The elderly Florence Leach has a dark secret she’s kept buried for over 50 years. She’s been able to move on, get married, have children and even grandchildren. Then…one day she welcomes Cloud Beaudry into her home. And let’s just say he didn’t come for the tea.
Chapter 1 – Old Smiles
by Rock Kitaro
I should’ve known better. Smiles are so deceptive. Even in her advanced age, it seems wisdom has yet to falter. Still sharp as a whip. Makes things tricky, a bit difficult, but not impossible. Just take notice and tread with caution. For behind those disarming eyes is a tomb fill with secrets. But I’m a man on a mission and I’ve come to dig.
Florence Leach is a longstanding resident of Macon, Georgia. Her children and grandchildren are all of adult age. Each of them well established, either in college or pursuing some profession. The husband, James Leach, died in 2001 not long after the Towers fell.
Those were some depressing times. But from what I heard, the community rallied around her and gave her the strength she needed to carry on. Since then, she’s gone on to publish a number of whimsical children’s books good enough to give Mother Goose a run for her money.
Yes, if she were my grandmother I’d have every reason to be proud of her. Indeed her grandchildren were very proud. In an effort to maintain such affections, Florence made sure to keep her Southern two-story dream house in order.
Her front lawn was mowed recently, groomed, and edged behind a white picket fence. She must have hired a cleaning crew for the five bedrooms and two baths. There wasn’t a speck of dust on the cabinets or the gilded framed portraits adorning the walls. The area rugs were vacuumed, especially the hazelnut carpeting over the staircase. The kitchen had dark hardwood flooring and there was an exquisite dining table that was so polished you could your own reflection.
She entertains me in the formal study with afternoon light flowing through the windows. Silver platters gleam from the China cabinet. The luster fluctuates from clouds moving in and out of the sun’s way. It’s all so very quaint, really.
Before this day, Florence and I had never met. She didn’t know who I was or what I was about, yet she welcomed me in with such zeal. Perhaps it was my well-groomed appearance, my youth, combed blond hair or unblemished tan. Perhaps it was the sincerity she saw in my brown eyes that lulled her to trust and confide in me as so many have done before. She knew I was an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, but that’s not why she granted me an audience.
Ms. Florence was simply lonely. And I was new. The intrigue was mutual.