They collected in the Sunroom, Jon, Karl, Rudy and Oddur. Mrs. Remple and Mrs. Krantz were the only ladies to sit with them. This was something that needed talking about. Every resident that passed away was given a story about their death until the real information was revealed. Some deaths were obvious when they happened; a fast growing dark brown spot that turned out to be cancer metastasized, spreading like wildfire attaching itself to an already compromised liver; somebody at the end of their dialysis run, most went from respiratory disease or heart failure, the ticker ticking its last tok and stopping. Pneumonia was the big one. ‘Old man’s disease’, they called it. There were falls of course. Broken hips on bones too old and fragile to bother repairing, so the owner just remained bedridden until they gave up the ghost, resigned that their end was at hand. But Greta‘s death was different. It was suspicious.
“It looked to me like she had foam coming out of her mouth,” Odd said. “Like a rabid dog or something.”
“Poison maybe,” Rudy offered.
“In that stairwell,” Karl said. “Did she fall from the third floor or had she been down on two and made her way into the stairwell from there. Followed in by one of the nut jobs maybe, who bludgeoned her. She had that blood coming from her head. And we didn’t hear a door alarm up here. I bet she was down on two, making hay with a ding bat who got carried away.”
Jon rolled his eyes.
“We thought of asking her to join our table but she was very hard to talk to,” Mrs. Remple said. “Since we lost Gladys and Mrs. Chin.”
Mrs. Krantz shook her head and gestured with her hands that she wanted no part of Crazy Greta.
The chime signaling lunch in the dining hall sounded through the overhead speakers.
The sound of it startled Jon, even though it was quiet enough that many residents did not hear it at all. The thought of food made his throat tighten involuntarily as he imagined them being served a platter of poor dead Greta’s body parts, the side of her face with her dead eye served on a plate in front of him, like a platter of Svid, the sheep’s head dish. He tensed; his breath held until his chest began to hurt. He could see it, clear as day and when Greta’s dead head said, “I am come”, Jon Magnusson’s chest felt like it was pierced by a spear. His breath was stuck in his throat, there was fire inside his chest; pain was unlike anything he had ever felt. Sweat oozed from every pore in his body, his shirt stuck to him like a second skin. Darkness circled his vision and began to shrink in on itself like a keyhole closing. The ringing in his ears grew so loud he couldn’t think. His jaw opened wide, his gaze distant, Jon Magnusson sat in the Sunroom like a statue, in the chair next to Mrs. Branbury’s Queen’s chair, a man frozen in time.
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