The story so far… Old Wives’ Tale
That was the only thing Mason said when Casper told him about what he and his crew found in the old house.
As he strode up the back porch steps, letting the kitchen screen door slam shut behind him, I took Casper by the arm.
“What the hell was that all about?” I spoke in a harsh whisper so the sheriff wouldn’t hear us talking from inside the house. “I though we were all friends.”
“For the one havin’ all the college education, you sure are dumb.” Casper pulled out of my grasp, an amused expression on his face.
I followed him into the house, stepping over the construction piles to the front bedroom. Mason was standing over the bundle of bones, his sheriff’s campaign hat in one hand, and his other hand planted firmly on his hip.
Casper’s comment had distracted me, so when Mason asked me a question, I didn’t respond right away.
“Miss Arness, are you with us?” Mason used his sheriff voice. “What do you know about this body?”
“Oh, for Chrissake, Marsh. Miss Arness? Really?” I was offended that he was treating me like a suspect. “To answer your question, I don’t know anything about these babies. You know me, so you should know that.”
“Miss Arness, I do not know that,” Mason walked over to hole in the drywall where Casper found the bundle, leaning forward to look inside. “Is there anything you can tell me about this building material?”
“Day-um Marsh, lighten up.” Casper joined Mason at the damaged wall. “This type of drywall hasn’t been used since the late ‘40s. As far as I call tell, the whole place used it. Roxie wasn’t even born then. And, before you ask, there was no repairs to the wall before this.”
“So, are you saying, this was the original material?” Mason asked.
Casper punched Mason on the arm.
“These bones have been here since this house was raised, back when Roxie’s granddaddy built it with my granddaddy. If you’re going to go all po-po on us, then you better add them, and me, to your suspect list.”
Mason shoved his hat on his head, adjusted his holster belt, and headed back toward the kitchen porch.
“Just because you’ve got your pants in a wad over Roxie being back in town, doesn’t give you the right to be a jack hole.” Casper followed him out, loudly arguing with him about whether I was guilty of infanticide.
Looking down at the forgotten babies, I was left with another mystery. Why was Mason upset that I was back in our hometown.
Casper was muttering to himself when he rejoined me.
“Roxie, you really are dense.”
“What was that all about?”
“When you left Pendleton, it just about broke Marsh.” Casper assumed the same stance Mason had earlier, ball cap in hand. “He has been in love with you since 8th grade, and you treat him like a brother.”
“So that means he can treat me like a criminal?”
“Of course not,” Casper relaxed. “He doesn’t know how to act around you, so he acts like a sheriff. He’s outside, go talk to him.”
“He loved me?”
I squeezed Casper’s arm before leaving. I wished I had known how Mason felt about me a long time ago. Maybe I could have done something about my feelings for him.