Murder in Cross: December 29, 1949

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I was still congratulating myself this morning over my adept handling of Carson Fields when my celebrations were interrupted by a reaper.

It is not often that I find them at my home, and it is never a planned visit. I have greeted most of them with a gun in my hand, and today was no different. The reaper, no older than twelve, was an extremely angry boy who stomped into my parlor without so much as a ‘good morning,’ brushing my weapon aside as though he might a fly.

The reaper flopped into a chair, stared at me until I sat in one as well, and then spoke to me in a furious tone. He told me of May Hopkins, a nurse from Cross, who worked in the pediatrics department of a Boston hospital. Unfortunately, according to the reaper, there had been an increase in the mortality rate of all the infants who visited that particular facility.

Each of them had been poisoned by Ms. Hopkins.

Thus far, he informed me, he had been forced to reap seventeen babies between the ages of one month and two years. He had, he said fiercely, quite enough of it. When I asked him what I could do to alter fate, he said nothing. What he could do, on the other hand, was plenty.

I was considered a sort of wild card if you will. A free agent to be brought into play when necessary and he was positive that it was necessary. If I agreed, he would write in her name on his list, cross out those of the children she would tend to in the following weeks and place an addendum at the end of his list stating that I was the acting agent.

I agreed readily.

I went to Boston and boarded the same train as May for the ride home. When we started over the bridge that crossed the bay, it was only the two of us in the car. When it reached the far side, I was alone, and May’s screams were still ringing in my ears.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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