Rain is falling on Friday, and fieldwork has been postponed until Monday. In the afternoon, Meghan sits in her lab, reading the Virginia Suburban Daily. Despite the threat of a lawsuit, Faulkner’s story is on the front page, and the headline would catch anyone’s eye—Body Found at Wyndham Thicket B&B.
Fortunately, the article isn’t as sensational as the headline. Faulkner mainly stuck to the facts, stating the skeleton came from beneath the floor of the old manor house’s cellar. Accompanying the story is the photo he showed Meghan yesterday. Irene’s body hides the flask, and none of the other artifacts are visible. Faulkner speculated the body could be from the Walkers’ time or maybe an Indian. And he recounted the old legends of the slave and mistress.
At least he didn’t mention the one about Abraham Walker being a Tory, Meghan thinks. And thank God he didn’t say anything about me other than I’m doing the archaeology.
Still, the article ends with Faulkner wondering why the excavation didn’t follow normal state procedures. To Meghan’s critical eye, he didn’t come out and say the Brownes had something to hide, but there was no mistaking the insinuation.
The staccato click of heels in the hall leads her to look up, just as Evelyn bursts into the room, clutching a copy of the paper.
“They’ll wish they’d never published this by the time I’m done with them. Firing Faulkner won’t be enough. I don’t appreciate having to cut short my vacation to deal with this sort of rubbish.”
“Who the hell is this Josiah Kent that Jackson told us about? And what’s he doing in my cellar?”
“My ancestors couldn’t have done this, Meghan. Someone else killed him.”
“It’s not just possible, it’s what happened. I’m going to the state library first thing tomorrow to look into this Kent character. I’ll bet there’s a good reason somebody did him in.”
“There might not be much—”
“Damn, I can’t go tomorrow. Douglas and I are meeting with the county attorney about the Riverton development. If Faulkner wants a story about not following state laws, he should look into them, getting the zoning changed next to my farm. And let’s not forget Frank Sloma trespassing to get that photo. Faulkner turned a convenient blind eye to that fact.”
“You’re sure it was him?” Meghan asks, finally getting the chance to finish a sentence.
“Who else could it be? I don’t know what his game is, but you can bet I’ll find out when he and his wife come to the farm this weekend. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to meet with our culinary supplier.”
She turns on her heel and starts out the door.
“Was there a reason you stopped by?”
“What? Oh, of course. The police are sending someone out on Monday to look for evidence in the woods. They’ll probably ask you about what you saw. I wanted to give you a heads up so you have time to remember all the details.”
“Oh, thank you. Did you want to see the skeleton before you leave?”
Evelyn shudders. “Absolutely not. I’d have nightmares for a month. I don’t know how you can bear to touch such a thing.”
The lab is quiet again, and Meghan thinks about Frank Sloma. Why is he so interested in Wyndham Thicket? She tries to remember what she’s heard about him from Evelyn and his endless talking when the guests visit the excavations. He’s an accountant with some firm around DC, and he and his wife have two children. But other than that, Meghan can’t recall any details about him.
On a whim, she grabs her tablet and types his name into a search engine. And gets nothing but genealogical hits for men in the 1800s and obituaries for some into the early 2000s. She tries Frederick and Franklin, thinking he might not use a nickname professionally, but finds even fewer results.
How does someone not show up on the Web in this day and age? she wonders. A professional membership? Hobby club? Something should be here.
Her thoughts are interrupted by the phone.
“Dr. Bode? Hi, it’s Deb Cooper from Pembershire Realty. I was calling to see if you and your husband would like to look at some houses this weekend. There are a few in your area and price range I think would fit your needs.”
“Oh. Sure. Would Sunday afternoon work?”
“Absolutely. How about one o’clock? I’ll email you the listings later this afternoon. There’s a great Colonial that just came up. I think you’ll really like it. And I’ll bring the paperwork so we can get yours on the market first thing next week.”
Meghan sits back after the call. Buying a new house. Selling this one. After years of talk, she and Rick can really do it. A yard for John and his friends to play in, just like she and his father had. And a dog. Her long-time argument that pets deserve more than a townhouse is toast.
I won’t be like Mom, she thinks. I’ll make them do most of the work.
Meghan can already hear her mother laughing.
She packs her work bag to head home. If the house is going on the market, she needs to start cleaning.
I hope you’ll stay tuned for Part 11 next Tuesday.