Praying to any god who’d listen that we could divert my Aunt’s warped sense of humor, “Good Morning Uncle!” On the other side of the screen door, my Uncle set his golf clubs down on the porch.
Wood chimed in with a mouth full of eggs and bacon, “Morning! How was golf?” Wood winced as the screen door banged loudly against the frame when my Uncle walked into the kitchen.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full Dourwood.” My Aunt reminded him for the millionth time since we were children, “Dear I was just reading to them from this morning’s police blotter.”
A smile crept to the corners of his mouth, “Ah! I see.”
Walking across the kitchen he put his hand on my Aunt’s shoulder (she was starting to get up) and kissed her cheek while cuffing the back of Wood’s head, he then circled the table to plant a kiss on my crown. Completing the revolution around the table, he snagged the coffee pot off the stove – filling up a cup for himself and refilling ours. With the essential tasks taken care of, he sat down across from my Aunt.
She continued to pursue her twisted strain of conversation, “Seems the police think last night’s troubles could be a prelude to this year’s senior prank. Other than students, who else would dress up to trespass?” With this shot, my Aunt got up to fix my Uncle a plate. The instant she turned her back Wood sent my Uncle a hang-dog look while I laid my head on his shoulder and made doe eyes at him.
Happily, he helped us out, “Thank you for asking about my golf game Wood.”
My Aunt let loose a snort then tried to pretend she was containing a sneeze.
My Uncle’s side quivered but his voice stayed even, “I kept my score relatively low today, but Earl’s game was all over the map. Seems he was on the job until the wee hours of the morning investigating a case.”
Wood and I both froze our cute appeals for help melting into sick smiles. They were serious enough about rubber ducks that they assigned a detective to investigate?
Aunt Pearl placed a full plate in front of my Uncle, “Really? A case from last night you say?” She managed to pack in both glee and worry into her tone.
My Uncle took a large bite of eggs, then toast and chewed them slowly while the three of us held our breath waiting for him to finish.
Peppering his eggs, he started to take another bite when my Aunt (with a touch of impatience) attempted to tease a response out of my taciturn Uncle, “Dear, what new case is Earl working on?”
My Uncle’s sides quivered harder, “The Tiffany Grindle case took an unexpected turn.”
Wood cocked his head, my Aunt gave him the shorthand version of Tiffany’s disappearance and subsequent reappearance. Listening to her ‘news’ all over again I tried to merge my facts with her newly unearthed information – it painted quite the picture. When she finished my Uncle picked up the conversational thread.
Putting his fork down for the moment, “Seems Grindle confessed not only to Tiffany and David Waller’s murders but to two more, a woman he dated a few years ago who strayed and a coworker who got a promotion he coveted. Seems Grindle is a very jealous man.”
“Really?” I asked. The information sent my mind reeling back to my dilemma the corner of Bitter and Sweet. Nothing warms the heart like the knowledge that you’d chosen the correct course of action.
My Uncle nodded, “Really. He seemed ready to get it off his chest. Earl reckons the anonymous tip came from him.”
My Aunt did her best impression of an Irish Setter, “Anonymous tip?”
Smiling now my Uncle continued, “Yes, the only real loose end left. The ranger who found the remains went into the woods following information from an anonymous letter sent to him specifically. It contained GPS coordinates, pictures, a map and a statement of what he would find there. Grindle swears he never sent the letter. I tend to believe him. The letter was specific, but no prints were found on any of the papers, and it didn’t mention anything about Waller.” Shrugging off his consternation, my Uncle picked up his knife and fork and finished off the tail end of his breakfast.
Wood who looked much less bleary-eyed now asked, “This ranger, did he have a limp and an attitude?”
My Uncle’s turn to look curious, “As a matter of fact he did.”
Well, hell. Wood would make that connection.