CHARLOTTE is roundly appreciated at Bigelow Village for her help- ful attitude with and toward otherresidents. Since she is younger than most and still filled with energy, she reads to those in the more inten- sive care units–articles from the New York Times or short fictional sto- ries–at least a couple of times aweek. She also gets paid ten dollars for accompanying an elderly person to a doctor’s appointment, push-ing the wheelchair, helping them in and out, providing moral support. The fact that she now suspects some sort of foul play with
Claire’s death gets me to wondering about her own safety.
We are in her unit, a one-room apartment with an open kitchen and small bathroom; it is light and airy, and the large bay window looks out on fall colors and a gently rolling expanse of still dark, green grass.As I gaze out, I can almost smell the wonderful fragrance of the recently mowed lawns.
“So, Char, if you believe Claire’s death was not natural, aren’t you concerned that there is a dangerous person living here? I mean, you’d think that people in their seventies and eighties would have set- tled into a sort of harmony, and made peace with the ironies of life.” “There are loonies at every age and in every corner. But yes, it
would be a good idea to find out if we’re dealing with one here.”
“Claire was pretty well liked, and you are too. So, what does that
say about who could be targeted next?”
“Not exactly what I meant to suggest by ‘looney,’” she says, while turning off the gas under the whistling kettle, “this could be a one- time vendetta, the cause of which is still obscure. But, in my view, anyone who kills another is not normal.”
She bustles about in the kitchen area and says, “You like green tea, do you not? High in antioxidants. And I have a nice coffeecake for dessert.” She laughs, her cute little laugh which I have learned to appreciate, and adds, “It comes from one of my favorite mixes.”
All this conjecture about foul play and vendettas stirs me to want to get back to Meredith and herawful pronouncement in the car.
What could she have meant about her grandmother being a murderer? Did she mean it literally? And if so,well yes, a vendetta could certainly be the cause for Claire’s unexpected exit.
Charlotte, more perceptive than I ever considered, says suddenly, “Greg, I don’t expect you to havedinner with me tonight. The grand- daughter, Meredith, is, I know, high on your agenda. So, go enjoy yourself–but nosey as I am, I will want a full report when I see you next.”
I hug her. I don’t see her as nosey. In my eyes she is always my caring, insightful, vigorous, intrepid, probing, and big sister.
Plan settled, after the tea and coffeecake, I call Meredith to pick me up–which she has offered to do–and take me to my nearby motel, called the Blue Dolphin, only a couple of miles from Bigelow Village. Over the phone I say, “I have some curious news for you–and I really am eager to understand moreabout what you told me about Claire.” I wait for an instant, and, when she says nothing, I tack on,
“Are you willing to tell me? I mean, is that okay with you?”
“Not only okay,” she replies. “I must tell you, but not on the phone.”
I wait out the ten minutes until Meredith gets to me with my sister, both of us quietly thinking our own thoughts on the matter of Claire, though neither saying so out loud.
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