The Key – Part Two

While I was waiting, I walked down the dark hall and decided to risk ptomaine poisoning by getting a cup of coffee. That dilapidated old machine had been in the hospitals’ basement since the dawn of time and after my first sip, I thought the coffee must have too.

Finally the coroner came out and told me to come on in.  I walked into the cold, sterile room where bodies lay in their temporary steel coffins.  Each one that held a visitor, had a tag on the handle of the door.  All together, seventeen people were in the room but only two of us were still breathing.

I started making notes as he gave me his findings. “This is an eighty-six year old female, in the final stages of rigor mortis.  Internal organs are unremarkable, with the exception of the myocardium.  A tattoo is present on her left lateral lumbar region.”

I interrupted him and said “what does the tattoo say?”  He pulled back the sheet and pointed to the words “forever J.”  I don’t know why but for an instant, I was wondering if it stood for “Jesus.”

I asked if any next of kin had come forward.  “Not yet,” he said.  “Right now, she’s Jane Doe #3.”

He looked at me and said “you know how sometimes you can look at a woman, even if she’s old or sick or dead and you can tell that in her younger days she was a great beauty?”  I fumbled my words when I said “I guess.” He said “well, she’s one of them.”

Not really being ready to give her a closer look, I said “okay, what was the cause of death?”

“Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy,” he said.  With an annoyed look, I said “could you give it to me in English, Doc?”

He said, “in laymen terms, it’s broken heart syndrome.”  I looked at him and said “seriously, Doc?  Are you telling me that she died from a broken heart and that’s what you expect me to put in my report?”

He said “it’s a very real diagnosis and although it is usually temporary, it can and does kill people.  It can be a life-long struggle brought on by stress or the loss of something so devastating, the person can’t recover and their heart actually ‘breaks’.”

“In her case, she suffered for years.  I’d say she suffered most of her life.”

I was mentally visualizing the ribbing I was going to take when I turned in my report…the report for my first solo case.  “Right.” I thought.  “I’m sure I’ll get all the good cases now since I’ve successfully investigated a ‘death by broken heart’.”

He showed me the key they found in her hand. It was a small gold key, about an inch and a half long. It was worn almost smooth but what looked like the numbers 358 were still slightly visible.  “Got any ideas?” I asked.

He said “it could be a post office key or a safe deposit key or it could be the key to a padlock. I don’t know and with no other identifying marks on it, I’d say the chances of finding out what it goes to will be damn near impossible.”

“But it must have been significant to her because she was holding it when she died,” I said.  “Must have,” he echoed. “Can I take it with me?” I asked.

He said “yeah, you can take it but if we find any next of kin, it will need to be returned to them.  I’ll just need you to sign this form, transferring custody.”

I took the key and put it in my pocket.

“What’s going to happen to the body?” I asked.  He said “well, if nobody claims her, the usual route.  She’ll be cremated and her ashes will be buried in the public cemetery.”

I supposed out loud that something might be found in her house that could lead to somebody who at least knew her. If nothing could be found in three days, she would just become another nameless number.

I thought that kind of departure was sad but not because I really cared about her.  I didn’t even know her.  I only cared about her long enough to close my case.

 

To be continued______________________

 

 

 

The Key – Part One

I was called to a scene early this morning.  It is my first solo case.  The old timers I have been working with are slowly burning out and are more than willing to let me go it alone.

When I walked into the house, it smelled like death.  That’s a smell not quickly forgotten.  It permeates the air and clings to you like a thick fog.

The house was neat and tidy.  Everything in the living room seemed to be ordinary, except the elaborate chandelier hanging from the ceiling.  A vase of nondescript dried flowers sat on the coffee table, along with a never used candle and a wooden box.

In one of the bedrooms, pictures were sitting on the floor against the furniture, having never found a place on the wall.  There were antique rhinestone necklaces and bracelets carefully displayed on the dresser, along with some Egyptian perfume bottles.  A handmade quilt was covering the bed that looked as though it had never been slept in.

