Laura Anne knew Ashley wanted to kill her. He was the illegitimate son of her younger sister, now her only living relative. Ashley was an odd bird, living under the radar, off the grid. But her death had to be subtle and look natural, or Ashley would not inherit her $10 million estate. Anything untoward and the money would immediately go to the Boise City parks. An accident would do perfectly, but had to be a work of art.She sat up in bed and smiled thinly; there was that strange clicking sound. Other times there was the whistling, as the wind across the prairie just east of Laura Anne's beloved White House, the most elegant structure on Warm Springs Avenue, which hosted the Boise elite.
Laura Anne cocked her head as she heard the strange moaning from somewhere in the house. Ashley was supposedly out for the evening and the old house's spirits were restless, tempting her downstairs. She sat back in bed and closed her eyes; she was so tired of the waiting. Tonight the two years were up and Laura Anne could finally find peace. It was almost midnight, time for Laura Anne to seek her tormentors, to put an end to the haunting.
Downstairs, Ashley controlled his sound effects with a master switch, allowing him through Blue Tooth to activate the odd "click", the whistle of the prairie wind, or the strange moan from below Aunt Laura Anne's bedroom. He had to draw Auntie out of bed and downstairs. Ashley stiffened as he heard his Aunt call out for Miguel, her faithful servant. But Ashley had given Miguel the night off.
Once again Ashley activated the faraway moan. He held his breath. Would she never get out of bed and come downstairs? He knew his Aunt Laura Anne was tough, with a will of iron, always hobbling along on her oak cane. Ashley tensed as he heard the upstairs creak, then a shuffling across the bedroom floor. Laura Anne was out of bed and on the move into the hall. Ashley clenched his fists. He heard her in the hallway, the tap of the cane recording her progress. Laura Anne paused at the top of the stairs; Ashley's heart fluttered with arrhythmia.
And then there was a shrill scream and a terrible crash as Laura Anne tripped at the top of the stairs and came tumbling down the steep steps. She landed with a hideous crunch that twisted her head grotesquely. Her trusty cane bounced down the steps, clattering on the hard hall floor. Then all was silent.
"Aunt Laura!" Ashley called, in case she was not dead. He ran to her side, taking out his dentist's mirror and holding it to her nose and mouth. No fog. Aunt Laura Anne was dead. Ashley raised his two arms in triumph. But no time for celebration, he raced upstairs and undid the taught twine that he had tied across the top steps that had sent his Aunt headlong down the stairs. He pocketed the twine, then called 911. There had been an accident: his Aunt had fallen down the steps and needed medical attention; please send help. Then Ashley went out on the porch to await the EMS.
In the distance he heard the wail of the sirens, one, perhaps two. Ashley girded himself as the EMS approached. Then it all happened in a blur. Along with the EMS van there was a police car with a detective, who soothed Ashley as the EMS personnel ran into the house.
Ashley explained to the detective that he had gone to the movie. He came home and found his Aunt at the bottom of the stairs, then he called for help.The detective told Ashley to wait while he went inside and conferred with the EMS. Ashley smiled to himself. He did go to the movie, but crept out after it started and came home for the haunting.
Suddenly another car pulled into the drive, this time a late model Mercedes. A tall, patrician man climbed out and stared at Ashley, who instantly smelled lawyer. The man came forward and introduced himself as William Farnham, Laura Anne's attorney. Ashley was dumbstruck. Why the lawyer? There was time for that later.
The detective came out and explained to the lawyer what had taken place. William looked at Ashley: "Your Aunt left you, as her only living relative, the bulk of her estate, probably worth around $10 million, maybe more now that the stock market is moving up."
Ashley felt pins and needles; he desperately repressed a smile. He held on to the porch railing for fear of breaking into a jig. He breathed out and told Farnham there was would be time later for discussing the estate. Ashley's concern was for his dear Aunt.
" Is she......? " Ashley asked.
The detective looked at Farnham and caught the lawyer's eye. The lawyer and the detective stared at each other. Ashley stifled a sob, taking out his handkerchief and wiping his face. Where were the EMS people and when would they bring out the body? Ashley wanted them all to leave so he could visit Aunt Laura Anne's renown wine cellar.
"The salient feature of the Will is that you," Farnham said, nodding toward Ashely, "have two years to claim the inheritance. If you do not make a claim within two years, then all the money goes to the Julia Davis and the Ann Morrison Parks."
Ashley nodded, looking. "Two years? So we have plenty of time to work that out. Right now my concern is for my beloved Aunt."
The lawyer and the detective looked at each other again, each at a loss for words.
"Let's go inside." The detective finally said and ushered Ashley into the hallway where the EMS personnel were standing at the foot of the stairs. Ashley gaped, as he stood between the lawyer and the detective.
"Where is my Aunt? What did you do with Aunt Laura Anne?"
The EMS shrugged, looking bewildered. The detective spoke softly. "Your Aunt died here two years ago as you described, a fall down these very stairs."
Ashley's demeanor changed, his eyes narrowed and darted around the room. "Where's the body?"
The lawyer put his hand on Ashley's shoulder. "It's true, after Laura Anne's accident we did not know how to contact you. And no one knew you were living her now, or we could processed your inheritance claim."
" But Miguel?" Ashley protested. "Ask Miguel, he was here today. I gave him the night off. Miguel knows Aunt Laura was alive this afternoon."
The detective coughed and shook his head. "Miguel was devoted to your Aunt. Even though she left him a bequest, he shot himself six months after she died."
Ashley's head spun and his thoughts raced. "Well, I am here now." He croaked.
The lawyer looked at his watch and shook his head. " It is past midnight. The two years were up yesterday. As of today, all of Laura Anne's money goes to the Boise City Parks.