Darkness in New Orleans

Little Willa, Chapter 6 Epilogue

Sunday, 23 March 1997 11:25 PM

Fire engines and other emergency vehicles crowd Evergreen Dr. as a two-story home rapidly burns. Geffrey Read, a fourteen-year veteran of the Gretna Fire Department plunges out of the smoke with a body as onlookers gasp. The burns are horrific. The body is indescribable in its mutilation. "She must have been close to the blast, but she's the only one in there near as I can figure," Geffrey explains as the paramedics rush up.

Within moments, the paramedics end attempts to resuscitate. There is obviously no point. Her head is barely intact from the gas explosion despite countless other injuries. A police officer speaks with neighbors. Elsa Weaver was her name. She lived with her youngest daughter who had recently gone missing. The father had died many years ago in a hospital accident. Another daughter had run away from home five years ago. Such a tragedy.

Geffrey puzzles things out in his head. He's seen some terrible fires, gas explosions even, but never anything like this. It doesn't make sense. Something blew that womans' head off, but he doesn't know what. He sees the M.E. arriving and quickly makes his way over, "Sir, I'm sorry to approach you like this, but something about this isn't right."

The M.E. looks at Geffrey for a moment through his glasses, then asks what the matter is. Geffrey explains the nature of the wounds, where he found the body. He's not a detective obviously, but things don't add up. The firefighter says it looks like a cover up. The M.E. sighs, "you really need to hydrate before we talk more. I can tell you've been sweating a lot. Have a bottle of water."

Geffrey is indeed thirsty and drinks the water. A hazy look falls over his eyes. The M.E. steps closer and speaks softly, "there's nothing you need to concern yourself with here. Nothing about the way you found Mrs. Weaver was out of the ordinary, and this is exactly what you will say if you are ever asked."

Geffrey seems to come back to his senses when the M.E. snaps his fingers, "Are you okay? Perhaps you inhaled too much smoke. You should go see those paramedics, get yourself checked out."

Geffrey nods. Another day, another life lost. It's a tragedy to be sure, but what could he do? She was clearly just standing too close to the oven when the gas exploded.

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