Chapter 18 The Other Gardening Glove

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Woodrow Kent poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down beside his mother. The sun had just set and the warm colors filled his house. Mrs. Kent turned the page of her Movie Life magazine. "Did you see War and Peace at the cinema last night?" She asked absently.

Woodrow looked out at the city in the distance. A large car ferry was drifting into Coleman dock. "Yes, Elsbeth loved it. She is betting Audrey Hepburn will win an award for her portrayal of Natasha."

"I expect she will," his mother agreed. "This critic seems to think it's Vidor's best picture to date. Can you imagine what that must feel like? Although I thought Man Without a Star was very good too. But I'm partial to anything with Kirk Douglas." she admitted. She spotted a photograph of the young actor on the next page and muttered under her breath, "who isn't?"

"I think there are better things to spend a quarter on than those silly magazines," Woodrow complained. "They're more about the star gossip than the art of Hollywood movie making. It's a waste of your time and—" He frowned and looked around. "What is that smell?"

"That's why I read them," his mother informed him. "Mrs. Pennyworth smoked some salmon, before she went home. There's a sauce on the stove and she says we ought to put the potatoes and green beans on in another twenty minutes."

Woodrow glanced at his watch. "You're right, it's nearly five and the Barrys and the Pienmonts will be here by six, won't they? I've been losing track of time all day."

"Of course you have, my Dear. By the way, I scheduled Loretta's memorial for Wednesday at four o'clock at the Methodist church on fifth."

Woodrow said nothing so after a few moments Mrs. Kent continued: "I thought we'd have a small reception here afterwards. That works with your schedule, doesn't it?"

Woodrow nodded slowly. "Of course. It's the least we can do for Loretta."

"Good. I've already spoken to Mrs. Pennyworth about the menu and I put a notice in the newspapers with her obituary. On Wednesday, I'll leave my house at noon to see that the flowers are arranged properly. I suppose Hattie will want to come with me, poor girl. She is at a loss about what need to be done. I believe Loretta was her only relative."

Woodrow went back to staring out the window. The city lights were emerging against the darkening sky. After a few minutes Mrs. Kent said gently, "Woodrow dear, I suppose you realize that as far as the police are concerned we are all suspects."

Woodrow didn't break his gaze. He took a deep breath. "It doesn't matter."

"There will be personal questions," His mother said as she looked at him. "Woodrow, do you think the police will snoop very deeply into our private histories?"

Woodrow suddenly looked at her and smiled. "Our what?"

"You know, our pasts. Do you think the police will dig up a lot of details about us?"

"Have you had a lot scandalous love affairs that I don't know about?"

"Not especially." Mrs. Kent closed her magazine and laid it on the table.

Woodrow's smiled faded. "Do you think one of us is the murderer?"

"I don't know who the murderer is," his mother said.

"But you believe it's someone we actually know?"

"That is entirely possible, Woodrow." Mrs. Kent insisted gently. "After all, we know most of the same people who Loretta knew. And a few of them have rather compelling motives. But that's not what I'm getting at. I'm really thinking about the distant past."

"Well, what about it?"

"Not everyone in our social circle has a past they're eager to share."

Woodrow frowned and sat down. "But Mother, it couldn't have been anyone who was here as the party. We all have alibis. The police won't have any reason to investigate our pasts."

"I'm afraid you're wrong. We were all watching a film together at the same time that Loretta was murdered. But we really be sure because the lights were out and we were focused on the film. It seems unlikely that anyone could have left, but I'm almost certain that as far as the police are concerned, none of us has an alibi."

Woodrow stood up and walked over to the window.

"When I asked you before," Mrs. Kent persisted gently, "you said you didn't want to know about her past--"

"I still don't want to know." Woodrow turned to face his mother. "Elsbeth is a dear friend of mine and she has my respect. That's all there is too it. Whatever you think you know, I don't want to hear it."

"If the police dig deep enough it may all come out anyway."

Woodrow frowned "Are you thinking about Elsbeth or are you thinking about yourself?"

"I'm thinking about you."

Jerry suddenly walked into the room and they stopped talking. The young man's face was white and he seemed oblivious to the possibility that he might be interrupting. "Have...Was... Where is Mrs. Pennyworth?" he asked.

"She's gone home for the day," Mrs. Kent said. "Is something wrong?"

Jerry's brow was furrowed. He wasn't looking at either of them.

Woodrow frowned at his secretary. "Are you feeling all right, Jerry? You look as though you'd seen a ghost."

Jerry looked back and forth between them. "It's just that...Something is missing from my room."

"Are you sure?" Woodrow said. "Mrs. Pennyworths hasn't cleaned the bedrooms since Thursday. When did you notice this item was gone?"

Mrs. Kent looked down and saw that Jerry was holding something in his hand.

"I don't know, but when I started looking for it, I found this under my bed," Jerry explained. He held up his hand. He was holding a gardening glove.

Mrs. Kent stood up and walked over to Jerry. "Jerry," she whispered, "I think you'd better telephone the police."

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