Maggie had the couch moved away from the door where it had acted as a barricade during the early morning hours. Now it sat unusually close to the door, but Maggie did not care. She knew that if she did not get a better lock on the door she would have to use it again tonight. If she had a skeleton key, that would most likely open the other doors on the floor, who else was in possession of one. She would ask Mr. Zimmerman about the key if she could ever get a hold of him to ask the question.
Susie sat across from Maggie at the small kitchen table, not touching her cereal or milk. Instead, she held her dirty looking teddy bear, smoothing its ratty synthetic fur.
“Aren’t you hungry?” Maggie asked, looking up from her manuscript.
Susie shrugged, not making eye contact with her.
Maggie looked at the bowl of soon to be soggy corn flakes. “Do you want sugar on your cereal? That’s how I eat mine.”
Before Susie answered, there was a knock on the door.
“That must be your mom,” Maggie said as she stood up to answer the door. She looked through the peephole and saw Debbie with her back toward the door. Even though she could not see her face, she could tell it was Debbie by the white cap, so she opened the door.
Debbie stood at the door with a big smile. Her face looked drawn and pale, bust she was still full of spunk. “There’s my little pumpkin.”
Maggie turned around and saw Susie standing right behind her, twisting and pulling the teddy bear’s head as if she were wringing its neck. Maggie was speechless for a moment because Susie was petting the poor little stuffed animal a few moments ago, and now she seemed to want teddy dead. The behavior caught her off guard. Then she said, “I don’t think Susie felt well last night. She was standing at my bedroom door and was cold. I mean, she actually felt cold, but she seems better this morning.”
“She gets that way sometimes,” Debbie said, holding out her hand for Susie to come her way. “Nothing to worry about.”
Maggie did not say anything as Susie walked past her to Debbie’s open hand. “Oh, one more thing, before you go. I thought I heard people in the hallway and using the elevator last night. Does that happen very often?”
Debbie shook her head, dismissing Maggie’s question. “Probably Bruce; sometimes he has a party in his pad.” Debbie squinted. “But you should avoid the man. Sure, Bruce can be a nice guy, but he and I . . . Well, we kind of have a thing together. We’re tight if you know what I mean.”
Maggie nodded, but she was not sure what Debbie was talking about. Were they romantically involved? She was curious but did not figure it was her business to know all about Debbie’s affairs or lack thereof.
“Later,” Debbie said as she and Susie scurried away.
No sooner had Maggie closed the door and locked it with her skeleton key when the cell phone rang. It was Jess.
“Hey, Maggie, how was your night babysitting?”
“It was fine. Susie slept most of the night.”
“What about noises?”
Maggie cleared her throat. “I did hear people and what sounded like someone turning my doorknob, but Debbie said Bruce sometimes has parties so I’m assuming that’s what I heard.”
“Maybe,” Jess said with uncertainty. She paused and then said, “I know you probably don’t want to do this, but I think we should go back to your house and get things squared away. It’s been over a month.”
Immediately, images of Cory dead on the floor, blood pooled around his head, and the gun at his side made her queasy. She did not want to go back there. After the police had given the okay, Jess and a couple other friends had cleaned the house, wiping the blood from the tile floor and making it look as though nothing had happened. But what still needed to be done was to go through papers and find insurance policies, bank statements, stocks certificates, and to get the will from the safe so that the estate could be settled. Maggie did not want to think about financial details but knew she had to do it.
“I suppose.” Maggie sighed.
“Great, I’ll pick you up around noon.”