Mrs. Drewery Listens Well

“Good morning ma’am.”

“Good morning. May I see your badge before I unchain the door?”

“Certainly…I have it here…Let me flip the thing open.”

“Oh, fine, fine, I can see it. I’m sorry. I know if you wanted into the house you could get in by just giving the door a good shove but I always think that I could possibly get a good scream or two out with the delay that shove would take.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Come in officer, come in I’m just having some tea.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Oh, be sure to wipe your feet, Miss Anne, my cleaning girl, does fuss over my kitchen tiles.”

“Yes ma’am”

“Miss Anne goes to our church. She works so hard. She goes to the University of Minnesota extension.”

“Really.”

“Yes, that’s quite a drive in the winter. Miss Anne works so hard. She is going to be a nurse this spring. Then I’ll need someone else to clean my kitchen tiles.”

“Yes, ma’am. I was wondering how I could help you, ma’am?”

“Oh yes, of course. I did call. So good of you to come, officer.”

“Always glad to help Mrs…?”

“Don’t look for your note dear man, I’m Mrs. William Drewery. Mrs. Drewery.”

“Mrs. Drewery, of course. Well, Mrs. Drewery, you phoned the police station…”

“Yes, Miss Anne, decided I should. She told me there has been murder in this town before. Well, hat was several years ago but I remember.”

“Murder ma’am?”

“Yes, of course murder. Weren’t you here during our small town scandal?”

“Yes ma’am but…”

“Oh! You were questioning my use of the WORD murder, how silly of me.”

“No ma’am.”

“Well yes of course it was silly. But I meant it, murder.”

“Mrs. Drewery can we start from the beginning?”

“The beginning?”

“Yes ma’am”

“Well the beginning starts with Mr. Drewery.”

“Ma’am?”

“Oh yes you see he was dying”

“Dying?”

“Yes, God rest him. Before he died he told me I needed to keep up with our hobby.”

“Hobby?”

“Yes, bird watching.”

“Birds…”

“Yes, they are so lovely and the songs are just beautiful.”

“You look through binoculars at the birds?”

“Yes of course. Oh officer, in the springtime the colors are just spectacular.”

“Then while watching birds you saw something suspicious.”

“No.”

“No.”

“No, nothing suspicious. Mr. Drewery has been gone nearly five years.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“In those five years I’ve grown older and I don’t mind telling you officer, a little deafer.”

“Deafer?”

“Yes, I’d almost say hard of hearing.”

“Really?”

“Really. More tea?”

“Yes. No! I mean…sure thanks.”

“Well Miss Anne, last spring, came early to clean one day and finished early as you might expect.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Miss Anne is so sweet she does work hard.”

“Yes but…I’m sorry but…”

“Don’t be sorry officer she knows what she is doing. Anyway we set off to the annual birdseed sale in Bemiji.

“A sale?”

“Yes, and what do you suppose I found at 60% off?!”

“I have no idea.”

“An outside environmentalist listening devise!”

“Ma’am?”

“Oh officer, it’s so simple. I plug it in, turn on the speaker and place the microphone outside the window. I can close the window right down on the wire! It won’t get damaged!”

“Really?”

“Really. Of course Miss Anne pointed it out to me. I would never have known what the thing was by looking at the box.”

“No ma’am.”

“Well, you can’t imagine my delight, last spring, a year ago, at the song-bird music. That music had been fading for me these last five years, then revived into this very house; I was delighted.”

“But Mrs. Drewery…”

“Officer, you know I do sincerely believe police officers are the most canny of people.”

“Yes Ma’am”

“Well you can imagine my suspicion one morning when I heard a canary over my speaker.”

“A canary?”

“Yes, they are not indigenous to Minnesota.”

“Oh.”

“Well, I had to step out and see if I could spot the poor thing.”

“Yes?”

“Well, I spotted him.”

“Good.”

“In Mrs. Weller’s yard.”

“Mrs. Weller?”

“Yes, my neighbor. We live quite close.”

“Yes, ma’am all the houses here are fairly packed in.”

“Yes, well that comes with living on a lake.

“Yes ma’am.”

“Well, anyway Mrs. Weller’s canary was on her back porch. Then out comes poor Mrs. Weller.

“Poor Mrs. Weller?”

“Yes, poor dear. She could have been so beautiful, so happy.”

“Um…”

“But she married Mr. Weller didn’t she? I often wonder about her family. Mrs. Weller’s I mean. Did they try to talk her out of it? Do they even know what happened to her? Maybe she eloped. But in any case she married Mr. Weller and that as they say is that.”

“I see…”

“I’ve invited Mrs. Weller to church with me on Sundays. We had a marvelous time, the few times she went.”

“She stopped?”

“Yes. One Sunday we stayed to have coffee and sweets with Rev. and Mrs. Hart. Such sweet people.”

“Yes, I know them.”

