The Morning Paper

It was seven o’ clock in the morning when Beatrice Brooks began her stroll down to the corner store for the morning paper. It was her routine every day except Fridays. In her opinion, the Friday paper was thin on content and not worth the read. After pouring herself a warm cup of coffee, she approached the counter to pay for her items. She noticed Fred, the usual clerk, was not there. He had worked the store’s register for many years. This was out of the ordinary and she asked where he might be. The man just shrugged his shoulders. Beatrice found this rude, placed her exact payment on the counter and was on her way to the city park. Located just across the street, the park was known for its flowering dogwoods and magnolias. There were several benches along the pea gravel path. She would never sit at the same bench two days in a row. Today, she would pick out a bench in the shade. She unfolded the paper. On the bottom half of the front page the headline read, Home Invasion Kills One. The story revealed there was a witness who saw someone enter the house. He was tall and wore a dark brown overcoat. The witness also noticed the intruder’s salt and pepper facial stubble and the hair on his head was quite messy. The story was continued on another page. Beatrice always found that annoying. She wanted the whole story right in front of her. She understood the marketing aspect. She just did not like it.

The smell of her morning coffee caused her to drift from the paper. She picked up the coffee and took a few sips. A glance to the right, then, over to the left. There did not appear to be anyone in the park. She thought that was odd. “All for the better,” was the voice in her head. She skimmed some other headlines. Nothing caught here interest. She opened up the local sports section. Always staying up to date in regards to the high school sports was a priority. It was good small talk with her friends.

While not completely setting the paper down, Beatrice stared out into the park and watched the world. She was entranced by the leaves dancing in the wind and the birds that darted from tree to tree. A few hours passed. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a figure approaching from the left. Beatrice curled the paper down, then back up again. She minded her own business. The man sat down next to her and did not say a word. Beatrice found this unsettling. Inside her head she noted that it must be a day for rude people. She looked over her right shoulder. He was staring straight out across the park. She froze in terror. A tall man, overcoat, and unshaven. “Could this be the suspect in the paper?” thought Beatrice.

The man got up and walked toward the corner store. He proceeded up the block. Beatrice watched until she felt safe. Fumbling through the paper, she found the rest of the article. The witness recalled seeing the man run to the corner of Oak Street and Briar Lane. “Well, that is my corner. I live on Oak,” Beatrice said. She was so engrossed in the article that she did not notice two of her friends passing by until it was too late. It was strange they did not stop or at least say hello. She blamed herself for burying her nose in the paper. She was shaking from the encounter and decided to go home.

As she approached the corner, the police were there. Police tape cordoned off a small area. A crime scene investigator was kneeling down and taking photos with one of those newfangled smart phones. She noticed a bloody knife on the sidewalk. She was dumbfounded because it would have been easy to spot the knife on the morning trip to the corner store. She tried to get an officer’s attention but they ignored her. Beatrice wanted to hurry home but at her age nothing was done quickly. Within one hundred feet of her home, she could see that man standing on her porch. She was not afraid. Instead, she was angry. Her mind raced with visions of someone prying open her door and ruining the character of the front entry. A magnolia tree blocked her view and she lost sight of him.

Beatrice went up to her front door. It still appeared locked. She used her key. A wave of relief tingled down her spine. “This is quite a day,” said Beatrice. “I’m going to make some fresh coffee and finish that story.” It was not long before her small, charming home was filled with the aroma of hazelnut. She sat down on the couch and placed her coffee on the nightstand to the right. Now covered with creases and out of order, she picked up the paper. She held her breath as the story mentioned the home invasion occurred on Oak Street. The crime was being treated as a homicide. The detective was leaning toward a suspect and victim relationship. This was because there was no evidence of forced entry. “A murder on my own street,” gasped Beatrice. She continued to read. The woman was found dead on the couch with no apparent struggle. A possible murder weapon was located at the street corner. The woman, Beatrice Brooks, was killed at about six-thirty in the morning and police discovered her body about four hours later.

“Is this a joke?’ Beatrice said aloud. “I am not dead!” She flips to the front page. The paper is dated Friday, June 15th. “Today is Thursday, June 14th,” Beatrice said with suspicion. Behind her there was the sound of heavy footsteps and the floorboards creaked. She turned and saw a tall man with messy hair. She noticed his dirty, salt and pepper facial stubble. He wore a dark brown overcoat. Then, she saw the knife.

-Charles Gandy 2015

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