“Your uncle would never kill himself.”
I looked at my aunt, prim and unforgiving, sitting under the willow tree, the shadows of leaves dappling her like splatters of blood. She placed down her iced tea and stood up stiffly. Sunlight glinted off her glasses obscuring the expression in her eyes as I led her towards the barn, its doors yawning open in the bright afternoon.
Inside, the body of my uncle hung from an overhead rafter casting grotesque shadows on the barn’s shelves and their contents – old license plates, dusty martial arts trophies from his youth. A faint glimmering of light reflected off faded photos nailed to the wall.
No gasp of shock from my aunt. Instead, “What did you do to him?”
“What?” I protested. “I loved him like a father.”
“What you loved was his money – his unquestioning generosity, but he was starting to see the error of his ways.” Her mouth tightened. “Don’t think I’m as gullible as he was.”
I rummaged through his tools carelessly strewn around the workbench. Sirens sounded in the distance. “I called 911. County police are on their way.”
“Good,” my aunt said smugly “Sherriff Kirby knows your uncle wasn’t the type to commit suicide.”
“Unless he was totally ashamed of himself.”
“For what? Trusting his no-good nephew?” she scoffed.
“Maybe he couldn’t stand living with such a shrew anymore.” I slipped on a pair of bulky work gloves. “But after killing you, his guilt became too much to bear.”
Light dawned in her eyes as the claw hammer whistled through the air towards her – until she stepped aside and deftly twisted it out my hand. Almost tenderly, my aunt clasped my wrist until her grip suddenly tightened and she pivoted towards me. I soared through the air and landed on my back, winded and unable to speak. My aunt peered down at me through swirling dust motes. A decades old photo of my uncle garbed in his Taekwondo dobok looked over her shoulder. A glimmering of understanding came to me, too little, too late.
“How exactly did you think I met your uncle?”