Are You Haunted: part five
Are You Haunted
“I hope no one…”
He’d been on the verge of a conventional remark. But how tidily arranged the sparkling wreckage was….how densely packed and flush the filled chambers were; how devoid, how sanitized, how stripped clean was the entire site, of any debris much larger than a splinter of glass. The event had been catastrophic. The special work had been something other than the finishing of cloth. He supposed it would be naïve to hope no one had been hurt.
“Hey there, Summers!” Lloyd Guy called out.
Summers put up a hand to shade his eyes, knocking back the small hat on his head, and lifted his gaze to the summit like a forest ranger spotting a wisp of smoke. Powell watched the Big Chief descend at a jog to a little concrete wall that marked the border of the lawn. The wall had split under pressure of slumping earth; the taller half, now tilting towards the road, had become the lower half. With no great alacrity, Guy moved sideways to the place this dovetailed into the bramble patch; balancing himself, arms crooked at the elbows. Where the drop was no more than a foot or so, he put a leg over.
“Where’d you come across them cockleburs?”
“Well, sir. If you’re meaning Mr. Kenzie and Miss Gilshannon, they came out in a car. Very distinctive car. You may want to have a look at it, Mr. Guy, out of curiosity.”
“Oh!” Isobel swung round, and with an impatient fling of the hand, said, “You know Tovey will have driven it off. Mr. Summers, you must have seen him pulling the car away, when the truck went by just now.”
“Miss Gilshannon. I’ve learned a thing or two.” He pursed his mouth and swung his arms; at last, deprived of some confrontational posture he would normally have assumed, had he not been crowded on the path by Summers, Guy hooked his thumbs into his belt. “You,” he said, “been living up at Concord. You stayed down here with your grandfather one time, but he’s dead now.”
“That’s true,” she said, unmoved. “But you forget my husband.”
“Shoot,” Guy said, “as far as Toveys go, there’s three or four named Dennis. Which one is supposed to be the stepson?”
“Well, it can’t be my granddad’s crony! Why should I doubt my husband? What’s it got to do with me, if she’ll give him money when he asks?”
“Ma’am,” Summers said, “I had a conversation with Mr. Guy, as he was driving me out here. I came out, of course, on a job of my own…I wonder if you’ve heard a weather report today?” Summers stepped down the hill, trialed a foot on the cut above the streambed, tilting his shoe and for an instant poising his weight there. This maneuver, watched keenly by Rohdl, brought him past Powell and Isobel, and permitted Summers a companionable hand on Rohdl’s shoulder.
“Heavy fog in the morning. I was concerned about our friend here, as I know you are yourself, ma’am, being kind enough to’ve brought him that sandwich from the café. A conversation,” Summers went on. “Mr. Guy worries about this place. Now I will suppose, ma’am, that your husband worries too. On behalf of his relative. I don’t think you and I, and Mr. Guy, disagree.”
Fog, Powell thought. Heavy fog rolling in, sometime during the night.
He heard Summers telling Isobel she would have to ride with them; Guy would drive them all back to town. He heard Guy, far ahead now, snort—his answer or opinion, and a noise distinct from his climbing grunts and exhalations. Powell had fallen far behind. He had stopped moving and needed to make himself go up to the house. He heard Rohdl raise an objection, and Summers say, “This place has a screen porch, open on three sides. You won’t feel closed in there, sir.”
(copyright 2015, 2017 Stephanie Foster)