Case Closed

Case Closed by Jan Burke

Book: Case Closed by Jan Burke Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jan Burke
pipes. I had gone into the trash and taken them back out. I put them in a little wooden box, the same one where I kept a photo of my dad. I never looked at the photo or the pipes, but I kept them anyway. I thought my mom might have found the place I hid them, but so far, she hadn’t ratted on me.
    I opened the laundry hamper. Harvey’s wet clothes were in there. I reached in and pulled out his shirt. No lipstick stains, and even without lifting it close to my nose, I could tell it didn’t have perfume on it. It could have used some. It smelled like smoke, a real strong kind of smoke. Not like a fire or anything, but stronger than a cigarette. A cigar, maybe. I had just put the shirt back in the hamper when the door flew open.
    â€œWhat are you doing?” Harvey asked.
    I should have said something like, “Ever heard of knocking?” or made some wisecrack, but I was too scared. I could feel the matchbook in my hand, hot as if I had lit all the matches in it at once.
    Luckily, my mom woke up. “Harvey?” I heard her call. It sounded like she was standing in the hall.
    â€œOh, did I wake you up, sweetheart?” he said. My jaw dropped open. Harvey never talked to her like that after they got married.
    â€œWhat’s wrong?” she asked.
    â€œI was just checking on the boy,” he said. He looked at me and asked, “Are you okay, son?”
    Son. That made me sick to my stomach. I swallowed and said, “Just came in to get some aspirin.”
    â€œYour leg bothering you because of this rain?” he asked, like he cared.
    â€œI’ll be all right. Sorry I woke you up.”
    My mom was at the door then, so I said, “Okay if I close the door? Now that I’m up  . . . well, you know  . . .”
    Harvey laughed his fake laugh and put an arm around my mom. He closed the door.
    I pulled a paper cup out of the dispenser in the bathroom. I turned the cup over and scratched the street numbers for Mackie and Topper’s, then put the matchbook back where I found it. By now, I was so scared I really did have to go, so I didn’t have to fake that. I flushed the toilet, then washed my hands. Finally, I put a little water in the cup. I opened the door. I turned to pick up the cup, and once again thought to myself that one of the things that stinks about crutches is that they take up your hands. I was going to try to carry the cup in my teeth, since it wasn’t very full, but my mom is great about seeing when I’m having trouble, so she said, “Would you like to have that cup of water on your nightstand?”
    I nodded.
    Harvey watched us go into my bedroom. He went into the bathroom again. My mom started fussing over me, talking about maybe taking me to a new doctor. I tried to pay attention to what she was saying, but the whole time, I was worrying about what Harvey was thinking. Could he tell that I saw the matchbook? After a few minutes he came back out, and he had this smile on his face. I knew the matches wouldn’t be on the floor now that he had figured out where he had dropped them and that he had picked them up. He felt safe. I didn’t. I drank the water and saved the bottom of the cup.
    The next morning I got up early and went into the laundry room. Harvey’s clothes were still in the bathroom, but I wasn’t interested in them anyway. I put a load of his wash in the washing machine, checking his trouser pockets before I put them in. I made sixty cents just by collecting his change. I put it in my own pocket, right next to the waxy paper from the cup.
    I had just started the washer when my mom and Harvey came into the kitchen. My mom got the percolator and the toaster going. Harvey glared at me while I straightened up the laundry room and put the soap away.
    â€œYou’re gonna turn him into a pansy, lettin’ him do little girl’s work like that,” he said to my mom when

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