Excerpt from Haunted

     
     "Good afternoon, Ms. Sneed. I'm so sorry to learn of the death of your son. How are you feeling?" Mr. Wright asked with obvious insincerity. The sickeningly sweet voice he used to speak to her was almost nauseating to me. "We'll need to make some alterations in your legal documents."
     "Who are you?" She asked. She pointed a long, gnarly index finger at him, and then at me, and asked, "And who's your wife here?"
     "I'm your attorney, Ms. Sneed. I'm Sheldon Wright, of Hocraffer, Zumbrunn, Kobialka. and Wright," he said. Then he pointed my way with his thumb, and spoke in a disparaging manner. "And, trust me, this woman is not my wife."
     "You're an attorney? Am I being sued?" Melba asked. "Have I done something wrong?"
     "No, of course not. As you know, your son has recently passed. I'm here to update your power-of-attorney, and of course, your will. It's routine for my law firm to keep these documents current, just in case the unexpected happens," he explained. "We always put our clients first, because we need to protect your interests, of course."
     "The only thing I'm interested in is finding out why I'm here and when I'm getting out," she spat out, literally. Bits and pieces of God knows what flew out all over the bed. Melba ran the back of her hand across her frothy mouth. I now was in danger of puking up my lunch.
     I'd sat silently up to this point during Mr. Wright's conversation with Melba. I reached out now and patted the hand she hadn't swiped across her mouth as briefly as I could. "I imagine they'll be releasing you soon, my dear. I'm sure they'll let you out to attend Walter's wake this evening. You know, you really don't have to deal with all this legal stuff today if you don't want to. Next week is soon enough, after things have settled down, and by then you'll be in a better condition to deal with them."
     "Okay," she responded. It was clear she was confused, and I was sure she didn't have a clue what she was agreeing to. Still, I couldn't resist tossing Mr. Wright an "I told you so" look. Two could play at his game, I thought.
     "And who are you again?" Melba asked me. I realized then that nothing beneficial or informative was going to come out of this visit with Melba. I doubt she could have come up with her own name, much less mine, or Mr. Wright's.
     "I'm Lexie Starr, Melba. Your son was working for my partner and me when he mysteriously died. The police have determined that an unknown assailant killed Walter, so I'm trying to help the detectives discover who that person is. I also feel I should make sure you're being treating adequately. I feel a bit responsible—"
     "Aha!" Melba exclaimed. "So you're the one who's responsible for all this?"
     "Oh, no, Melba—"
     With Melba's last remark, spittle had sprayed all over my shirt. I couldn't wait to get home, remove my clothes, and boil them.
     "So, Ms. Starr, are you responsible for all this?" Mr. Wright asked. Now he had the same "I told you so" look on his face I'd worn moments earlier. "Why exactly do you feel so responsible? Is it guilt? Negligence? Or what? Are you here to try to talk Ms. Sneed out of her money? What exactly do you have to gain personally from being here, trying to pretend you honestly give a damn about what happens to Melba?"
     "Don't be ridiculous!" I nearly shouted. "I honestly do give a damn, you jerk! Walter was working for me when he was killed. I was at the house when it happened, but I had no idea what was going on in the parlor while I was in another part of the house. That's what I meant by feeling responsible. I had nothing to do with his death, I have nothing to gain from it, and I certainly don't want a dime from Ms. Sneed. Like I said before, I was very close to Walter. I would give anything, and do anything, to bring his killer to justice."
     "Of course you would," he said snidely.
     "At the very least I feel I owe it to Walter to look after his mother," I told the attorney. "Which is more than I can say for the folks at Hocraffer, Zumbrunn, Kobialka, and Wright. I think I should have the authorities check you for an alibi and a monetary motive. You seem terribly concerned about Melba's will, and what will happen to her money if something happens to her. I might also see what I can do to have you disbarred."
     "Humph! Fat chance, lady!" he said as he laughed in disdain. He knew he hadn't technically done anything unjust, remotely illegal, completely immoral, or anything else he could be disbarred for doing. He had pissed me off, and that's about the size of it. Pissing people off was merely part of the job description of a lawyer. There weren't a zillion lawyer jokes for no reason.
     "Watch me, you pompous ass," I hissed.
     With that final declaration I stormed out of the room. I knew I didn't have a chance in hell of getting the man disbarred. Cats would eat with chopsticks before I could pull off a trick like that. But at least my threat gave the creep something to chew on for a while.
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