Formal Attire

SH-fireworksHi folks,
Today’s Carding Chronicle is actually an excerpt from early in the next Carding novel, Lights in Water, Dancing (which will be available soon). It’s a piece that seems appropriately timed for this week’s holiday.

Just a bit of background for those of you new to the series about the little town in Vermont that no one can seem to find on a map. Carding is reeling from the revelation that the man hired by the town school board (Reggie Rosen) is a fraud. Together with his step-sister Margie, he was systematically embezzling school funds to the tune of $3.5 million.

At the end of the third Carding novel (The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life), Reggie was arrested and Margie was on the run.

Richard Monroe, who is featured in this excerpt, was a member of the school board that hired Reggie Rosen.

Intrigued? Read on!

You are invited to a Fourth of July party at
193 Kingswood Avenue on the 9th hole of the Mount Merino golf course.

Drinks at 6. Dinner at 8.

Formal attire please.

Richard Monroe was a fastidious man. His clothes in his closet were hung with an eye to precision, his suits collected in sets of dark blue, gray, and black. His dress shirts were always pristine white or cream. His casual slacks were well-pressed, and matched meticulously with his stockpile of golf shirts. All his shoes were clean and polished.

His socks never sagged.

Monroe leaned forward to examine his face in the bathroom mirror while his current housekeeper filed his latest batch of dry cleaning in the room reserved for his clothes. He wanted to be sure she touched nothing but hangers. He despised snooping. He knew his demands drove his paid help crazy but that suited him just fine. Turnover kept the gossip flow to a minimum.

 He had to make the right impression for the official launch of his latest real estate project, Maplewood Knoll. “When the Knoll is complete,” he whispered to his reflection, “Mount Merino’s second golf course will be an international sensation, and the luxury homes that accompany it will be a haven for those with taste.”

Monroe grinned at himself. He liked that version of his speech the best.

It was obvious to him that an expansion of the entire Mount Merino complex was long overdue. The development’s original condos and luxury homes were showing signs of wear as they neared their twenty-year mark, and the design of the golf course had become achingly familiar. The Mount Merino Landowners Association needed waking up if it was going to survive, and Monroe knew he was just the man to remedy that situation.

He smoothed the collar of his shirt as he practiced his talking points for the evening. “Who will design the course, you ask? What if I told you I’d tempted Ernest Hollingsworth out of retirement? Would that interest you?”

That type of news was sure to interest any golfer. Hollingsworth courses were renowned for their devilish trickery, and the golf course designer’s services were notoriously difficult to secure. The fact that he might work on a course in Carding, Vermont would make Monroe’s proposal irresistible and open the wallets of prospective investors.

He turned to look at the tie selection he’d spread across his dresser, thumbing the silk of each one in its turn. Monroe knew he needed to impress the men who’d gather in his study for brandy after dinner. He was quite aware that the ritual of men-in-the-study and women-in-the-drawing-room reeked of a class system popular in the nineteenth century, a fact that Monroe knew would please his audience.

Once his after-dinner presentation to the men of Merino was over, Monroe would launch his campaign among the wives. He needed a bit more time to prepare for that because, in his experience, women required more individualized attention than men.

But that could wait until tomorrow.

“Is there anything else, Mr. Monroe?” the housekeeper called from the next room.

“Have the caterers arrived?”

“Yessir, they’re setting up in the kitchen now.”

Monroe selected a red tie with a subtly overlaid design in silver thread. It would be an elegant contrast with the understated charcoal gray of his suit. “Then I won’t require your services any more this evening,” he said as he started the tie-knotting process. “But I expect you here early tomorrow morning. I don’t want to see a mess when I get up.”

“Yessir.” The woman shook her head as she glanced around Monroe’s spotless master bedroom. With a sudden twitch of insight, she realized that the room held nothing of a personal nature, no photographs, no mementos, not even pocket change or keys stashed carelessly in a bowl. The two prints hanging on the walls were best described as innocuous if they were described at all.

Her reverie was broken when she heard Monroe stir in the next room. She quickly pulled her letter of resignation out of her pocket, and placed it on the seat of the room’s only chair. Mr. Monroe could clean up after his own party.

I’m so glad you’ve stopped by to enjoy this excerpt from Lights in Water, Dancing, the fourth novel of Carding, Vermont.

As always please share the  Carding Chronicle with your friends and be sure to subscribe to this website so that the next story will be delivered to your inbox.

If you would like to get in touch, my email address is:

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