I’m not really sure how it happened, but before we knew it an entire week past us by while me’en Mister Petharic was just hangin’ out there in Mister Emerson and Miss Junie’s house. We finally both figured the two of them was away or somethin but just in case they was comin’ back we dint leave – not once the whole week.
I come mighty close a coupla days ago. After it snowed I was gonna go outten see if I could pick up a coupla quats shovelin.’ It woulda been perfect onna counta Mister Emerson had left a shiny new snow shovel in his front entrance. But Mister Petharic said I couldn’t go onna counta I’d leave footprints goin’ outta the place. That would let the target know we’d been inside and it’d put him on guard. Mister Petharic’s always telling me to be smart and be a lert but I ain’t really too sure what a lert is so I just says ‘okay’ so he don’t fret.
The problem is we is runnin’ outta stuff to eat. We just got ussa slabba bacon, coupla pounds I’d say. We nearly burnt up the place cookin’ it onna counta Mister Petharic dint know to drain the fat outta the pan and it overflowed into the flame. I thought I saw the curtains on Miss Book’s second floor kinda move like someone was peeking down when I opened the door to let all the smoke out.
Another bad thing is we only guttus one bottle of wine left from a whole rackfull at the start of the week. That includes two casks of the good stuff to boot. I never counted but there mustabin at least forty bottles we finished between the two of us – but mosta that were him. We still had a lotta leaf left though. It seemed unlimitless.
“I hear rumours Mister Emerson gets tunsa this stuff,” I nodded toward the cookie tin as Mister Petharic and I passed the last bottle of wine back and forth and ate bacon.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Mister Petharic says to me. He took a drink and I seen like half the bottle go down his throat. “Lighthouse and that pony-tail side-kick of his are up to something. I’m half tempted to let him live so I can see the two of them go down but I have no more patience.”
I couldn’t help but notice Mister Petharic rubbing his throat where he took a little nick from Squire Malus’s sword last week. Then I seen him take another swig outta the bottle and it were finally mor’en I could abide so I holler, “Hey, no fair you sodding bugger! You’re stealin’ my share.”
“Sorry,” he handed me the bottle. I looked and it dint have mor’en two fingers height left to it and what there were was floatin’ right full with all these little bacon bits. I took it, not ‘cause I really wanted it but more onna counta I figured he was drunk enough already.
“What do you suppose Mister Emerson’s got all locked up in the cellar?” I tried changin’ the topic so as I could distract him from the fact that he dint have no more wine.
“Haven’t you been down to check?” he asked.
“Couldn’t, it’s locked up right tight, – unless we unscrew the lock, it’s just one of those cheap ones.”
“Figures,” Mister Petharic snorted. “That is curious though, I’ll see if I can use a knife to unscrew it later,” he says but he seems all distracted. I noticed without the bottle in his hand, Mister Petharic was all fidgety. He started swingin’ his arms and stuff and then I seen him stop and sniff his pits. “I need new clothes,” he says to me. “These ones stink. I’m going upstairs to see what Lighthouse has in his closet.”
“Woah!” I couldn’t hardly believe what I seen when he come back down from upstairs. Mister Petharic got himself changed into one of Mister Emerson’s white shirts and blue vests. “You look exactly like Sir Sir ‘ceptin for your hair bein’ different.” It were right uncanny what I were seein’.
After I said that, though, Mister Petharic got right some upset. He whipped out his gun and aims it straight at my head and says, “You’d be wise not to repeat that, boy.” So I shut right up onna counta I know when not to talk. After he put his gun back in his holster I noticed him holdin to a sweater in his other hand.
“Hey!” I said, forgettin’ I was bein’ quiet. “Ain’t that Miss Junie’s?”
He looked at the sweater and then he kinda got mad and kicked one of the dining chairs hard enough to break it against the wall. Then he looked at me onna counta I jumped and shouted out when he busted up the chair. But when I seen his eyes I saw he were right sad- not mad at all.
“Sorry son, I didn’t mean to scare you.” He hung the sweater over the back of one of the other chairs all gentle-like and sighs.
“You really like the missus, doncha?” I says to him. He sighed again then walked over to the wall where a portrait of Miss Junie was hung up. He took it offa the wall then came back over to my side of the room and he sits right onna floor beside me with the painting in his lap.
“Yes I do,” he answered.
“And you want her to like you the same way too?” I asked him straight to the point.
“Yes I do.”
“Then why do you wanna kill Mister Emerson?”
Mister Petharic looked at me kinda like he was confused and I seen he weren’t gettin’ my meaning. So I said, “You can’t kill Mister Emerson, onna counta if you do Miss Junie will hate you forever. And hatin’ is a whole long way from how you wanner to feel.”
Mister Petharic pressed his lips tight and I couldn’t tell if he were mad or if he were thinkin’.
“I hear your argument,” he says to me. “You are suggesting I act with stealth and make it look like an accident.” But even as he was sayin the words I knew he dint believe ‘em himself. I could hear it in his voice.
“Everyone knows you want to kill Mister Emerson,” I says to him. “You tell everyone all the time. If he ever does go and get himself dead, even if it be by accident people is still likely to think it was you somehow. You need him to die of natural causes – or hope someone else does him in.”
“You’ve lost me again.” said Mister Petharic.
“You can’t just not kill Mister Emerson,” I said. “You have to actually protect him ‘cause if he does get kilt she’ll wonder if you coulda done it somehow.”
“Okay, let me restate this.” Instead of talkin’ right away Mister Petharic fumbled to light his pipe. It took awhile too onna counta he stuffed it too full with leaf from the cookie tin. Finally, he blows a big cloud of purple smoke into the air.
“I want Emerson Lighthouse dead for both professional and personal reasons,” he took several quick puffs to keep the pipe alive. “We have already discussed the professional reasons so we now focus on the personal.”
“Yes, when by clever philosophical analogy I demonstrated that killing Emerson Lighthouse is morally the right thing to do – don’t you recall?”
But I musta looked confused ‘cause he says to me, “The baby, the tram and the grandmas….”
“Oh yeah,” I says to him, reaching my hand out for a pass from his pipe but he don’t give it, he just keeps it and gives me a light-your-own look.
“Listen,” he said. “We both know, the personal vendetta I have against Lighthouse stems from the unrequited feelings I hold for Miss Ginsburg. It is natural to think, if he were dead she would be free to love me. My first thought is to take care of the matter and just kill him. After all, that option has the benefit of aligning nicely with my professional and career objectives.”
“But- ” I’m all set to point out somethin but he stopped me with his upheld hand.
“But will in the end prove to be a greater barrier to Miss Ginsburg’s heart than leaving that turd alive – I know.” He took another haul offa the pipe. “Carrying your argument to its logical conclusion, if she even suspects I could have been involved in Lighthouse’s demise the effect would be the same, so,” Mister Petharic looks right down in the dumps over this, “not only do I not kill him but I have to make sure, if at all possible, that he…”
After a minute I sense that Mister Petharic can’t finish the sentence. So I finish it for him; I say out loud but not too loud, “…doesn’t get dead.”