Turn to Stone

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Book: Turn to Stone by Brian Freeman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Brian Freeman
Tags: Fiction
could have said many things to her, but he said: “Why did you marry him?”
    Ginnie cast her eyes around at the neat, clean, organized space in which she lived. He had a sense that she was a woman who liked to bring order to chaos. Jet Black was chaos. “At first, I felt sorry for him,” she said. “Later, by the time I knew who he really was, it was too late. I thought he would change. I thought I could change him if I loved him enough. Stupid.”
    “Not stupid. Naïve maybe. But you’re not alone in that. It’s a big club.”
    She shrugged. In the silence that followed, the cat on his lap hopped down and strolled over to Ginnie, where it stretched across her feet. One of the dogs began to howl, but she snapped her fingers again, and the quiet returned. He watched her compulsively smoothing her skirt, and he knew she was anxious for him to be gone.
    “About Percy Andrews,” he said.
    “What can I tell you? I didn’t know him.”
    “What about his wife?”
    “Kelli? No, of course not. I’ve never met her. I should have talked to her years ago, but I didn’t have the stomach for it. I doubt she’d have any interest in talking to me.”
    “I gather you don’t hold any ill will toward either of them for what happened.”
    “Not in the least.”
    “What about your son?” Stride asked. “Does Mike blame Percy for killing his father?”
    “Mike is nothing like Jet,” Ginnie snapped.
    “I didn’t say he was, but he’s a boy. Losing his father couldn’t have been easy, especially under those circumstances.”
    “Jet was no father to Mike, just like he was no husband to me. Mike knows exactly what kind of man Jet was. I made sure he understood that Percy was a hero for what he did. I told him that Jet turned his back on God when he went inside the Novitiate, and after that, he deserved whatever happened to him. I believe that. It was a dirty, wicked place inside those walls. I wish they would tear it down.”
    “Percy’s death must be a shock to Mike,” he said.
    “Yes, it is. I don’t want anyone bothering him.”
    “I heard that Mike liked to follow Percy around town. Is that true?”
    “I don’t know anything about that.”
    “Is he here now?” Stride asked.
    “I already told you he’s not,” she said. “Why do you want to talk to him?”
    “I’m trying to find out what was going on in Percy’s life. If Mike spent time around Percy, maybe he saw something. Maybe he knows something that would make sense of this. That’s all I want, Ms. Black. I want to help Percy’s wife make sense of this.”
    “Mike knows nothing about what happened. Percy Andrews committed suicide. It’s a tragedy. I feel bad for Kelli, but it has nothing to do with my son or with me. We’re not interested in getting involved.” Ginnie stood up. “I think it would be better if you leave now, Mr. Stride.”
    He nodded. “Of course.”
    As he got to his feet, something shifted in the small house. A window slamming. A door closing. Ginnie ignored it, as if she could pretend it hadn’t happened at all. Outside the house, he heard the whine of the moped engine firing up. Ginnie bit her lip and folded her arms tightly across her chest. She looked unabashed by her lies. Mike Black had been in the house. He’d heard everything between them, and now he was gone. Escaping again.
    “He hates death,” Ginnie murmured.
    Stride looked at her. “I’m sorry?”
    “Jet was a hunter. He hunted everything. He never even took the bodies home. He just liked killing things. He used to take Mike with him. Like a prisoner. Ever since then, Mike has hated death. He won’t kill a living thing. Nothing. Not even a mosquito or a spider. He’s scared of death, because it reminds him of Jet.”
    Stride said nothing else to Ginnie Black as he left the house.
    Outside, he saw a single tire track cutting through the snow of the driveway. The moped.
    He backed onto the two-lane highway in his truck. There was no other traffic. Before

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