In the next bedroom, a dress form stood in the corner and displayed a jumper made of newspaper, now yellowed with age.  A collection of French Limoges were visible through the glass sides of a small cabinet and a pair of crocheted gloves and a beaded purse sat on the top.  A childs’ rocking chair sat in front of the dress form and gave a resting place to three Steiff teddy bears.

The master bedroom is where she was found.  She was laying curled up in the fetal position on her side.  She had not been moved because they were waiting for the coroner. I looked around the room, being careful not to disturb anything that might potentially be evidence.

There was an ornate French clock on one of the bedside tables.  It was one of those clocks that were right twice a day, because the batteries were as dead as she was. Another vase of dried flowers sat beside the clock and a vintage rotary telephone looking oddly out of place, still seemed perfectly at home.

When the coroner arrived, he said it was obvious that being frozen in that position and the state of decomposition, meant she had been dead for two to three days.  There was no visible cause of death. There was no empty pill bottle.  There was no note.  There was nothing. After they took her away, I continued my investigation.

Under one of the pillows, was a loaded .38 revolver.  I could tell that it hadn’t been fired and the lack of blood and tissue indicated that it was not a murder nor a suicide weapon.  The reason she died would come only after the autopsy.

As I continued to look around, I opened drawers to the dresser and lingerie chest. Everything was neatly folded and put away. Unmentionables were categorized by color, which I found fascinating.  When I looked in the closet, it was the same. Her clothes, her shoes and purses were also organized by color.

There seemed to be a place for everything and everything was in its place.  There was nothing that would suggest that there was anybody in her life, yet her expensive wardrobe said differently.

I found a small jewelry box hidden underneath the sink in her bathroom.  It had a few broken gold chains, two rings and something that was carefully wrapped in tissue paper. When I unwrapped it, I realized that I was looking at an exquisitely carved piece of scrimshaw.  “How odd,” I thought. “I wonder why this wasn’t displayed.”

Since nothing seemed to be disturbed and there was no evidence of foul play, I was ready to file my report.  All I needed was the coroners’ cause of death.  As I was finishing up, a quick glance into a file cabinet, revealed her identity and the usual utility bills but nothing more. No credit card statements were found.  No cards or letters had been filed away, but everything would later be carefully scrutinized to see if there was a will.

A few of the neighbors dropped by and I spoke briefly with them.  One of them had called the police when the postal carrier mentioned that her front door was standing open.  When he called to her, there had been no answer.

“She was a bit of a recluse,” one said.  Another said “we didn’t even know her name.  She just kind of kept to herself.”  When I asked them if they knew if she was depressed or sick, the answer was the same.  “We didn’t really know anything about her.  She was very private.”

“Did you ever notice anybody coming into or leaving her house?” I asked.  They shook their heads and said “never.”

Later that afternoon, wanting to wrap things up, I stopped by the coroners’ office.  When I asked about the findings, the clerk said “let’s see.  The final report’s not ready but there’s a note here about a key.”
“A key?”  I asked.  The clerk said “yeah, a key was found in her hand.”  He winked and said “she had it in a death grip.”  I gave him “the look” but appreciated his humorous pun.

When I asked what kind of key it was, the clerk said he didn’t know.  “It’s not like any kind of key we can identify.”
“And COD?” I asked.  “Don’t have it yet.  Doc was called away for an emergency. Apparently, somebody came back to life,” he said as he giggled.

I had to appreciate his quirkiness.  Dealing with death isn’t easy and we each have to deal with it in our own way.

“I’ll wait,” I said.

 

To be continued_____________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treasure Trove Award

treasuretroveaward

 

A big thank you to my friend Robert Matthew Goldstein for this award.

There are no rules.

You don’t have to do anything.

The Award is a gift of appreciation.

I’m going to take this opportunity to thank all of my followers and tell you how very much I appreciate your support and encouragement.  I really don’t know where I would be today, were it not for my “band of bloggies.”

