School Girl Crush

I feel the creep of age and miss the one who kept me sane

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When is the sun an untruth?

Untruth?  Not to be confused with recline, relax, but everything to do with solitude when a truth is proven.

Not to be confused with the decline we all know is coming (are you sure) or nothing, but everything to do with solitude when a truth is proven by being unprovable.

The sun is an untruth when we can’t see it. We are not intruders here.

“Prove it,” he said all alone, spotlighted and mad and hatless, no small child to impose upon or to frighten.

“Such a vast universe, we are insignificant in comparison,” said they to him

– “prove it,” he said, “prove ‘insignificant!'”

and they proved it to themselves by laughing up their sleeves.

I followed him about while he scowled back at me.  “Go away.”

So I did but came back again.

And little by little he spoke less and less to me.  “Here, read this.”

I did and returned the words to him wanting to hear more, all I heard was, “no, no, keep it, take good care of it.”

I see him now everywhere and nowhere.

The librarian with no roof, no walls, no plastic to protect what paper remains,

and me with this ridiculous schoolgirl crush.

“Here read this,” he told me and now I do really read it and think –

prove ‘insignificant’ to me, prove it.

Sky Dive

There are certain moments when you know there is nothin’ for it but to fall

Catapulted

Right off the ground

I knew straight up

There was nothin’ for it

So I spread my arms

On the ascend and lifted my chin

And while the numbing wind

Blew through my hair

I thought I’ll take a moment

To just forget.

I’ll forget the memory of

The smashing that is coming

The splat on the grass

And the certain tumbling.

I’ll forget the fact that

Being screwed over is

My own fault here in

The twenty-first century.

There is no excuse for tender

Moments and forgetting

The power of lust.

My eyes wide open and

A surge of adrenalin

Blue sky and white cloud all

On the horizon

But here it comes that

Mild descent.  I guess I’ll

Just close my eyes, pause

And dive.

Love’s Trouble For Me

She’s beautiful too.  Clean.  Her hair is always glossy and she doesn’t fan out on the makeup; a little liner, when I’m in town she puts on a little mascara, a little lip gloss.  I can still see a few freckles across her nose.  So sweet, so dedicated. 

I, of course, worried after I fell in love that I would lose my edge.  Edge is everything in my business.  Love blunts every edge; I don’t care who you are.  It’s cruel if I don’t stay sharp, razor sharp.  If I take a swipe at someone and my edge has been blunted, well let’s face it they suffer.  If I’m not hampered by the preoccupations of love, that swipe is painless, goes without a hitch, you’re dead before your mind can reach even the idea of pain.

Yes, I’m a professional.

I was in love once before, years ago when I was young.  I mean, you know love.  I can’t help what I am, I can’t.  She didn’t understand and she moved to Milwaukee.  I was devastated.  I think that disappointment was what gave me my edge.  I wanted to hate her, I really did but I couldn’t.  Years later I had a job in that area and I looked her up.  She was still fine and she seemed happy.  I said hello and she seemed edgy, a little scared but okay.  Next thing I know she’s in Green Bay, then she’s in St Paul and divorced.  I called her a year later, you know just to check on her, make sure she was okay.  She was in Seattle.  I point blank asked her if she wanted me to look up her ex-husband and she said no.  She was emphatic about it, so I didn’t and I won’t.  She’s in Tokyo now, seems to be doing alright.

I met my new lease on life during an emergency room visit in Chicago.  One of those big hospitals.  I had run into a little bit of a problem in New Albany, thought I was okay but started running a fever while vacationing in Chicago.  I love that city; Chicago.  Anyway, I met Alice there.

Alice is tough as nails and hates her name so I call her Honey and Babe and things like that.  She’s an ER nurse and man, some of the stories she tells makes my skin crawl.  I mean she’s seen shotgun wounds, and people beaten to a pulp.  Then there are the car accidents and the scum of the earth who hurt their kids.  I was in tears one night; I don’t know how she stays sane.

