“Eunice, have you seen my reading glasses?”
She didn’t answer but continued to fix her hair in the vanity mirror. Her husband walked into the bedroom holding a newspaper.
“Didn’t you hear me, Eunice? Why are you getting all dolled up?”
She rolled her eyes but kept tending to her hair. “I’m getting ready for a funeral so stop interrupting. Janice invited me to go. I’ve got to finish getting ready before she gets here.”
He raised his eyebrows. “You make it sound more like an exclusive affair than a memorial service. I’m pretty sure the only one ever invited to a funeral is the deceased, and their attendance is mandatory.” He laughed to himself.
Eunice dropped her hands to her hips. “Well aren’t you just a hoot, John Anderson. The service is for that art gallery owner downtown – Niles Jefferson.”
John raised his eyebrows again. “I didn’t know you ever visited that place. Lots of paint blobs on canvas and mixed-up faces. And, they call that art.”
“Oh, John, I only went in once with Janice. Of course, I could never afford to buy anything in there but I’ve heard that lots of Hollywood types have.”
She stood and straightened out the front of her turquoise dress. The rhinestone buttons gave the outfit sparkle which she needed for such a high profile occasion.
“Who told you that?” her husband wanted to know. “That’s just beauty shop gossip. Have you ever seen a ‘Hollywood type’ show up in downtown Midville before? And, if he was so well off, why was he living here?”
Eunice pushed her husband aside as she grabbed her purse off the bed. “Stop speaking ill of the dead. Besides, I’m going anyway despite your objections. This town needs some excitement even if it’s a funeral.”
A car horn blew outside. “That’s Janice. I’ve got to go.”
He threw up his hands in resignation. She breezed past him and down the stairs. Before stepping outside she yelled back up to him. “Your glasses are sitting next to the bathroom sink.”
* * * *
About two hours later, John heard a key turn in the front door.
“Is that you, Eunice?” He continued to read the paper as he reclined in his favorite armchair in the den.
She took her time walking into the room and then plopped down on the sofa. When he looked at her he was reminded of their basset hound, Rocky, except for the long ears.
“I thought you’d be positively beaming after rubbing elbows with all those famous people.”
She crossed her arms. “It was more like rubbing shoulders with the long arm of the law.”
“Huh?” The eyebrows rose for the third time that day.
“I thought the police were there for security, because so many celebrities might show up. You need crowd control for things like that; at least that’s how they do it on the television.”
“So why were they really there?” John let his paper rest on his lap.
“We didn’t know until the urn fell over. Now, I may not know much but I can tell potting soil from ashes.”
“What are you talking about?” He scratched his head.
“Niles’ wife went up to say a few words about him. She had on the most beautiful black pantsuit, probably designer. Anyway, halfway through, her grieve overtook her and when she threw up her arms she upset the urn sitting on the pedestal.”
“And it contained potting soil?” This story was getting more interesting by the minute, John thought.
“She recognized that it wasn’t ashes, too, and started ranting at the funeral director. About that time, two policemen rushed up the aisle and took a look at the so called ‘ashes.’ A man in a black suit walked up and addressed the rest of us. He flashed a badge of some sort and wanted to know what we could tell him about Murray Hawes.”
“Who is Murray Hawes?” John’s face registered confusion once again.
“Apparently that’s Niles’ real name. He’s wanted in three states, including this one, for fraud. That gallery was all a sham. They think he faked his death because the authorities were closing in on him.”
John sat back, straightened out his paper and started to read. “Who says nothing exciting ever happens around here.”
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