Opening the door, Callie stumbled over a cardboard box. Catching her breath, she steadied herself. What is this? She stared at the lid. Written with a black marker...all caps...neat handwriting...large letters...the name CALLIE stretched across the top.
She picked it up and brought it inside. Placing the heavy box on the bed, she searched for something to cut the binding. Resorting to a nail file, she sawed through the twine. After a few seconds, she lifted the lid.
Taking a deep breath, she reached inside, pulling out a yellowed newspaper. Opening the folded daily, she read the header. Portland News. Scanning the front page, she found an article about her aunt’s murder. She placed it aside. Several copies of the Boston Globe featured the homicide in bold headlines and included pictures of the crime scene and mansion. Callie unloaded the box filled with timeworn newspapers, clippings, and magazines—all relating to Laverne.
With her heart racing, she picked up the phone and called her brother. Bypassing a greeting, she said, “Richard, get Kenneth on a three-way call. You guys won’t believe what I have here.”
“Hold on. I’ll see if I can get him on his cell.” Spreading the articles across the bed, Callie put her phone on speaker. “Okay, we’re both on the line,” Richard said.
“Hi Callie, what’s going on?” Kenneth broke in.
She began telling her story. “Late last night, someone knocked on my door. I peeked out the window but didn’t see anyone, so I started thinking I’d imagined the whole thing. This morning when I opened the door, I almost tripped over a box that had my name written across the top.”
“What?” Richard asked. “I hope you left it right where you found it.”
“Are you kidding? I tore into it, and it’s filled with old articles about Aunt Laverne’s murder. There’s even a glossy Startling Detective Magazine with a picture of her on the cover.”
Neither brother answered immediately. After a moment, Kenneth asked, “Who do you think put it there?”
“I have no idea,” Callie responded.
“I don’t like this,” Richard said.
“But you guys are gonna be thrilled when you see this information.”
Richard cross-examined his sister. “Who knows you’re there?”
“Well, let’s see,” Callie said, pausing. “I spoke with several people yesterday and gave them some business cards.” She continued to explain how she’d asked around about their aunt but had been unsuccessful in finding anyone with any memory of her. “But it’s such a small town; I guess someone heard I was here and wanted me to have this stuff.”
“Why the secrecy? And why bring it to you late at night?” Richard asked. Before she could answer, he sternly admonished, “Callie, you’ve seen the house. It’s time to come home.”
TERESA MATHEWS is a graduate of The University of South Alabama. She’s a member of the Mobile Writers Guild and serves on the Board of Directors for the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association.