Walter Russell was the son of Joseph Russell who opened Russell’s Market in the 30s. Walter was a short round man with round glasses. He was bald with wispy oiled hair. He always wore a white apron with smudges of dried blood from butchering at the meat counter and dirt from handling boxes.
He stepped outside and underneath the light that lit the store’s sign. “So you guys want to hear about Old Black Maggie.”
Everyone had already heard nearly every story about her. There was a collective hope that new ground might be broken or a fact not previously revealed, true or imaginary.
“There was the murder of Doc Ellsworth 30 years ago. He was found all bloated and floating in the river. It was Old Black Maggie who found the body. Everybody was looking for him. He’d been missing for months.”
“Didn’t he rot?” Allen said.
“His body came up from the river with the spring thaw. He was last seen New Years Eve. He drove home from a party. His car was found two miles from the river. How did he get there? Old Black Maggie killed him and drug him there. Somebody said they saw Old Black Maggie dragging something in the snow that night. She found the body and collected the reward. She’s a clever woman, she is.”
“How did it happen she killed him?” Donnie said.
“They say she pretended to fall in the street. Doc Ellsworth got out of his car to help her. He’s doctor. He has a code of ethics to help people. When he bent down that’s when it happened.”
“What?” Gary said.
“In a flash she pulls out a switchblade knife and slices him from ear to ear. They say if it’s done right you’re dead before you hit the ground.”
“How do they know that’s how he died?” Gary sais.
“A policeman who worked for the force came into the store one night. He said there were things about the investigation not revealed to the public.”
“Like what?” Gary said.
“Near where they found Doc Ellsworth’s car there was a pool of blood and when his bloated body was fished from the river his neck was sliced from ear to ear. Now keep that quiet.”
“There’s one more thing,” Russell said. He stooped low and whispered, “his heart was missing. Ripped right from his chest.”
“You guys thirsty?” Russell said nonchalantly.
Without a word everybody marched in to the store and pulled a bottle of pop from the cooler and paid Russell. Everyone went back outside and began to murmur.
Russell came back with an orange soda.
“What else?” one of the boys said.