Today through Saturday, The Cliffhouse Haunting is on sale for only .99 at Amazon! To celebrate, here is this week’s copy of the The Cliffside Weekly Chronicle! Just click the pic below to obtain your .99 cent copy!
THE CLIFFSIDE WEEKLY CHRONICLE
Another Death at the Peppermint Stix Motel
Another body has been found in Cliffside. The unidentified male was discovered by Bernard Cox, owner of the Peppermint Stix Motel on Main Street. “I’ve seen a lot of disgusting things – I’ve been running this run-down piece of sh*t motel for years – but I ain’t never seen anything the likes of this!” Cox went on to describe the scene. “So this fellow – he was ripped apart. A leg here, an arm there. And there was water everywhere. And his intestines, or something like that, was pulled out of him and draped around like festoons on the fourth of July!”
The body was taken to the Cliffside Funeral Home where coroner Gene Holmes, M.D., was expected to autopsy it this morning. Police Chief Jackson Ballou refused to answer questions, saying it was too early in the investigation. “This savage murder is just the latest in a series of deaths that may or may not be related. We haven’t even ruled out a bear attack at this point.”
But Cliffside residents have theories of their own. According to young locals Belle Tabrum and Lacey Mylett, there’s “obviously a serial killer on the loose, you know?” When asked what made them so certain, they seemed at a loss and failed to respond. Tessa Cornhull, RN, also believes the murders are connected. “It’s practically common sense,” says Cornhull. “Each of the victims is torn apart, but that’s not even what kills them. They die by drowning. Water in the lungs. That sounds like an MO to me!” Neither the police nor the coroner would confirm Cornhull’s claims of water being present in the lungs of the deceased, saying only that “The investigations are ongoing,” though Cornhull retains her belief that murder is afoot.
But Walter Gardner, groundskeeper of the Cliffside Lodge, has a different theory. Says Gardner, “It’s the Blue Lady. She’s come back. And when the Blue Lady walks, death walks with her.” Maggie O’Connor, a maid at the lodge, concurs with Gardner, saying, “I saw her. In the mirror in a room on the third floor. It scared me to death and I almost quit my job until my boss talked me into staying.”
Unable to obtain any substantial findings, we contacted local doctor, Roger Siechert, who was physician to several of the deceased. When told of the locals’ speculations, Dr. Siechert gave a boisterous laugh, saying, “I don’t know about all that, but are you guys coming to Oktoberfest this year? I’m making my famous Weisswurst. I’m going to win the contest this year! You just watch and see!”
According to Pastor Harry Beaver of the Baptist church, that comes as no surprise. Says Beaver, “Dr. Siechert wins first place every gosh darned year. It’d be nice to see someone else take that ribbon for once.”
So Who is the Blue Lady?
Interest in Cliffside’s own local ghost, the Blue Lady, has increased since long-time Cliffhouse Groundsman, Walter Gardner, said that he thinks the latest murders in our town – specifically at the Peppermint Stix Motel – may be connected to the deaths. And he says his theory has nothing to do with the unverified rumor that the victims’ lungs are full of water.
The Blue Lady sightings date back to the late 1700s when a short-lived Spanish Settlement occupied the area, then reemerged in 1886 when the Cliffhouse Lodge was built. The Blue Lady is often connected to serial murders such as those committed by The Gaslight Killer in the 1880s and The Bodice Ripper of the Prohibition Era. Local lore has it that the Blue Lady, a vengeful spirit of unknown origin, is said to appear during times of violence and death, and that such sightings are a prelude to murder.
It is most commonly believed that the ghost makes her home in or near the water, hence the name of the small lake near the Cliffside Lodge, Blue Lady Lake.
Self-Proclaimed Psychic Signs at the Crystal Cavern
Psychic medium Constance Welling has written many books on the occult and will be at the Crystal Cavern Occult Book Shop this Saturday from 2pm to 4pm signing her latest book in the Crystal Method series, The Kiss of the Wild Crystal. She will also be a giving a talk on getting in touch with your inner spirit guide. Her own spirit guide, (referred to as Eliza,) has been with her since childhood, after a near-fatal accident. Welling says Eliza has given her insight and guided her hand while writing her many books, as well as “helping others with their spiritual needs.”
