The neighbors gave Doris and me a look when we got back on my trike. I recognized one of the old ladies pressed up against the police tape. Last time I saw her she was dressed up with two of her pals as the Three Blind Mice. They weren’t the strangest characters at the Colonel’s Oktoberfest Ball. I went as a jellyfish. Doris was an octopus. I don’t remember why.
“Fatman! You remember me? It’s Lucy,” she called. She hadn’t bothered to put in her bottom plate of false teeth. The front uppers were still original equipment. She didn’t need a costume to look like a rodent. Her fuzzy blue slippers matched her robe.
“Lucy, sure I remember.”
“He’s dead then, is that it?”
“Dead as they get.”
She shook her head. “A real Frogtowner. What was it? Heart attack? The man never passed up a beer or a pork chop.”
“True enough. But it wasn’t natural causes.”
I pulled Lucy aside. Doris mentioned the saber and the dining room table.
“Mother of God, we got lunatics on the loose again,” Lucy said. Next she gave me a suspicious look. “What were you doing in there?”
“We stopped by to chat.”
“Aren’t you the early birds.”
Doris’ knuckles went snap, crackle, pop. It’s a nervous habit of hers. “How long you lived next to the Colonel?” she said.
“When haven’t I lived next to the Colonel?” Lucy replied. “We never moved. He lived in his parent’s house, I lived in mine.”
“So. Seventy years?”
“Then you remember.”
“About the portal to the underworld.”
“Portal to the underworld? You must be one more real Frogtowner.”
“What’s that mean?”
“You know what I’m talking about,” Doris said. “You remember. From last time.”
“I remember all sorts of fairy tales. Doesn’t make them true.”
“The nun tossed from the belfry. The cop in the mail sack, dropped from the plane. You remember.”
“That was long ago.”
“Lucy,” I said. “Please. Tell Doris what you know. Whatever it was that killed the Colonel, justice should be served.”
“Justice,” she said.
Not so much surprises me anymore. Nonetheless I was surprised when she spit on my shoe. From the look of it she had some kind of lung infection.
“What if justice is served? Will the Colonel pull the sword out of his chest and go dancing down the street?”
“So his dancing days are over. That doesn’t mean somebody should get away with murder. Doesn’t mean that more people won’t get murdered. Could be me. Could be you. I haven’t noticed the dead need a reason to do what they do.”
“The dead get away with everything,” Lucy said. “You put them in handcuffs at six and by midnight you know what you got?”
“Empty handcuffs. The best you can do is put them back where they came from.”
“The underworld,” Doris said.
Lucy sighed. “Have it your way. The underworld.”
“What do you know about it?” Doris insisted.
“Okay, okay. Come over to my house. I’ll tell you how it went last time.”
Monday: Send in the psychic