I will also take this opportunity to vent a little.  I try to follow everybody who follows me.  Lately, I have noticed that I will click the “follow” option on the stat page and the next day for some reason, WordPress has decided that I don’t want to follow them anymore.  This has been happening for months and months.

Even readers that I have followed since almost the beginning of my blog, suddenly disappeared.  I didn’t know what had happened to them until I realized I had stopped “following” them.

I will get comments from some of my readers, saying “I’m going to try this one more time.”  I am not getting their comments nor are they getting mine.

When I was using Mozilla Firefox, WordPress crashed almost every five minutes.  I switched to Google Chrome and it only crashes every few days now.  (How am I supposed to continue my dark and twisties if WordPress keeps crashing?)

I don’t know how to fix this.  If anybody has any ideas you could pass along, I would be eternally grateful (as would others who seem to be having this same problem.)

My nominees:

giminilvr

Marquessa

Elisabeth

Marshall W. Thompson, Sr.

A@moylomenterprises

Belle Papillon 24/7

savingshards

learningtolivelikewater

creativerational

samlobos

angelicakidd

Tikeetha T

AnnaLevensonPsy

snakesinthegrass2014

avaswan

ifonlymommy

Embeecee

Etta

Ease

Brian Lageose

There is no pressure to accept.

 

 

One Thanksgiving Long Ago

It was that time of year again.  The little girl was told that she would be allowed to go back home, although it would only be for a limited stay.  She would of course have to sign an agreement, stating that she would obey all the rules that had been set down by her mama and older sister, but she didn’t care what she had to sign.  She would be at home!

The rules were strict.  She wouldn’t leave her room unless she was told that she could.  She would ask permission before she ate or drank anything, even if it was just a glass of water.  It would be her job to wash the dishes after every meal and if she didn’t come to a meal immediately when she was called, she didn’t eat.

She would go to church.  That was absolute law and she was not to question why she was the only one who had to go.  It had been explained that she needed to go, so that maybe God could help her become a decent person.

It would be her duty to get up and fix her daddy his coffee every morning and make sure that her older sister got up in time to go to school but under no circumstances was she to enter her sisters’ room.

She was not to complain.  She had willingly and eagerly signed an agreement and she was being given a gift.  She should be grateful, she was told.

It was the only time of year when kinfolk would invade the house.  Her mamas’ half-sister and brother-in-law would drive up from Florida.  Granny would also be there.

Her daddys’ mama and papa wouldn’t be invited because her mama didn’t like them.  Even though the little girl lived with them, she was too young to understand how sad they must have been to have Thanksgiving by themselves.

The kitchen would be a flurry of activity and wonderful smells would begin to waft through every room of the house.  Her mama would be busy fixing turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, and there would be cranberry sauce.  Cranberry sauce was her favorite.

There would be apple and pumpkin pies and this year, there was going to be an added desert…one her older sister loved.  Divinity fudge.

The table would be set and everybody would gather around to take their places.  Her uncle would say a prayer.  He was a Hell fire and brimstone Baptist preacher and acted the part, at least in front of the family.  After everybody filled their plates and sat down, she would be allowed to fill hers.  She wanted a taste of everything except the apple and pumpkin pies.  She had never liked either one of those.

After her plate was filled, her aunt would say “your eyes are bigger than your stomach, I’ll bet.  You should put some of that food back and not be so wasteful.”  The little girl would put some of the food back and then sit outside the kitchen and eat.  Her mama was a marvelous cook and everything was perfect.

She could hear chattering around the table.  She could hear everybody laughing and heard her older sister ask if she could have some more turkey.  She heard her daddy say “why, sure youngun’.  Help yourself.”

After the feast, she was told to do her job.  Everybody else went into the front room to chat a little more and savor some freshly brewed coffee.  There would be moans and groans about how they were as full as a tick and praise for the wonderful meal they had just supped.

The little girl would take the wooden ladder that her daddy had cut in half and put it in front of the sink.  Standing on that ladder was the only way she could reach it, and she had to wash the dishes.  That had been in the agreement she signed.

On one side of the huge farm sink, pots and pans were stacked so high she could hardly reach them.  On the other side were the dishes, glasses and silverware.

