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  • Writer's pictureCarol Ann Ross

A Halloween Tale - Serenade Of The Cattails: Part 2

“That’s the brooch you gave to Naomi.” Norwood leaned against the doorjamb, sipping from a cold glass of iced tea.

“I know.”

They were quiet as they made their way through the living room turning off lights. Norwood closed the backdoor, flipping on the light there and watched as the insects immediately swarmed toward the brightness.

“Why’d you do that?” he spoke, slowly moving toward the kitchen. “Why’d you even tell him about the pin?”

Well, honey, he said the pin had my initials on it, and I know it does. All my pins have my initials on them in case I lose them or they get stolen…”

Norwood moaned and shaking his head reached for Mary’s hand, “Sweetie, that boy is going to be back, you are a suspect and he had you pegged as one before he even knocked on our door.”

“He liked the fish and hushpuppies and did you see how he gobbled up those green beans?” Slowly gathering dishes from the table, Mary commented coolly, “He likes me, he likes us.”

Standing next to his wife, Norwood grasped her hand once more, “I know you didn’t kill him, my love.”

I’m not sorry he’s dead.”

“It’s not beyond who?” her husband asked.

“Oh, I’m just thinking, just wondering if ol’ Towler had anything to do with that greasy Elmo, with killing him.”

“I think if it poured rain for six days you’d blame it on that man, not the weather. And you know, I don’t care for him either, sweetie pie, but what makes you think he has anything to do with that poor lost boy?"

“I don’t know... wishful thinking I guess. I know he had something to do with Mr. Burger getting off scott free for killing that little California girl. I wonder why old Towler did that.”

Norwood stood thinking for a moment, his hands full of the dirty silverware he’d gathered from the table. He shook his head, yeah, that was rotten. But he’s a big dog and you know how it goes for the big dogs.”

“Ain’t fair.”

“Life isn’t fair, sweetie, you know that.” They were both quiet for a while as they continued clearing the table, filled the sink with sudsy water and began the process of washing dishes. Tonight was Norwood’s night to dry.

“I’d just like to see someone get their comeuppance.”

“That’s not in our hands, sweetie.” Norwood leaned and kissed his wife’s cheek and held her gaze with his dark green eyes, “You’ve always been a curious cat.”

Quiet once again, as they completed the tasks of washing and drying dishes, Norwood studied his wife’s expressions. He could almost see the wheels turning in her head, figuring out what could have happened to Elmo, and why, and if Naomi could have been the one to do it.

Sure, the Bolton’s had known Elmo, but like Mary had explained earlier, most of what they knew had come through the grapevine. Mrs. Plung called about an herb potion to help with her cold, Mrs. Casstions called about her daughter's allergies-do you have a home remedy, the prescription from the doctor does nothing. It was calls like these, from people who rarely associated with the Bolton’s, that offered grapevine gossip in exchange.

Then there was Norwood’s ever observant eye and open ears gathering information as well. He helped in local flower beds, cleaned upstairs gutters, hosed down boats and decks. It was amazing what people chatted about so nonchalantly, as if he wasn’t even there.

On one of the Bolton’s many evening walks through the neighborhood, they’d seen Elmo sneaking around the Simpson home; they’d seen him leave early one morning too, all while Roy was away at war, and they had put two and two together, so they knew about Naomi’s entanglement with Elmo, they knew what kind of person he was, they were sure of the sexual conduct and mostly, from Mary’s intuition, knew about the unwanted pregnancy.

“We could have helped her.” Norwood spoke.

“She didn’t want our help. She doesn’t believe we can help. She doesn’t believe. She never believed in the brooch.”

Setting the dish towel across the back of a chair, Norwood reached an arm across his wife’s shoulders. “Hey, why don’t we go for a walk, down the road, maybe to the Simpson house?”

Wringing the dishrag tightly and draping it across the faucet, Mary nodded. She reached a wrinkled hand into her pocket and felt for the brooch, wondering why Naomi would have let Elmo have the sister pin. She wondered if he’d stolen it. If he’d threatened to tell Roy about the pregnancy or about the drugs.

“I bet they’ve spilled their guts to each other about everything.” Norwood chuckled.

“Umm, probably.” Mary lifted her face to kiss her husband's lips. “They seem so in love. They seem so happy. I think you’re right. I have this feeling.” She rubbed the brooch still in her pocket, “I think they are each other’s best friend.”

“Like we are.” Norwood squeezed Mary close to him.

“So if all is right with their world, why would Naomi kill Elmo?”

Threading his arm though Mary’s, Norwood led the way out of the house. “Maybe she didn’t.” He answered. “Maybe Roy did.”

Her fingers still stroking the wisteria brooch, Mary contemplated the ifs and whys, she simply wasn’t sure, except for one thing. She knew that the wisteria brooch held powers, especially during the season when the plant itself flowered. It was that season.

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