She’s beautiful too.  Clean.  Her hair is always glossy and she doesn’t fan out on the makeup; a little liner, when I’m in town she puts on a little mascara, a little lip gloss.  I can still see a few freckles across her nose.  So sweet, so dedicated.

I, of course, tell her I have no family.  I’m not an idiot, I keep her well protected.  I am human; some may doubt that but I am very human.  She loves to read old novels and I’m starting to understand why.  I like The Portrait of Dorian Gray and The Invisible Man – man can you imagine how I can relate?

 

 

Never Mind

What do I tell my children?  What do I tell my aging parents, honest in that they
Do not envy me.

How can I convey to you the heaviness of my heart?

I’m sure you’ve felt it, experienced the physical weight of sadness.

That sudden drop which suspends inside.

Lead within the quasi-weightlessness of water.

Water, wrapped in flesh, encased in a mind that cannot lift the eyes to see the horizon.

Just take the moment of temporary lightness, the mire of reality is unfair.

No one can help me, so I look to the earth for inspiration

I look to words for hope

I look to art for some sign of sympathy.

Never mind.

The earth has become paved over with concrete without thought to next week.

The words are glossed over by Freudian overtones that mankind craves.

Art has become not the object but the person who renders nothing but style.

What do I tell my children?  What do I tell my aging parents, honest in that they do not envy me?

How do I keep from mourning the family given and then taken?

The lessons have stopped and I am now atop the tiny dynasty learning faith.

And even that the world insists gets in the way.

Never mind.

Reading

It was a dark and stormy night when I decided I hated everything written by the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen. I know that probably kicks me out of the league of women despite my gender qualifying me but the only thing a woman hates more than green peas is deception.

It was a dark and stormy night when I decided I hated everything written by the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen.  I know that probably kicks me out of the league of women despite my gender qualifying me but the only thing a woman hates more than green peas is deception.

I know as I scribble away in my garret room (garret because it’s true even in the 21st century, women suffer financially from divorce and I have two behind me, divorces not marriages), that the Bronte sisters and Miss Austen are probably mere pawns in the battle for my psyche.

I also realize that perhaps the Bronte sisters and Miss Austen would have had less infamous influence if Sigmund Freud had died in obscurity but he didn’t.  Actually, men don’t do they?

The veil split too late before my eyes that these women were writing fairy tales.  You have no idea my suffering.  The artist even bohemian atmosphere around me closing in, the impending July thunderstorm and my single paned window looking out on a back alley, opened wide for the storm to enter in.  I had stripped down to nothing, my skin absorbing the heat and humidity of summer, even prickling in the anticipation of cold wind, thunder riddled, coming my way.  Sense and Sensibility was open before me and the margins, where I had penned notes over the decades of reading the novel, consoled my loneliness.

Yes, Colonel Brandon, even though he wore flannel waistcoats (or something flannel) was a true knight and our young heroine would embrace his calmness, his intellect, his nonexistence?

His fiction?

Shit!

The storm had not hit, there was time and I knew to keep up my own self-induce façade I had to bring out the big guns.  Villette?  No, Jane Eyre.  Rochester must pave his road to hell and with single-minded passion. Would such a man really have brains enough to covet a mousy little governess over an accomplished coquette?

The storm hit with such a vengeance I jumped and the rain hit my clammy skin like so many needles and the blue-white lightning split the skies before me and I saw the face of God.

Don’t believe me, I don’t care.

He was there beard and all – the Father and in my despair, He did what only a loving, encompassing parent could do, He drove the lesson home.

“I told Adam anything but one thing – he took the one thing.”

“I told Abraham he’d have a son in good time but he had to help it along.”

“David had any woman he wanted, freely but he took the one that didn’t belong to him.

I raised my arms in an appeal to stop, and He did.  The storm passed with a shudder and I sat in my garret room cold and damp.  The pages of my books, both Austen’s and Bronte’s were damp with rain but not tears.

I’ve not evolved, I have adapted however to reality.

