Moody left her brother’s hospital room as Seth was officially booking him for their father’s murder. As she walked down the hall, she felt eyes boring into the back of her head from the other officers standing around.
She was used to people looking at her with suspicion. After moving in with Morris, that “look” was an everyday occurrence. This time would be no different.
As she pushed open the hospital’s main door, the fresh evening air felt like a renewal. Her life would continue. She was slightly giddy when she realized it would be without Morris and Jake.
Slightly giddy? Who was she kidding? Certainly not herself. She could barely contain her joy at a life unencumbered by the other Sinclairs.
One little detail Moody didn’t mention to the police happened the day after Morris disappeared. When she’d dragged that heavy bag of trash to the curb on the day of their big fight, she’d noticed a few crumpled sticky notes in the grass. Her father drove her crazy with his annoying habit of dropping his little paper reminders anywhere and everywhere in the house.
She remembered following the perverted Hansel trail through the neighborhood and to the front door of the Peterson’s house. At the time she was determined to send her father off to the funny farm if she found him inside this house of death playing another of his macabre games.
When she’d walked inside, she found her father dead on the floor and at the center of a game he would have appreciated. Buried in his head was his own mattock. A few feet away lay a large hunting knife. Whoever killed Morris had done it with one blow. The knife had been unneeded. Until now.
The image made Moody shiver as she bounced back to the present. Sitting in her car in the hospital parking lot, she couldn’t stop thinking about how death hadn’t changed Morris’s looks. His dead hooded eyes were the same as they were during his life. Malice emanated from him even in death.
After making sure he was really dead (she was afraid it was a sick trick – when she was growing up, Morris liked to pretend death in order to terrify his young children), she made good on her promise to cut her father into little pieces.
It felt good.
Even now, so many days later, it still felt good. The only thing she couldn’t touch or move was his head. She’d felt part revulsion, part fear, but more so, an overwhelming sense of primal fear. She had been afraid her father would snap his dead teeth and chew her up into little bits.
Shivering as she started the car, Moody drove almost out of the hospital’s grounds before she was overcome with tears. She pulled into a space in the deserted backend of the hospital’s parking lot and wept.
She wept for her past and the inability to change it, and she wept for her future and what it might hold. She wept for the normality everyone else had that she’d never in her life experienced. She wept for the death and imprisonment of her family and the sad fact that she was glad for both.
She didn’t weep for her brother. In the desert after he’d been attacked, Jake had told his sister that he’d killed Morris.
“Why?” she’d asked.
“He’d sent me a letter saying I wasn’t in his will. I’d get nothing and the old bastard owed me for what he made me do. Bastard wouldn’t own up to sending the letter, but he told me he wasn’t leaving anything to dead kids like me.”
“Is that when you killed him?”
“Yeah. I figured a dead kid like me was the perfect instrument of destruction for a devil like Morris.”
Jake had stopped talking after that. Moody didn’t know if he stopped because he realized he’d said too much or if the pain in his arm had been too intense to keep talking.
Despite his admission, Moody wasn’t going to rat her brother out. She also wasn’t going to tell him Morris couldn’t have mailed a letter to him. For one thing, Morris never mailed anything. His only mode of communicating was by phone. He’d had a pathological hatred of the High White Devil Postmaster and believed the man in charge of the local post office had been out to get him from the time he moved to Rubicon.
The second reason was more logical. Morris had no interest in his children other than what they could do for him. Even if he’d found Jake, the path Jake had taken with religion would not serve Morris. Moody was the only child he needed. If he’d been able to keep a housekeeper for more than a month at a time, he wouldn’t have even needed Moody.
So, the mystery remained. Who had sent the letter? Moody knew what was in Morris’s will. Everything was divided three ways. If any of his children preceded him in death, their heirs would inherit. If there were no heirs, as in Moody’s case, that part of the estate would be divided between the remaining heirs.
Starting the car again, Moody left the hospital grounds. As she drove in traffic, her mind raced around the question, who? Although Morris’s will was at his attorney’s office, it was not filed with the court. There was no public access to the will because Moody had convinced her father it would only make more money for the attorney.
Although that had not been entirely true, Moody didn’t want the world to have access to her eventual fortune. And, she didn’t want her siblings to know what was in the will and its conditions. She didn’t want either of her brothers coming to Rubicon and stirring up trouble and danger for her.
Maybe her own father had actually contacted Jake behind her back. Even though Jake said Morris denied sending the letter, it would be in keeping with his character for Morris to commit suicide by patricide. After all, the old man was breaking down in body and mind. He would not want to be helpless with only a resentful daughter left to take care of him.
Still, that would require more effort than Morris typically wanted to expend. As Moody pulled into her driveway, she knew deep down that Morris didn’t start the whole tragic ball rolling.