Life in this small town was one of mystery. People met on the street and stopped to talk to each other or they met in the Coffee Shop where a lot of business was conducted. People met at the PTA meetings as they talked about their kids or at the Library as they selected books or in the laundromat as they washed their clothes. Wherever you looked people were always deep in conversation with others about who knows what. This is how it is in a small town. Everyone knows one another and they all want to know each others business.
Gossip was big as that was how the most of the juicy items were passed along and each time getting more and more embellished until the last story barely resembled the original. I was hoping that by chatting to a couple of the town busybodies, I might find out something that would throw some light on Mike and Detective Alsup but even the most ardent of gossip mongers had nothing they could offer. Their big news of the week was that the Mayor was going to step down due to ill-health but we all knew that as it had been reported in the local paper.
Valerie Black called me and we made arrangements for me to visit her to discuss her new project some more. I thought about it a lot before going to see her as I was not sure where this was heading or if I was just wishing for something different to liven up my life. I also got a call from Mr Cragget who said that he had decided to go ahead with the fireplace project and could we sign the contracts? I had roughed them out and handed them to Pat to draw them up so that I could check them over and get them to him.
The cellar project was almost complete and the guys only had a day or so of clean up to do before heading to the stone stairs project. I was real pleased with the way that things were going along and told them so the next time I was on their job. Glen had finished the cabinet doors for Mrs Black and had started work on another cabinet/kitchen project that we had arranged for the latter part of July so things were moving right along. The secret of being successful in this business was to keep things moving with very little wait time between projects. Most of that came with organization and that part, I was pretty good at.
I stopped by Mrs Blacks house. “Good Morning, How are you this morning”? I asked politely. She greeted me at the door still in her robe. “I’m sorry”, I said “Do you want me to come back later”. She smiled sweetly and motioned me inside saying, “Sorry, the time got away from me and I forgot that we had arranged this meeting. Come in and have coffee while I go change into something more respectable. We can’t have the neighbours talking, can we”? I looked around and commented, “What neighbours. You don’t have anyone within 500 yards on either side”. She laughed again, that light twinkle of laughter that I associated with her. “Sit down and make yourself comfortable while I get your coffee” she said. I sat down at the kitchen table and looked at her from the back as she poured the coffee liking very much what I saw. She turned around and caught my eye as she brought me the coffee. She leaned forward and the robe gaped open just for a moment enough for me to see that she had nothing else on under it. My head whirled with excitement at what I had seen but the gentleman in me kept me restrained from grabbing her and carrying her into the bedroom.
She appeared not to notice that the robe had flopped open or if she did, she didn’t mention it. “I’ll be back in a minute” she said “Help yourself to a biscuit to go with the coffee”. She walked out and I was left with myself and my thoughts. Had that been accidental or was this a part of some devilish plan to use her womanly charms on me. If it was the latter, it was certainly working as my heart was beating fast in anticipation and I was having trouble in focusing. I drank my coffee in the hope that it would calm me down. Pretty stupid thinking really as coffee is a stimulant among other things but I needed something to hang on to. “There, that’s more respectable” she said as she came back in the room. She had on tight blue jeans and a shirt unbuttoned to where she showed just enough cleavage to make life interesting. “Now we can talk business without any distractions”. “Thats what you think”, I said to myself. “You are one big distraction” Other than being her normal self, none of this appeared to have affected Mrs Black. Either that, or she could hide it very well. So, taking my cue from her, I opted for the business like approach and put any romantic thoughts that I had for her out of my mind.
We discussed her new project in detail and went over some of the things that troubled her (which appeared not to be me) and had a very succesful meeting concluding in us having a complete agreement of the work she needed done and the timeline in which to perform the work. An hour or so later, I stood up to leave with my notes tucked safely in my briefcase ready to get them typed into a contract.
“When are you going to the Bar again” she asked. “Probably this evening after work as it is Friday” I replied. “Maybe. I’ll stop by” she said with a smile. “You know where to find me” as I left the house.
I was glad to get out of there not because of Mrs Black but because I wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep my hands off of her. I literally ached with anticipation made worse by the certainty that my marriage would be even more on the rocks if anything were to happen.