 

Attic Dance

Wooden beams. Books. Chests and wardrobes. Wardrobes for the love of God. Real ones, I could tell, all lined up. The floor was bare wood with tattered chairs all about and in the center of the room was a long looking glass. The looking glass had no dust upon it and it reflected the different angles of the house. I was enchanted. Truly enchanted with the attic.

You just never know.

I’ll tell you what it was like; it was like placing your hand upon a window pane thick with frost. As you place your hand closer to that cold, fridge, flat, piece of glass you feel your own heat emanate out from your skin and you touch what is you, outside of yourself. The heat from your body sort of battles the cold that is there, swirling ridged and beautiful in white opaque designs no artist has mastered. You know for a moment, though only for a moment, you know for a moment you will win against the glacial cold.

And you do.

For your hand layers into the cold and burns a sort of ecstatic agony that is questionable memory the moment it happens. Your hand tingles and then you feel the slide and the wet upon your skin — you are beating the cold. Then your skin makes contact with the window at last and the inanimate and the animate make contact and become lifeless and alive at the same time. You, remember that same window in August, not January, and you feel sort of triumphant.

And God above help us there is always something – like when you look at your best friend smoking together on the playground and her expression moves from smug to “oh shit,” and you know you’ve been busted. But that’s something else altogether and maybe the same thing – it all starts with something stupid and silly like a few lifted cigarettes from your mom’s purse.

But – back to that, yes.

So there you are sort of happy for a second because now the window pane is even dry in spots but then you feel a sort of shiver move up your left side and under your arm. Then you feel this sort of ache in your elbow. You concentrate on your hand and sure enough, it’s warm and the window is drier even though the blizzard outside is blocking out all reality. You’re sure you are seeing knights in white armor battling screaming alabaster dragons outside or upon the window pane. You’re sure that what you are seeing is not tundra blown snow and pinhole lights but ghosts from at least 100 years ago walking about lost and alone within the white upon white. Then the shiver moves from your side and up to your neck and the dragons and the ghosts pause in what they are doing and look in at you. They peer and ponder all of a sudden the dark smudge of you through a frozen veneer of ice.

Who could that be?

You of course, and that shiver becomes a shudder and you drop your hand. And where your hand just was is a blank spot in the thick, thick frost, but only for a second – only for a second because to your shock and amazement a white hand – a solid white hand from the other side, bloodless, without life, frozen to the core covers the warm spot you just made.

It was like that, just like that when I saw her face, looking at me. But it wasn’t a window, no it was a mirror and I had turned to see myself in the dusty old frock I had just put on. I was smiling and carefree then I saw her face at the other side of the room, peering at me.

You see it was in an attic that we weren’t supposed to be in – we had snuck into the house, Louise and me. We weren’t 12, hell, we were 21 and 22 respectively and we had had a little too much wine and the guys we were with were boring really, all they wanted to do was wade into the river with no clothes on and wade back out, their bodies shivering in the cold looking more buff. But Louise and I were bored with that sort of thing and they kept trying more outrageous antics and failing. Louise and I were down to our skivvies but she grabbed her dress –she always wore something that was “easy in and easy out,” and called for me to follow.

Well, I had taken my tongue lashing and quit smoking with her at the age of 11 so I had no problem following her through the woods to her aunt’s house when she called me to follow.

Yes, I know if it was her aunt’s house why then was it off limits? Well, it wasn’t exactly and it was. Louise’s family was odd just like Louise but I loved her, I very much loved her. I often think what my life would have been like without her – normal, but I don’t regret missing out on normal. Even now, I don’t regret it. So we moved through the woods while the guys had their backs turned and we heard their cries as we moved as quickly as we could, our clothes bundled beneath our arms and the hot air of August thick and sticky beneath the dark green leaves of aging summer. I kept slipping off my sandals and giggling as my feet smarted from the wild and prickly raspberry branches that crept along the ground while the smell of marijuana clung to my hair. I felt sort of taut inside and my skin, along with my arms and breasts, tingled tightly from thoughts of touch that I would not allow because Louise was bored with the game and I knew she was right – once things got started the fun left and we were just on the ground putting up with men.

