Are You Haunted (part seven)
No, he hadn’t taken the half of it into account. He would never need to report any incursion or trespass to Guy. He had not been brought here and showered with such comparative largess because his scheme (which, he could only guess, Summers had overheard) was so ingenious. They now had a caretaker on the premises. Guy would keep his eye on the Toveys, and what might once have passed for rowdiness or ignorance would be an offense, a patent understanding’s violation. And, for this change of policy, who would the Toveys come to hate?
“Hand me up that radio,” someone said.
Powell jumped to his feet. He was looking at a face much like that of Dennis Tovey, but this Tovey―he assumed it must be so―was taller, a few years younger, and not as slickly turned out. He had already picked up the cot.
“There’s no reason…” Powell hefted the radio and hugged this to his chest, wondering why he needed to argue. “I can get all that myself.”
“Broken, isn’t it? You want me to take a look.”
The kitchen door stood back on its hinges. He had not really doubted it. “I’m Powell Kenzie,” he told his uninvited guest.
“Well, sure you are. Alfin Tovey.” Alfin preceded him, going in. “What you need is some furniture. But set that radio down where the kitchen table ought to be.”
Isobel was there, the ice chest at her feet. “Mrs. Lessing has gone soft on Powell, Alfin. You wouldn’t know it to look at her.” She turned from the counter, peeling back tinfoil from a glass pan. Powell stared at Alfin’s antics. A comedian, this Tovey was, darting—the cot under his arm—here and there, not liking the stove, Isobel having already shooed him from the refrigerator…
Powell shoved past, to better see what she wanted to show.
“Well, here. This looks like the spot.” Close by the radio, Alfin winged his arms from his sides, dropping it, as though the weight of the cot had been vast.
This habit of clowning, Powell concluded, made itself convenient to the staging of the Toveys’ affairs…they could claim, as chance and Lloyd Guy demanded, to have been serious or unserious. Alfin leaned too, an ungrudging hand on Powell’s shoulder, peering with interest at Mrs. Lessing’s chocolate iced cake.
“Good then, Bel. We’ll have that tonight. What’d she send along for drinks?”
“Not enough for you.”
Someone was walking. The footfalls were not as pronounced as Guy’s had been, and came not from overhead, but had the rhythm and thump of human motion. Powell heard a faint creak.
“Is Tovey in the cellar?”
Are You Haunted
(2016, Stephanie Foster)