An Adirondack Mystery – Chapter 6

Word must have spread about this stranger in the little village that was real handy with tools and could fix anything. Before I knew it, people were stopping me on the street inquiring if I was Mike Bennet , how are you, it’s good to meet you and on. Jack and Bill had been real busy chattering about the work we had done and as I was the only stranger left in town, it was not too hard for the locals to figure out who I was. Most of them just wanted to introduce themselves while a couple of the others were making inquiries if I could come and do some work for them. I tried to talk if off and tell them I was on vacation but a couple of them wouldn’t take no for an answer and before I knew it, I had a list of things to do a mile long.

I mentioned this to Julie on one of my nightly visits the Bar. “You hear about all these people who want me to do some work for them. Did you put them up to it or was it Jack and Bill”. I asked.
“Why would I go and do a thing like that” she replied.”Your a free man and can do whatever you want. Are you going to help them out”?
“I suppose” I said “It’s not like I need to be anywhere special for another month and a half and they all seem like nice people”
“I hear that Mrs Duncan has asked you to fix her kitchen up a bit” Julie said after she had served a customer. “You want to watch her as she is just itching to get her claws on another man so she can wear them out like she has the last two”.
I was intrigued. “What do you mean, wear them out”? I asked suddenly very interested.
“It’s no secret in this town that she has strong desires and the men she fixes her sites on generally cannot keep up with her and her desires and demands” Julie replied.
Julie wandered off to serve another customer and left me sitting and wondering what I might be letting myself into and whether I would risk being up to the challenge. When Julie returned, I asked her what happened to the men after Mrs Duncan finishes with them.
“No one really knows. They are just not around anymore. Your not thinking of working for her are you”?
I thought about Mrs Duncan who it has to be said was in herself a very nice looking woman with a well-kept figure and thought of the risks. I was a little intrigued by what Mrs Duncan’s desires might be  but no matter how hard I prodded Julie, she wouldn’t explain anything on the subject.
“Just stay away from her if you know what is best for you” Julie said in a low voice so no one else could hear. “She’s nothing but trouble”.
I laughed it off and told her I could take care of myself and that I was a big boy. “Just remember what I said” she repeated.

The next day, I was curious about Julie’s warning so I searched out Jack who was at his house. He invited me in and I could see the obvious signs of a home that was very comfortable but had never had a women’s touch. Although you would not describe it as messy, it did seem like every available flat surface had something stacked on it and some looked like it may have been there for years.
“Want a drink” Jack said after we had exchanged pleasantries.
“No thanks, too early in the day for me”, I explained and he nodded in agreement.
“How about coffee then, I just made a fresh pot”
“That sounds great, no sugar and a little milk if you don’t mind”. I was an avid coffee drinker whether it be in the city with Starbuck’s Lattes or up in the mountain with fresh brewed. Coffee was one of my biggest weaknesses. “What can you tell me about Mrs Duncan” I asked “She has some work for me and Julie is trying to warn me off from her. Why do you think that is”
Jack thought for a bit and said,”Mrs Duncan moved here fifteen years ago and tried to make friends with every man in the village including me. She has managed to be the reason for a couple of marriage break ups and responsible for several rows in others. She is not too well liked and there are stories that she is somehow mixed up in the disappearance of at least two of the men who were attracted to her. They were both here alone on vacation and no one knew when or what happened to them. They probably just left town in the middle of the night to escape Mrs Duncan’s clutches. There are other stories of her dabbling in witchcraft which is pretty hard to believe in this day and age. Do you believe in witchcraft, Mike”?
I thought about it for a bit and then said, “I’m not really sure if I do or not. I have seen a few things in my travels that defy logical explanation but to describe them as witchcraft maybe going too far.I think that when something happens that cannot be explained, it is very easy to think of the supernatural as the reason.  Then again, they used to burn witches at the stake and in many cases was because they were also apothacarist and chemists and invented cures for ailments that should never be cured”. We talked some more on the subject as I finished my coffee and bid Jack farewell.

Click on Chapter 7  for the next episode