Madison Marlboro was eulogized and buried with the love and respect of his family and peers. Mercer Magill and the Sheriff were mum about the taser marks. There was no need to throw gas onto the fire now. Wade and Clark, obviously were not sharing anything. And, Cliff, the undertaker at Clint's Home of the Dearly and Departed Deceased, took his oath of confidentiality very seriously. Thankfully Stella had no reason or desire to request an autopsy. As far as she was concerned Madison was dead and not returning. Learning the reason of his death through an autopsy was not going to bring him back.
Iris and Stella developed a friendship. Through Stella, Iris was introduced to even more people in town. Her group of friends was expanding. Everyone enjoyed her company. There was one afternoon when several of them were sitting on Irnis' wonderful front porch enjoying glasses of white wine. They had all had enough wine that when Stella asked Iris what really happened to her after John died, Iris did not hesitate to share.
Before she started her tale, Iris made sure the ladies understood she now found it entertaining and they were free to laugh with her about it. Telling the story, she realized it did have a certain amount humor to it, albeit dark. Naturally, it was only funny now because she had survived and lived to appreciate life. Of course Mercer had been her saving grace.
Irnis was doubled over laughing,"I can see poor Mike right now, looking down the barrel of your shot gun."
"Thank God, I didn't shoot him. Talk about being out of your mind."
"And, then he comes to covered with blood." They all laughed.
"If he would still speak to me, I really owe him an apology."
Iris told them about how far Frederick Barker went to convince her and everyone else that she was insane. Then he pretended to be the long loss nephew who showed up to care for her and embezzle the her and John's investment account.
"With family like that . . ." Stella laughed.
"I know - who needs enemies," answered Iris.
Anna Belle was returning from getting her nails done. As she turned the corner onto Grace street she saw Reeza standing there. Anna Belle was no longer frightened at the site of her, but more curious. As she approached Reeza, she asked, "You never told me your name?"
"Reeza . . .?"
"Just Reeza." Without saying anything she reached out her hand, with those unforgettable long thin fingers tipped with bright red nails, handed Anna Belle a card.
Anna Belle turned it over.
Reeza spoke, "The Star Card, it indicates the end." .
She handed Anna Belle a second card.
Anna Bell turned it over.
Reeza spoke, "The Queen of Swords, ah, freedom of the soul."
Anna Belle looked up at Reeza, "What are you telling me?"
"All I can say is a nightmare will end and free your soul."
"I've said enough." With that, Reeza swung her huge caftan around her tall thin body, turned, and walked away. Anna Belle knew it didn't happen, but it was like she disappeared into thin air.
Once again, Anna Belle found herself holding cards and having questions. Nightmare? What nightmare? She continued on her way, a bit puzzled.
Later that night, Andrew, Anna Belle's butler, came and found her in the dining room. " 'Miss' Anna Belle, there are 2 gentlemen who need to see you."
Anna Belle excused herself from the group she was talking with and followed Andrew to the foyer. Standing there were 2 police officers. Anna Belle greeted them, "How can I help you?"
"Can we step outside?"
"Certainly." And the 3 of them stepped out onto the front porch.
The older of the 2 men spoke first, "Mrs. Vontese, I am Sergeant Brown from the Montgomery City Police Department." He offered his hand which she shook. He turned to his partner, "This is Detective Dan Erwin."
She shook hands with the Detective who addressed her, "Mrs. Vontese."
The Sergeant pulled a folder out of his jacket. I'm afraid we are not here with good news. It is our understanding that Miranda Davis lived here."
"She did until she disappeared about a week ago."
The Sergeant opened the folder and pulled out an 8x10 photograph. "Can you identify this person?"
There was no doubt the girl in the photo was Miranda. She just looked so calm, as if she was just asleep. "That is Miranda." She looked up at the Sergeant.
"Miranda Davis? You are sure?"
"Yes sir. What happened?"
"We are not sure. We think it was a drug over dose. Can you tell us why she left? Was anything going on?"
Anna Belle explained that on Miranda's scheduled day off, she just did not return. After several days, Anna Belle had checked her room and saw she had taken anything of value with her. No, she had not heard anything from her since the night before the day she left.
"Mrs. Vontese, did you realize that Ms. Davis was a former policewoman?"
"I didn't until Sheriff Quitman told me. And that was after she left. She had told me her name was Miranda Davidson. I knew nothing about her background. She never offered anything and I never asked. Sergeant, there are some things you need to know. If you haven't spoken with Sheriff Quitman, you need to. If you need anything else from me after you speak with him, call me."
"We plan to do that. And, you don't know anything about her family?"
"I don't. However, if there is no family, I'll take care of her final arrangements."
"That's very nice of you."
"Sergeant, everyone deserves family."
"I'll have someone at the station get in touch with you."
Anna Belle thanked the officers. They gave her their cards and she gave them her mobile number. They left and Anna Belle went back into the house. As she closed the door, she felt a sense of calm. Finally she did not have to fear Miranda. Then she paused. Once again Reeza was right, it was the end of this ordeal and her soul was free.
Anna Belle took her mobile from her pocket. She stepped into a quiet corner of the bar and called Wade.