by Margaret B. Davidson
The most disturbing aspect of the bloody footprint was the solid wall that separated the heel from the toe. It looked as if someone had walked there before the wall was set in place, but the house was old, the blood fresh.
Periwinkle brought his finger to his nose, sniffed. “Fresh all right. Ain’t human though. Rabbit maybe.” His eyes narrowed. “It’s that nephew of yours, ain’t it?”
“Yes, Periwinkle, I believe it is.” Constance leaned on her cane, looked sadly at her gardener and long-time friend. “It’s another of his attempts to frighten me from this house. He’s too impatient to wait until I die.”
“The scalawag’s tryin’ to scare you to death, Miz Constance. Just let me get my ‘ands on ‘im!”
“He’s my sister’s only child, Periwinkle.”
“Don’t make ‘im decent.”
That night at dinner, Constance peered over her lorgnette at her nephew. “Horace, I’m quite worried about Periwinkle.”
“Fire the old devil,” mumbled Horace.
“What’s that, dear?” Constance’s hearing was quite adequate, but sometimes it was useful to pretend otherwise.
“Nothing, Aunt. What about Periwinkle?”
“Well, he seems to have disappeared.”
“Periwinkle has not ‘scarpered,’ as you call it. No, I’m afraid something has happened to him. It’s too much of a coincidence that he disappears right before discovery of blood in the blue bedroom.”
“Something walked through that wall. You agreed that’s the only way it could have happened.”
“Yes, and we agreed that if the police heard of it they’d think me a mad old woman who’d put the blood there herself.”
“No, the police wouldn’t help. Still, hauntings can be dangerous, especially for the elderly whose hearts aren’t strong.”
“The thing is, Horace, I think I am going to have to ring the police.”
“Because of Periwinkle disappearing, don’t you see? There could be a connection.”
Horace choked on his wine.
“Are you all right, dear? I shall give Periwinkle another day. If he doesn’t turn up I shall telephone the police.”
Horace tossed and turned. What if the old woman did call the authorities? They’d soon figure out who’d put the blood on the floor and that would make him suspect if Periwinkle had disappeared, which of course he hadn’t. Had he? Still, it was odd he hadn’t been around, and why take a chance?
As he traversed the chilly passage, Horace shivered. Not to worry, old chap, he told himself. It’ll only take a minute to wipe up the mess. He slipped into the blue bedroom.
Curtains fluttered in the breeze, creating shifting shadows. Horace started across the room, and stumbled over something soft and yielding. Righting himself, he looked down, and what he saw so horrified him that his knees buckled and he landed on his butt in a pool of viscous liquid.
Periwinkle studied the floor with a satisfied smile. “Judging by these ketchup footprints, he took the stairs three at a time."
“He’ll be back, Periwinkle, when he’s had time to think.”
“If I ‘ad me way ‘e wouldn’t be back.”
“We gave him a good fright, and I expect he’s learned his lesson. I must say though, Periwinkle, you make a most handsome corpse. Come, we shall share a pot of tea in the kitchen.”
“Thank you, Ma’am. I’d enjoy that I would.”
Born and raised in England, Margaret B. Davidson now resides in upstate New York. She has about two hundred short stories published in small press print and online magazines, and is enjoying her new role as Humor Page Editor for The Writer's Hood ezine. Margaret's husband provides moral support for her writing endeavors, while her cat helps with the typing. She may be reached at MargaretDa@aol.com.