Simon, a detective for the New Haven city department, jiggled the lock on the cemetery gate. It made no sense to him why the cemetery would be closed that day and wondered if Lilith saw the lock and went home. Eyeing the street, he soon noticed her car and concluded she must have climbed over the gate. She was young enough.
“So are you,” Simon whispered to himself, looking the gate up and down. “Don’t put yourself in the old age home just yet. Hop to it!”
Pin for Later!
Simon climbed onto the gate and a minute later his feet hit the cemetery. The was beating down on him with a terrible fury, so he took his jacket off and folded it over his left arm. Wiping his forehead with his tie, he marched up the cobbled path that led to the centre of the cemetery, passing drooping trees, overgrown bushes and grass.
It had been a long time since a caretaker had given the cemetery any attention.
Simon was immediately caught off guard. Someone had tapped his shoulder and he whipped around, holding back a fighter’s instinct. It was Lilith, her sprite-like face decorated with a dazzling smile and enough energy in her eyes to make the tired detective sick.
“It’s a beautiful day, right detective?” Lilith said, walking past him. He took a moment to scowl at the back of her head before he followed. “On any other day, I would be out with my sister, walking along the coastal road until we got tired and called a taxi to take us home.”
Simon didn’t say anything. Lilith’s sister, Julia, had been found not too far from the coast. It was murder, that much was clear to Simon. What was not clear to him was why Lilith had been so upbeat after her initial sadness. It was most peculiar for her to handle death so close so well.
Some would say this behaviour was suspicious, but he slowly came to realise that Lilith’s grief was affecting her mind.
“You’re very quiet,” Lilith said once they both stood on the stone centre of the cemetery. A fountain, filled with murky, green water, sat in the centre. Dark fish could be seen swimming in the dark emerald water, darting between litter and clumps of leaves. “Is something on your mind.”
Simon tore his eyes away from the fountain to look at the crypts.
“Why are you here, Lilith,” Simon asked simply. “Surely, it would be better if you were home.”
“No, I don’t think it would,” Lilith muttered, a flicker of seriousness crossed her face. “It’s a day to spend outside.”
“Then visit the beach, walk that road by the coast. Maybe call your parents, talk with them.”
“Right now, you make much better company, detective. What are you looking for here?”
Simon looked away from her face, the facade slowly growing on his nerves. He could not bring himself to snap at her, so he kept silent and pretended not to see her.
“These crypts, how recently do you think someone was buried in one?” Simon asked, walking slowly around the stone circle, eyeing each one.
“They look old, older than me. Fifty years, maybe?”
“Some of them are, yes. In fact, many are almost a hundred years old”
“If you say so.”
“Most can only hold two, some four and rarely five. Some may seem large but have only a single stone tomb.”
“And all of them rich,” Lilith murmured.
“Most of them, yeah, but not all of them,” Simon said, holding up a finger like a teacher about to counter a point. “Some were important people, who did a lot for their community, for their country or had a profound impact on a field, such as chemistry.”
Simon neared a crypt that he had been eyeing since he caught sight of it. He stopped in front of it and looked at Lilith.
“Now, this crypt is closer to thirty years old, one occupant.”
“I can tell, it’s a lot cleaner. Big crypt too.”
“Indeed. His contribution to chemistry was an array of invisible chemicals, chemicals used during the second world war. What money he made was wasted on illegal gambling. Those chemicals were used in political assassinations, important figures died with those untraceable poisons and swayed the war in our direction. He died from prolonged exposure to these chemicals before he saw the end of the war.”
“Sounds like a hero, even if he had a gambling problem. My grandfather died in the war, working in communications. I think his station was bombed.”
“You’re not sure?”
“It’s not something my family discusses often, but I can recall some details.”
“Doesn’t seem right to have someone so important to your family reduced to a fading memory, even if your family doesn’t want to talk about him.”
“I suppose not, detective.”
Lilith looked up at Simon. She didn’t know when she stopped smiling. Her emotions became clear when she understood the meaning behind the conversation.
“I guess that’s why you called me here,” Lilith said, hiding her disappointment that the detective had no more news on her sister’s murder. “You know, you could have told me this story over the phone.”
“I suppose I could have,” Simon nodded. “But it is a lovely day, better spent climbing over locked gates and wandering through the cemetery, right?”
“You’re too smart for me, detective,” Lilith’s smile returned. “Do you mind driving me home all the same?”
“Not at all.”
It wasn’t too long before the detective’s car turned down Lilith’s street and parked outside her home. The woman climbed out but hesitated before closing the car.
“Detective, that word war chemist you told me about in the cemetery...he was your father, right?” Lilith said.
“Oh, he was my uncle,” Simon recalled. “My father was hiding in an ice-fishing hut in Alaska.”
“A conscientious objector?”
“A bank robber.”
Lilith smiled, trying to stifle a chuckle.
“You have an interesting family, detective,” Lilith said. “Thank you for driving me home.”
“It was a pleasure. Give my best to your family when you call them.”