“Hurry up,” Louise hissed from just above me, the land sloped sharply up from the river bank. But it was hard to see her because the foliage was so thick.

“I am but my feet hurt.”

“Quit whining, Auntie’s house is just up ahead.”

“I thought you weren’t allowed in there.”

“That depends on who is there.”

We plunged out of the woods and onto the green lawn that was her aunts. I had been there a few times. Louise’s older sister was married there last summer and Louise is always there for Christmas. But Louise’s mom is sort of an outsider and the aunt, I was told, had peculiar ideas about Louise and her family. I read between the lines, she didn’t trust them. I didn’t say much but I thought to myself maybe the aunt just doesn’t want marijuana smoked in her kitchen or beer cans stashed everywhere.

Louise backed up against the woods and pushed her long black hair out of her face and started to put on her dress. I followed suit and pulled on my cotton pants and an oversized shirt. Standing beside Louise with my bobbed off blonde hair and droopy clothes I looked the perfect sidekick. No matter what Louise did, she always looked like some movie star, who knew just how to move and just how much cleavage to show.

“Look, no one is there, let’s go.”

I didn’t want to and I didn’t step from the spot from where I had put on my clothes but Louise just kept walking away from me. Now here is what it feels like when you think you’re going to win over the cold. When she was walking away and she didn’t even turn to see if I was there – just walking away, sure that I would follow and all I would have to do is plunge back into the woods and have my way with two oversexed guys at the river. Even as I contemplated it, watching her black hair swing across her back I knew I would follow but I gave myself another second to feel that edge of rebellion, then I shrugged and trailed after her.

The house was huge, and new, and not creepy at all. Really. I saw to the side of the house a small building, a wing if you will, with an indoor pool and hot tub. The shrubs were boring but of course, would need little maintenance — just right for an aging aunt who liked to entertain her other wealthy friends and who had to put up with the black sheep side of the family once in a while.

The door was locked of course so she knocked. Then she peered into what I could only guess was a living room and then she threw pebbles at the windows that showed off the indoor pool. I just stood there and watched. Finally, Louise put a rock through one small pane of the back garage door, reached in, scraped her arm on the broken glass and unlocked the door.

I said nothing – frankly, I was shocked. She walked into the garage and punched a few numbers into a control panel and the beeping caused by opening the door stopped. We both stood there for a good three minutes and said nothing.

Finally, she turned to me and said “C’mon, I want to show you something.”

We didn’t go anywhere in that house but to the attic. I thought she would glance through the refrigerator or skinny dip in the pool and we would be out of there – but no, we went straight to the back and up the stairs, we went.

“What the hell is this?” I asked Louise “Is this where the servants live?” The staircase was narrow and it actually wound around like it had only one purpose – to reach the third floor. There were no doors to the second floor, and there was no odd smell or echo sound as we moved up and I felt my heart pound and I found myself struggling to breathe.

“Shut up. Do you think she’d give up any of her money to hire help?” Louise’s voice was a little high pitched as if she too were finding it hard to breathe. We came to a shut door. It was plain, even cheap looking and as Louise reached to open it, I wanted to say stop and it was on the tip of my tongue but the door seemed to open without her help, the door seemed to know that Louise was there and it opened of its own accord.

To this day, I think it did, I think that the door did open on its own because for the first time in her life she hesitated. She didn’t toss her hair around, push her shoulders together and then square them like she was walking into a room full of her adoring fans; she sort of leaned in and looked first, like I did in kindergarten. I was five and I was afraid and my mom was making me go, so I leaned in while my mom and my teacher talked over my head. I saw several children but one in particular with coal black hair that shown down her back, she was building a wall with cardboard bricks and when she saw me she gently pushed it down and smiled at me, her teeth shiny white and the glow of the autumn sun shining in all around her as the meticulous cardboard wall teetered and then tumbled down.

