April 17, 2020
I wait on my porch for the police car to arrive. Sergeant Romano says he wants me to go into Victor’s house with him, but he wants me to wait until he gets here. Meanwhile, I wait and watch. Here comes a car I haven’t seen before. It’s so long and low it seems like the driver’s feet must be in the motor. Temporary tags. I can’t identify the logo from here, but it’s obviously foreign and very expensive.
The car turns into Victor’s driveway and right behind it, a police car. I watch as the door to the sports car opens and a blonde woman oozes out. Her sunglasses and black scarf make it hard to tell . . . why, it’s Megan Anderson. Looks like Megan is using her anticipated inheritance to float a loan for an upgrade in lifestyle. Sergeant Romano steps out next, nodding to Megan and then turning to look my way. I think I’d better hurry on over.
Romano goes inside first, followed by his partner, by me, and finally Megan. “Wait here,” he says. He walks into the kitchen, opens the refrigerator and picks up a tiny vial, exactly like the one I saw in Sukey’s fridge yesterday. “Yup,” he says, studying the label. He sets it on the table.
“I believe this settles it,” I say. I think I know what this means, but I’m not certain. I let Romano do the talking. Megan looks at me over the tops of her very large sunglasses.
“The lab will analyze this, but I’m sure it will turn out to be insulin. They’ve analyzed the traces they found on the inside of the syringe Mrs. McKenna found (he nods at me) and they’ve done the same for all the used needles left in Judge Anderson’s sharps container. The used needles retain a small amount of material inside. They are hollow. They found that the syringe and one—only one, of the ten or so needles in the sharps box contain an opioid, possibly heroin, and cocaine. What they call a speedball.
“Our men have gone to the residence of Ms Susan Anderson, Judge Anderson’s sister, this morning and have collected a similar medicine bottle from her refrigerator. It’s in the lab now, but I have no doubt it contains the same mixture we found in the syringe. This tells us two things. One, that Judge Anderson died from an overdose of opioids and cocaine. Two, that Judge Anderson was not a habitual drug user, because the rest of the needles in the sharps box have traces of only one substance, insulin.”
“So Victor took the overdose—”
“Thinking it was insulin. With a potent dose of those two drugs, she could be reasonably certain it would be enough to kill an elderly man with heart trouble.” Romano says. “Sukey was in and out several times in those last days. All she had to do was switch her brother’s insulin bottle for another that looked just like it. Then, she had to come back in later, pick up the tainted syringe, which the EMT’s say they looked for—maybe it had landed under the counter or something—and stick the needle in the sharps box.”
I feel a sort of warm glow, as if Victor Anderson is looking down at us, and saying, “Thank you.”
Megan folds her glasses and sticks them in what I think is a Kate Spade bag. “But why? Sukey’s only getting a little annuity. Maybe a couple hundred thousand. That’s not enough to justify—”
I interrupt her. “How much is enough? For you and me it wouldn’t be enough, but for Sukey, who hasn’t enough to cover her basic expenses, it might well be enough. Plus, she must have planned to murder Victor when that annuity was worth a good bit more than it is today. Also, she resented her brother. He had all the advantages she was denied. Education, friends. . . respect. Okay, those last two she screwed up by herself. And it must have been bitter accepting her brother’s charity all those years.”
My legs are hurting from standing on these terrazzo tiles. Romano suggests we go into the parlor and sit. I’m grateful. When we are all seated, Megan asks, “Where did she get the drugs? She isn’t a druggie herself, is she?”
“No,” Romano says. “But remember. There’s a guy named Frank DiPonte, that we’ve been after for years, who chooses this particular time to sneak back into town. He’s part of that underworld, you know. He knows where to get drugs and how to avoid getting caught. We’ll have to wait until we’ve grilled Mr. Diponte at some length, but we found him this morning at Sukey’s house and we’ve taken them both into custody.”
I look at Megan Anderson, all chic in her new persona, and feel a little bad because, frankly, I was thinking she was the culprit. In spite of what I saw in Sukey’s fridge, I let Megan’s phony new image influence me. I should take my own words of a minute ago to heart. Megan turns to gaze out the window toward Victor’s garage.
“Karen,” she says, “I’m sorry for thinking that you were the one. You can dump that old Toyota now that you have a Mercedes.”