Welling is currently staying at the Cliffhouse Lodge and says it’s extremely haunted. The medium says she hopes that the owners, Adam and Teddy Baxter-Bellamy, will relent and allow her to hold a seance in the lodge to speak with notorious 1920s serial killer, the Bodice Ripper. She hopes to once and for all identify the Ripper so that, “his many victims can at last go into the light.”
Adam Baxter-Bellamy responded to this reporter’s question. “We want to reassure our guests – past, present, and future, that Cliffhouse is not haunted – except possibly by a friendly feline ghost – and that no ghost-hunting or seances will happen here.”
Ms. Welling vehemently disagrees, stating that most non-gifted persons are unaware of ghostly goings-on. According to Ms. Welling, she is the only member of her family to have inherited what she calls the “gift.” Says Welling, “I used to tell my older sister what her dates were going to be like, and I was always right.” Constance’s only sibling, Phyllis Stine of Snapdragon, California, refused to comment, saying only that she had to get off the phone as a pressing neighborhood matter required her immediate attention. “Just make sure she has the best of everything,” said Stine, “and she’ll make you a few bucks. She insists on dining and traveling in style.”
And Ms. Welling is not traveling alone. She’s brought a hired hand to “help her manage her schedule,” and to “keep the fans at bay.” When asked if he thought his employer was as psychically gifted as she claims, Welling’s personal assistant, Luke Donovan, abruptly excused himself.
Welling’s The Crystal Method Series, as well as her children’s book, My Crystal and Me, are published by Faerie Dust Press, a small publisher based in Bakerton, California, owned by Rodney Hicks. You can obtain copies of Ms. Welling’s ebooks through Amazon. For paperback copies, send self-addressed stamped 6X9” envelopes to Rodney at his mother’s residence at: 17 Peanut Berry Circle, Bakerton, CA. For signed copies of her books, Ms. Welling says, “You’ll just have to come to one of my signings.”
Sadly, Ms. Welling’s first book, Beautiful Cluster, has gone out of print.
Wine Tasting Weekend at The Cliffhouse Lodge
The Cliffhouse Lodge will host their bi-monthly wine tasting this Saturday evening from seven to nine pm. The event is free to guests of the lodge and open to the public for $10 a person. Chantrieri wines from California’s own Valentyn Vineyards will be served along with Cliffhouse’s own Blue Springs Sparkling Water and an assortment of o’dourves prepared at the in-house bistro, Le Chatte Rouge. The event takes place in Cliffhouse’s historic lobby and features Jordan Cartwright on the piano.
“Our evening wine tastings are very popular,” says co-owner Sara Baxter-Bellamy. “Cliffhouse is an amazing place, one of the first hotels ever built in the San Bernardino Mountains. The lobby is breathtaking and even has a natural brook running through it. Try it once, you’ll want to come again.”
Dinner will be served from 4 pm through 10 pm at La Chatte Rouge and manager Paul Butters says they will be featuring their own California cuisine, including Asiago and Kale pizza, Trout with Cranberry and Peppercorn Glaze, and Filet Mignon with Framboise du Congélateur.
Old West Days
Later this month, as part of Cliffside’s, Welcome to Summer festivities, The Cliffhouse Lodge will play host to Old West Days, a reenactment of the old west that’s been a popular event for over fifty years. “Back in the day, it was called ‘Cowboys and Indians Days,” explains local historian Stanford Swiller, “but we aren’t allowed to say that anymore. Nor are we allowed to depict battles but there will be a rodeo in the field by the Cliffside Stables near the lodge.”
On the Great Lawn, there will be native American dances and crafts, Cowboy crafts, including a class in whittling led by our own chief of police, Jackson Ballou, knot-tying classes, a reenactment of the Gunfight at the OK Corral and plenty of strolling, strumming, singing cowboys. The hotel will sponsor a barbecue in conjunction in La Chatte Rouge and welcome plenty of concession stands for food and libations. Other concessions will sell cowboy and native gear for young and old alike and each evening there will be square-dancing under the stars.
