It was while lying in bed this morning—denying that it was nine a.m. and insisting it was only, say, four—that I realized that I’m out of confidantes in this town. Ophelia’s mom: gone. Eloise: dead. Even the brainwashed, socialite wives of my husband’s coworkers won’t feel obligated to invite me to Girls Night Out after I divorce him. And I will divorce him. Soon. Not yet. I need to let the murderous dust settle in this town before I put my kids through that sort of family extravaganza.
I jump guiltily, as if just thinking about the D-word were a federal crime. Caleb, of course, has no idea what kinds of thoughts he’s just interrupted, though I’m sure that deep down, he knows what’s coming.
“Good morning,” I greet, my singsong tone a little too flat to pass for cheerful. “Ready for breakfast?”
“Sure,” he says with a shrug. Somehow I don’t think he stopped by for a blueberry muffin. All the same, he grabs for the Cheerios as I hand him the milk carton and a spoon.
Once his bowl is full of honey-flavored grains, he stirs it absently and repeats, “Hey, Mom?”
There’s another pause as he takes a tentative bite. “Do you think this’ll end soon?”
At first I think he’s talking about my marriage, in which case I would have replied, Very soon indeed. I soon realize, however, that his mind is on more important things. Serial killers, for instance.
“There’s a detective working on the case now,” he continues. “People are talking about him on Facebook.”
I lift an eyebrow. How is it that my son knows more about the situation than I do?
“When did he get here?”
“Dunno.” He shoves another spoonful into his mouth and politely swallows before opening his mouth again to speak. I’ve raised nothing if not a gentleman. “Today or yesterday, maybe. He’s some sort of bigwig from out of town.”
“And he has a good reputation?” I infer.
“I guess,” he mumbles, then asks more clearly, “Do you think he’s got a chance at solving this thing before…before someone else dies?”
God only knows, I think, but that’s not the answer Caleb is hoping to hear. He’s looking for reassurance, and while I can’t lie to him, I can’t let him down, either.
“I certainly hope so,” I resolve quietly. “We all do. You, me, your sisters, your father, and the whole rest of the town. This detective has a lot of support to hold him up.”