HILL ENJOYED a long, leisurely hot bath, put on a pair of comfy sweat-pants, picked up Scarlett’s play and curled up in his easy chair. He had decided early that morning that, come hell or high water, he was going to read through the final act that evening. Turning to the correct page he was surprised at how much shorter it was than the other two acts and wondered if all three-act plays were done in that way. He wondered if all modern plays even had three acts. As he remembered it, there were usually only two.

He skimmed through the last page of Act II to be sure that he knew where he had ended his reading. Then he paused, pondering the way in which it had unfolded. It was inevitable that Simeon Perkins was to die. Scarlett’s writing of his death matched perfectly with the dates of the War of 1812 and Perkins’ actual death. But why had she placed so much emphasis on the KOR having being disbanded and not being there to catch the spies? He read the scene where Alexis, who played Elizabeth, placed her hands on the edge of the coffin and laid her forehead on them. His phone rang. He muttered to himself, “Can’t I even have a moments’ peace,” before he looked at the call display and saw that it was his mother.

“Hi Ma,” he said cheerily, though he did not feel that way at all. But there was no point in dragging her mood down on account of his.

“Hi Jackie,” she said. He would rather that she called him Jack, like everyone else did, but who was he to correct her? Or better yet why not John? It was his legal name after all.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“You know that old hag Bertha? She’s been snooping in my stuff again.”

“Ma, you know that Bertha is blind as a bat, she probably didn’t even know where she was. Let alone what she would find.”

“It isn’t right that she’s touching my things and wearing my expensive perfume. And you know what?” she whispered, “Last night when I got up to pee, I took a look down the hall, and I saw George sneaking out of Nancy’s room. I bet I know what they were up to.”

“It probably happens in every lodge where you have folks who get lonely.”

“It’s not happening in my bed, I tell you,” she said, making him smile.

“Speaking of that kind of stuff is old Gordon still alive?” he asked.

“He sure is, but I hope you’re not implying that he keeps my bed warm. That’s how rumors get started you know,” she said, disgustedly.

“I wouldn’t dare do a thing like that,” he said, smiling.

“How’s that murder coming along?”

“Ma, you know I can’t talk about that. But what I can tell you is that I seem to be surrounded by wizardry, make-believe and all that hogwash.”

“Sounds like you’re on a roll. Maybe I should get Fiona to polish up her tarot cards for you?”

“That’s all I need,” he said, despondently. “I’ve been tempted to spend some time inside that fortune teller’s tent down on the waterfront. Vadoma she calls herself.”

“They’re all talking about her up here in the lodge. I wonder what’s keeping her in town.”

“Maybe it’s you who should have Fiona polish up her cards?” Hill said, teasingly.

“No chance of that,” she assured him. “She scared the pants off me last time. I guess I should let you go so that I can get on down to watch Jeopardy.”

“I thought it was all re-runs in the summer.”

“Yes it is, but it offers me a better chance of getting the answers right,” she laughed, and they hung up the phone.


Hill opened his bound copy of the play again. After that long chat with his mother he had lost interest in reading it. He smiled again when he thought about how his mother would get them all stirred up at the seniors’ home when she mentioned all the hocus-pocus things that were bothering him. He could see her now. She would go down to watch Jeopardy and slide in a few comments about their conversation until all eyes would be on her, and Jeopardy all but forgotten. He knew her well enough not to share too much info but just enough so that she did not get bored with life. He knew that his visits with her had suffered, indeed had lapsed, with the ongoing investigation and he was not surprised that she had taken to phoning him every evening. In fact he almost welcomed her calls.

Turning back to the play he read the next page. After Alexis’ prayer for her departed husband, both sons, Simeon Jr. and Roger, were to have joined Elizabeth beside the coffin. That scene was never performed except in rehearsal. Every line, where Simeon Jr.’s name was, had a line through it along with the word DEAD; another reminder that the case was far from being solved. Hill thought about that scene for a moment trying to see if there was anything that linked the play with the murder. He realized that he was simply grasping at straws.


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“Linda has published fifteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”