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Deception by The Sea - Response to Billybuc's Photo Prompt Challenge

Shauna's preferred genre is fiction. She particularly enjoys rising to a challenge posed by fellow artists.

Our sage green mansion on the corner of Little-Known Traffic and Gentle Waves

Our sage green mansion on the corner of Little-Known Traffic and Gentle Waves

Never judge a book by its cover. We’ve all heard it, right? But, have you lived it?

I was born in this sleepy little town off The Sound. Yep, I came into this world on the top floor of the beautiful sage green mansion on the corner of Little-Known Traffic and Gentle Waves. The house belonged to my grandparents. Mom was quite young when she had me – too young, if you listen to the townsfolks’ whisperings, but she had a gentle soul and I couldn’t have asked for a more loving mother.

At bedtime Mom would open the windows of my bedroom and we’d listen to the waves as she softly sang me to sleep. My favorite was "Ke Sera Sera". We’d dream together of the life she wanted for me as the ocean air cleared our minds and calmed our breathing. I’d fall asleep in her arms with her beating heart leading me to peaceful slumber.

Growing up on The Sound was wonderful. The town was sparsely populated, so I was free to ride my bike or go exploring by the water’s edge without Mom having to worry or keep an eye on me. Sometimes I’d sit on the rocks for hours searching for orcas, watching boats glide effortlessly across the water, and imagine myself navigating the seas with dolphins leading the way. I really couldn’t see myself earning a living on land in those early days of yearning and discovering the passions of my heart. My soul felt freedom by the water.

It never entered my mind that life would throw me a curve and disrupt my dreams.

When I was about twelve, Grandma and Grandpa died. They died together but no one would tell me why or how. Not even Mom.

The town clock read 10:57 and I was expected at 11:00 to help with the meal preparations.

The town clock read 10:57 and I was expected at 11:00 to help with the meal preparations.

Life Changed

I remember the day they passed. I was riding my bike in town and needed to hurry home to help Mom make lunch. The town clock read 10:57 and I was expected at 11:00 to help with the meal preparations.

When I entered the kitchen, Mom was sitting at the table crying. Soup was boiling on the stove. I turned off the burner and asked Mom why she was crying. It was then that she told me Grandma and Grandpa had passed. No sooner had she uttered the words, than a team of men in white suits, gloves, and helmets swooped into the living room, stomped up the stairs and returned with a couple of rolling cots with huge lumpy bags on them.

They disappeared as quickly as they had arrived.

There never was a funeral.

Mom inherited the house when my grandparents passed and life as I knew it would never be the same.

Grandpa owned Bair Drug & Hardware in town.

Grandpa owned Bair Drug & Hardware in town.


I’ve never known my dad. I don’t even know his name. From what I’ve heard, no one knows who my dad is, except Mom.

But I’m not so sure about that.

Grandpa owned Bair Drug & Hardware in town. Even at my young age, it seemed odd to me that my grandparents would leave Mom the house, but not the store. How was she supposed to earn a living?

Mr. McGillicudy was Grandpa’s right-hand man at the store, and he took it over when Gramps died.

Odd, huh?

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I wouldn’t delve more into that mystery until years later. Right now, I needed to be by Mom’s side and help her through all this.

The house was left to Mom free and clear of debt, but she had no means of putting food on the table. You see, she never worked while she was raising me. She didn’t have to as long as we lived with Grandma and Grandpa.

However, she could cook and clean, was friendly, a good listener and genuinely loved people, so she decided to turn the two lower floors into a bed and breakfast. She and I had the entire third floor, which was spacious and comfortable. Opening the rest of the charming seaside home to visitors made sense.

Lacy's Bed & Breakfast

Lacy's Bed & Breakfast

Lacy’s Bed and Breakfast

Mom named the B & B Lacy’s Bed & Breakfast. Lacy is Mom’s name. It did really well at first. For the first four or five years, we were booked solid enough to earn an income but not so overwhelmingly as to wear me and Mom out.

Then things got weird. Most of our guests were men – military men, not couples. What had changed?

I noticed Mom paying more attention to this new flock of guests than in the past. Frankly, it disturbed me a bit.

She was serving less food and more booze. Booze was never allowed in our house when my grandparents were alive.

