Joshua waited for Richard to join him and their sisters at the breakfast table, before sharing the news that Officer Foster would be paying them a visit that afternoon. The reason given was the need to get more information about the allegations made, regarding the death of their mother. It sounded harmless, but Richard was instantly suspicious. He suspected Foster’s investigation into Carl’s shooting had run out of steam. His decision to drive to their house, when a phone call would suffice seemed like a thinly veiled attempt to harass Richard again. The migraine had finally receded. Another confrontation with Foster would probably bring it back full force. Richard didn’t like being impaired, when he was going toe-to-toe with that man. Those troublesome thoughts coupled with the subtle pressure of Samentha staring him down from across the table set Richard’s nerves on edge.
Joshua sat to the left of Richard, picking over his portion of the scrambled eggs, bacon and toast that he had prepared for everyone. Officer Foster’s impeding visit felt like one more stress-inducing thing piled atop a growing mound. He was still trying to make funeral arrangements for his mother and fielding a flood of calls from relatives and church members. Most of them had the good intentions of offering condolences. Having to talk about her death over and over again was emotionally draining. It was even worse when the gossips called and asked intrusive questions. If all that wasn’t bad enough, Samentha had dodged him all morning. So, he hadn’t closed the deal with her on his proposed financial arrangement. Joshua needed that money sooner rather than later. He had… obligations that wouldn’t wait.
Samentha was equally dismayed by the news that a police officer was coming to question them. She had things to do and places to go. Besides that, Joshua was making a nuisance of himself constantly trying to get her alone, in order to extort her. He tried to make it sound like an even exchange, a one-off arrangement. Samentha wasn’t stupid. She had read the lie in his eyes. Giving in to his demands be a slippery slope. There was no guarantee that he would actually hand over the whistle. Even if he did, his willingness to take advantage of her showed that he wasn’t above making threats of exposure, in order to squeeze more money out of her. When would it end?
Rachel sat to Richard’s left, making small talk which fell on deaf ears. The tension in the room was palpable. She knew that they were upset with her, but they weren’t the only ones who had lost their mother. Rachel was suffering too. So what if she had caused a scene at the nursing home? Someone was responsible for their mother’s sudden death! She couldn’t just let that go! Rachel didn’t know if her mother had died due to abuse, neglect or premeditation, but she sure as hell was going to find out. She owed that much to her mother. If her self-centered siblings weren’t going to help, then she would do it on her own.
Rachel believed that Officer Foster coming over was a good thing. Maybe the police were actually going to get moving, before the trail went cold. Her sister and brothers would just have to get over themselves. This wasn’t about them. If she had not spoken up and demanded an autopsy, then that nursing home would have just swept everything under the rug. They never would have found out what happened to their mother. Rachel fixed them with a stern look which went unnoticed. She cleared her throat exaggeratedly, to get their attention.
“I know what’s going on here. You want me to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Alright, maybe I shouldn’t have made such a big scene yesterday. I’m sorry if it…if it caused any of you distress. But I will not apologize for speaking up for mama!”
Joshua rolled his eyes and pushed his seat back from the table shaking his head disgustedly. Wordlessly, he stood and stalked out of the kitchen. The trio sat in silence listening to his feet pound up the steps to his room. Rachel looked incredulously from brother to sister. They studiously avoided her gaze. Joshua slammed his door his room and Richard winced. Seeing Rachel open her mouth to speak, Samentha abruptly took her leave of them and seized the opportunity to leave the house for a few hours. Richard didn’t move fast enough and Rachel pounced on him, grabbing his wrist.
“Oh, no you don’t brother dear. You’re not getting off that easy. What’s going on?”
Richard stared at her exasperatedly and blurted, “Other than mom being dead and the police coming to interrogate us?”
“You know what I’m talking about Richard. The three of you are acting weird and it has nothing to do with mama dying yesterday.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, ” Richard said evasively. He rose and began clearing the table, fervently wishing that she would just go away.
“You’re all acting different. On the way home, Joshua informed me that he’s going to be running things, now that mama is gone and the house is his. Can you believe that?”
“To tell you the truth, I don’t really care. Harriet and I always sort of assumed that mom would leave anything of value to him. He’s the one who stayed behind and took care of her.”
“Only because he didn’t have the balls leave and join the real world,” spat Rachel.
“Whatever the reason, you have to admit the man has put up with a lot living with her all these years. I don’t even want to think about what it was like trapped in this house with her, always on him about something. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her but…”
“Oh please, don’t make him out to be a saint. Joshua was her favorite. She went easy on him. It was the rest of us who got on her nerves. The two of them were always thick as thieves…what’s wrong Richard? You don’t look so good. Are you getting dizzy? Is it another migraine? I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to upset you. Why don’t you go back upstairs and lay down? I’ll do the dishes.”
“No…I…it’s not that. I…something happened to me last night.”
“I knew it! What happened last night?”
“You wouldn’t believe it, even if I could explain it.”
“What happened Richard? Tell me. After what I’ve been through, a lot of things are believable to me.”