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The Death of Amelia Marsh: A Sally Nimitz Mystery (Book 1)


up with my late husband, Michael. He was the best man at our wedding. Michael made a career of the Navy and
we moved five times in his twenty year hitch; not a bad record for being in the service. George went home after
his four-year commitment and attended the local community college, where he met and married one of the
instructors. Michael and George managed to stay in touch. After he was discharged, Michael and I moved our
teenagers to within just sixty miles of where he had lived as a child, in part because there was a good job
waiting for him there. It was a coincidence, really, that George and his family happened to live nearby. We
socialized once in awhile, but George’s wife, Jill, was not interested in a strong friendship. I never cared for her
either, which dampened things. Michael and George went fishing or camping together at least once a year,
sometimes taking their sons with them. They seemed to enjoy themselves more with these all male outings and I
didn’t blame them.
After twenty-four years of marriage, George’s wife left him for a man eight years her junior. She was forty-
eight. My own husband seemed able to comfort him and to say or not to say the right thing when no one else
could.
Two years later my Michael was hit head on by a semi careening out of control on an icy road. After all of
my family and friends had left to deal with their own grief and get on with their lives, George was just,
somehow, there. The first time he called to make sure I remembered to change the oil in my car. Three weeks
later he called again to ask if I needed anything at all. I gratefully ran some legal technicalities past his orderly
mind, sparing me the need to bother Michael’s elderly father or the lawyer I found difficult to deal with. And so
it went. No pressure, no sense of a friend of my deceased husband wanting to be more, just a kind man wanting
to be there for the wife of his best friend.
Eventually my grief eased and the months passed. But I felt no need to find another man, still don’t. Getting
to know George in a different way than I had before, it saddened me to realize how much he had loved his wife
and how devastated he was when she walked out. Twice he dated someone for a short while, but now I sensed
he had stopped trying to find a replacement. Knowing where we both stood made for a very comfortable
relationship, sort of like having a brother, but not quite. I have two brothers so I know.
While waiting for our food we sipped coffee and I told George about my afternoon, or tried to. It still seemed
unreal. Even as I backed my Cavalier out of my garage and into the street, the bright yellow tape blocking off
Mrs. Marsh’s condo and the lights of the police cars parked in front had seemed like a movie scene or a dream.
George vaguely remembered me mentioning Mrs. Marsh to him before.
“Handsome old lady I think you said. Terrible, a nice old woman shouldn’t be safe from a robbery in her
own place.”
“That’s it!” I exclaimed. “That’s part of it, anyway. Part of what bothered me.” I set my coffee mug down
with a thump. “There was nothing touched in that place. Everything was in order. It looked like someone just
marched in there, whacked her on the head, and marched out again.”
George looked at me quizzically. “I don’t suppose you know if your sweet little old lady had any enemies?”
I sighed. “You sure wouldn’t think so. Her life was right out of Mayberry, so typical of a serene old lady. But
about six visits over the last six months would not qualify me as a historian on her life.” I picked the mug back
up and toyed with it contemplatively. “But you know, George, she was vague about certain things.”
“Such as?”
“I’m thinking about family. Her husband has been dead for about ten years. Nothing odd there. He just got
old. As a matter of fact she said he was ten years older than she, so they both died at about the same age.
Anyway, she spoke about him from time to time and she had a couple of photos in the living room of the two of
them. But she didn’t talk about anyone else very much. There were no recent photographs of anyone.” I thought
back. “There was one picture where they were with another couple she told me they were very friendly with for
years while they lived out east. They all looked middle-aged in the picture, in their fifties or so.”
“Did you ask her about any family?”
The server came with our order and I waited until she left before answering.
“Once I did. It just seemed a natural thing to do, it fit in with whatever we were discussing. I asked if she had
any children. She said no, but there was a pause first that struck me a little at the time. I had forgotten that until
now. It was the second or third time we visited. It left me feeling like she did not want to discuss relatives and I
never brought it up again. If you had asked me then, my impression was that perhaps she had lost a child.”
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