Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Assisted Living" , Part Three

Oziel slugged his coffee and rinsed his cup. He didn’t want to embarrass Lorraine. He needed a jacket. When was the last time he wore one? The funeral? Where was it? Jean put dress clothes in hanging plastic wardrobes in the cellar. With Lorraine busy on the phone, he’d look. He bent his ear to the parlor going by.

“No, dammit, check the Marley account…”

It sounded like she might be a while.

Downstairs, he found no wardrobes hanging where they once did. Lorraine probably moved them to the garage. So he walked across the driveway to check. He covered his ears; the wind was picking up.

Once inside, he opened the closet by the workbench. By golly, he still had his dress greens from the army, in clear plastic. They wouldn’t do, patches and all. And they wouldn’t fit, not after so long. He’d been a trimmer man in the war and when he met Jean at the commissary. They went on a picnic, and the air was sweet with lilac.
A breeze rustled the plastic wrapping. For a moment, it smelled like lilac. Then he smelled that sick-sweet, chickeny smell from the second floor. Why, he’d never closed the attic hatch properly yesterday. Too excited about the gloves. He ascended the ladder, poked his head up, and reached for the thrown-aside door. A glint of light caught his eye. Gold. From that table at the end of the room.

It flashed again. Probably that brass curtainrod. But it flickered, like something loose and swinging. He climbed up, crossed the room, and took a closer look. It was a gold button on a sleeve, twitching in a draft. He lifted the linens and curtain.

“Good God,” he said.

It was the jacket he wore to the funeral, folded in quarters.

John's new mystery novel, "Bleeder," will be released by Sophia Institute Press in August 2009 and will be available at www.sophiainstitute.com as well as in bookstores.

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