This is a novella I’ve been working on for rather awhile. Here’s the second part of the intro. Part one is here.
Alice was indeed the ex-wife. Her clothes hung loose on her; she wore running shoes; her hair was the color of a fresh copper penny. She made an effort not to look relieved. “Cleaning his gun? I told him a thousand times those things would be the death of him. You better come in and have tea.” When they were served, she continued. “You’ll find a whole list of suits, countersuits, custody battles, and then a restraining order, just from typing our names into your computers. So I figure you’ll be suspicious–” She heard a thump from upstairs and lowered her voice. “But even if you’re not sure it was an accident, I was at Grady High School all afternoon and evening. Just walked in the door when you all called. My son’s school play. Bye Bye Birdie, can you believe they still put that one on?” She sighed. “I’m going to have to tell him. Talk about mixed emotions.”
Mustapha put his teacup aside. “Ms. Smith, do you think there’s any reason your husband–”
“–would take his own life?”
“I thought you said it was an accident. Well, I always figured if Al was going to kill himself, he’d do it about thirty seconds after he shot me. For a few months after I got the restraining order, he seemed to calm down. Then, he joined this awful group of men who are even worse than he was. They egged him on to start claiming that I was abusing the legal system–” More thumps from upstairs, then feet coming down. Two boys, late teens, a matched pair of a type that hadn’t existed when Diana was young. Nice, trim, pretty, buff, gay, had never even heard of the closet. The sort that made Diana’s own daughter sigh at the unfairness of it all.
“What’s up?” said the taller one.
“Roger, these are the police–”
“Oh, not Dad again.” The other boy inched closer to him.
“It’s complicated,” said his mother. “I’ll explain later. David, are you spending the night?”
“No, ma’am,” said the other boy. “My mom has a conference call; I have to get my sisters ready for school.”
“We just came down for snacks,” said Roger.
After they were safely back upstairs, Alice shook her head. “I’m going to have to tell him. You see, Roger was what started it all. He used to like dresses, as a little boy. Alvin couldn’t handle it. I came back early from a business trip and caught Alvin beating Roger with a belt for being a sissy. Filed for divorce the next day.” She finished her tea. “As if anything could have beaten the sissy out of Roger.”