Chapter 23

So far: A last package for Richard arrives in the mail.

 

Dewey showed up at eleven o’clock on Thanksgiving morning, the back of his truck piled high with wood. I was just getting ready to assemble the pumpkin pie. I was so glad to see him I almost kissed him. I couldn’t imagine not having a fire on Thanksgiving.

“Thanks so much for coming today. You’re my savior. I’m completely out of wood.”

“No problemo.” He stared up at the sky. “Looks like it might snow. A little early but we could use the moisture.”

“Wouldn’t that be nice,” I said, thinking of the first snow coming down tonight. “Do you want me to help you with the wood?”

“No, you’ve probably got stuff to do in the house.”

He wasn’t wrong. I had my pie to attend to. “Come in for a cup of coffee when you’re done.”

He nodded and went off to unload the cord of wood from his pick-up truck and pile it in a neat stack in the shed. Like he always did.

The pie dough had rested a half-hour in the fridge, so it was ready, the gluten having relaxed in the cold, or something like that. I rolled the dough out into a rather rough circle, hung the crust over the rolling pin to lift it off the table, and set it carefully in the pie tin. Then I cut off the overhang and crimped the edges.

The pumpkin pie filling was all ready in a pitcher. After opening the oven and setting the pie tin on a cookie sheet, I poured the pie filling in and pushed it slowly into the oven. Then I took the remaining snippets of raw pie crust, sprinkled sugar on them, put them on another pie tin and stuck them in the oven.

When Dewey stomped into the house, I called to him from the kitchen. He took off his boots and left them on the rug in the entryway.

“It’s raw out there,” he said, blowing on his fingers.

I handed him a cup of coffee, pointed to the milk and sugar on the table. The pumpkin pie wasn’t out of the oven yet but I had found an old box of Oreos in the bread drawer. “Help yourself to a cookie.”

“Thanks.” He sat down across from me at the table. I wondered how old Dewey was. I figured he was about five years older than Richard. He had gray in his beard. Soft blue eyes. Must be over fifty. Not bad looking in a scruffy sort of way.

He took a bite of the Oreo and got a funny look on his face. He asked, “How old are these cookies?”

“I’m sorry. I’m not sure. I thought Oreos had a shelf life of a thousand years.”

He set the cookie back down on his plate, but at least didn’t spit out the one bite he had taken. He held up his cup. “Good coffee.”

“Thanks.”

The timer went off. I jumped up and pulled out the second pie tin and put it on the table in front of Dewey. “Did your mom make these?”

Dewey looked at the odd-shaped pie crust pieces. “No. What are they?”

“My mom called them kid pie. Wait a second for them to cool off.”

He nodded, then took another loud sip of coffee. He looked at me. “How’re you doing?”

I shrugged. “You know, okay.”

“I kinda know what you’re going through with Richard dying and all. It was rough when my wife left me, but at least by that time I hated her. That helped quite a bit.”

“I suppose.”

“His death was an accident?” Dewey asked.

“Yes, completely. How could anyone do that on purpose?”

“Yeah, you got a good point there.”

I needed to change the subject. “Have you lived around here all your life, Dewey?”

“Yeah, my folks have a place over on Thunder Lake.” Dewey picked up one of the pieces of kid pie and popped it in his mouth. “Good.”

“Ever hear of any ghosts around here?” I asked him.

“I saw one once.”

“Really?”

“I was about ten or so. One night there was a full moon, and I couldn’t sleep. It was summer. Hot out. I went for a walk in our apple orchard. I saw a woman come walking through the trees. Her dress was like a long curtain. I never saw her face, but it seemed like she was crying.”

“What did you do? Are you sure she was a ghost, not a real person?”

“I could tell. She looked like a ghost and her feet didn’t touch the ground.”

I had never noticed what Richard’s feet were doing. I didn’t think he looked particularly like a ghost. “Were you scared?”

“You know, I wasn’t really scared. I just wanted to get away from her. For some reason, she seemed to have a right to be there. I felt like I was the one who was trespassing. I ran back to the house and went right to sleep. In the morning, I wasn’t sure if it was a dream or if it really happened.”

“Do you have any idea who she could have been?”

“No. I never told anyone. I wasn’t really supposed to be outside in the middle of the night. Plus, my dad would have whipped me.”

“Why?”

“Oh, any excuse, you know.”

 

Tomorrow: Chapter 23 continues.