When the buzzer sounded from the security gates at the main road Kate didn’t wonder who was calling. She knew. She remained motionless at the window. Jon was dead, nothing else mattered.
She stood with a natural grace, shoulders back, chin lifted. Her demeanor suggested a defiance she didn't feel. Touching the shadowed pane of glass she studied her reflection. Kate had never liked her looks, even as a child. Now her face was too hard—all planes and angles, her jaw line too sharp, too defined. She studied her eyes—frantic eyes, like the fox searching for a place of safety from the baying hounds, his quickening heart thundering like the exploding hooves of charging horses. Poor little fellow, she thought, there’s no place for either of us to hide.
If there was the slightest tremor to Kate's hand as it moved from the window to rest against the drapes, it was indiscernible. I can deal with this thing, she thought. Jon's death. All-encompassing to her life though it was, she would in fact deal with it. It was the little things that drove her crazy: windshields smeared by a sprinkling of rain, cartons of melting ice cream, smashed pumpkins.
It was not yet ten o’clock but a heavy mist blocking out the sun made it seem much earlier. Spring was not arriving with any great fanfare.
From a corner of the room the massive grandfather clock began counting the hour. Each strike seemed to bear a great burden, a great sadness. Before the count was finished the security buzzer went off again. Kate opened the gates. Moments later the doorbell rang.
Standing directly in front of her was a face grown familiar during the past few days, a face seasoned by years of grave consequences.
"Good morning, Mrs. Ames," he said.
Kate met the level gaze and pulled the door wider. "Lieutenant Simon," she acknowledged him along with his partner. The two men stepped into the room. The cut of the lieutenant's topcoat gaped slightly revealing the narrow edge of a shoulder holster.
Lieutenant Simon looked uncomfortable. "Mrs. Ames, we’re here to place you under arrest for the murder of your husband, Jonathan Ames.” His voice lacked any trace of strengh. “And before you say anything I must tell you that you have the right to remain silent…”
Kate’s mind cut away, his voice humming in her brain like a swarm of hornets. The words had finally been spoken—what then did she care for rights?
The lieutenant’s eyes mirrored a kind of sympathy. “Do you understand what I’ve just said to you, Mrs. Ames?”
Kate nodded. “You've just arrested me for my husband’s murder.”
“Would you like to call someone? A friend? Legal counsel, perhaps?”
“No. No one.”
“Do you want to get a few things together, then?”
Kate left the two men standing near the door. Inside her bedroom, she pulled a small weekender from the top shelf and opened it on the bed. What does one pack for incarceration? she wondered. Easing out a deep drawer of the dresser she touched whisper-soft lingerie: luxurious silks and satins, creamy chiffons. She leaned a hip against the drawer, shoving it closed. Her practical stuff, from before she married Jon, was in the bottom of her mother's chiffonier. She'd often wondered why she kept these things laundered and put away. Did she know all along that she'd need them again? Probably. She tugged out cotton underwear, flannel gowns, serviceable socks, and packed them in the flowered case. A tear trickled down her cheek and she swiped it away. What the hell good were tears now? They never helped her in the past. She rejoined the men in the other room.
They turned to leave. Kate hesitated for a fleeting moment, absorbing every detail of the room. Jon’s favorite pipe lay in an ashtray, his hand the last to touch it. Desolation nearly melted her bones. She flipped off the light and the darkened room suddenly went colder. The clock continued a mournful tock-tock-tock. She followed the two men to the waiting car.
They drove down the long, curving driveway. At the bottom she turned and looked through the rear window. From atop the knoll Brandywine lay shrouded in mist. By the time they reached the main road the house had disappeared completely.
The car sped onward through the chilled morning. Kate could hear the labored whirring of the heater from beneath the dash but it did little to thaw the frigid numbness invading her body. Cold hands cupped together. Fingers brittle and easily broken, icicle fingers, clutched her purse and pressed it into her lap. A legion of questions assaulted her mind. Where were the answers? The answers to Jon’s life. And death. Leaning her head back, she closed her eyes. How had it all happened...