In response to The dereliction of an unexpected vice..
The hair on the back of Nora’s neck stood up as she turned into the driveway of the old Thompson farm. Looming over the yard, the now derelict barn issued a silent challenge to anyone who dare enter. As she got out of the car, Nora gave the barn a cursory glance and tried to shove away the trepidation she felt. It was to no avail, however as she still felt the barn boring into her back while she quickly made her way towards the farmhouse.
In contrast, the farmhouse was the textbook definition of well-kept. A fresh coat of slate gray paint had recently been applied to the siding and the front door was adorned with a bright coat of canary yellow. Trimmed bushes lined the wrap-around porch and potted geraniums flanked either side of the front door.
As she went under the police tape and flashed her badge to the officer, Nora briefly wondered how an octogenarian living on her own was keeping all of this up. Well, if Andy Frenley was right when he called her in, old Mrs. Thompson was doing far more than trimming her hedges and painting her house. Nora took a deep breath before going through the front door. She hated owing favors.
Looking around the entryway, Nora heard Andy’s voice from the living room. “Who the hell has copies of ‘Matters of Etiquette’ and ‘A Buying Guide for Pillows’ as their coffee table books?”
“Someone who likes to flaunt self righteousness,” Nora responded as she entered the room.
“Detective Malson,” Andy gave a tired smile as he greeted her. “I could really use your help on this one. Seriously, Nora, thanks for coming. I can’t wrap my head around it.”
“Never a problem, Andy,” Nora looked around. “But can we do this quick? This place gives me the heebie-jeebies.”
“You and me both,” Andy replied. “Short version, Mrs. Winters came down to the station today to report a disturbing site she saw last week. Apparently, she was coming over with banana bread she baked for Mrs. Thompson, but when she got here, Mrs Thompson was not in the house. Mrs Winters went through the house to the back porch, where she saw Mrs Thompson in the field, feeding a large bonfire. Mrs. Winters swears she saw a human arm dangling outside of the flames. When Mrs. Thompson saw her and came to the porch, Mrs Thompson claimed she was burning tree and bush clippings. Out of a painful loyalty to Mrs Thompson, it took Mrs Winters a few days of heavy thought before she decided to come to us. Based on her statement, Judge Holt gave us a search warrant.”
“And what have you found?” Nora asked tentatively, fairly certain she would rather not hear the answer.
“Not too much is certain yet,” Andy looked grim. “But the UV lights are showing large amounts of blood and semen. And… we’ve been able to identify a fingerprint.”
“Oh really,” Nora was surprised, normally a fingerprint ID was a good break. “Who does it belong to?”
“Daniel Mann… Why does that sound familiar?” Nora put on gloves so she could inspect the mantel further.
“Daniel Mann is one of the missing persons that was definitely in contact with the Farmer’s Only Black Widow. And he was definitely in this house. He lives 250 miles away and as far as we can tell, he has no friends or family within 100 miles of here. No connection to the Thompson family at all.”
Nora stopped in her tracks. “Are you suggesting that the 82 year old Mrs. Thomson is the Farmer’s Only Black Widow?!? That’s a most unexpected vice…”