Slow Squeeze(127)

By: Dianne Emley

“Iris?” she asked apprehensively at the sound of Iris’s voice. It was another recording. Determined not to hang up, she clutched the telephone handset with both hands and listened carefully until it was her turn to speak.

“Iris! It’s Dolly. Dolly DeLacey. I don’t think he knows I know. I don’t know who I can trust. He’s turned my children against me. He knows everyone on the police department and at City Hall. I think he knows the governor and even the president and the president runs the FBI. Who can I turn to?”

She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. She was getting hysterical. She knew firsthand that no one paid attention to a hysterical woman. “Iris, he’s trying to kill me. Bill’s trying to kill me. There’s a rope in the garage and some saws and poison, Iris! It says it’s for rats but there’s a skull and crossbones on the box. It’s deadly poison! Then in his desk I found a metal box with my will in it. But I don’t remember it, Iris. How could I leave him everything? What about my children? And my father’s ring is there, too…”

She paused and listened. “It’s him! There’s his car. It’s him. Oh my goodness!”

She quickly hung up, put the box back in the drawer, slid the drawer closed, pushed the chair underneath the desk, and with trembling hands tried to return the clutter on top of the desk to its original position. She started to leave the room, then rushed back to grab the ad that she’d forgotten on the desk. Hurrying out, she bumped against the stacks of newspapers. She felt more and more out of breath. Ducking into her bedroom, she closed the door and tried to compose herself. When she heard Bill go into the kitchen, just like she expected him to do, she began to calm down. Everything was going to be fine, she told herself. Everything was going to be fine because over the years she’d finally learned to think like him.

He walked into his office and said, “Huh,” when he saw that she’d straightened it up. Standing behind his desk, he reached down and picked up a small, carefully folded square of white paper that lay on the carpet. A self-satisfied smile crossed his lips as he wedged the paper back between the desk and drawer, down low on the far side. This was the best location—confirmed via many tests—for it to drop to the ground almost unseen when the drawer was opened.


Special thanks, as always, to my intrepid and astute editor, Dana Isaacson.

To Rowland Barber, for listening, advising, and letting me tap into his muse when mine had gone home for the day. Thanks also, Rowland, for your priceless wit.

To friends who had the courage to give me their thoughts on the manuscript and the grace to speak diplomatically: Ann Escue, Mary and Don Goss, Jeff McLellan, and Jennifer Urick. Special thanks to Mardi Bettes, who read two drafts—truly “above and beyond…”

To my mother, Theda, and my sister, Sheila, for attending signings and readings as if they were at the hottest venue in town. Thanks to other family members, especially Jeanine, Craig, Cameron, Mark, Jennifer, Carter, Madalynn, and my father William whose delight over having a published author in the clan delights me.

And to Charlie, who stood by through riots, fires, earthquakes, and step aerobics, and who I’m proud to have by my side for the good times, too.