The Plot Thickens at the NOW Meeting

How to tie in a meeting about the Equal Rights Amendment (see previous post for more details) to my cozy mystery plot?

One of the four young women in attendance is a “person of interest” in the murder that Dee Ann is trying to solve. This woman’s outburst during the question and answer portion of the program adds to the whodunit plot.  Here’s part of what happens:

“My name is Lisa Strayhorn, and I’m married to the music minister at First Baptist Church here in town.”

I [Dee Ann] knew that voice from somewhere. Lisa Strayhorn, married to a music minister.  This was the Lisa I had overheard confronting Cynthia that Saturday at the Junior Woman’s Club Arts and Craft Show.  I was all ears.

“The information you two ladies presented here tonight has made me realize just how oppressed I am in my marriage. For the last ten years, since the day I said ‘I do,’ I’ve built my entire world around my husband.”

Not entirely, I wanted to interject. [Dee Ann knows of the affair Lisa had with the murder victim.]

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“People don’t realize how confining it is to be married to someone in the church. You ladies talk about a woman being paid less than a man.  When you’re the wife of a clergyman—even a music minister—you’re expected to work for nothing.  Parishioners seem to think there’s a buy one, get one free deal.”

How about marry one, have a fling with another? I almost said.

“…Nursery duty, visiting the shut-ins, heading up Vacation Bible School, organizing the Wednesday night suppers. It’s been a full-time, unpaid job, and I’m sick of it.  And I’m sick of my husband for signing me up for all the church grunt work just to impress his boss, the preacher.  Tonight’s meeting has given me the courage to leave the church and my husband.”

Betty and Gloria were talking over each other as they insisted the ERA wasn’t about leaving husbands and forsaking churches. Lisa was too busy planning her future to listen to their disclaimers…”

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There’s more as Dee Ann wonders whether Lisa is really leaving town because of her unhappy marriage … or because of her involvement in her lover’s murder.


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