Being inspired, maybe – 44

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

There is this old house, or perhaps it was a mansion, on the outskirts of town, a few hundred yards off the main road, owned by a writer whose fame was built on one book, and whose bohemian lifestyle was the stuff of legends.

With it was vast gardens, once maintained by a staff of 10, where they used to hold the most amazing afternoon tea parties.  In the middle of those gardens was a pavilion, and there were many stories about what used to happen there.

Artists, writers, actors, movie stars, and a variety of other famous people.  Alcohol, drugs, adultery, and in the end, murder.

Now it was empty, not quite derelict, waiting for a new owner, to be demolished, and have something even grander put in its place.  As for the restoration of the gardens, that might take a miracle.

And, as the mayor of Lesterville was oft heard to say, it would take someone with more money than sense.

My mother often said she had intended to write about her life, but never got around to it.  She had spent much of her younger life as the girlfriend of a married aging actor who simply adored her.

He had a wife, but she disapproved of his bohemian, sometimes salacious, lifestyle and didn't seem to care about the affairs so long as they didn't reach the newspapers.  She had her own life, and neither she or my mother had ever met, not even after he died.

I knew from her stories he had been a regular guest at the mansion and took my mother with him on those visits. She used to tell me bedtime stories, and later on, when I grew up, I realized they were about those people.

And, as a lasting memory of her, I still had the painting of her that one of the artists had done with the pavilion as a backdrop, and it was not a painting I could hang in general view.  I must admit when I first saw it I was embarrassed, but as time wore on I came to see what the artist had seen, an exquisitely beautiful woman.

Now she had passed on, left me with a very large sum of money, a manuscript that on the first scan seemed to be her memoirs, and a letter, telling me the location of where she had spent the happiest days of her life.


In this old house, or perhaps it was a mansion, on the outskirts of town, a few hundred yards off the main road, once owned by a writer whose fame was built on one book.

And another letter addressed to the sheriff.  I had no idea why and didn't open it to find out.

I was standing outside the only Realtor's office in Lesterville, looking at the variety of properties for sale, perhaps an indication of the problems besetting farming in rural America.

There was only one I was interested in, and it was not in the window.

After a few minutes more, making sure I had not missed it, I was about to go in when a voice behind me said,

"You look vaguely familiar, son."

I wasn't his son but took it to be the vernacular around these parts.  The speaker, a man who would match Santa Clause in girth and jolliness was standing almost beside me, dressed in the Sheriff's Department uniform.

Perhaps the person I was about to go looking for after visiting the realtor.

"And who might that be, sir?"

"Cherise's son, Alexander.  I heard she had passed, but I'd not expected you would return here, not after what happened."

I assumed he was referring to the horrible death of her lover.

"I remember little if anything from that time.  I was only five.  But, I have to ask, are you the Sherriff?"

"I am.  Been so for more years than I care to remember."

I handed him the letter, addressed to him in my mothers best calligraphy.

Ominous," he said.  He opened it, and read the single sheet of paper, and as he did I watched his expression change to one more serious, what one might call his Sherriff's face.

"Good news or bad?" I asked.

"Good.."  He looked up at me.  "Your mother just told us who killed Granderby."

A secret, then she had held onto to her dying breath.  What was that expression, taking it to the grave?  Well, almost.  I expect she had a fit on conscience.

"It wasn't her," I asked, a shade of concern in my tone.  I don't think I could bear the shame of having a murderess as a mother.

He smiled.  "No, son.  It wasn't her.  It was someone we never suspected.  Thank you."

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement inside the realtors.  Time to go in and ask about the property.  It wasn't going to be too long before my mother could rest in peace.

© Charles Heath 2019


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