by Hy Conrad
“Thanks for coming.” Raquel Doyle was eating a greasy hamburger but still managed to look bereaved. “Mother said what a good friend you were.”
Harry Silver nodded. Amanda Doyle’s death had been expected, but it was still a shock. Having been unable to attend this morning’s funeral, the detective felt obligated to visit the three Doyle children, who were now staying in Amanda’s home. He glanced around the large living room, noting the half-completed construction. “I hear Amanda was turning the mansion into a charity hospice.”
“She was planning to,” admitted Ricky Doyle, Amanda’s eldest. “But no one’s been able to find her new will. The old will leaves everything to Raquel, Livia, and me. And, frankly, we can’t afford to give away our inheritance to charity.”
Harry had heard the story from Duncan Smith, the person chosen to head up the hospice. Amanda had left everything to the charity in a last-minute will. But Duncan Smith, the most disorganized of administrators, had possession of the only copy. And he’d lost it.
At that moment a beaming Duncan Smith entered the living room and crossed to Harry. “I found it,” the absentminded man whispered a bit too loudly. “The new will. It was under the old will in the folder. I must have leafed past it a dozen times, thinking it was just extra pages of ‘whereases’ and ‘wherefores’.” He pointed towards the next room. “It’s in the storage room.” Then his trousers rang and he pulled out a cell phone. “Excuse me. My wife.”
As Harry waited, he noticed Raquel strolling into the storage room and closing the door. A minute later, she came out drinking a soda. Then it was Livia’s turn to leave. Harry was tempted to follow, but both women returned to the living room quickly and empty-handed.
Ricky Doyle also left the living room, but in the other direction, towards the front hall. Minutes later, he re-entered from the other door, from the storage room, looking wet.
Duncan put away his phone and announced his good news. The three Doyles acted surprised and followed him through the door to see the rediscovered will.
“It was here, I swear,” Duncan said as he pawed through the will folder over and over. But if the will had been there, it was no longer. “Someone took it.”
“You just imagined you saw it,” Ricky laughed. “You’re the most incompetent man.”
Harry looked around at the collection of boxes and furniture. This storage room was probably going to be Duncan’s office, but it was now just a mess. Had Duncan really found the will? If so, then any one of the Doyles could have removed it from the folder and hidden it somewhere.
Harry wished Amy were here. “How would Amy’s logic work in this situation?” he silently asked.