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Authors: Anne McAneny

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BOOK: Raveled
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“To use in the liquor?”

“Why not? He’d use bleach, paint thinner, whatever was convenient from whatever cash-paying job he had at the time. One time, I went with him to one of his stills that had been fermenting in the woods. After he emptied the liquor into bottles, he found two dead chipmunks lying on the bottom.”

“Happy expressions on their faces, no doubt

“Wouldn’t know.
Their faces and fur were melted off after stewing in that concoction for a month.”

“And you guys toasted each other with this stuff

“Worse. We got out loaded guns. It’s amazing any of us are alive.”

He realized too late what he’d said. Before he could utter a pathetic
, I stopped him with a flick of my hand, the standard for excusing someone with no ill intent when they accidentally spit on your father’s grave.

So you’re going with a tall, dark stranger, despite no evidence of it?”

“As much evidence for my theory
as the ones the prosecution spouted.”

You testified that you never heard my dad threaten Bobby Kettrick. But there’s no way he didn’t spout off about Bobby.”

took a moment. “If there was a question in there, you answered it yourself.”

So you lied when you told the police you never heard my dad or Kevin make threats against Bobby?”

A curtain rose over
Enzo’s body and face, from the bottom up. Everything with him was controlled. Probably a hallmark of a successful businessman. The change rumbled through him, transforming his large frame from gentle to daunting. His voice remained quiet, demanding full attention. “First of all, there were never direct threats so I didn’t outright lie. Secondly, I was young and Hispanic—a perfect target for the police—but I wasn’t stupid. I wasn’t going to give them any extra ammo to use against anyone.”

the more information you did have, the deeper they’d have drawn you in.”

Bad enough I was involved at all, putting my whole family at risk. I didn’t see the point in saying more than the bare minimum.”

“What about Shelby Anderson? Her body turning up two weeks later
? Those hairs and that rope looked bad for my dad. Did he ever say anything about Shelby Anderson, or anything that might make you think he’d hurt a young girl? You can tell me, Enzo. It won’t offend me.”

sniffed and rubbed his nose, even wiped it with the thin napkin made moist by the sweat of his water. Apparently, curtains couldn’t hide everything going on behind them. “No. Nothing. I really don’t know anything about that case or any connection between Shelby and Bobby,” he said too insistently. “Seemed like serious lack of investigation. But they needed someone to pin it on so they used your dad.” He sniffed again.

was lying. Why? Which part of my question had bothered him?

“How well did
you know Shelby?”

Not at all, actually. Heard she was a bit of a wild child.”

“How do you think her body got in the creek?”

“Someone must have dumped her after she died, right? Couldn’t speculate about more if I wanted to. Maybe an accident. I hate to say it, but maybe a rape.”

She was a mess,” I said. “Broken bones. Ligature marks on a snapped neck. Shirt buttoned all wrong. But she wasn’t raped. By my father or anyone else. They tested and there was no bruising or sperm down below.”

I’m not sure if
Enzo’s look of repugnance was due to unwanted intimacy with the details of the case or to the callousness with which I was able to discuss my father’s sperm—or lack thereof.

You never heard anything later on?” I said. “People talking at school? Your cousins picking up some gossip through the grapevine? Someone must have gotten the rumor mill going.”

looked relieved that I’d changed the subject a bit, like he’d reached steady ground after a bumpy ride. “I wasn’t exactly in the in crowd,” he said, “and my cousins hung out with their own kind.”

What about that rope?” I said. “The rope found around Shelby’s waist was from the same length of rope used to tie up Bobby. That’s what did my father in, don’t you think?”

sipped the last of his water and wiped the condensation from his hands onto his pants. I wondered whether the moisture on his upper lip was water or sweat. His next words dribbled out from beneath a dry expression that hinted at bitterness. “I think it was the two dead bodies that did your father in.”

You know, Enzo, I’m not trying to cause pain for anyone.”

“Sure, I understand.
It’s just that talking about this is so…”


“More than that,” he said. “It’s surreal. I’ve thought about it so much over the years that it’s started to take on this ethereal quality, like a horrible fairy tale from childhood. Maybe I’ve tried to convince myself it didn’t happen.”

“We all find a way to deal.”

He looked into my hard expression and knew I’d found mine. I gave it one last shot. “Is there anything you can tell me, anything at all, that might shed new light on that night?”

“I’m sorry, Allison. I really am.
But maybe being back here this week, something will strike a chord. If I think of anything, I’ll let you know.”

An exit line if I ever heard
one. More small talk followed about his cousin’s wedding and the demands of his business. Then came the empty promise to keep in touch. It wouldn’t happen. Not even via social media. Seriously, what could he tweet?
Great fun tossing around murder theories with Allison Fennimore yesterday!
He’d have enough characters left over to mention how ethereal it all was.

At least I’d learned something.
Enzo felt guilty about getting my dad smashed that night; he had lied to the police; and, he’d most likely just lied to me—about something, even if only by omission.

fter he paid and we headed out the door, I turned with one last thought. “Hey Enzo, you should invent some stickers that don’t curl up. You know, for windshields.”

“You mean to tell
people when to get their oil changed again?”

“Exactly. You’d be amazed what people will do when they’re reminded of things.”

He nodded, then lowered his head and walked off.



Allison… present


The phone rang at my mother’s house at 3:02 p.m., four minutes after I’d returned from my late lunch with Enzo. Had to give Drywaters credit for punctuality.

