Chapter 32 After the Funeral

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The rain started falling heavily and the gravel shifted under Victoria's footsteps. Her heart was pounding. Days had been wasted because she hadn't seen the obvious. How could she have been so stupid?

As she reached the house, Victoria noticed Woodrow's trash bin by the garage. She hurried over to it and pulled off the wet metal lid. Yesterday's newspaper was lying on top of the heap. Victoria had already read it, but she tucked it under her arm and went to the front door.

It was open. She heard voices and paused on the step to listen.

It was Woodrow Kent, Mrs. Kent, and thankfully, Inspector Riggs.

Victoria listened for a few moments before starting up the stairs to the main floor. When she got there, Mrs. Kent introduced herself.

"I'm sorry to intrude," Victoria apologized.

Woodrow Kent shook his head. "Nonsense. You're helping the inspector, and I'm glad you're here. Loretta's death was a needless act of violence and naturally we're all looking forward to having the guilty party brought to justice."

His mother looked at him sharply.

"For Loretta's sake, naturally," Woodrow added. "As well as for our own."

Riggs resumed, "So, Mr. Kent, you're certain that you were here all morning?"

"That's right," his mother interupted, "But having no alibi doesn't make him a murderer."

"And you were downtown, Mrs. Kent?" Riggs asked.

"I was arranging Loretta's memorial service," the older woman explained. "I suppose, if I had particularly wanted to strangle Mr. Rompier, I could have made a point of slipping out of the church, and hopping over to his penthouse—provided that I knew where it was—which I don't. And I suppose I could have overpowered him with brute force and finished him off with my bare hands. But the reverend and the florist would have noticed my absence."

"You shouldn't joke about such things Mother," Woodrow said. "A man is dead."

"I'm sorry, my dear. I suppose it's just my nerves. And the truth of the matter is that I never particularly liked Bernard, he was even worse than Loretta."

Woodrow asked. "You didn't like Loretta?"

Mrs. Kent squared her jaw. "As a matter of fact, I didn't."

Woodrow stared at his mother in shock.

"It's true," Mrs. Kent insisted. "I thought Loretta was an egotist too. She was just more subtle about it than Rompier was."

"I think you're being very unfair," her son said.

"That may be, but at least I'm being honest."

"Mrs. Kent," Riggs said, "exactly where were you today between 11:00 and 12:30?"

"I was in the church arranging flowers and discussing hymns. Reverend Harper was there the whole time and so was the organist. And the lady from the flower shop."

"Which church was it?"

"The Methodist church on Fifth Avenue. It's quite a ways from Bell town, but I am a very fast walker."

Riggs turned to her son. "And you say you were here, Mr. Kent/ Can anyone vouch for that?"

Kent shook his head. "No one, but it is the truth."

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