Melanie Hart usually writes up these adventures. She’s a reporter, and she does a righteous job of it. No complaints there. But I told her that this is my story, and I intended to tell it my way.

To which Melanie  replied, “Go ahead. Knock yourself out.”

Reporters can be so touchy about little things like bylines, but Melanie is a decent sort. I don’t think I ticked her off too much.

I’m Ginger Black, by the way, the owner/operator of the Cut & Curl in Cloverton, a tiny town nestled along the western edge of Illinois. It’s an area that once lacked four-lane highways and was dubbed Forgottonia. Fortunately a four-lane highway now reaches us, and the name Forgottonia has been scrapped. In my view that’s a good thing, Nothing kills business like negativity.

In addition to being one of the town’s wildly successful business owners, I’m also a player in Melanie’s forays into the criminal world. We’ve tracked down two killers so far, and if I have my way, we’re about to take on our third.

But I digress.

My story begins about a week ago when I was driving home from the shop. I’d stayed late to fill in for an employee who needed the night off. After the shop closed, I tacked another hour on to catch up with the books.

So when I stepped out of the shop a little after ten, the street was dark with just a sliver of a moon showing overhead. Stars twinkled, but they provided little useable light. Also the temperature by then had drifted into the low 30s and was expected to keep falling. Decaying leaves blown by a biting north wind  skittered across my path. I shivered, pulled my coat collar up, and took off for my car.

All I wanted was to get home to my comfy bed. I had started my day before sunrise. Now my feet hurt, my brain was dizzy from balancing receipts, and a headache was threatening to polish off my night.

But when I reached the stop sign at Pine and Hale streets, my complaints vanished like the insignificant nothings they were. In my rearview mirror I watched with horror as a vehicle speeded toward me. The headlights grow larger and brighter the nearer it came. I was about to be struck from behind my a vehicle only a few feet away,

I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and swallowed hard. The crazy driver had to be breaking the speed limit by at least 20 miles per hour.

Metal slammed into metal. My car flew forward.

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