Another one, then another one, then another passed before him all offering him their condolences saying the same old repetitive redundant ridiculous things, that all boiled down to “your mother was such a nice person.” Most were friends, relatives, neighbors, but the woman before him now he did not know. He didn’t catch her last name because she said it so fast but he was sure she said her first name was Myrtle and that she had a southern twang to her speech.
“I went to nursing school with your mother,” she volunteered. “But after that we lost touch because of the war. Your mother going to Boston where your father was stationed in the navy there. I went to South Carolina where my husband was stationed.”
“Oh that’s nice,” said the man.
“I knew she worked at a hospital there in Boston as a nurse,” said the woman. “But did she work as a nurse when the war was over?”
“No, she just raised me and my sister and took care of our father.”
“Well I suspected as much. She didn’t really care for nursing, she told me. Told me she just went to nursing school to get out of the house and away from her mother.”
“Oh,” said the man. This was news to him.
“I was a nurse all my life, you know? I’m retired now.”
How could I know that thought the man I just met you. But instead of giving her a cutesy smart alec comeback he put on his best politest face and said, “Well it’s been nice meeting you Ma’am.” This was his hint for her to move on and from the look on her face he could tell that she resented it. But nevertheless she moved on to his sister who was standing next in line to him. His sister greeted her and he greeted the next person in line.
During the luncheon he noticed that ‘Myrtle’ had plopped herself down next to his sister as she ate and had engaged her in a rather long conversation before she finally got up and left. He then went over to his sister and said, “Well?”
“Well what did that Myrtle woman tell you? She insulted our mother by telling me that our mother didn’t care much for nursing. She tell you that too?”
“First her name isn’t Myrtle. She’s from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and yes she did tell me that among other things.”
“Such as she just moved back here since her daughter and mother were here, and she bought one of those high class luxury condos in Wynwood.”
“Jesus, those cost half a mill.”
“Four hundred eighty five thousand to be exact. She got a bargain, she said, because she paid cash.”
“Where in the hell did a retired nurse get that kind of money?”
“Her husband died and she had a million dollar policy on him that’s where.”
“What she do, kill him?” joked the man.
“No, they went hiking in the Applalachians and he accidentally fell off a cliff, broke his neck, and was killed.
“And no one else was with them right. And she had taken out the policy just before they went hiking, right?”
“You’ve been watching too many of those true crime tv shows haven’t ya brother?”
“Just answer the question.”
“Yes and yes. They were alone and she just took out the policy and she said that taking out life insurance on someone just shows them how much you really love them.”
“Oh how thoughtful of her,” said the man then added, “And she’s living the life of ease now in that luxury ritzy condo right?”
“Well she is now. But at first she had to live with her mother and take care of her. Her mother died.”
The man cut his sister off and broke in, “And she collected on a million dollar life insurance policy on her mother too that she just took out right?”
“No, it was only three hundred thousand.”
“Oh that’s all. Guess she didn’t love her mother as much as her husband. What did her mother die from anyway? She slip her mickey with antifreeze in it?”
“No Mr. Crimesolver. She had pneumonia.”
“And there was no autopsy and she had her cremated right away too I bet. Didn’t she?”
“Yes, because she said that’s what her mother wanted.”
“Yes right,” insisted his sister. “That’s what her mother really wanted she said. Her mother was in her eighties, got pneumonia, knew she would die soon anyway, and told her daughter to cremate her as soon as possible to get the grieving over with. She died just like our grandmother did from pneumonia Mr. Smartypants.”
“Just like our grandmother huh,” pondered the man, his right hand on his chin as he stared up the ceiling obviously contemplating something.
“Somebody better warn that daughter of hers not to let her mother take out a life insurance policy on her she’ll become life insurance policy proceeds number three.”
“For God sakes she never killed her husband or her mother so let it go will ya Mr. Homicide Investigator before your brain overloads, short circuits, and explodes.”
“Ya ya ya you’re right she didn’t kill those two.” He stuck his tongue in his cheek as he rolled his eyes.
“Just knock it off will ya.”
“No I won’t because I know someone who did her one better and killed three people.”
“And who would that be?”
“Our mother, that’s who. Thanks to Mrs. Myrtle Beach here it all came together just now.”
“Good god what’s wrong with you. Our mother never killed three people.”
“Yes she did.”
“Who were they then?”
“First, our father.”
“Look, the man weighed over two fifty and was five ten, our mother kept feeding him all kinds of fattening foods doing her duty as a good homemaker of the 1950’s, knowing full well that both his folks died of heart attacks in their early sixties. She never once took him to a doctor for an annual check up like both of us do. She never once put him on a nonfat diet like we are. Never had him exercise like we do. Never had his cholesterol checked. Never got him on statins and cholesterol lowering drugs like we are. Did she? So what happens? At age sixty our father dies of a heart attack. Am I right?”
“Well maybe. I never looked at it that way. Anyway, who was number two?”
“Yes. She was living with our mother right. Our mother was supposed to be taking care of her right? But she didn’t and Grandma got pneumonia and died. I had pneumonia when I was in boot camp. I was twenty and it damn near killed me. My chest gurgled all the time from the fluid in my lungs. Our mother, the nurse, should have picked up on that but she didn’t. Grandma died at our mother’s house on our mother’s watch. Our mother was responsible for Grandma’s health and she blew it. She never even took her to the hospital.”
“Come on, Grandma was ninety.”
“And she might have lived to be a hundred if our mother had done her nursely duties.”
“Okay okay maybe you’re right. But who’s number three then?”
“Our mother herself.”
“You saying our mother killed herself. For God’s sake she had Alzheimers. People with Alzheimers don’t kill themselves.”
“I’m not saying she committed suicide. But indirectly, through her own negligence, again, she killed herself.”
“By not taking care of herself. That’s how. Remember when she too got pneumonia. I stopped by to check up on her every Saturday like I always did and this one Saturday I could tell from her hacking and wheezing something wasn’t right with her. I said. “Let me take you to the hospital.” “No, no I ‘m fine,” she insisted. “I’ll be alright.”
Well I had to practically drag her into the car and take her there. Anyway, after she got better and came home, I could tell she wasn’t quite right. She started losing it. She couldn’t put a sentence together. She’d answer you with something totally unrelated to what we were talking about. She became incoherent. Remember?”
“Yah I remember and we put her in a home when she became totally helpless and couldn’t even talk. But I don’t get how that killed her.”
“It killed her because she didn’t do anything about it when she got sick and got pneumonia, and the pneumonia triggered the Alzheimers, and then the Alzehiemers killed her by robbing her of the last two years of her life. That’s how.”
“That’s stretching it a little thin isn’t it Mr. Homicide Detective man.”
“You can laugh all you want but you know damn well that’s what happened. Thanks to Mrs. Myrtle Beach here and her comment about our mother as a nurse, it all became clear to me now.”
“Just one problem though Mr. Crimesolver.”
“Ya and what’s that?”
“Ya no motive. No insurance.”
“Ya you’re right. I never thought of that. Oh well, never mind.”
Author Bio: B. Craig Grafton’s latest books are: Twenty First Century American Fairy Tales, Willard Wigleaf: West Texas Attorney, and Jill Driver: Trail Boss. They are available on Amazon.