my list

by Susie Applegate

“I don’t understand how adults think. How could Faith Applegate say she loved her brother and think that he killed the only man she ever loved? And what kind of love is it if she never talked to him again?”
 
    “Keep it down, Shaherazade,” Susie put a finger to her lips.
 
    I didn’t see the point, but I didn’t say anything more until we got back here to Susie’s apartment. I repeated my questions and Susie said that blood ties are complicated and the passage of time confuses everything. That made no sense to me so when Susie sat down and started writing all that stuff you just read about how me and Mom and Susie and Faith met for lunch, I made a list of questions and speculations. Here’s my list of questions:

  1. What happened to Charlie’s car?
  2. Where’s that rare saxophone that Faith and Rita went on about at lunch?
  3. Did Faith’s brother Tim really kill Charlie?
  4. Was anyone else involved?
  5. What are we going to do next?

Here’s my speculations:

  1. There must have been more than one killer. Takes more than one to take a grown man scared for his life out into the woods and kill him. If he was killed in the woods. What if he was killed at the Restin’ Easy?
  2. Whoever they are, they must be just dying to tell someone. How do you keep a secret like that all your life? Are they still alive?
  3. Probably that car is somewhere at the bottom of a canyon and that saxophone is in the trunk. We find those two things, the car and the saxophone wrecked in a canyon then nobody will ever know who killed Uncle Charlie. There won’t be any fingerprints, any “forensic evidence” like they say on TV.

    Then I fell asleep on Susie’s couch. She woke me up when she was done writing. “Shaherazade, that list you made has me thinking. You remember what your mom said about showing the picture of your uncle and his sax to her neighbor and how the man seemed to be real interested in it? What did your mom say?”
 
    “She said our neighbor stared at it for a long time. I remember that night because it was the night before the hurricane. It was the last time we saw our neighbors or their house or our house.” I felt my throat get scratchy and tight. I know I had that look on my face like I’m about to cry. I don’t like to think about our house in Biloxi. I still don’t believe that all those little rectangles of concrete and toothpicks you could see in those pictures they took from helicopters are really all that’s left of the place I lived all my life. All my stuff, my books, my bicycle, my clothes, even my underwear is scattered across the whole damn countryside and mixed in with everyone else’s stuff and it’s just garbage now. All those pictures of the family, of Uncle Charlie and Grandma and Grandpa LaFontaine and that one of Daddy in front of the orphanage where he grew up on the day when he turned 18 and they gave him a cardboard suitcase with a change of underwear and socks and told him to go out and make his way in the world–all of it is gone like it never was to begin with.
 
    “Shaherazade, sweetie, are you okay?” Susie was leaning forward in her chair looking real concerned.
 
    I shook myself and sat up. “I’m fine. I just get all sentimental sometimes. They were real nice people, the Wilburmans. That was their name. Their first names were Tom and Geri. They were from somewhere up North. They didn’t like us calling them sir and ma’am, just like you.”
 
    Susie was looking real thoughtful. “Wilburman,” She said. “What did they look like?”
 
    “I don’t know. Like old white people. He was almost bald and she dyed her hair black so I don’t even know what color it really was. She sunburnt really easy. They might have had blue eyes, but I always think white people have blue eyes.”
 
    “Well, I don’t suppose it matters. I just thought for a moment they might be somebody I used to know.” Susie picked up my list from off the Chinese tea box she uses for a coffee table. “I’m thinking that there are two things we could be researching. The saxophone is one. I think I’ll do some internet research on rare instruments. I don’t know where it will lead. The other thing is not on your list. We ought try to figure out where Charlie was buried. If his bones washed up where they were found, where were they to begin with?”
 
    “Isn’t that something Sheriff Sweet should be looking into?”
 
    “Sweet? Yeah, right.” That was all she said, but I got the distinct feeling that Susie didn’t hold the Sheriff of Wilbur County in the highest regard.

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