“Yes, of course you do. Such a nice couple and Mrs. Weller seemed to like Sara Hart. They did chatter on. But the next Sunday Mrs. Weller wouldn’t go to church. Just called me up and said she couldn’t go. I know Sara called but we didn’t see her for a whole week.”

“She stayed inside an entire week?”

“Yes. And when she did come out I could tell she had been beaten — beaten, officer.”

“Did you try and talk to her?”

“Yes, of course officer, I knew better than pursue the bruises on her arms and neck. I just chattered on like we usually would about birds, weather, whatever! But I did tell Sara Hart.”

“How long ago was this.”

“Oh, about seven months ago.”

“Have you heard fights or threats from the couple?”

“No.”

“Really?”

“Yes officer, really. Quiet as a mouse if you don’t count Henrietta.”

“Excuse me, Mrs. Drewery but who is Henrietta?”

“The canary, officer. Please try and stay with me. Henrietta is Mrs. Weller’s canary. An unfortunate name really, Henrietta, since the bird was obviously male. She wasn’t necessarily an expert on canaries but she loved that bird.”

“Excuse me Mrs. Drewery I take it that Henrietta is no longer among the living?”

“I heard a canary out on the back porch last week. Mr. Weller brought out the bird and I heard it over my speaker just last week.”

“Then the bird is still with us.”

“But it was Mr. Weller that set the bird out on the back porch.”

“Mr. Weller set the bird out for some air.”

“Officer are you married?”

“No ma’am.”

“Neither is Miss Anne and do you know when I mentioned to her last week, that Mrs. Weller’s canary was out on the back porch, she said the same thing. The canary is out for air.”

“It is a possibility Mrs. Drewery.”

“Yes officer. But I’ve yet to see Mrs. Weller take the canary in or out. Mr. Weller takes the canary out in the early evening when he arrives home from work and takes it in later on in the evening.”

“Is that unusual Mrs. Drewery?”

“Yes it is officer.”

“Why Mrs. Drewery?”

“Because Mrs. Weller couldn’t have taken her canary in or out of the house.”

“How do you know?”

“Do you know that I watch birds for a hobby Officer?”

“Yes ma’am by the suggestion of your late husband, five years ago you decided that you would continue bird watching as a hobby.”

“Yes, and Mrs. Weller — we would chat sometimes when we had a moment. As you can see I have several bird feeders.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“She of course would talk about her Henrietta.”

“Henrietta?”

“Yes, her canary.”

“Oh yes, the male canary named Henrietta.”

“Do you know that once she told me that she couldn’t bear to part with Henrietta? That her Henrietta was the only bright spot in that house over there.”

“Yes, I can imagine the woman’s sentiment.”

“Oh officer, I know you have seen so much, but I really doubt you could imagine Mrs. Weller’s feelings. Did I tell you that she could really be beautiful?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“I once believed that a man had it in his power to make a plain woman pretty and a beautiful woman forever stunning. Of course then I married and realized that my thoughts were complete rubbish.”

“Ma’am?”

“Oh Mr. Drewery was a sweet and considerate husband, Officer, but just a little controlling as all men tend to be.”

“Controlling?”

“Yes, some men over money, some men are jealous, some men try to control time itself.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Oh you’ll know soon enough.”

“Mrs. Drewery why are you concerned about hearing canary song in Mr. and Mrs. Weller’s back yard? The bird is only out at the most a few hours during the evening.”

“Well, because I spoke to him almost two weeks ago and told him I was shocked that Mrs. Weller hadn’t brought out Henrietta to take the spring time air.”

“You told Mr. Weller?”

“Yes, you see I heard his back door open. I walked out casually to see if Mrs. Weller was out in her back yard.”

“Was she?”

“No just Mr. Weller.”

“So you asked him about Mrs. Weller?”

“No, I asked him about Henrietta.”

“About the canary.”

“Yes, I have a bird feeder near the back of my property so that Mrs. Weller might enjoy the birds as well as I.”

“How nice.”

“Yes it was, I suppose, until Mr. Weller put up the privacy fence.”

“The privacy fence.”

“Yes, one day last fall I was out filling my feeders and asked Mrs. Weller if she saw the indigo bunting at the feeder the day before. Of course she had and we chatted about their beauty. The next thing I know a privacy fence is going up.”

“I see.”

“Perhaps you do, Officer. Anyway, last week I was putting feed in my back bird feeder and waited until I heard someone quite close to the privacy fence.”

“Mrs. Weller?”

“No, Officer, I’ve already told you I heard Mr. Weller come out his back door. I casually went out to my back yard.”

“How did you know that it was Mr. Weller behind the privacy fence?”

“Because he tripped over something and then spewed out some foul language.”

“I see.”

“Well, in my loudest voice I called over the fence to Mr. Weller. Of course I asked for Mrs. Weller. I’m afraid, Officer, that I played a little dumb and ignorant to get Mr. Weller’s attention.”

“Right. What happened?”

“He ignored me and remained as still as possible. But I knew he was there.”

“What did you do?”

“I became a little shriller and louder.”

“Did that work?”

