He lived on a quiet street in a genteel old neighborhood. She knew, as a cop, that most of the residents were older, retired folk. The chief had mentioned that he’d inherited the house when his dad had passed ten years ago. The house itself sat back off the street on a large lot. The land behind his lot was undeveloped, full of trees and undergrowth. Two large hickory trees, one near enough the house to overshadow part of the porch and the other on the left front corner dominated the front yard. Two flower beds of azaleas blocked clean sight lines to the house itself. There was a carport, framed in the same square pillars that upheld the long front porch, on the right, with his green Element backed in. She could tell that the back yard was deep but couldn’t see much of it from the road. The yard and the off-white stucco was well maintained but the house seemed to almost be in retreat, hiding away from view. She didn’t see him doing much yard or housework himself so she assumed he must hire someone. She turned to look down the block. His house was in the middle of the street. Most of the houses were of a similar style and size. The neighborhood radiated a sense of age and foundation. It was solid and established.
“It’s interesting to watch a cop look at things.”
She didn’t spin around but it was a near thing. He’d appeared in the now open door. She strongly suspected that he’d waited until she wasn’t looking to do so. The bastard.
“I’ve noticed that you tend to, I don’t know, see things differently. Sam does the same thing. I’ve never seen him do it here but he practically grew up here so…” He paused. “You wanna come in?”
She strode across the grass and he turned and went into the house, leaving the door open in invitation. He was standing across the living room with his back to her, pouring iced tea into glasses. The room was large, well-lit from the tall, narrow windows on the front and left sides. Dark, hardwood floors covered the living room and continued into the dining room to the right of the door and the hall opposite the door. There was a fireplace, unlit of course, in the middle of the far right wall. Built-in bookcases, filled with books, covered the rest of the wall . The furniture was Arts and Crafts, which fit the house, staged around the fireplace. It was obviously well cared for, but there were old scratches and small gouges around the bottoms of the legs. “Dog,” she thought. The photos placed about were mostly older except for one small frame with him and a pretty brown and brown woman with a crooked smile. “Amelia,” she thought grimly.
“You’re doing it again, by the way,” he said, holding out a glass of tea. “I asked Sam about it before. He wasn’t really aware he was doing anything different. He couldn’t really tell me what he was doing because he wasn’t doing it consciously. You automatically noted exits, you looked at all the pictures, you categorized everything very quickly. Very interesting. I have a friend who’s a painter and he looks at things kind of like that. Not the whole “exits, threats, what doesn’t fit” thing but he tends to see more. I take care of my own lawn, by the way. I actually like cutting grass and tending the beds.”He grinned as she looked startled. “When you were looking over the lawn your lip curled up a little. Kind of dismissive.”She grinned back. “So you’re not a cop. Why do you notice things?”“I like to. Most things interest me. I like to see how things fit.”You also like to startle people.”“I also like to amaze people with how smart I am. True.”She sipped the tea which was very cold and very sweet. “So where is all of your stuff? Most everything in here looks like it’s been here for a while. I’m thinking it was your folk’s. I don’t even see a tv.”
“There actually is a tv. The panel over the fireplace slides back. I had that put in. But you’re right, most of this was here when I moved back. I have a study slash office slash whatever room. I keep the serious tv in there. I don’t like to watch it in here. Shame I didn’t figure that out until after I had the work done.”
He sat on a leather-covered Morris chair and pointed to another across from it.
“I take it I was right?”