Ways of the Widow – Matthew Wilson

Sullivan sighed but didn’t raise his voice as I expected. “What do you want me to do? Dig up the bodies and do an autopsy?”

I looked at him hopefully. “Well…”

“No, not for this nothing,” Sullivan said, dropping the newspaper clippings back into the shoebox. “It would cost more taxpayers money then we’d see in our lifetimes after they exhume the bodies and find you wrong -”

“IF I’m wrong,” I corrected but said no more as I knew it would hurt my case.

I had been very welcoming of Sullivan’s awkward intrusion into mother’s life. Maybe a young man’s affection would break her dark spell and Sullivan appreciated my help on notes with mother’s favorite flowers and food.

He promised to look into matters but nothing more.

No, he would not tell Hannah who had brought up complaints against her. He would talk to her and see which way the water went.

But by the weekend, the black widow’s luck seemed to have improved greatly.

She did not attend Sergeant Michael Sullivan’s funeral but when Mother wept at his graveside as the vicar read the psalms, I realised that she had loved him after all.

Of course, Mother blamed herself for his suicide. The certainty that he felt his love was unreciprocated had led him to take his own life.

But, honestly – I don’t think he did it.

* * *

I had no alternative – like a down on his luck gambler with his back to the wall, I threw in my last hand and created a trap that the sticky legs of this black widow could not escape. Especially after she set her eyes on me.

I don’t know if the drink she offered me at bridge club was poison, true, it had small black flecks in it and when mother registered my caution and said she would drink it instead, Hannah laughed the whole thing off and poured the water down the sink.

That was the night I left the shoebox of newspaper cuttings on her front door step and a note in trembling handwriting indicating some anonymous intention to tell all. This nameless shadow had proof – I didn’t – and wouldn’t stop until she was legally hanged by the neck till dead – I would.

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