I have never been one to dwell on things. I like to get them out and move on, usually in the form of writing. Sometimes with fire. Relationships, friendships, events... All these things end and are a part of life. I know that. Deep down I know that is true. But death, unexpected death of a suicide or murder or pure accident, that death is too much.
Ava and I had not time to form any type of relationship beyond an amicable understanding and that one time... But Betty, my surrogate aunt, my mother's friend...
I was asked to speak at the funeral but I could not. I simply sat beside my mother, as silent on the inside as I was on the outside. No tears for my lost friend, my murdered teacher.
I have never been one to dwell on things. I helped my mother clean out Betty's house. We were her only family and she went out of our lives. I tried not to dwell, but that is a hard thing to do in such a small town.
"Mrs. Graham, please stop pushing the copy button. We need to turn the paper so that it will copy right," I said.
The elderly lady glanced up at me and back at the machine. One elderly finger, like a brittle chocolate stick, hovered over the round green button. The finger stabbed downward and the machine began another incorrect copy.
I sighed and reached to raise the lid. Mrs. Graham slapped my hand away, then pulled the new page from the machine.
"See," she said, "This thing keeps doing it wrong."
"Mrs. Graham," I said, "like I said-"
A small pair of cowboy boots rattled like a machine gun against the wooden floor. Forrest Devillis ran into the library and headed straight for the large stuffed monkey waiting on the table. His father, Seth Pittman, walked in behind him, smiling.
"I'll be right back, Mrs. Graham," I said over my shoulder, "Seth, how are you?"
He stopped and looked at me. I crossed the room and we shook hands.
"Evan, I'm so sorry to hear about Betty," he said.
"Thank you. We are, too. He looks better," I said.
We watched Forrest pull the monkey twice his size off the table and over to the shelves where the Curious George books were arranged. The little boy pulled several of the books off the shelves and sat in the monkey's lap. They began to read together.
"Only time he looks like that," Seth said, "Won't let me read to him."
"I'm sorry. Time, I guess. I'd give you the monkey, but he's the only one we have. Plus, you wouldn't have a reason to come see us."
My small joke fell flat. Seth stared at his son. When he spoke, I startled a bit.
"Hear that murderer got free. For a while, I thought it was you. Sorry about that."
I did not know what to say to that. Seth and I had always gotten along okay in the short time we had known each other, but dark thoughts have their own way, I guess.
"Police are still looking for him. After he attacked Mom and me that night, he ran off. Captain Stein personally searched his apartment, came up with a few things with those runes on them."
"Yeah, like religious symbols. Same things that were carved... That were on Ava when they found her."
Seth took in a deep breath. He held it and watched his son.
"Seth," I said, "I'm sure they'll find him..."
But he was no longer listening to me. He walked away from me and sat next to his son reading to the giant stuffed monkey. The scene would have been poetic to anyone who knew the story.
Mrs. Graham cleared her throat. I turned to find her holding a stack of papers an inch thick. She held them out to me.
"That damn machine keeps doing it wrong," she said, "Make it right."
"Okay," I said, nodding my head, "I'll try. I'll try to make it right."
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