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Sisters Candace & Violet sidestep the antics of their mother and aunt at their uncle's funeral while trying to solve the mystery of his death.

The Dance

Episode 1: Uncle Albert's Demise

"Sad people are not fun," Violet said, and I had to admit it was true.

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      “Mamma has always had a love for other people’s possessions,” my sister Violet said, picking up Mamma’s copy of Cosmo and seating herself at the settee in Mamma’s breakfast nook, apparently oblivious to the irony in her remark.  

      “Why do you say that?” I asked, looking at the mess of papers on the breakfast bar.

      “Well, look at Uncle  Albert,” she said. “Didn’t she take him?”

      “I don’t think that’s exactly fair,”  I said. “Uncle Albert and Aunt Clem were already divorced.”

      “Well, whatever,” Violet said.  “I still think Mamma’s love for other people’s things has something to do with what happened.”

      I wasn’t as quick to jump to conclusions as my sister, which is why I had dragged her over to our mother’s house when we really should have been helping Aunt Clem prepare for the viewing.

      “You know, that’s not all Mamma took.”  She was thumbing through the magazine, but I could tell she wanted to pique my interest.  I ignored her.

      “Ah, come on, Candace,”  she pouted. “Don’t ya wanna know what else Mamma absconded with?”

      “Maybe later,”  I replied absently.  “Right now, I’m interested in why she left so suddenly.  Without Uncle Albert.”

      “Because she wanted to be alone,”  Violet said. “Kind of how I feel about you when you try to turn the channel away from Magnum P.I.”

      “Now you’re just being silly,” I said.  “I never try to turn the channel away from Magnum.”  

      Violet played with a piece of her hair.   “Come on, Candace,” she said. “I thought we were going to get mani/pedis before the viewing.”

      “Are you serious?”  I asked, even though I knew she was perfectly serious.  “Aren’t you the least bit curious about Mamma’s absence and Uncle Albert’s heart attack?”

      “Of course,” Violet replied breezily.  “But do I have to be curious today?”

      “No, you don’t,” I told her.  “You can sit there and whine.”  I gave her a big smile.

      Violet tossed her head.  “Well, can you hurry up? This place gives me the creeps,” she said and gave a dainty shiver to prove her point.

      I imagined the scene two days ago when poor Rosa had walked in to do her regular dusting and vacuuming, finding instead our dead uncle.  I, too, shivered.

      Violet suddenly said,  “Oh, now that’s an awful dress.  I can’t believe what Hollywood pushes as fashion.”  She held up the magazine so I could see the photo. “Look at this dress Kendall Jenner is wearing.”

      I glanced at it but said nothing, my attention focused on the papers strewn on the counter.  I had started picking them up, one by one, to look over. There had to be something here that would give me a clue.

      “Seriously, Candace, can we go soon?”  Violet said. “I still need to do hair and makeup, and we have to be at the funeral home in, like, three hours.”

      “Mamma and Uncle Albert were always a bit strange, don’t you think, Vi?”  I mused. “I mean, who doesn’t go with his wife on vacation?”

      Violet appeared to consider that.  “Someone who accepts that his wife wants to be alone?”  she suggested. “And why is it suddenly so important to understand their relationship?  It’s not as if we ever understood it before.”

      That was true.

      “Why do you suppose Mamma’s not here right now?” Violet continued.  “It’s not because she couldn’t get a flight out today. Or yesterday, or the day before that.”

      It was a good point.   It was almost as if Mamma was running away from something.  Her cryptic text messages the night before she left about ‘going away’, ‘without Uncle Albert’, and ‘I’ll be in touch’ hadn’t seemed all that strange at the time.  After all, it was Mamma who had sent them.  But now Uncle Albert was dead.  And Mamma had avoided our calls for three days.  We didn’t even know if she was coming home for the funeral.  

      “I wonder why Mamma hasn’t called us,”  I said.

      “Maybe there’s no cell service in Puerto Rico,”  Violet suggested, and then looked at me questioningly.  “Wait, there has to be, doesn’t there? Isn’t Puerto Rico an adjunct of the U.S.,  or something?”

      I laughed at my sister.  “If by adjunct, you mean territory, then yes,”  I told her. “But I’m not sure that has anything to do with it.  Ever heard of cell towers?”

      Violet closed the magazine and slapped it on the settee.  “Of course I have,” she said. “And I’ve also heard of land lines.”  She nodded sanctimoniously at my expression. “So I guess you have your answer. Mamma doesn’t want to talk to us.”  She rose, grabbing her purse.  “I’m done here, Candace, even if you’re not.  You can leave with me, or you can stay and snoop around Mamma’s house ‘til the cows come home.  I really don’t care.”

      I hid my grin.  My sister could certainly get in a snit when she wanted to.  But since it was my truck sitting in the driveway, I wasn’t too nervous.  “Be my guest,” I replied. “But you’ll have to call an Uber.” Violet looked even more annoyed. “Or, you could help me look for clues.”

      After a moment, she said, “Okay, fine.  But ten minutes, Candace. And then we’re going.”  She joined me at the breakfast bar. “What kind of clues?”

      “Anything out of the ordinary,” I told her.  

      “Well,” she said, “this mess is out of the ordinary.  Mamma would never throw papers all over like this.”

      “Exactly,”  I said. “Start reading through these…”

      I stopped as Violet dangled a paper under my nose.

      “What’s that?” I asked her.

      “A clue, of course,” she said.

      Examining the document, I saw that it was an invoice from a  company called Doors Unlimited.  Gee, I wonder what they do? I thought.  My eyes widened as they took in the handwritten note at the bottom:  call Vincent re: situation with Albert.

      I looked up at my sister who was nodding at me with her ‘I win’ posture.   “What now, detective?” she said.

      “Who’s Vincent?”  I asked, “and what situation with Uncle Albert?”

      “I don’t know.  But that’s Mamma’s handwriting,” Violet said.

      “It is, indeed,”  I said, speculating.  

      “What do you think it means?”  Violet asked. I gave her a look because I was sure her mind was going in the same direction as mine.

      “Let’s examine the facts, shall we?” Violet rolled her eyes as I made a play of pacing across the kitchen.  “Fact one: Mamma leaves town without Uncle Albert. Fact two: she writes a strange note about another man...”  I paused dramatically. “Fact three: Uncle Albert has a heart attack.”

      Violet looked at me.  “So?”

      “So?!”  I repeated.  “What caused his heart attack, Vi?”  

      “French fries and rib eye steaks!”  she replied emphatically. “He wasn’t a healthy man, Candace.  End of story.”

      I turned and faced my sister seriously.  “What if Uncle Albert saw this note?” I said, and waited.

      Violet studied the uncharacteristic mess on the breakfast bar, chewing her lip.  “Do we know where he was found?” she asked finally.

      We both looked down at the floor, and with tacit agreement, stepped away.

      “We don’t know for sure.” I tried belatedly to reassure her.  After all, we didn’t.

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