Monday, August 10, 2015

Jan Darrow - The Story of Mrs. Lamb / Sister Dear

The Story of Mrs. Lamb

Spreading out across her lawn like Creeping Charlie, the town’s people held séances at night to resurrect Mrs. Lamb. It started a week after Harvey Gray, the mailman, noticed letters spilling from the bent up mailbox at the end of her drive. There were at least two weeks worth, mostly junk mail and some flyers from the grocery store. And, there was an envelope stamped personal/confidential. 

The local cop, Billy Nolan, took an interest right away because he noticed all the sheep were gone. He knew Mr. Lamb, a retired banker; drank with him Saturday nights in the local bar. To him it was only fitting that Angus Lamb, given his name and all, should raise sheep way out there in the grasslands north of town. 

On the rare occasion that Mrs. Lamb could attend a woman’s club meeting, she complained bitterly about living with Angus on that wreck of a farm. A woman of her caliber just wasn’t a farmer. But, she wasn’t going to leave him, after all he had a large insurance policy and he was old. Sooner or later he was going to die. 

A day or two went by before Billy started a real investigation. He brought a cadaver dog with him the day he pried open the Lamb’s front door. Harvey stood behind him on the crumbling steps, a group of women stood farther back. When they finally got the door open, they found Angus’s head mounted on a large piece of barn wood hanging over the fireplace. His face, the color of rotting plums held a permanent expression of terror. Wisps of his fine silver hair curled around the metal spikes that attached his head onto the wood. Some of the women fainted from the sight, others from the smell. And, Mrs. Lamb seemed to be missing. 

Word quickly spread around town, and that’s when people started driving out at night to sit cross legged in the damp grass asking for a sign from Mrs. Lamb. 

Billy knew that it was against the law to open other people’s mail; after all he was a cop. But when a week went by with no other clues, he knew he had to do something. So, while he and Harvey sat in his hot kitchen that night drinking a beer he slid a sharp knife out of a drawer and sliced open the Lamb’s personal/confidential envelope. 

Dear Mrs. Lamb, it read. I am sorry to inform you, but all of your tests have come back positive and I have no doubt that you have cancer. I regret to tell you – there are no treatment options. Sincerely, Dr. Brown. 

The two men sat stupefied. It took a couple more beers, but they finally arrived at a conclusion. Mrs. Lamb knew she was going to die and in a fit of depression she opened the gate and let the sheep go, murdered her husband, then wandered away. Had to be – her car was still in the drive. 

“Someday we’ll find her bones,” Billy said. “Find them near a river bed or something.” 

The next day he made sure he got a hair sample from Mrs. Lamb’s hairbrush, he wanted to be able to match up the DNA when they finally found her body. He then closed up her old house for good. 

Later that evening at The Plaza Hotel, Mrs. Lamb learned that the lottery numbers she had been playing for years had just come in.

Sister Dear
she was a bitter old thing 
alone in that dismal house
looking out across the marshes
on autumn nights
when the sun straddles the horizon
and spreads a glow
across thickets of cattails
no sound except
a retched cough 
that bloodied her lips
spinning her demise
still she made it clear
she would never leave Father’s house
and in the end
there were two mourners
her belittling brothers
the inheritors
who stayed but one night
one gruesome night
when they realized 
she had kept her word

Jan Darrow is a graduate of the University of Michigan, currently lives in Michigan with her husband and daughter. She has always been interested in the paranormal and finds abandoned places utterly beautiful. She has been published online and in print.

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