I said I’d update you in a week, but it’s been two. This nut has been a little harder to crack than I had thought. Besides, apparently my writing rotation is only every other week. Don’t blame me, it’s the arrangement the Rogues have made with each other.
In case you missed part 1 of my little saga, you can read it here: Pinch Hitter. Good—now you’re all caught up.
So far I’ve got nothing on this Herman character. No skeletons in his closet—just bones in his garden. He’s 82 and lost his wife of 56 years to cancer last May. She was cremated, so the bones can’t be hers. He’s a vet and received the Purple Heart from an injury received during the Korean War. Never been charged or convicted of a crime. Can’t even find record of a single driving citation for him. Plus, he’s an elder and an usher for his church.
Sometimes if a person looks too clean, it’s because they’ve worked pretty damn hard to pull off that illusion. So people would never think twice about them being capable of such evil deeds. Fortunately for you, the Kenny Blacks of the world are here to sift through that bullshit.
I need to get a little closer to my subject matter, so on this gray, drizzly day, I step on his creaky wooden porch and ring the doorbell. A feeble “Just a minute” filters through the metal door. Herman eases the door open and offers a gentle smile. “Can I help you?” he asks. His fine white hair is thin and slicked straight back.
“Hi, I’m Kenny—your neighbor from across the street.”
“Oh, yes—I thought I’d seen you before. Forgive me, I’m old.”
I chuckle at his comment; how else does one react when the elderly make fun of themselves? “We’ve never officially met, so I just wanted to introduce myself.”
“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Kenny. What took you so long?” he asks with a wink and a grin.
Funny, he didn’t offer me his name back, but some people are like that. “No, you’re right. I should’ve come by sooner. I’ve been wanting to start a garden in my back yard. The other day I saw you out back working in yours, so I thought you may be able to give me some gardening tips.”
“I’d love to. Won’t you please come in?”
I wonder if leading with the garden was a mistake. He didn’t seem to have a reaction. But if he’s smarter and craftier than he looks, he may be on to me. And if that’s the case, I may be walking into a trap.
I follow Herman inside anyway.