Oven Baked Secrets - Tyora Moody

Chapter 1

A subtle but distinct scent entered my nostrils as I walked through the front door of Hillcrest Manor Nursing Home. I first noticed this peculiar whiff of air last week. The scent reminded me of mothballs and my past adventures in antique stores. It always struck me that the beautifully crafted furniture used to belong to someone who was gone and possibly even forgotten. It never failed. Immediately after that smell smacked my nose, my next thought was how people could be carefully tucked away in a place like this and in some cases, forgotten.

I’m not sure if the nursing home was trying some new air freshener or if I was becoming more sensitive about my approaching sixtieth birthday, more so than I thought I would. I mean, what if I ended up in a place like this one day?

Not. I, Eugeena Patterson, would put up a real good fight with somebody before they tucked me away in some nursing home. I imagined I didn’t have anything to worry about anytime soon, but I still told my three adult children if they tried to put me in a home before I was ready, I’d whip ‘em first.

Even though it took me some time to adjust, I was now enjoying my retirement and my empty nest. I mean really, when I think over my life and all that I’ve been through, like the old folks say, “It’s a wonder how I got over.”

I headed to the front desk to check in as a visitor. I missed the busybody of our neighborhood. Not much went past those sharp blue eyes. At seventy years old, Louise Hopkins was hands down my oldest friend in the world. She was also officially my very first white best friend. Funny thing was we didn’t too much like each other at first, but God surprised us both. We have gossiped and shared some good laughs, not to exclude raising our children and burying our husbands. It’s amazing how time had flown in thirty years.

About five months ago, Louise’s nosiness led to an attack in her home. After a major bump on the head, she hadn’t been quite right, but bless her heart she was trying to get back to her old self. Then that son of hers got the bright idea he knew what was best. Sugar Creek hasn’t been quite the same since the day I watched Louise’s only child, William, move his mother out of her home.

I didn’t agree with William’s timing at all because I do believe Louise would’ve been just fine after some time in rehab. Being retired, it wouldn’t have been much trouble at all for me to check on my dear friend from time to time.

I approached the front desk, putting on my best smile. “Hey honey, I’m here to see Louise Hopkins.”

A petite woman who I hadn’t seen before looked up at me and raised her eyebrow as though she didn’t believe me. “I didn’t know Mrs. Hopkins had visitors.” She started pecking on the keyboard and frowned at the monitor in front of her.

I tried to peer to the side to view the monitor a bit better. She stopped typing and looked at me. “Excuse me, ma’am. One moment please.”

I stepped back as if I had been scolded. I stared at the young woman wondering how she managed to get this job. Her blond hair was cut into a pixie style and rested flat against her head except for a small tuft in the front that appeared to have been colored pink at one time. Only the ends were pinkish. I read her name plate.

“Lexi, you must be new? I visit with Louise on Sundays after church. My name should be in your computer records.”

Lexi sighed, “I’m sorry. We just installed this new system last week and I just don’t see your name. I will need you to fill out some paperwork and I will print you a badge.”

“Okay.” I started to say something else, but remembered I was still wearing my church clothes. It probably wasn’t wise to be looking like a hypocrite on Sunday. Not that any day of the week was a good time to lay your Christian principles down. I knew a new director had been hired recently at the nursing home and security had become a priority. I guess that was a good thing.

The world was full of crazy folks!

Lexi handed me a clipboard. As I reached for it, I noticed the many fields