Admission to Old West Days is $15 per person. Cliffhouse Lodge will supply a free shuttle to ferry guests between the hotel and the stables.
Services for Eliot “Rainbow” Nash, 43, will be held at the Cliffside Funeral Home Thursday at 10 a.m. Mr. Nash is survived by his wife, Myrna, and children Greenwich, Daffodil, Hoody, and Solstice. Mr. Nash was a locally famous glassblower whose Pine Street shop, Tinkling Things, was destroyed in the freak explosion that took Mr. Nash’s life. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, mourners donate to Old Seamen’s Retirement Home in Red Cay.
Film Festival Honoring Maisy Hart
Next Friday night, the Cliffside Arts Theater will feature an evening of films starring our own Maisy Hart. Miss Hart, who is a permanent resident at the Cliffhouse Lodge, was a scream queen back in the 1960s, starring in such films as Creature of the Indigo Swamp, Scream of the Shrew Monster, Screaming Girls of Calaveras County and Screams of the Sorority Sisters.
Miss Hart will be there in person to answer questions and autograph DVDs. Admission is $12. The doors open at 5 pm.
Person of the Week
We all know yearly Person of the Week, Noble Mason, who regularly helps Cliffside residents deal with everything from plumbing problems to choosing the right paint, but how many know about Pat Matthews, his righthand man and brother-in-law? This week, Pat is our Person of the Week.
Pat has worked for Noble Mason since marrying Noble’s sister, Taffilynn, fifteen years ago and they, along with their twelve children, are prominent residents of our fair village. “Pat’s a good guy,” says Noble. “He follows my orders with a smile and takes good care of my baby sister and all my little nieces and nephews.”
Pat, who hails from Twin Falls, Idaho, says he loves Cliffside and is glad to be a part of our town. In addition to acting as handyman, he likes to spend lots of time with his wife and children. “Taffilynn has one in the oven, if you know what I mean, and we’re hoping eventually to have enough kids to make two baseball teams. That would be great. Just great!”
Pat works full time taking care of problems for the town’s residents while Taffilynn is a stay-at-home mom who fills her days taking care of their children. “She loves it,” says Pat. “She was born to be a mom. And I was born to be a dad. It’s great. Just great.”
Taffilynn declined to be interviewed but Truthanne and Shrudilee, their twin girls, said of their dad, “He’s great. When Mom’s not home, he lets us watch The Walking Dead!”
Loyd McRoid, aka Loyd the Roid, was arrested for illegally occupying a hotel room and cleaning out honor bar at the Doc Holliday Inn. McRoid, 53, evidently slipped into the unoccupied room and spent the night. Hotel worker Felicia Hornblower found him passed out naked on the bed, the entire contents of the honor bar strewn about him. Everything had been consumed. Two empty bottles of whiskey were also found in the room, one filled with urine. The bathroom was untouched.
Harvey Tanbottum, 37, was arrested after throwing a barstool through a window at Bloodhound’s Bar Wednesday night. Tanbottum claimed a blue-skinned woman had tried to sodomize him in the bathroom. When other patrons disregarded his claims, Tanbottum “Just lost it!” says an anonymous drinker. Bloodhound’s – locally known as Boozehound’s – is next door to the Peppermint Stix Motel, but police say Tanbottum, despite staying at the motel, was not involved in recent deaths there.
Carlotta Wellbourne, 52, was arrested for shoplifting at Cliffside Market Tuesday afternoon after she was seen stuffing lobster claws into her blouse. The society matron is famous for her charitable works, particularly for her annual Scotsman’s Balls in which attendees come dressed in kilts and other Scottish attire.
Following yesterday’s interview at Tamara Thorne’s Little Blog of Horrors, here is an excerpt from my upcoming novel, The Crimson Corset, which will be available in just a few weeks.
Untidy, Ryan Closter had called it. The young deputy had a knack for understatement and when Ethan arrived at the scene, he was prepared to be put off – but this was downright ghastly. This wasn’t the way Ethan liked to start his mornings.