One night when I couldn’t sleep, I ventured downstairs and found my mom sitting on a soldier’s lap. They were laughing, drinking, smoking, and she was all over him!

I retreated soundlessly to my room.

I would later learn many truths I’d rather not have known.


Shortly after the experience that shook me to my core, my mom ended up dead.

I’d gone looking for her to help me clean up the debauchery that had become the lower two floors and couldn’t find her. After searching everywhere, I eventually found her in her bathtub lying dead in a watery pool of blood.

I don’t remember much after that.

It’s now ten years later and I’m using my inquisitive brain to research the answers to all the vagaries in my life.

Here’s what I’ve found:

  1. Mr. McGuillicudy raped my mother when she was fourteen. He was thirty-five.
  2. Grandpa gave him a job to shut him up and left the store to him to keep him out of our (my) life.
  3. McGuillicudy poisoned my grandparents (Bair Drug & Hardware).
  4. Mom was in on the poisoning. I found a letter from her to McGuillicudy plotting the deed.
  5. McGuillicudy became enraged when he discovered Mom was operating a brothel under the guise of a B & B and slashed her throat in the bathtub. I know this because his dead body was discovered in the store a day later with a suicide note admitting to all the crimes I recently discovered.

Visions From My Childhood

The Aftermath

I’ve since had the sage green mansion leveled. It no longer holds bad memories and lies.

I’ve achieved my dream of living on the water. I bought a sailboat and have taken up writing. I can earn a living wherever I am and I’m free to roam.

I am now free.


Don’t judge a book by its cover. Nothing is as it seems.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Shauna L Bowling


Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on June 07, 2021:

Thank you, Pawan. I love photo prompt challenges.

Pawan Kumar from India on June 06, 2021:

What an inspiring story Shauna. Thanks for sharing :D

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on June 09, 2020:

Thanks, Nell. I was afraid I may have left too many holes or questions in the story. Sometimes less is more. Personally, I love a story that has a surprise ending; one the reader didn't see coming. Your comment tells me I've succeeded!

I hope you're doing well and staying safe, my friend.

Nell Rose from England on June 09, 2020:

Such a powerful story! Love the way you wove it, so I we didn't know why the grandparents died, or what the mother was like. Great stuff Shauna!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on June 02, 2020:

I'll take it! Not the cake. You can have that, manatita.

manatita44 from london on June 02, 2020:

Very good question. I don't. Don't pay too much attention to my strange way of thinking. I'm sometimes like Bill, speaking of which, he uses a style which is easy to read, flows, impactful and well thought out.

That's what I meant about your piece, dear. Good writing should make the reader want to read it ... that is its strength. So perhaps you can say, that you are mastering the art of holding the readers attention. How's that!

Now I need a piece of ginger-cake for all this work. Chuckle.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on June 02, 2020:

Thank you, manatita. I appreciate you see growth in my writing. If I may ask, how do you find our story-telling styles similar?

manatita44 from london on June 01, 2020:

You're getting better! I'm a story-teller! I've been one since childhood, but your style is becoming like mines. Coincidental, I know, but I would need to keep an eye on you. Lol. That was a beautiful write!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on May 31, 2020:

Mark, thank you for your awesome comment! You've lifted my spirits and renewed faith in myself as a writer.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Mark Tulin from Long Beach, California on May 31, 2020:

Shauna, you have a great imagination and talent for details and description. Love it!!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on May 23, 2020:

Bakht, I'm glad you found this story entertaining. Thank you very much.

Stay safe!

Bakht Alam on May 23, 2020:

Fir giving us this beautiful story in this lockdown

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on May 22, 2020:

Why, thank you, Bakht!

Bakht Alam on May 22, 2020:

Love it mam

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on May 18, 2020:

Thank you, Chris. I hope you're doing well and staying safe.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on May 17, 2020:

That was a captivating story, Shauna. Very well done.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on May 16, 2020:

Devika, your few words speak volumes. Thank you so much for such positive feedback!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 16, 2020:

Shauna your writing keeps a reader reading on simply the best.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on May 14, 2020:

Thank you, Greg. Coming from a wonderful writer such as yourself, your comment humbles me and fills me with pride at the same time.

Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such an amazing comment!

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on May 14, 2020:

Whoa! Didn't see that coming out of the loving, peaceful beginning, Shauna. Descriptive prose, wonderful narrative, and I enjoyed the way you tied up all the loose ends for the finale. Great job on the challenge! Keep up the wonderful and entertaining work.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on May 04, 2020:

Glad to hear it. Thanks Marcy!

Marcy Bialeschki from Cerro Gordo, IL on May 04, 2020:

Shauna, you had me hooked! Loved it!!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on May 04, 2020:

Thank you, Dora. I'm not sure if by "sordid experiences" you're referring to the current COVID situation or if you think my story may have come from experience. I assure you, this story is purely fiction, spawned by what my muse came up with when viewing Bill's latest photo prompts.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 04, 2020:

Great story-telling! Shauna, despite living through these sordid experiences, you have grown into a positive, productive woman. May God continue to favor you, going forward. You certainly have a lot to write about!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 30, 2020:

Thank you Sankhajit. It's nice to see a new face in my corner of HP!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 30, 2020:

Ah, Mar, you melt my heart! I've been doubting my talents lately. You've given me confirmation to keep at it.

Thanks, my dear friend!

Sankhajit Bhattacharjee from MILWAUKEE on April 29, 2020:

beautiful to read excellent descriptions

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on April 29, 2020:

Dear Sha,

This story was spellbinding. You never let me down in your plots and character development and you are never remotely predictable.

This might be a favorite - Brava!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 29, 2020:

Thank you, Peggy. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on April 29, 2020:

This is certainly an interesting read. Never would have expected any of these twists and turns. Well told!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 29, 2020:

Ruby, I think Lacy was more deceptive than we've learned. For starters, her child was the result of a rape - or so everyone was led to believe because the father of our protagonist was so much older than she when she became pregnant. If her parents told everyone Lacy was raped, but she was actually a willing partner, that would explain why she was in cahoots with him in plotting her parents death.

As far as suddenly becoming a "loose woman", I think that was the result of having such a strict upbringing and putting on appearances all her life. She'd gotten tired of hiding her true self from the world and simply said to hell with it.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 29, 2020:

Wow, talk about a loving family, not! I need more, such as, what happened to mom to cause her to be a whore? It was a riveting story full of twists and turns that kept me interested to the end.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 29, 2020:

RoadMonkey, I realize there are a few holes in this story, but they made you think, right? I suppose I can also see how this could become a book with much more detail and back story. I might entertain the thought, but I started a novel about six or seven years ago. I made it to the first paragraph of chapter seventeen, but haven't gone back to it in about five years now. Talk about procrastination, huh?

I'm glad you enjoyed my story. I honestly didn't know where I was going with it until I started writing.

RoadMonkey on April 29, 2020:

I think this horror story could quite easily be expanded into a full book. What a lovely early upbringing she had, so gentle and calm. Makes you feel quite safe but the whispers tell a different story. What changed her mother so she killed the grandparents? And why did McGillicuddy become her accomplice? This is all hinted at in your story. I enjoyed this and would enjoy a full version too.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 29, 2020:

Sis, I love it when my readers get goosebumps from my work!

No, I've never been to your neck of the woods. Well, that's not entirely true. When I was a little over two, my father was stationed in Seattle, so we lived there during the World's Fair.

I did, however, Google a video of Puget Sound so I could get a feel for the sounds, terrain, and sea life. It never hurts to do a bit of research when writing about an area you've never been to, even in fiction.

I'm glad you approve. I was thinking about you as I was leveling the green mansion. :-(

Ann Carr from SW England on April 29, 2020:

Thanks, you too!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on April 29, 2020:

Shau, your descriptions of living on the Sound are so spot-on I wonder if you've been here in a former life? I had no idea my little town was so full of evil. As you said, don't judge a book by its cover.

Well done sis. You gave me goosebumps.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 29, 2020:

Bill, I don't think there really was much of a family. My muse tells me Lacy was an only child. She seemed to be pretty sheltered. Perhaps that's why she arranged to have her parents poisoned.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 29, 2020:

I think your muse did quite well on this. Macabre flows freely. That is one family I think I would not want to be adopted by. I'll bet family get-togethers for Thanksgiving were a lot of fun. NOT!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 29, 2020:

Thank you, Genna! I was afraid I was too vague in my descriptions or perhaps didn't add enough depth to the story. From what I'm reading, I guess I did okay!

