Little Haven is a quiet little town out of nowhere. There is the office area, where the dads and moms typed their computer keys like crazy. Then there is the school, right in the middle of the abandoned industrial zone, and then there is the suburbs- the least interesting of all. How can it be less interesting than the offices one may think? The office occasionally has someone laundering money. In the suburbs, the residents wouldn't even litter. They are law-abiding folks. Why don't we move on to Big Haven, the next town to little Haven? Now that is an interesting town. Its citizens have never understood the law. What one cannot understand, cannot be followed. My fellows, don't you give up on Little Haven too quickly.
All was to change for that little patch of lawful heaven when a group of middle schoolers graduated to deviancy and general law-breaking. You will find them in the abandoned factory, demolishing the broken equipment. You will find them bullying the little kids and elders. You will find them egging homes, keying cars, and stealing mails. They hide in the shadows and scare the passers-by. The people of Big Haven would dismiss these actions as trivial but not the law-abiding people of Little Haven. They were mortified by the indiscipline and indifference displayed by the youth. But what could the meek townsfolk do about the newfound deviousness?
But crime always comes with punishment. The young deviants were to learn that soon enough. Aaron June was the biggest of them all, not the worst, but he was no delight. Three months ago, he was found dead. Murdered in bed. The police soon changed the initial statement to that he was murdered elsewhere and placed in his bed. There was a trace amount of poison in his stomach contents, probably ingested with his tea. Can you imagine a teenager, making his tea? His mother was not in town to coddle her son, mostly impervious to his defects. Aaron had a reputation that got him uninvited to most tea parties. Yet someone served him a nice cup of tea which was the death of Aaron June.
It was only a few weeks before the murder that the local police approached the higher authorities for investment in surveillance as the teenage hooliganism had become a real problem. They were scorned at: why would a quiet boring town like Little Haven need any funds when there were more vile places that require attention. Then Aaron June happened and there was no evidence to account for his whereabouts or that of any of the suspects. There wasn't any real suspect, anyway. Until Tommy Southern said that he had seen Aaron arguing with Miley Anders about her dog. The previous day Aaron had left Miley's gate open and the unsuspecting dog had run to the street to her untimely death under Mr. Patrick's Corolla. Miley insisted that Aaron left the gate open on purpose as he had done so many a time in the past; she chasing after the dog was his latest pleasure. The police now had a suspect with a motive.
The case against Miley Anders fell through. There was not enough proof and she was acquitted of all accusations. Still the rest of the town wonders, if it wasn't Miley Anders, then who? For Miley Anders, might be the worst person in town. Please don't be harsh in judging Miley; this was a town of Angels and Miley's quick temper and foul words were not taken lightly. Her errors include turning down friendly invitations and absence during town functions. But she was good with kids. They used to like her and parents would have no other senior babysit their children than Miley. Suspicion was in the air and Miley would find that her babysitting days were over. Mr. and Mrs. Graham were debating on this matter.
"I will never have Kesha and Sakha with that woman ever again. Such an inconvenience. Why did she have to go and kill that boy? The kids won't stay with any of the other elderly. She did not think about the consequences."
"Honey I am glad she wasn't thinking about you if at all she had killed that boy. But the police found nothing. Can't we leave the kids with her?"
Mr. Graham would hear nothing of it. He is still hunting for a good babysitter. Well, it was a nice way to earn some extra cash. Miley has enough savings to get her through the remainder of her life. She had toiled in the offices to have a decent life.
The neighborhood was out in the street since early morning to have a glimpse of Miley who was dropped off by the police last night. They were not brave enough to visit her. Only her neighbor Miss Vanilla got a glance. Miss Vanilla said that she had locked eyes with Miley from her kitchen window. She describes the incident as riveting.
"I was washing the dishes… of course I was peering out of the window when she came out of the back door. Oh my, she saw me and smiled like nothing wrong. Like no one was dead or killed."
I watched Miss Vanilla dramatically telling and re-telling the tale. Every time, Miley's smile turned more sinister. I shook my head impatiently. In the last months, I have watched them eye every able-bodied person with suspicion. Could they have held the Aaron kid while Miley poured the poisoned tea in his mouth? I saw them evolve from primitive naivety and sense of law to modern adultery and lust for vulgarity. They had their first taste of scandal and the treacherous joy that it brings and now they want more. They satisfied themselves this through murmured whispers and salacious gossip.
Hanna Bug was the worst. She had turned her book club into a gossip club. "My uncle Brian lives in Tippetty High. He knew Miley Anders. This was before Miley married Roger and came to Little Haven. They went to the same school. He said she was awful at school. Always pranking the other kids and had a rough temper."
