The knock on the door startled me.
Not because it’s nine in the morning – after ten years in this town, I’m used to people dropping by at all hours of the day – but because of the sound of the knock.
Two polite taps.
No one in this town knocks like that.
I opened the door to a man in what looks like his early 40s, short brown hair, and an extremely unremarkable face. Through outer screen door I saw that he wore faded jeans and a plain white shirt with sneakers.
Casual it may be, but there’s something about his stance and the polite expression on his face that screams cop to me.
“Samantha Apostol?” he enquired.
“I’m Detective Simon Larkin,” He held up an ID and a badge. “I was wondering if I could speak to you about some open cases in Hollow Point?”
He saw my hesitation and hastily added, “we could speak right here if that makes you more comfortable.”
I nodded, not moving an inch.
He waited a beat and said, “We periodically go through our cold cases and I’m handling several that I believe to be related. I was wondering if you can help point me in the right direction.”
“Of course,” I said. “How can I help?”
“There were six disappearances that happened in Hollow Point eleven years ago,” he began. “I’ve been interviewing the residents there at the time. Luckily most of them had stayed put. You’re actually one of the five who moved away.”
I could guess who the other four where.
“I know it has been some time,” he added. “But it would really help if you can answer a couple of questions.”
“I already answered hundreds of questions back then, Detective,” I said softly. “None of them helped find my husband.”
“I know. But time and hindsight has a habit of uncovering some things and I’m hoping that that’s the case this time.”
I nodded. “Alright, ask your questions.”
He asked the same old questions. Was my husband acting oddly. Did we fight. How was our relationship. How did we get along with the other people, especially the ones who also went missing. What prompted me to report my husband missing. How often did I have to go to the hospital that year. Do I know anything about what happened to the last detective. Do I know what arsenic does.
The last two questions confused me.
“Detective Rogers?” I asked. “He’s not retired yet?”
“He was supposed to five years ago, ma’am, but seeing as he disappeared two years before that..” he trailed off.
“Is it the same?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said. “Just up and disappeared. Nothing missing, car is parked in his driveway, no trace. We went through all the cases he was working on and there’s a very high probability that his disappearance was connected to your husband’s and the others.”
He saw the look of horror on my face and hastily added, “but he was the last of it, we think. That’s why we’re investigating this case again.”
“And the question on arsenic, was it?” I asked.
“One of the last things that Detective Rogers was looking into was arsenic. His work computer browser history mostly revolved around that.”
“And you think it’s related to my husband’s disappearance? Then that may mean…”
“I’m sorry, but yes,” he said soberly. “If arsenic is involved then these are no longer disappearances but..”
“Murder,” I finished for him.
We stared at each other.
“That’s a hell of news to bring an old lady at nine in the morning, detective.”
“Why don’t you take a seat,” I gestured to the chairs on the porch. “You’ve come a long way and I need a drink.”
“Alright, thank you, ma’am.”
I walked to the kitchen, took out the lemonade I just finished making before the detective arrived. My hands were shaking a bit that, since the pitcher was full, some spilled to the side and onto the floor.
I swore and set down the pitcher. I opened the door of the bottom counter cabinet to get a cloth towel to wipe up the spill.
My hand hovered over an amber, unlabelled bottle.
No. I need to know how much he knows first.
I cleaned up the spill, put the pitcher and a couple of glasses on a tray, and headed out into the porch.