by Ruth Davis Hays
Gathering a small collection of friends to help excavate and transport, the large block of well ice is placed in Catherine’s pool for safekeeping until they can prepare how to document their findings and who to contact about a body frozen in a well that may have been there for over 150 years. But, before the dawning of the next morning things go beyond their control.
They cover it with a pool cover and wait. The girls’ friend, Dale, and a few ever-hopeful admirers of Roxi, distract them with dinner and Cat is making up stories to write, based on the figure in the ice. As the ice melts, the murder streak that has upset the town and neighboring city continues; lasting longer than previous times, if anyone had cared to look it up. But the only ones that had noticed the similarities were busy watching ice melt.
Cat and Roxi grow tired of their vigil and lament that they must work the next day. Both agree that if anything changes in the melting, that Cat will contact Roxi and they will call in sick Monday. The tarp over the pool protects the figure in the diminishing block of ice from the sun as the girls document the changes and what is appearing inside it.
Their friend Dale has not returned after he took his equipment home. They do not wish to leave him out, but can’t wait for him and can’t seem to contact him. They want credit of discovery before turning whatever comes from this frozen time-capsule over to authorities or universities.
Having gone to pick up snacks for the evening, Roxi is at the Eckerd Drugs store again before going home for the remainder of the night when …
She became aware that she was being watched. She lifted her head and looked directly at him. The strange young man in the black denim coat was staring at her. His hair down in a silky cape of dark blonde, seemed much longer than she had suspected it to be the time before. He was clean shaven except for long, thin sideburns that came down onto his cheeks. It reminded her of a European style. He was not wearing his sunglasses and she saw his eyes for the first time. They were large almonds of intense turquoise that could gleam across a room for consideration. His long, dark brows creased a moment as if trying to reach one another over the hairless separation, and a strange half smile hovered on his full lips.
He sprang to life and approached her.
“Pardon me,” he said directly. Looming over her, the pronounced features in his face looked smooth and roguishly handsome. There was a definite accent to his words, though of what origin she could not pinpoint. He continued, quite animatedly, “I’m new in town. My name is Kevin.”
Roxi stared in shock for a second, then gathering herself, responded, “Hi. I’m Roxi. My name is Raquelle, but friends call me Roxi.”
“What should I call you?”
“I see.” He had a curious way of moving his mouth. As if he did not like to smile while talking. “I’ve seen you around. Do you live here?”
“Do I? I wouldn’t hang around here if I didn’t. Sorry. Yes, I do live around here. Why?”
“Just trying to meet people. I chose the direct approach because making friends is not my long suit. But, you… you looked different.”
“And your friend, I saw you with her before. What’s her name?”
“Cat? I didn’t think you saw her. I mean, I noticed you a few nights ago, but Cat missed you. Personally, I didn’t think you even saw me…”
He broke her off. “Oh, yes. Yes, I did. But, tell me, is there anything to do here at night? Are there any local night clubs? I find myself bored at times.”
She was confused. “Yeah… there are. But, not here in Orange Grove. In Jacksonville. It depends on what you’re looking for, though. Have you moved here?” She had decided to take control of this conversion and get some information.
“Not exactly. I’m here for a short period… on business. But, if my plans change, I want to know where to go for a little excitement. And, to know a few people in town.”
“Have you been here before?”
“Yes, many times in fact. But, I usually stay to myself. Only go out for meals… you know how it is?”
“I can guess. Where are you from? Your voice, your accent is not American.”
“Oh, everywhere. I hail from Scotland, actually. Southern end.”
The chat was growing more benign as the fellow gave obtuse answers to Roxi’s inquiries, and she felt a odd glow of jealousy each time Cat’s name passed his lips. Flirting faded into the recesses of her mind, for the pessimistic voice in her heart shouted louder with every passing minute. This was not a budding relationship. The strange man was not interested in her. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen to her. He will leave; he’s married; he’s gay; he’s just being friendly, strange or psychotic. It’s just not real. Finally, disgusted with the voice nagging her, Roxi decided to end this pointless conversation in the usual manner. She offered her father’s old business phone number. That way, if the young man truly was interested in contacting her, then she would know. The dead man’s phone was still active and gathering dust in the basement of her house.
Kevin stared at the scribbled number rather blankly for a moment before offering his awkward excuses to move along. Watching him leave the store, Roxi stood at the cash register, immediately regretting her sudden disgruntled mood. She found the stranger attractive, but there was a tension between them that seemed forced, strained, and she had assumed it meant that he did not want to be near her. This had put her off. As she left the store with her purchase and saw the tall figure of Kevin rounding the far corner of the Winn-Dixie storefront and fading into the dark side of the twilight hour, she wanted to kick herself. Then, a devious notion struck her, and she hurried to her car with his words about visiting Orange Grove many times before and the printed microfiche words of the old newspapers flashing through her mind.
Every forty-five years…bloodless corpses. Her mind spun with ideas.