"Don't we all know that…." Alex Lector, the librarian rolled his eyes, "She is the most unpleasant person to live here. Poor Roger… she must have made his life miserable. But he never complained. He would have laid his life for her." He paused looking at the other members, then with a sudden realization that made Juliet Temple fall off her chair, he continued, "Do you…do you think she had anything to do with his death? He died in his sleep. Maybe she poisoned him. Or is that too far a thought?"
"That wouldn't be beyond her. I can forgive her rudeness but murder is unforgivable. She yelled at me when I crossed her garden to reach my car. I was very late that day. She made me wish I hadn't set my foot in her yard. I was later than I would have been. Then I got yelled by Mr. Toodles at the office."
"The front yard again…. I am telling you…Aaron wasn't killed because of the dog. It was because he is always sniffing around her yard and garden. Like Hanna just said, she is extremely protective of her garden. I believe the police should dig the yard. I bet they will find something interesting", Juliet Temple's face said she was proud of her theory. I sat there pinching my forehead. Hannah found it impossible to get over Miley's reprimand and Juliet enjoyed playing detective while Alex was pathetic.
Hanna and I walked to her house. As we crossed Miley's house, I couldn't keep up with Hanna's pace. I was out of breath from my jog by the time we reached Hanna's place. Her mother, Alice had laid down supper. Hanna relayed the discussions of her book club to her mother.
"Her tea always tasted funny. I never liked to go there for tea, not that she invited me often."
"Oh mother, I would have hated to lose you. Do you think she tried to poison you?" Hanna could hardly contain her excitement. I am sure she was planning to call another book club meeting to share the latest news.
"Her tea tastes funny because it is no good. Tea making is an art and no, I don't think she killed anyone. Not that she is incapable of the act. She could kill you but not a kid," said Alice thoughtfully. Hanna scowled while I sat on the armchair, smirking.
After supper, the Bugs had a visitor. It was their neighbor Mr. Alphonso. Hanna was overjoyed to share the news with him but like her mother, Alphonso paid no heed to her. "The town seems to have developed some kind of amnesia. They have forgotten the trouble Aaron caused and that Miley, though she can be difficult is mostly a nice woman."
Having failed to get any reaction from the elderly residents of Little Haven, Hannah retired for the night. Alice and Alphonso were waiting for their friends for some late Senior Bingo. I thought I would stick around as I had nothing better to do. From the window, I saw a teenage gang watching Miley's house. I will not be missed by the elders for I was not invited so I slipped outside. The teenagers were rattled by the incident. They have not been up to their usual shenanigans.
"Should we avenge Aaron?" asked Kitty, "We could pluck her plants out."
"I don't want to do anything. My mum says she has many secrets in that garden of hers and Aaron must have seen something and she killed him for that" said Juno Temple.
"The police had let her go. Maybe she is innocent after all. Do you guys feel like we are being watched all the time," Derek said looking over his shoulder, "I am going home," and he scurried away like the little coward he was. I believe Miley is not going to have any difficulty with the rowdy high schoolers. Inside the members of the Bingo club had assembled.
"Do you think the police would come after Miley again? I would hate that." Asked Ginny
"Not at all. The police haven't got any proof to book her. But my guess is the matter will take a little longer to settle than I had anticipated. The young folks are excited. My Hanna has nothing else to talk about," chuckled Alice Bug.
"If Miley hadn't hated bingo so much, she would have been in on our plans. That would have saved her a lot of stress," said a man with no teeth. I never saw him before.
"Nah, she wouldn't have approved killing a kid, however awful he is. She has lived here for thirty years but she doesn't understand Little Haven as we do. We, who were born into this land. We can't have the town go into chaos and sit idle. Not us," said Alice sipping from her cup of tea.
Alphonso chimed in, "And it was an absolute success. No more garden trampling or egging. I can walk the streets without one of them jumping on me. They frightened Tony to his death. They took one of us. It was only fair that we repay the same courtesy. "He stuffs his mouth with cake before continuing, "I thought I might lose sleep over this but I sleep like a baby."
"I don't mind either," laughed Ginny, "I don't think Miley minds either. She is glad that the town folks are keeping their distance. That is one tough woman."
I listen to their conversation and couldn't help but feel a little offended. I wasn't that bad… It was Sammy who had made a habit of jumping on these old farts. In the beginning, I had wanted to scare my assailants to their death. Then I discovered that my new form had no potential for haunting. Being a ghost is not so bad. I don't have to go to school or listen to mum's curses. Frankly, I didn't have much of a future. But it is lonely. I wish they would go after one of my friends. Though my gang seems very subdued, I am confident that they will stir trouble soon enough to irk these senile minds. I hope it's Kitty, she is hot-blooded enough to act recklessly and I have always liked her.