I wrote the book on Full Moon Friday the 13th.The third book in the Jordan Daily News Mystery series, Full Moon Friday is about one of those days when everything goes wrong. I decided to try a crazy marketing scheme as well: doing a book signing at my neighborhood garage sale on June 13, a rare date when the full moon coincided with Friday the 13th.
I should have known the double whammy would attract some weird customers to our sale, but even I wasn't prepared for the parade of unusual characters. Now more than ever I believe the full moon is a beacon to the insane, attracting them like a magnet attracts steel filings.
Each of my unusual guests walked up my driveway and into my garage as though drawn by some unseen force. I felt like they were angels on a television program visiting me personally.
My first unusual customer was a gregarious guy in jeans and a flannel shirt. Barely taking a breath, he told me one story after another about his career in dumpster diving. How he once found $1,000 in an envelope. And prize-winning lottery tickets. Sure, he had run-ins with the cops, but once you know the schedule and the regulations in various communities, you can make a good living dumpster diving, the guy said.
The second unusual man was an Hispanic gentleman probably about 70, wearing tight jeans and a beautiful white cowboy hat. He came up the driveway and walked behind my table into my dark garage.
“Are you feeling OK?” he asked in his heavily accented voice. I must have said “What?” two or three times because the question seemed so out-of-place. He repeated his question until I assured him I felt fine. Then I inquired about his health.
“I have cancer,” he replied. “I almost died two years ago.”
He proceeded to tell the story of his brush with death, even though his accent obscured much of what he was trying to tell me.
The strangest character of the day arrived about 4:30. He walked directly up my driveway and stood next to me. He was in his 20s, painfully skinny, wearing white jeans and a paint-splattered shirt.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
“I need a place to sit,” he replied.
Once again I felt like the visitor was an angel and I was being put to the test.
“Oh, you can have my chair,” I said, rising to my feet.
He took my chair and quickly helped himself to my glass of ice water. “Are these free?” he asked, motioning to a basket of moon pies left over from my Full Moon Friday launch party.
“Sure, help yourself,” I said, backing away.
I decided to let him rest a while. I had some calls to make. I was searching the Internet on my phone when the young man said, “That hurts me.”
“That device.It messes with my brain,” the he said. He held his head high, his jaw set as if he had just said the most logical thing in the world.
“ I can respect that,” I said, turning off my phone.
“I would buy a book if I knew where my money was,” the young man said.
“What happened to your money?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said, folding the cellophane wrapper from the moon pie into an ever smaller package. “I left my bike at the computer store. Maybe the backpack is there too.”
“The computer store?”
“Around the corner.”
There’s no computer store around the corner.
I looked at him as a mother might. He was exasperating, hurting, maybe dangerous. But he was somebody’s son. Lost. Confused. And full moon crazy. What could I do for him?
I was distracted when he spoke again. “What did you say?” I asked.
“I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to him.”
“The man in the car over there.”
I looked across the street. There was a man sitting in a car, probably waiting for his wife.
“Are you here with that man?” I asked.
“No. I don’t know him. But he heard me.”
The boy looked at me with a piercing stare, as if daring me to contradict him. I didn’t. I walked a few steps away and used my phone. When I turned around the young man was standing up holding his hands over his ears. He walked down the driveway and toward the imaginary computer store.At five o’clock we gathered our goodies from the driveway and closed our garage doors. The sale was over. I went inside and called a friend to describe the crazy customers.
“Lock your doors,” my friend said.
I wasn’t afraid. None of the people had been threatening, even the final customer. But my friend’s advice stuck in my head. My front door was open with just a screen. I went to it to see if there was a way to lock the screen. In my driveway stood the skinny boy in the paint-splattered shirt. He was looking around as if wondering where the people and sale items had gone. He turned and walked down the street.
I locked the door. The full moon would be coming out soon.