“Oh Nana, please! Please tell us a story!”
“Yeah! Your house is so boring, you don’t even have a TV. The least you could do is tell us a bedtime story.”
The old woman laughed and rubbed her crooked fingers against her chin, “Is that so? Very well, if you really have been so dreadfully bored, I suppose I could spin you a few tales from my past . . . IF you promise me one thing . . .”
The children leaned forward in anticipation. Nan slowly rose from her rocker and slid a book out from behind the dresser, the old boards of the house creaking with each step. With a comfortable smile, she sat again and held the book firmly in her grasp.
The book was worn, the leather slipping from its hold on the stained pages. On a small leather placard stuck to the front of the book, was a string of words written in black ink.
“For all that read within my pages, be warned. For if ever one of my tales should see the light of day, you will not. If ever my tales are told to a comfortable audience, you may never be at peace again. And should this book be broken, the world would surely shatter. Heed my warning well. Respect this book or face the consequences.”
Both children gulped deeply and passed nervous laughs and glances to each other. They both watched attentively as their grandmother’s eyes slowly rose from the book to their young faces. The children jumped as a breeze flew past, taking out each candle in the room but one.
Nan cleared her throat and put on her spectacles. Her spotted fingers brushed across the cover before flipping open to the first page and beginning to read.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19TH
“Could you please repeat that name again for me, miss-”
“Right. Baroness Von Amanda Clause, please tell us your husband's full name again? Just for the record.”
“Of course. His name is Baron Von Richard Clause. And please, call me Amanda.”
Irene took a deep breath and checked to make sure her voice recorder was still rolling. She shifted in her seat and grabbed a pen from her back pocket.
“Alright, Amanda, can you give us a description of what your husband looks like?”
“Of course detective, whatever you need, and may I just say what an interesting last name you have. ‘Dragon.’ I’ve never heard of anyone with that last name before.”
Irene chewed her lip and rubbed her cheek, “Miss- . . . Amanda, we seem to be getting off track-”
“Please, pardon me, but would the Baroness and her guest like some tea?”
A young girl appeared at the doorway wearing a maids uniform. She was short, only about 5ft and 2in tall with thin limbs and pale skin. Irene noticed her hands were rough and calloused, a stark contrast to everything else about the girl. Dirt was stuck under her nails and her fingers twitched.
“Oh! Yes please, dear. Kelsey, this is detective Irene Dragon. She’s looking into my husband's disappearance.”
The young girl quickly bowed and placed her hands behind her back. The detective noticed a sparkle of worry in the young girl’s eyes.
The detective cleared her throat, “Kelsey, do you have a last name?”
“Alright, they treat you nicely around here, yeah?”
“Of course. The Barons treat me quite nicely, yes quite. Please excuse me,” Kelsey muttered like a flash before darting off to the kitchen.
Irene mumbled the name again as she wrote it down on her notepad.
“She’s in quite a hurry, wouldn’t you say?”
“She has anxiety and really loves to please. She’s a good woman, a detective, she would never be of any harm,” the Baroness mused, gazing out the window at the flourishing front yard.
It was silent for a moment, both thinking of what to say next. Irene couldn’t help but notice the woman’s perfect nails, perfect makeup, perfect hair. She noticed her short maroon dress that hugged at her curves. How her chest would rise and fall gracefully with each breath. Her soft ruby lips. She was very beautiful; it would not be hard for her to seduce a man into doing whatever she wanted. If she really did kill her husband, it would not have been hard to find someone willing to help.
Amanda’s vitalizing laugh brought the detective back from her thoughts, “You like women?”
Irene jumped in her seat and sat straight. She averted her eyes and clenched her jaw tight, heat rising to her face.
“I-! Ahem! I, uh, apologize, ma’am. I was out of line. But . . . Yes. I am a lesbian. C-could we please continue with the case?”
For a moment, the perfect woman sat looking the detective up and down. Eyes checking every piece of skin that was available within the standard police uniform. She then smiled gently to the side, light pink on her cheeks.
“Yes, I believe that would be best.”
Kelsey then came in with a tray of tea and its fixings, lowering the tension in the room to a bearable amount. Each of the women let out a sigh of relief.