I answered the phone, knowing who it was.
”Hey Kevin, ‘sup?”

Allison, how’s it going? Any updates? I don’t have long.”

“Here, chat with Mom first. I can always e-mail you.”

“Is she good today? She gonna know who I am?”

She just woke up from a nap. I’m not sure.”

I handed the phone to my mother, who
was standing next to me humming an indistinct melody during my chat. Her calm demeanor told me one thing: she wouldn’t know who Kevin was. Probably better for both of them. But she’d enjoy the ending, when he said, “I love you.” I’d taught him to leave off the
at the end of that sentiment so she could turn him into whomever she wanted, maybe even her son.

“I love you, too,” she said
after a brief conversation. She smiled from somewhere far away and handed the phone back to me before shuffling over to another corner of the kitchen.

“Guess who I talked to today?”
I said into the phone.

No time for guessing games, Alley Cat. Hit me with the 4-1-1.”

Stay up to date, Kevin. No one says 4-1-1 anymore.”

He sighed, his
tolerance filled with the weird love we had for each other.

Enzo Rodriguez.”

Excellent. You know, I still blame him for half the shit that went down that night. Breaking out that gut-eating, corrosive garbage that his squirrelly uncle brewed.”

Might have been more squirrelly than you knew,” I said, picturing the faceless chipmunks. “Anyway, you were right. He’s in town for his cousin’s wedding. In fact, he’s staying all week to help get his aunt set up in a new business venture.”

“He have anything new to add? I really think he might be key since he
’s the only one with any memory of that night.”

“He seemed guarded when
we talked. The only lie I know of was in your favor. He didn’t tell the police that you and Dad joked about getting revenge on Bobby.”

That’s good, I guess. He thought Bobby was a jerk, too. But you can be sure he lied for some reason of his own, like everyone else. What about Smitty or even Shelby’s family? Anything there?”

I almost laughed at Kevin’s enthusiasm. Quite a contrast to the guy who’d spent the last
decade and a half living day to day on the road, never knowing where his next meal or paycheck would come from—though often, it’d be from the same person. After Dad got arrested and Kevin had realized the gravity of the situation, he’d written to East Carolina University and told them he needed to defer admission. I’d often wondered who was on the receiving end of that letter. They must have grabbed the official Student Deferral Form and scanned the preprinted choices under
Reasons for Deferral.
Had they taken the time to read through
Can’t Afford Tuition, Prior Commitment
Attending Community College,
and then been disappointed when they couldn’t find the box for
Attending Father’s Murder Trial
? They’d probably shrugged, checked
, and shoved Kevin’s file into a long-forgotten drawer. That was the last attention anyone had paid to Kevin’s future.

After the trial ended, h
e’d taken one of the old fixer-uppers from the garage and hit the road with fewer coins in his pocket than plans in his head. Whereas I’d chosen to get lost in the city, he’d opted for the anonymity of the country, taking advantage of small-town America’s acceptance of the wandering layman. Folks knew to ask minimal questions, to hire on a weekly basis, and to always pay in cash. Never short on jobs or women, Kevin worked in construction, at factories, on farms, and of course, as a mechanic whenever he could. Chalked up over 300,000 miles on that car. He sent my mother money and called faithfully every two weeks. Checked in with me electronically as often as not and we gelled into a years-long, sarcastic back-and-forth, expertly playing the roles of normal siblings. Denial and indifference acted as the outer wrapping for our familial cord. If either of us deigned to whine about our circumstances, the other was required to respond with lighthearted derision. It had rarely happened.

To hear Kevin now, pestering me for leads on
this dusty case so he could settle that rattling in his head, well, it was a foreign relationship I still didn’t know how to handle.

Hey Kev,” I said, “it’s not some warped game. I can’t call all the suspects to the library and spout off a bunch of theories until one of them waves a candlestick and declares they did it in the parlor.”

“Yeah, sorry. Every day
here feels like eternity. I forget you have the real world to navigate.”

“I plan to see Smitty, but I’m sure he’ll be well-guarded by his
Mama Bear. And as for Shelby Anderson, I barely knew her or her family. That might be a tough one.”

“All right, Allison.
Just do the best you can.”

We hung up. My mother stood next to me, sipping tea. I didn’t know if she’d just brewed it or if it
was a reheated cup that had sat on the counter since this morning. Multiple mugs often dotted the kitchen as she seemed to draw more comfort from cradling the warm ceramic than from consuming the contents. Steam rose up and curled in front of the delicate worry lines permanently etched between her brows.

“Kevin was a good boy,” she said as if I’d suggested otherwise. “
Never hurt anyone. But that Bobby. That Bobby was a rat.” Ah, the clear signal that she was in one of her spells. She never spoke negatively of Bobby Kettrick in lucid moments. If anything, she assigned him attributes he’d never possessed, like humility and kindness.

negotiated the length of the kitchen to go join Selena in front of the TV while I went to my room to read Smitty’s statements and testimony. I needed to be ready for his lies. I’d never liked Smitty. Nothing substantive to him, not enough there to dig one’s teeth into. Like a mood ring, he’d turn whatever color necessary to reflect the people around him, none of it meaning anything real. Besides, I’d learned in science class that a mood ring just reflected the temperature of the person wearing it. I used to long for the one I wore as a child to turn violet or blue, meaning happy or relaxed, but it had always divulged an overcast black, the symbolic color for tense and harassed, because I never warmed up.

My goal tomorrow was to
turn Smitty all sorts of red.

BOOK: Raveled
12.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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