She carefully washed all the dishes, glasses and silverware and then dried them.  They were put away in the Hoosier cabinet and she needed the ladder to reach it, too.  The pots and pans were put in a drawer under the stove and it was to be done without making a “racket” as her sister had instructed.

It took hours to wash everything and by the time she had finished, her aunt, uncle and granny had left.  None of them had come into the kitchen to say goodbye to her.

After the last pot was put away, she walked into the front room and asked if she could have a piece of fudge.  Her sister looked at her and asked if she had paid for any of the ingredients.  The little girl hung her head and said no.  Her mama looked at her with an icy cold stare and asked her if she had helped in any way to make it.  Again, the little girl said no.  Her sister spitefully said “well then, you can’t have any.”

The little girl decided to break the rules and went into her mama and daddys’ bedroom without permission.  She humbly asked her daddy if she could have a piece of fudge.  When he asked her why she was asking him, she told him what her mama and sister said.

Her daddy got up and went into the front room and said “I pay for the goddamn groceries in this house and if this youngun’ wants a piece of fudge, she can have it.”

She knew she had angered her mama and sister and she knew that she would pay dearly for it later, but that piece of fudge was the most delicious thing she had eaten all day!  It was even better than the cranberry sauce!

She received her punishment the next morning, when her mama woke her up by throwing the drawer of knives, forks and spoons in her face.  She had left a piece of food on one of them, she guessed.  After the little girl gathered up all the silverware and put it back in the drawer, her mama dragged her by the hair into the kitchen.

When she got there, every pot and pan and every dish and glass was sitting on the sink for her to wash again.  The little girl guessed she had left a piece of food on everything.

She got the ladder out and put it in front of the sink.  As she started washing them, her mama while sitting in the chair with a switch, snarled at her and said “if you’d use your right hand, maybe you could get something clean for a change.”

The little girl quickly switched the dishrag from her left hand to her right hand.  She was careful to inspect everything she washed before she dried it and put it away.

When she went back to her room, all she could think was…Christmas was coming soon and she hoped that she would be allowed to stay until then.  She prayed and asked God to make her mama and daddy let her stay.

She believed in Santa Clause and Christmas was her favorite time of year.

 

 

My Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is in a few days and some people are posting about their plans.  I truly hope that all of you have a lovely time.  It’s such a wonderful thing to be with family and friends during a holiday season.  I remember it well.

I was thinking a few weeks ago that I should make some of my famous macaroni and cheese for that special day but hell, that would mean having to go to the grocery store. Not only that, it would mean actually having to COOK.

It’s supposed to be a comfort food and I guess it is but if it’s a drag to fix, what’s so comforting about that?  I decided no macaroni and cheese for me this year…or any other year for that matter.

I did stop by the grocery store the other day, after a visit to my doctor.  I walked around, looking for food and wanting to get the hell out of there as soon as I could.  I finally put a can of collard greens and black-eyed peas in my cart. That’s for New Years’ Day.  I was thinking that meant that I wouldn’t have to get out again until after next year.  Hey. You can’t say I’m not prepared.

I thought for Thanksgiving day, I would get dressed and put Prison Break on Netflix.  I will just have a Prison Break-a-thon.  Looking at Wentworth Miller all day long can’t be a bad thing, can it?  I’ll drink a few Boosts and plenty of my favorite…water.

Suddenly, a light bulb went off!  I’ll fix a cuppa, cuppa, cuppa!  For those of you who aren’t Southern and don’t know what that is….it’s a cup of sugar, a cup of flour and a cup of fruit cocktail with the syrup.  You don’t even have to stir it.  Just bake it in the oven at 350° for a little while and viola!  You have a gooey mess of tooth-rotting, blood-pressure elevating, blood-sugar raising, fruit cocktail, flour and sugar!

