Nancy Lynn Jarvis is the author of the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries (and has worked as a realtor herself.) In “Mags and the AARP Gang,” she introduces new characters -- Mags and her gang of renegade octogenarians. In her novel, the gang must rob a rank to fend off foreclosure on their mobile home park. They rehearse their every move — what could go wrong? (Plenty.)
The following happens when Melvin, the loosest cannon in the gang, disobeys Mags and come to court in disguise.
I turned in my seat to look at the demanding newly arrived person who wanted to sit with my supporters. My eyes met the eyes of the homeliest woman I had ever seen. They were heavily mascaraed and ensconced behind enormous tortoise-shell spectacles, but I recognized them nevertheless. Melvin was hunched over a purple walker with a wobbly front wheel. It had a “too fast for you” plaque fastened to the handlebars. He wore a curly blonde wig, a baby blue knit suit which strained for closure over a huge bosom, and a startling number of bracelets and baubles. His crimson lips curled into a knowing smile when he realized I was looking at him. And was that …? Yes it was. He had a beauty mark on his upper lip. He looked like an aged madam in court to bail out one of her girls. At least his limp wasn’t noticeable.
I imagined an invisible vapor drifting through the courtroom, descending first on the judge and rendering him inert and now reaching my attorney. Was I next or did it only select officers of the court? I rolled my eyes around and evaluated the air surrounding me, distracted with wondering…
“Do you need a ride home, Mags?” Patrick touched my shoulder, “or can you get a ride with your friends? Are you all right? The prosecution rested. Court is adjourned until tomorrow. Didn’t you hear?”
“No, I …” The stress is getting to me; I’m in danger of losing my mind; let me die before I become like Batty Betty.
“I’ll give her a ride, young Mr. Attorney-man. Mags and I are old friends,” Melvin smiled at Patrick, his mouth a wide slash of scarlet, although he spoke to me, “aren’t we, dear?”
“Umm … yes?”
Melvin held out a gloved hand, palm down and limply, like he expected Patrick to kiss it rather than to shake it. “Melvina Smith. Charmed,” he cooed and batted his eyelashes. Had I not known better, I would have said Melvin was flirting with Patrick. “Come, Mags, dear friend, our chariot awaits.”
I looped my arm through Melvin’s and hissed a whispered, “Don’t say a word until we are in your … chariot. I mean it, Melvin!” as we completed our grand procession out of the courthouse. On closer inspection, I saw that Melvin’s outfit was grounded by men’s tan wingtip shoes.
We found Betty’s car in the parking garage; Melvin opened it with keys he took out of his purse like the car belonged to him. He folded his walker and put it in the trunk and then used the side of the car for balance as he came forward to the driver’s door. We climbed silently into the car on our respective sides like an old married couple who’d had a tiff. Once the doors were closed and I was sure we couldn’t be overheard, I unloaded with sputtering fury. “What are you doing, Melvin, turning up in court after I asked you not to come … and in that getup?”
“Observing. Taking notes for your book. This is an important part of your life story. You were worried my limp might give me away, so I’ve gone undercover.” He was as calm as I was disconcerted. He took off his blonde wig and glasses and tossed them into the back seat and then unbuttoned the top two buttons of his straining suit jacket, reached inside, and pulled out two weighty breast prostheses from his bra. “Ahhh,” he sighed. “These things are heavy and hot.” They followed the wig and glasses into the back seat.
“Where did you get all …” I raised my hands and flipped them in his direction, “this?”
“Everything I’m wearing belonged to my wife. She had breast cancer. She was a well-endowed woman; after her first mastectomy, she got a … a …” he stumbled over the word, “falsie. Then she lost her hair to chemo, so she got a wig. She was fine for a while, but the cancer came back a few years later in her other breast; she had another mastectomy and more treatments, many more treatments.” Melvin’s eyes glistened and mascara started down his cheeks. “I begged her not to leave me. She fought so hard, but she lost her battle.”
“Oh, Melvin, forgive me.” I couldn’t stay upset with him this time, any more than I could after some of his earlier antics.
He sniffed and wiped his eyes, spreading mascara in disturbing directions, and then began backing the car out of its parking space with a little more speed than seemed prudent. He slammed on the brakes and we both lurched against our seat backs.
“Sorry. I’m a little out of practice, but once one learns to drive, one never really forgets how.”
Our drive home proceeded similarly; fortunately for my whiplashing neck, the drive was only a few blocks long. As he collected his paraphernalia from the back seat, I couldn’t resist asking him the question I had not dared to ask on the way home for fear of distracting him while he negotiated traffic. “Melvin, do you have a driver’s license?”
“Of course I do, it’s in my wallet. You don’t think I’d drive without a license, do you? I just haven’t had time to renew it.”
You can find the book on Amazon