She was still standing in the stairwell when she turned to me and said “C’mon.” But I couldn’t go forward with her standing there and for one wild moment I thought we were going to turn around – but we didn’t she stepped into the attic and I followed.

Wooden beams. Books. Chests and wardrobes. Wardrobes for the love of God. Real ones, I could tell, all lined up. The floor was bare wood with tattered chairs all about and in the center of the room was a long looking glass. The looking glass had no dust upon it and it reflected the different angles of the house. I was enchanted. Truly enchanted with the attic.

“Looks like the old bat keeps the place up – not an ounce of dust anywhere.” Louise’s voice was flat with contempt but I ignored her. I knew by the flake and crease in the leather that some of the books that lined the walls upon the thick, dark, wooden shelves were first editions. The chests were leather and wood and looked like they had just come off some steamship. I could almost hear the clang of a dockyard and the clatter of people moving about with their luggage, home from a long trip abroad. I turned around and saw Louise open up a wardrobe. At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was ice inside the wardrobe but then I realized that I was looking at clear plastic that only reflected the sunlight angling in at odd directions from the octagonal shaped windows. Louise unzipped the plastic and started taking out dresses.

The dresses were early 20th century; the material dark mauves and blacks. Louise held one against her and she was transformed from sultry beauty to a sort of royalty. She laughed at me. “I knew you’d love it up here. These all belonged to my great grandmother, my aunt’s mother.” Louise danced about, small, little whirls with the dress clasped to her middle and the material floating about. “My aunt hated her mother. She was beautiful and didn’t pass any of her beauty along, you see – so my aunt resented her. Some say that she even killed her in the end.”

Louise said the last with a little lilt to her voice – as if she were a child again and trying to shock me.

“How’d she do it?” I asked moving toward the wardrobe and picking out a dress of my own. A light rose colored dress with ecru color lace and a low neckline. This I could believe would belong to one of Louise’s relation.

“Poison. That’s what my mother always said. Auntie’s mother was very old when she died but I wasn’t around yet. I was born one year after – Mom swears I’m her, I’m back to torment my aunt, that’s why she has nothing to do with me,” said Louise.

I was smaller than Louise by far – and without thought, I pulled the dress over my head, traipsed over to the mirror and looked in. What I saw was me — a small girl in an oversized dress and just over my shoulder a figure fully clothed in dark mauve and black, her hair piled high in glorious waves and curls, fit for an evening at the opera or somewhere less cultured. The figure in the dress was smooth and vibrant within the form fitting satin. What shocked me wasn’t the transformation, the image of the ghost looking out at me from the mirror but the look of pale rage upon her face. Her beautiful face was full of hate and loathing. I felt a shudder of cold deep within me, the white hand that I often imagined during those winter nights making hand prints in the window of my bedroom now clasping my very heart and squeezing it, infusing me with the horror of my situation. No matter what the mirror was reflecting I was actually seeing Louise and she was looking at me as she always did – with a hatred beyond reason – when my back was turned.

I whirled around and I saw Louise again, the dress simply in front of her, her hair down but her face pale. “Please take that off,” she said.

I didn’t say anything but I slid off the dress keeping my eyes upon her and wondering really if I was going to get out of that attic. I handed it to her and she glided up to me and gently took the dress out of my hand without a word. She replaced both dresses but left the wardrobe open.

“C’mon. The old lady will be back soon – we’ll leave the place as is. She comes up here all the time to poke through her mother’s stuff – this will unnerve her.” I said nothing, I felt nothing but fear, raw throat fear for myself. I felt no pity for the old lady that would tremble at the fact that someone had broken into her house and danced around in her attic.

Louise floated down the steps and out into the garage. She closed the door quietly and started walking back toward the woods. She stopped and looked back at me. I had made it half way my feet were still on the well-manicured lawn and I watched as she swayed with all poise and grace toward the small woods that lead to the river. She smiled at me, ducked her head down and disappeared into the foliage. I walked the long drive to the road and took the long way home.

 

Mrs. Drewery Listens Well

“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.”

“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.”