Blood was everywhere, a dried riot of red rust all over the floor, across the bed, and even on the ceiling. It was as if someone had put a bomb in a can of paint. And the smell was unbearable. Flies swarmed like a black cloud above the body.
Closter spoke at Ethan’s side. “A neighbor heard some noises last night. She informed the landlord this morning, and after knocking and getting no response, this is what he walked into.”
At the center of the bed lay the woman, face-down, in her own dried pool of fluids.
“Her name’s Rose Keller,” Closter said.
Ethan shook his head. “Day manager of the Black Garter.”
“You know her?”
“Our paths crossed recently.” Ethan wouldn’t have been surprised to hear the woman had overdosed on something, but would never have guessed she’d go like this.
“I’ve never seen anything like it.” Closter looked a little green, and his partner, Nick Grayson, gave Ethan an uncertain glance.
“Why don’t you go get some fresh air, Closter?” Ethan said. “We’ll be fine till the others show up.”
The deputy swallowed and nodded, his face clammy. The last thing they needed was for someone to throw up on the crime scene – not that it’d be the first time it had happened.
As Closter stepped out, Ethan heard the buzz of bystanders just outside the door. “Jesus,” someone said. “I’ve never seen so much blood …”
“I heard they can’t find her head,” said another.
The voices faded as the door closed. How eagerly people swarm to violence and death. Like ants to a piece of rotten fruit. It unsettled Ethan.
The room was hot, intensifying the reek of blood, of innards – of death. Dozens of flies crawled lazily over the body and more were landing. Ethan’s own stomach roiled a little. He hadn’t been sick at a scene since his earliest days on the force and he didn’t intend to buckle now, but it wasn’t easy. He’d never seen anything this theatrical; it looked like the police photographs from the Jack the Ripper crimes. But in horrible living color. He moved closer and stared down at the woman on the bed. Two stumps of spine, glistening white, jutted out of the mess that was the rest of her. It was as if someone had unzipped her skin, reached inside, and yanked her backbone out. And they’d managed to snap it in half in the process.
“Whoever did this was sending a message.” Deputy Grayson was crouched beside the bed, his gaze roving over the late Ms. Keller. A former quarterback in his early-forties with broad shoulders and the earliest beginnings of a beer gut, Nick Grayson was one of Ethan’s best.
Ethan nodded. “I’ll agree with you on that.”
Grayson’s gaze never left the victim. “A killer doesn’t cause a scene like this unless he wants to make a statement.”
The question was, who was the killer, and what was he trying to say? “No sign of any weapons?”
Grayson shook his head and Ethan noticed some graying at the temples of his deputy’s black curly hair. This was the kind of job that would do that. “Nope. Nothing.”
Ethan had figured as much. There was something about this scene that didn’t work.
The woman was tangled in white sheets reminding him, morbidly, of an old barber’s pole. Red and white, red and white, blood and bandages, blood and bandages. He walked around the bed, seeing it from all angles. Every crime scene told a story, you just had to know how to read it. And this one, Ethan was certain, was one hell of a tale.
The more he saw, the more certain he became of two things. One, Rose’s killer was not human, and two, it was not an animal. Not in the usual sense, anyway. He bent and moved the victim’s hair back, careful not to disturb anything. He saw the bite marks on her neck that confirmed his suspicions. He’d have them checked against dental records and if he was lucky – which was highly unlikely – maybe they’d catch the perp fast.
There were also several places along her shoulders and arms where the skin was torn. Someone went to town on her. The thick sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach went colder.
“I’ve been trying to figure that out, too,” said Grayson, watching him. “They’re bites.”
Ethan’s knees popped as he stood and moved to the window. He pinched back the blood-spattered white curtains and stared down. Outside, the Ivory Heights apartment complex was already surrounded by a swarm of onlookers, and it was only going to get worse. Rose Keller’s one-bedroom, second-story apartment would soon be a frenzy of technicians, detectives, plainclothes, more uniforms, a photographer, and probably even a man with a video camera. There was no dignity in death, he thought as he looked at the shredded body on the bed. Especially not when you die like that.
Ethan decided it was time to pay Michael Ward another visit.