Thursday photo prompt – Deep #writephoto
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He sat, back straight at the table, pulling his heavy oak chair closer to it. White hair parted from the left, framing a formidable face etched by the ravages of time. Sharp green eyes sparkled just a little at the sight of 11 grandchildren anxiously waiting for him to blow out the candles on his birthday cake.
“Edna Leighton Jones,” he said, smiling at his wife of 47 years, “You’ve outdone yourself this time.”
“It’s only a white cake with lemon filling and butter cream icing,” the slender woman said. Edna scampered back into the kitchen, her mom radar on full alert. “Eric! You know better than that!”
“You’re 36, boy!” his father laughed. “Time you stopped trying to steal cookies.”
“But they’re chocolate chip, and my wife can’t cook worth…beans!”
“Good thing she’s not here,” Edna said, laughing at the hurt face. “She might deserve the insult, but she’d not be kind.”
Two daughters and three sons doled out cake to children eagerly sitting at tables built for their smaller bodies. Finally! The adults settled into a table for 8 and began to enjoy the rich, creamy softness of their father’s birthday cake.
Ding…Dong… rang the front doorbell, the deep vibration of it stopping the festivities.
“Expecting anyone else, Edna,” her husband smiled.
“I was about to ask you the same,” she giggled.
As always, Edna left the dining room, passed a staircase leading to the 6 bedrooms upstairs, walked past a living room with floor to ceiling windows facing a mountain view, and looked out the peep-hole.
Hands trembling, she pulled the lever down, opened the door, and stared at a rare sight. “Is there a problem in the neighborhood, officer?”
“Is the senator home?” a well-toned young woman asked, large lips pointing downward into a deep frown.
His footsteps traversed the expanse to the doorway and the 6 foot-tall man stood behind Edna, his chin just above her head. “What is the meaning of this!”
“Spelunkers found a cave a few mountains over. They had to cut through 100 feet of bush to get to it,” the officer said. “There was a skeleton wedged in a crevice.”
His eyes widened just a bit, with a quick dart to the left, the reaction meaningful to a seasoned police officer. He recovered quickly, becoming the formidable man respected by his colleagues for his perseverance and intelligence. “Why would you want to see me about that?”
“He didn’t die right away. Looks like he fell down a hole about 20 feet, and broke a leg. Starvation and exposure killed him,” she said. “Samuel Jones, you’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent…”
“Under arrest? For what!” Edna demanded.
“During the 5 days it took for John Leighton to die, he etched a message into the rock. The last three words took a while to decipher, ‘Samuel Jones left me here. He didn’t parents know disobeyed them.’ It helped that your hand print became cemented in lime rock at the edge of the cave,” she said.
“That was my brother! You comforted me…you…liar!” Edna yelled, running into the kitchen to sob her grief into a paper towel.
“John disappeared 48 years ago,” Senator Jones said calmly. “Ask any of my friends. They will tell you that Edna’s brother didn’t like me.”
“My job is to bring you in, not to decide your guilt,” the officer said, putting the cuffs on his wrists.
As a senator for 20 years, his connections were deeper than the cavern where he’d left a man to die so that nothing stood in the way of his desire for Edna. He’d call in a few favors, and slip out of a conviction for a crime no one would believe he’d committed. Easy enough.
In the caverns of a heart that wanted only one woman, he feared nothing greater than the loss of her love. That, he understood all too well, threatened to shatter the single thread of light holding the pieces of his soul together.
© Joelle LeGendre 2017