Are You Loveable (part six)
She came at him, doing something awkward with her arms. His experience with Daisy had never involved tenderness…and he’d never seen her cry. Nor had she ever visited Oland in his room. He gathered, after a moment, that she wanted comfort. To be cradled. Like a girl, he thought. He tried wrapping her in his own arms, while she sobbed.
“You have to take me away from here!”
“I know my headaches,” Mabel reiterated.
Grinker also, having spent an hour with Mabel, knew her headaches.
He snatched up his notepad, seeking diversion.
“…you had these symptoms about half an hour after Mrs. Bradshaw gave you the bromide powder?”
“It was nothing like one of my usual headaches.”
“Did you talk to your doctor?”
“Do I need my doctor to tell me something I’ve known all my life?”
“With regard,” Grinker said, “to your suspicion…”
“Well, I don’t have any suspicion! This third-degree is why I didn’t want to come here in the first place! I’m only saying. I’ve never been sick like that…and it was Daisy who gave me the bromide. I’ve heard,” she said, “that people have been talking. I just thought you might like to know.”
“But you’re not willing to make a formal charge.”
“Daisy is my aunt.” Mabel’s tone suggested a well-bred person understood the nuances of ratting on relatives.
The echo of his visitor’s pigeon-toed gait had just died away. Grinker felt safe in returning to a modest daydream. Egg sandwich. Scrambled, not fried. Little mayo, couple slices of bacon. He was just reaching, in imagination, for the pimento cheese, when Oland Coleman filled his doorframe and lurched into the office.
“I murdered George Bradshaw.” His face looked clammy and dazed.
Grinker picked up the phone. The desk sergeant answered.
“I need you to find out how George Bradshaw is doing.”
“Pretty well. They were gonna let him go at the end of the week. His sister’s looking for a nurse to take care of him at home. Turns out,” the sergeant chuckled, “the girl they liked was a fake. One of them big city reporters.”
Grinker was speechless. The sergeant noticed his silence. “I can call up the hospital and ask, if you want.”
Grinker hung up. Oland said, “I killed Mabel Hickman. I poisoned her. I killed Arthur Strong. I might have pushed him. I never meant to. That’s all the ones I know about.”
Are You Loveable
(2015, 2018, Stephanie Foster)