them as I edit and write my weekly column Snooping, designed to keep subscribers up on the latest goings on. Sadly, the most recent person to come in with “news that will shake this town up,” was the first victim of the person I dubbed The Cotter’s Corner Killer.
Mabel Pollock is a good cook and since her niece, the wonderful Lacy Pickett, has been my friend for as long as I can remember, I spend a great deal of time here. Lacy is gorgeous and a bit adrift with the men who come and go in her life, but she’s a true blue friend and gets me. She also knows that my favorite lunch is a green river soda and a sandwich made from homemade oatmeal bread, havarti, lettuce, and avocado filling with a special cucumber dressing. Yum. But the restaurant will become Lacy’s way too soon when her aunt meets with disaster.
This is a bit of a fib because this spot isn’t exactly my favorite place. But it is the place where my very favorite man, the luscious Charley Cotter (Yes, scion of the super rich Charles Cotter, Sr.), has relocated his vintage car restoration business. He handles nearly priceless Mercedes Benzes and Ferraris, but more important he has suddenly shown an undeniable interest in me. I’m no longer too young for him to pay attention to. It may not be the smartest move I’ve ever made, but I’m dating Charley a little and liking him more and more. So if Charley loves his restoration business, I do too.
This restaurant is way more upscale than the greasy spoons in Cotter’s Corner. Le Noir is where people go to have long, romantic nights. It’s closed during the winter months but the rest of the time reservations are a must. Charley has part ownership in it so we get great treatment whenever we eat here. Oh, there was one night that the treatment was wretched, but the management had nothing to do with that. I nearly died and not from food poisoning.
Aggie Chestnut is another of my best friends, an unlikely one because she’s over seventy years old and devoted to tabloid trash and her police scanner. My childhood summers were full of Aggie, her outrageous sense of impropriety, and her closet full of the most yellow of journalism. She got me into celebrity gossip, and I can’t get out of it—even if I wanted to. Her house is nearly ramshackle ,and she won’t let me help her change it. She loves the stone gargoyles outside and the memories of her cherished husband Tubby, dead for thirty years, inside among the ragged chintz and knickknacks. I’ve had a lot of good luck in my life, but the top of my list of blessings is Aggie.
Lyla Fox is the author of two separate series: Snoop is the first book in The Small Town Gossip Series in which Sam and her friends appear . Lyla also pens the Shaky Detective Mysteries. The first book in that series is Murder on Cinnamon Street. Both series are published by Cozy Cat Press, where she happily writes with dozens of supportive, talented cozy mystery devotees. Lyla’s non-fiction has appeared in national publications and her tweenage novel won an honorable mention in the annual Writer’s Digest Competition. Her books are available online at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. Follow Lyla Fox on the web: Facebook, lylafox.com, and Twitter