This is the latest chapter of an ongoing serialized novel that I’m working on and posting up here in rough draft form. To read other chapters, CLICK HERE.
There were only three of us at the graveside for Jeff’s funeral. Me, Willis, and Reverend Turner. The rest of the deputies disavowed any connection with the murderer, and I couldn’t really blame them. The town tried its best to forget they ever knew the man, too, because to claim him would be to claim their part in making him what he was, to claim their tiny piece of guilt. His family was long dead, the only person in the world who depend on him was a sweet little Corgi named Butch, who I had on a leash next to me at the funeral.
Reverend Turner spoke kind words about the man, ignoring his end and focusing on the parts of his life he spent in service. He kept it short, though, not needing to embellish for his audience of two. When he was done, I knelt beside the casket for a moment and prayed for him. I knew full well he wasn’t in a better place, I’d seen him go, but maybe my prayers could lessen his sentence a little bit. The things he did were terrible, and he deserved to pay for them, but he was, in the end, a pitiful, scared little man, and that deserved a little leniency.
Reverend Turned stepped over to me and extended his hand. “Lila Grace, I feel I may have wronged you,” he said, looking me straight in the eye.
I stood up, brushed the dirt off my knees, and shook his hand. “All is forgiven, Reverend. I appreciate you speaking here today.”
“If I don’t minister to the lost, what kind of shepherd would I be?” He asked with a gentle smile. “I don’t understand what you do, but I believe now that there is no malice in you, and no touch of evil in your gifts.”
“Thank you, Reverend. I might not ever turn Baptist, but I reckon we can at least sit next to each other at the church softball games,” I said, smiling back at him.
He shook hands with Willis and turned to walk into the church. Willis raised an eyebrow at me. “That was unexpected.”
“Not really. We had a talk a little while ago. I think he learned a thing or two.”
“Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks,” Willis said with a grin.
“Maybe,” I said, grinning back “As long as one of those tricks is putting the toilet seat down, we’ll be fine.”
We laughed as we walked back to the patrol car. I stopped at the door and looked back at the grave, where three filmy images of old woman wavered in the wind. The Dead Old Ladies Detective Agency had helped solve their first case, and even if it didn’t end happily for everyone, it did end, and we did put Jenny Miller to her heavenly rest. I had to count that as a win, I decided.
Then I slid into the passenger seat of the sheriff’s car and let my boyfriend drive me home, the first time that had happened in my fifty-seven years. I guess that was another win, this one for the Living Old Lady.