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Quarantine Mystery VIII

April 2, 2020

Marian and I have decided to check with Megan and Sukey before making more plans for Victor’s memorial. It won’t be anything elaborate. Just neighbors and a few of Victor’s closest friends. I think we can do this, each from our own property and friends from elsewhere can park nearby and participate from their own vehicles. It’s all fuzzy in my mind now, but I’m thinking about a musician or two and a choir director in the middle of the street. Marian is afraid our rather unorthodox service will attract the curious from elsewhere and turn into a crowd.

“We can’t let that happen,” Marian tells me by phone. “I think we need to keep it simple. Simple enough that no one would be interested in watching.”

It’s about ten o’clock when I see Megan Anderson’s car pull up in Victor’s driveway. She lets herself into the house, but young Matt finds a soccer ball around the side of the garage and begins entertaining himself by kicking it against the side of the garage. Children these days are learning to play solo. I haven’t talked to the kid for some time —he’s about twelve now, I think—so I mosey outside by the porch door and continue into the street. I stop well short of Victor’s yard but I don’t have to worry about traffic too much. There’s hardly any.

Matt sees me and walks my way, but I stop him with an outstretched hand before he steps into the street. “Hi Matt. I’m Mrs. McKenna. I live—” I pointed.

“I know,” he said, holding the soccer ball against his thigh.

“I’m sorry about your grandfather. I know you and he were good friends.”

We continue on in this awkward way for a couple of minutes. I’m about to let him return to his soccer practice, when I notice he’s showing no evidence of wanting to leave. I think he wants to tell me something. I wonder what to say that will help him. “I know you’re the one who found him. That must have been scary for you.”

“Yeah. It was,” he says, tossing the soccer ball from one hand to the other. “Do you know what killed him?”

“What killed him?” My heart skips a beat.

“It was a speedball.”

I struggle to maintain my composure. Out of the mouths of babes. The only kind of speedball I know of is the kind they talk about that killed John Belushi and several other celebrities. That can’t be what he’s talking about. “Sorry, Matt. I’m a bit out of the latest slang. What’s a speedball?”

“It’s a mixture of cocaine and some kind of opioid. I looked it up.”

“Where did you hear this?”

“I heard Mom talking about it on the phone.”

At this point, Megan appears at the front door carrying an armload of clothes. I can’t think what to say. I feel as if Matt has just told me something he isn’t supposed to even know about. I have to think about this. And talk to Marian.

One thing I know for sure. Victor did not do drugs. Marian suggests that we never know people as well as we think we do. I tell her that’s hogwash. I’ve known Victor for thirty years and I’ve seen him through his wife’s death, his son’s death, his second wife’s treachery, and a dozen court cases that would try any man’s soul. He did not do drugs. I am determined to find out where this vicious speedball story came from and nip it in the bud.

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