I thought I had a pound of sugar in my freezer, so I picked up a can of fruit cocktail.  When I got home, I realized that I didn’t have any flour.  (Why would I have flour?  I never cook.)  There’s no way I’m going all the way back to the grocery store (especially this week) to pick up a pound of flour, so I may just have a Bottle-a, Bottle-a, Bottle-a for Thanksgiving.

Will I miss eating turkey?  Nope.  I don’t eat turkey.  Will I miss the other trappings?  Yep.  I sure will.

I won’t be setting my alarm for three o’clock in the morning for black Friday.  I have NEVER done black Friday shopping. I did one “grey Thursday” a few years ago with my middle daughter and one of her friends.

People were walking around with 500″ televisions perched precariously on their carts and if you weren’t careful, you would become a smashed casualty on the floor.

I bought “The Hunger Games.”  Later, when I watched it, I didn’t understand a dad-burned thing that was going on so I threw it into a box of Losers’ shit that I was returning to him.

My son was staying with me then and I asked him if he wanted to go.  He said he thought he would just hit it, so I asked him if I could leave at midnight and not have to worry about him.

He told me I could but instead of going to bed, he walked up the street and managed somehow to get some booze. He was drunk when I got home.  (I know now that he stole two of the last pieces of jewelry I had left and traded them for a few rounds.)  Ah…the memories.

I’m used to spending the holidays and special occasions by myself now, so it’s no biggie.  It’s just another day.

 

The Treasure Box

An old cookie tin sat on the top of a bureau in the house where a little girls’ grandparents lived.  When the little girl asked her grandma what it was, her grandma took it down, ran her fingers across the top and said “this is my treasure box.”

The remnants of what used to be beautiful painted flowers on the lid, had given way to years of rust and were barely visible.

“What’s in it?” the little girl asked.  Her grandma said “that which is known only to me, little one.”  She then carefully sat it back on top of the bureau.

On her tenth birthday, the little girls’ grandma handed her the old cookie tin and said “I want you to have this.  It will now be your treasure box.”

The little girl took the box and hugged it like it was a brand new doll.  She said “what do I keep in it, grandma?” Her grandma said “that which is known only to you and whatever you keep in it, will always be safe.”

The little girl took it to her room and looked around for something to put in it.  After a while, an idea came to her.

The little girl grew up and became a young woman.  She married and had children.  She had what most described as a charmed life but there were cracks forming.  Cracks that nobody could see, not even her at first.

The young woman watched as her life slowly started to disintegrate.  She watched as the cracks became wider and deeper.  She watched as they eventually shattered into pieces that couldn’t be repaired.

The young woman became an old woman and realized that her life had not turned out the way she had always thought it would.  It had been full of abuse and neglect and infidelity.

One day, she looked at herself in the mirror.  She saw the carvings in her face that had been left by pain and grief. Time had not touched her lightly.  Her hair had lost its luster and her eyes were dull and lifeless.  Her body had become thin and frail.

As she walked away from the mirror, she remembered the treasure box that she had carefully hidden in the closet. She took it down and ran her fingers across the top.  She didn’t open it.  She didn’t need to.  She remembered what was in it and what she had put in it all those years ago, had not been kept safe.

A few days later, a homeless man was digging through a dumpster and found an old cookie tin.  He thought there might be something inside that he could sell for a few dollars.  When he opened it, he found only two pieces of paper, yellowed with age, that a child had written words on.

One said Hopes.  The other said Dreams.

 

My Bucket List

During that ridiculous forty-year farce that I thought was a marriage, I never got to go anywhere or do anything.

Now that I am free, I have decided to make a bucket list.  Most, if not all the things on it will never be realized, of course but it’s still fun to think about it.

1.  I’d like to ride in a helicopter.
(I did that!  I have the pictures to prove it….well, actually we’re on the ground so it’s not really proof, but I did it.  I was shaking like Tina Turner in her prime and I was sweating like a whore in church.  Apparently, we flew over Disneyland.  I had my eyes closed, praying for a quick death so I didn’t see it.)

2.  I’d like to do the Texas two-step with Harry Connick, Jr.
(That would be great if I knew him or actually knew how to do the Texas two-step.  Hell, I’d even be willing to buy me some cowboy boots and a faincy daincing dress but alas…I won’t be crossing that off my list.) 