The Baroness was the first to receive her tea. After adding two sugars and some cream to her cup, the maid then stood before the detective.
“Please sip at your cup, detective. I seem to have made yours a bit hotter than the rest.”
The detective wondered how that was possible. Alas, she nodded and thanked the girl before taking her cup. She added some cream to her cup before letting the young girl take the tray and all its fixings away.
The room returned back to silence. Both women glanced around the room, thinking of a way to get things back on track.
“I noticed you didn’t add any sugar to your cup.”
“Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m just not a huge fan of sugary drinks. U-uh I would like to ask you a few more questions about the case if that’s alright.”
“Of course, anything you need.” Amanda purred, crossing her legs the other way.
Irene gulped and continued, looking at her notes, “When was the last time you saw your husband?”
“I believe it was the 14th. He was on his way to spend time with some of his coworkers.”
“Could you tell me their names?”
The Baroness sipped at her tea, “No, Richard never liked talking to me about such matters. Said it was a man’s concern and that I had no business in it.”
Irene felt a bubble of rage rise in her.
“I see. Could you tell me what happened the day before he went missing?”
“Let’s see. Well, the day started quite normally. He woke up before me and we met at the dining table. We had breakfast together before he said he had to finish some work in his study. He loved his work . . .” Amanda spoke, wringing her hands together, eyes tired.
Irene took a big sip of her tea and placed a hand on top of Amanda’s.
The woman sighed and continued, “He was in his study for many hours before he came out yelling. I was downstairs when it happened, but he seemed to be yelling at poor Kelsey.”
Irene drank again and wrote in her notes, “And you don’t know what the disturbance was about?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t. It’s wrong but . . .”
“ I didn’t care what he was yelling about because for once it wasn’t me he was yelling at.”
Irene nodded, “So you and your husband were having issues.”
“It was quite obvious, everyone knew. He was always sleeping with other men and women. Always drinking and yelling.” She wavered, quickly wiping away the few tears that fell.
“I’m very sorry, Amanda. That must have been horrible.”
She scoffed with a broken smile, “It’s fine. He never pleased me anyways, in any form of the word. It’s good that he’s gone.”
“You must have had thoughts of leaving him.”
“Yes, but I didn’t because I wouldn’t have had anywhere to go. My family doesn’t want me, and I have no real friends, only pompous jerks who only care for themselves. Ugh, sorry, forget I said anything. I don’t want you to pity me.”
“No, no, I don’t pity you, Amanda, not in the slightest. I think you are very strong.”
“Thanks . . . You’re really nice to me Irene.”
“It’s easy when you’re so nice in return.”
Amanda giggled and sipped at her warm cup, hoping it could warm her heart. Irene took a sip as well, nearing the bottom of her cup. For a second, she thought she heard something shift inside her cup.
“You would like to know about anyone who would want to hurt Richard, right? I can’t say for sure, but I believe a lot of people wanted him dead. The papers in his office are free for you to sift through. I’m sure you’ll find something useful in there.”
“Thank you, Amanda. You’ve been very helpful today. Maybe . . . Maybe I could see you again? I mean, outside of an investigation and when all this is over with.”
A light bloomed in Amanda’s eyes and a smile graced her perfect features.
“On record?” Amanda smirked, darting her eyes to the voice recorder on the table.
Irene reached for the machine and held it in her hand, “It’s more fun if you get caught, right?”
The Baroness smiled happily and stared at her comfortably as she drank from her cup. Irene winked and put her cup to her lips.
Irene smiled. Then she stopped. Then she spat the contents of her mouth into her cup, grimacing.
“Whoa, what happened? Is it too hot?” The Baroness fretted.
Irene couldn’t respond.
Within the cup lay three white objects and something silver. Some of the white objects were more round than others. Some even had a light pink tinge to their endings. But it was easy to see what they were, no doubt about it. The forensic lab always had these around for testing. Good source of DNA.
3 perfect teeth and a perfect silver crown in a perfect little cup.
It had been suspected that the Baron had been murdered, but here was the proof, falling from her mouth.
Irene glanced at the portrait of the Baron on the wall.
Upon the painting, in his perfect smile, lay a full set of perfect teeth. Perfect except for one perfect, silver, imperfection.