“Yes, it usually does. I’m not worried in knowing that I’m old. Sometimes there is advantage in age. Mr. Archer told me that once. You know Mr. Archer don’t you?”

“Mr. Gabriel Archer?”

“Yes, we attend the same church. He enjoys my apple pie. He was a friend of my late husbands.”

“Yes ma’am”

“Where was I?”

“You became shriller and louder.”

“Oh yes, well Mr. Weller came to the gate and opened it up a crack. Of course he told me his wife was busy in the house. Oh, I say, I was just about to ask her what was wrong with Henrietta. He gave me a quizzical look and asked why I thought there would be anything wrong with Henrietta? Well, I say Henrietta hasn’t been out at all this spring. Very unusual and I go on and on about Henrietta. Is anything wrong? If something happened to Henrietta, Mrs. Weller would truly morn. I know what it is like to morn and feel alone. Perhaps I should call on Mrs. Weller.”

“What did Mr. Weller say?”

“He told me that Henrietta was fine. That Mrs. Weller felt it just a bit cold this spring to bring out the canary.”

“I see. Then you notice that Mr. Weller brings Henrietta out in the morning and evening for a few hours?”

“Yes.”

“You notice through a privacy fence.”

“No Officer, I heard. I looked to make sure when I think Mr. Weller’s isn’t about.”

“During the evening?”

“Oh well, at dusk I peek through the gate.”

“Mrs. Drewery, that is not very neighborly and may even be considered criminal by Mr. Weller.”

“Oh dear, Officer, I have no doubt that Mr. Weller would think it very incriminating, but after Mr. Weller started taking out and bringing in Henrietta I have become very concerned about Mrs. Weller.”

“Mrs. Drewery, I have no doubt that you have concerns and I will go and ask Mr. Weller about his wife. But you have only HEARD the bird being moved. Mrs. Weller may very well have become very reclusive. I have seen cases where abuse is involved that causes a person to hide inside their house…”

“Officer, Henrietta is buried in my back yard.”

“Excuse me?”

“Henrietta died four weeks ago.”

“Henrietta died four weeks ago?”

“And it was the last time I saw Mrs. Weller.”

“The last time.”

“Yes, very pathetic. It was a bitter, cold morning, one of the last cold days. I came out to my kitchen to make my morning coffee and to my shock and dismay I saw Mrs. Weller in her boots and parka sitting on my frost covered picnic table holding a shoe box.”

“A shoe box.”

“Yes, poor dear. Her nose was red and she had no make-up on at all. Her hair looked a little oily, her hands were chapped and looked so thin. I, of course, knew without asking what the shoe box meant. I made her come in and placed a cup of coffee in her hands, took the box and lifted the lid.”

“Was the bird destroyed?”

“Funny you should use that word. No officer the bird was murdered and Mrs. Weller was destroyed. He killed the poor creature.”

“Ma’am?”

“She told me that he killed the bird, wrung it’s neck. I really don’t know what drove him to it. What makes a man kill to cause others pain? What makes a man insist on causing pain? You, see even before the privacy fence went up their house was always quiet. Never any loud shouts our slamming doors. I wonder now, Officer if I had kept my distance and not tried to talk to that poor, pale person…”

“Mrs. Drewery, why did you bait Mr. Weller?”

“I’ve seen nothing of Mrs. Weller. No lights during the day. She used to try to make the yard look nice in the spring, but I haven’t seen her out and about at all these past couple of weeks.”

“You say the last time you saw her was when she brought Henrietta over?”

“Yes, she told me she wouldn’t leave the bird alone in that house. I had some hopes she was going to leave. Leaving is hard and expensive. She didn’t work you know and this town is too small to stay. I asked her to stay with me or to call Sara Hart but she just shook her head. She asked if Henrietta could stay in the yard until the soil was soft enough for burial. She wanted to think of Henrietta here among my wild birds. I of course didn’t refuse. I wrapped the bird in plastic, taped the box and wrapped the box in plastic. Later, just a few weeks ago I buried Henrietta next to my patio and placed a brick over the ground where he lay.”

“Mrs. Drewery, have you seen Mrs. Weller at all in the past four weeks?”

“Of course not officer, and if you wish me to initiate a missing person’s report I will be glad to do so. Miss Anne, she said that you might ask me to do that.”

“No ma’am, that won’t be necessary.

“Are you leaving now Officer?”

“Yes ma’am”

“I’d appreciate if you could tell me how this all turns out.”

“Mrs. Drewery, I don’t think it will turn out all that well.”

“Oh officer, I have no doubt, but I’m well suited for bad news, just as you are and just as sweet Miss Anne is”

“Ma’am?”

“Well, officer you are with the police, not the jolliest of professions, Miss Anne is soon to be a nurse, that can go either way and I am old — to the point where I miss my husband. I am old and I am a little hard of hearing but I manage to hear the victims in this world or I’m much mistaken.”

“No Ma’am I don’t think you are mistaken.”

 

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