Who lives in the house next door?
|At the sound of the bell, Jayneanne Pennington-Smythe lay down her book, a fictional account of post-Impressionist Paris, walked with perfect posture to the front of the house, and opened the door. It was Wylie, the husband half of the new couple next door. “Sorry to bother you,” said Wylie, “but Evelyn and I are heading out of town for the weekend, and we’re wondering if you’d bring our newspaper and mail into the house. Just through Sunday.”
“Of course, Mr. Wylie,” Jayneanne answered. Wylie handed her a key and was off with a smile.
On Saturday, Jayneanne gathered the Wylie’s newspaper and mail and let herself carefully into the house. She placed the newspaper and mail on the Princeton coffee table and stood surveying the premises. She noticed a silver business card case on a Candlestick accent table, and a purse sitting on a Windsor dining chair tucked into a far corner. She picked up the card case, crossed the room, deposited it into the purse, paused to regard the objects on a Colonial secretary just inside the dining room entrance, and left quietly.
Sunday afternoon, Jayneanne noticed the Wylie’s Mercedes in the driveway and walked over to return the key. Mrs. Wylie answered the door. Without preamble, she said, “You didn’t notice a silver business card case on our Candlestick table, did you Jayneanne?”
“I’m afraid I didn’t,” Jayneanne replied.
Mrs. Wylie regarded Jayneanne closely. “Yes, well. I must have misplaced it. Pity. Solid silver.”
On Monday afternoon, as Jayneanne was dead-heading roses in the front garden, Mrs. Wylie appeared. “Found the business card case, in an old purse.”
“I’m very glad,” replied Jayneanne. She reached deep into the pocket of her silk trousers and made a circle with her fingers around a small letter opener. Solid silver.
(Word count: 300)