Thanks for the visit, Genna. It's always appreciated!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 29, 2020:

Ann, coming from a master storyteller, your comment humbles me and fills me with pride at the same time.

Yes, you never know what evil may be lurking in the light!

Have a good week, Ann!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 29, 2020:

Thank you, Flourish. This story is a bit different from what I usually write when it comes to fiction. Thank you for validating my muse's choice to go off the beaten path!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 29, 2020:

Paula, I was unsure of this story so your comment means a lot to me. Thanks for always being by my side with support, love and laughter, my friend!

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 29, 2020:

Hi Shauna. I'm so enjoying the responses to Bill's recent photo challenge. I loved your description of life on The Sound with the ocean air, and felt as though I was there. But that is the gift of this story, as you take us by the hand and guide us through the loss of grandparents, and the creation of the bed and breakfast. And what a twist and turn of events! Wow...nothing is what it seems. Well done, Shauna!

Ann Carr from SW England on April 29, 2020:

Great descriptions, great character depth and a well-crafted tale, Shauna. It was riveting from first to last. Perfect title too.

Idyllic settings can hide all sorts of evil things, as can people!

I enjoyed this story and you've done a great job.


FlourishAnyway from USA on April 28, 2020:

Fabulous, Sha! The descriptions are lively, the twists believable and I love the mystery and sinister motives throughout. You should turn this into something more or at least write more like this. What a super success!

Suzie from Carson City on April 28, 2020:

Sha.......Spectacular story! Love it. I have no problem believing you love writing fiction the most, because you so easily churn out wonderful stories! That's what is said, girlfriend....."We do BEST, what we love the MOST!" and you sure do! Secrets, mystery, tragedy, family, sex, murder........W O W !! Bravo!

Cheers, Paula

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 28, 2020:

Kyler, as the mom of an only child who is a male, don't judge every book by its "proverbial" cover!

My brother has always been the cook in his relationships. Most renowned chefs are men. Hmmmmm.......

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 28, 2020:

John, I was so insecure about this piece. Your comment validates my efforts, despite my self-imposed questions.

Thank you so much! This is a bit off my beaten track, so I will forge ahead. Your support has strengthened me!

Kyler J Falk from California on April 28, 2020:

I'll be honest and say it was traditional gender roles that made me conclude it was a female. "...hurry home to help mom make lunch...." immediately made me think, "this is a female."

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on April 28, 2020:

Wow, Shauna! You certainly outdid yourself with this story. Twists and turns galore and you captured our attention with the unexplained death of the grandparents early. Your descriptions set a wonderful scene of the location, and the ending was a surprise. What more could the reader want?

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 28, 2020:

Mike, you don't know how much I appreciate you reading and commenting on this story. I really doubted myself because, know matter how hard I tried, I couldn't put a paranormal twist on the story. In fact, I had a hard time getting it going.

You've validated my attempt. So much appreciated!

Mr Archer from Missouri on April 28, 2020:

This was...intriguing to say the least. Wow, I did not expect any of that! Well written, tight and thought provoking Cheyenne. I really enjoyed this. Damn, got my mind whirring with this one!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 28, 2020:

Kyler, your comment means the world to me. I had a hard time with these photos. They're too "sweet" to put my muse into gear. She gravitates towards the paranormal and prefers to kick you in the chops with her end to the story.

Are you sure the protagonist is female? I wasn't sure while I was writing, but felt the need to leave that up to the reader. I won't tell you what was in my (muse's) mind as my fingers were hitting the keyboard.

Thanks for commenting. This is the first of my many fiction stories you've visited. I hope you take the time to explore. I enjoy writing fiction immensely. It's the genre that sets my creativity free.

Kyler J Falk from California on April 28, 2020:

More bitter than it was sweet, but I'm glad the main character gets to live out her dreams on a sail boat!

I have to say this was skillfully played out! Wasn't expecting it to become a murder suicide case, within a brothel nonetheless.

So much depth in such a short story. Excellent!

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