3.  I’d like to visit the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.
 (I’m not going to drive there.  That leaves flying and I’m askeered to get on an airplane, so I won’t be able to cross that one off my list, plus, I would NEVER go up to the top of that “needle” anyway.  I’m not afraid of heights but I’m afraid of that damn thing falling down.)

4.  I’d like to go to Nazareth.  I would love to walk some of the same paths that Jesus did.
(Again.  Not going to fly, so I can’t cross that one off, not to mention that the Earth would probably swallow me up because I’m not a good person and have no business tracing His steps.)

5.  I would like to leave a stone with four words on it.
(I’ve already got the stone made and definitely plan to leave it somewhere, but nobody will ever know where.  Who knows?  Some day, somebody might come across it and be prompted to write a story titled “The Find.”)

6.  I’d like to visit the Vietnam Veterans’ Wall in Washington, D. C.
(I’d have to drive, which I could do but I’m not going to go by myself, so I guess I can’t cross that one off.)

7.  I’d like to go to Las Vegas to (1) see my RBS,  (2) see the Bellagio (not to gamble because I’m not a gambler and even though my auto correct wants to change that to fellatio for some reason, I don’t want to do that either) and (3) to be sprayed by the water fountain in front of that naked, gold guy.
(Don’t want to do the fly thing, so all three of those are out.  Won’t get to cross them off.  Guess I’ll just settle for talking to my RBS on the telephone and seeing the hotel and fountain on those Oceans’ 11, 12 and 13 movies.)

8.  I’d like to visit the 911 memorial.  Not the waterfall one but the one where pieces of peoples’ lives are housed.
(Could probably make the drive but again, I’d have to go by myself and the idea that I would be loose in New York City in a car would probably trigger the end of the world, so I can’t cross that one off.)

9.  I’d like to visit Calvary.  I’d like to see the place where they crucified Jesus.
(I don’t know how anybody, whether a believer or not, could look at that site and not feel changed.  But, I’ll never make it there…airplanes…so no crossing that off my list.  Besides, if I did make it, the same thing would probably happen that happened when the crucifixion took place….earthquakes and lightning.)

10.  I’d love to visit Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and England.  I believe that most of my ancestors on my daddys’ side came straight from England and Ireland.
(I’d give my left tit – and I’m very fond of my left tit – to be able to go there and am actually trying to talk myself into getting drugged up and doing it.  But they don’t allow drunk or drugged up people on the plane, do they?  So, probably can’t cross that off my list.)

11.  I’d like to drive a fire truck.
(My oldest daughter drove me around the block in hers and it was a thrill.  I’d be scared shitless and I’d probably wreck it but I’d still like to try.  It won’t happen so I can’t cross it off my list.  By not doing it, I will have most likely saved a truck. What’s that song?  “Save a truck…ride a firefighter?”)

12.  I’d like to smoke pot.
(I crossed that off not because I have already done it but because it doesn’t appeal to me anymore.  Have you ever smelled that shit?  IT STINKS!  And can you imagine me walking around stoned?  Oh, my Lucy!  There’s no telling what I would do.  I’d be likely to call for world peace or go completely postal.)

13.  I’d like to leave a legacy.
(I’ve already done that.  “That mama, grandma, ex-wife was bat-shit crazy.  She was an uneducated hillbilly whose stupid morality and unforgiving nature kept her from having a wonderful life with a lying, cheating, disease-giving narcissistic pig…and her children.  She didn’t understand how much more she would have been liked, if she had been just another tramp.”)

14.  I’d like to meet Wentworth Miller.
(It’ll never happen of course, so it’s one more thing that won’t be crossed off.  But, I mean….look at him.  Does anything else need to be said?)

15.  Once.  Just once, I’d like to know how it feels to be loved.
(I don’t believe in reincarnation and I didn’t believe in it the last time I was here…but maybe the next time I’m here, I can cross it off.)