Tuesday, 10 June 2008
While Clara finished laying the table Michael opened the bottle of wine that had been cooling in the fridge. Going to Michael’s house for lunch had become a regular weekly event for Clara since Sonny’s death. She knew that she was taking a chance that Michael might recognise her after all these years but she was still convinced that Michael wasn’t telling the police the whole truth about Sonny’s murder.
It wasn’t as if there was anything specifically that she could base the suspicions on, merely a feeling that all was not quite as it seemed. Why for instance was Michael acting as if Sonny hadn’t been such a big part of his life? There were no pictures of him around the house and Michael never brought him up in the conversation. She knew that everybody reacted to grief differently but even so Michael’s reaction was unusual to say the least. Surely after so many years together Michael would want to talk about his lover if only to remember the good times that they shared together. No, something wasn’t right here and Clara was determined to get to the bottom of it.
She had to admit though that he was a very good cook and an excellent host. Every week, without fail, he would meet up with her to go shopping in the market and then after helping her carry her groceries home he would drive her over to his house for lunch. Most times he would offer to drive her home again after they had eaten but Clara enjoyed the walk back across the valley to the village and all the regular excise was keeping her fit.
If only she could reassure herself that Michael really didn’t have anything to hide she knew that she would be quite happy to carry on with this rather unexpected friendship.
‘Tuck in Clara before it get’s cold’ said Michael putting the food on the table ‘I remembered you saying how much you liked white asparagus and I managed to get some this morning specially.’
‘It looks absolutely delicious but you shouldn’t go to all this trouble for me.’ Said Clara, helping herself from the steaming dishes of perfectly cooked vegetables.
‘It’s no trouble I enjoy cooking.’
‘And I enjoy eating, so we complement each other perfectly’ laughed Clara ‘Did Sonny have a good appetite? I suppose in his profession he had to watch his weight’
‘Oh Sonny loved to eat and he was one of those lucky people who could eat anything any never put on an ounce.’ Michael said wistfully.
Clara looked at Michael sitting with his head bowed and immediately felt guilty for prying ‘I’m sorry Michael I didn’t mean to upset you.’
‘No it’s me who should be sorry but I still can’t talk about Sonny. Does that sound heartless? I don’t mean it to; it’s just that it’s all too painful still. It hurts too much to remember.’ He added enigmatically.
Changing the subject quickly to avoid any further awkwardness she asked Michael if he was still thinking about joining the golf club. He had mentioned that he was considering it, much to Clara’s amusement.
‘I’m still not sure’ said Michael who looked relieved that the conversation had moved on ‘I quite fancy the exercise but I’m not sure if I would fit in with the crowd down there.’
‘I think as long as you don’t get involved with Ken Jessel’s set you should be OK. From what I hear they spend far too much time in the bar and not enough on the course.’ Said Clara primly
‘Do you play?’ asked Michael
‘Good heavens, no dear. Not my kind of thing at all. If I want to go for a walk I don’t have to hit a ball around to do it.’
‘Clara, you are priceless’ laughed Michael, and they were both still laughing when the door bell rang. ‘Who can that be’ wondered Michael as he got up from the table ‘I’m not expecting anybody.’
Putting down her knife and fork Clara slipped away from the table and moved quietly over to the dining room door. In the hall way stood the police chief she has seen questioning people in the village after Sonny’s murder. Not wanting to be caught eaves dropping Clara stood back so that she could overhear without being spotted.
‘I’m sorry to disturb your lunch senor but I would like you to come down to headquarters with me. We have arrested a man that we believe was involved with the murder of your friend and we want to see if you recognise him in, how you say – a line-up?’
From her hiding place Clara could see Michael turn pale and she thought for a moment that he might faint.
‘I am sorry to distress you senor, would you like to ask somebody to accompany you?’
‘No’ said Michael hurriedly ‘but can I just tell my lunch guest where I’m going please?’
‘Of course Sr Angers. I will wait outside in my car for you.’
Clara quickly moved back to the table as Michael came into the room. ‘Is everything alright dear? You look quite shaken.’
‘It’s the police. They think that they might have found Sonny’s killer and they want me to go and try and identify him.’
‘Oh Michael you must be so relieved. Don’t worry about a thing here. I’ll clear up before I go. Unless you want me to wait here for you until you get back.’ She added
‘No don’t worry, you just get off home.’
‘Will you phone me dear?’ She asked ‘just so I know that you’re OK’
‘Yes of course, I’ll phone you tomorrow.’
Watching as Michael climbed into the back seat of the waiting police car, Clara closed the front door and made her way back to the dining room. What a shame they hadn’t managed to finish the delicious lunch, she thought. Clearing away the plates into the kitchen Clara dropped a fork and bending down to pick it up noticed a leather wallet under the coat stand in the hall. Thinking that Michael had dropped it in his haste, she opened it up only to realise that it wasn’t Michael’s at all. In her hands she was holding Sonny’s wallet. The same blood soaked wallet that Michael had told the police that the thief had snatched from Sonny’s dead body.
Putting the wallet back where she had found it Clara swiftly gathered up her belongings and left the house slamming the front door closed behind her.