part eleven: finale

(This story started here.)

I’m writing this on the day after Thanksgiving.

I made an excuse to my parents for not visiting. They sounded relieved, but they wanted, and got, reassurance that I would come see them over winter break.

Their relief was because it turned out that my father’s sister was coming for the long weekend, along with her husband and her brood of annoying kids. Aunt Flo is very religious, and I think my parents were just as glad not to have to deal with four whole days of Flo’s opinions about their unfortunate daughter who went away to college in order to be a boy.

I’ll have to tell my parents about my apartment over winter break, too, though with all the other news I’m not sure they’ll care.

After the murders, I ended up staying at the house with Sharon and Will every night, and only going to my apartment when I needed to get more clothes.

It quickly became obvious to me that Will and Sharon were going broke. With the loss of Craig’s income, plus the funeral expenses and so on, they were in trouble. They never complained, but as soon as I realized the situation I offered that I could move in with them and help out.

I didn’t mention that this would involve deceiving my parents, who were continuing to send me money for the rent on my apartment. Sharon and Will are scrupulously honest, and they would have rejected any plan that involved lying.

It was easy to sublet my apartment. There are always people who discover that they don’t like the dorms and decide they want to live off campus instead.

Living this way, walking back and forth between U-town and the campus every day, was much more exercise than I was used to, and I thought at first that this was why I was losing weight. That may have been part of it, but I quickly realized that I was mostly losing the weight in some very specific places.

It was last weekend that Sharon pointed out that I didn’t need to bind my chest anymore. I did anyway, for the next couple of days, and then I stopped.

I think with everything else, and the change in my skin color — which is already pretty noticeable and will be more so by Christmas — the question of my apartment rent will be pretty minor.

If not, well, we can pay them back, and more, once the paintings are sold.

The locked room had been Mr. Post’s studio, apparently sealed after his death by Mr. Bostwick, and there were several more completed paintings in there, along with many sketches and one unfinished canvas. Miss Sleet is arranging for the sale, in exchange for a percentage of the profits, to go to the U-town treasury. She says we should have the money by some time next year.

The murders were committed by Mr. Bostwick’s son-in-law, the husband of his daughter Barbara. He’s denied everything, so far, and there’s a complex legal proceeding underway because of course the crime was committed in U-town and there’s no official extradition agreement between U-town and the United States.

Jan Sleet’s reconstruction is that he wanted his wife to inherit the paintings, or at least some of them, and thought that if one of the Golden was convicted of the murder, the estate might revert to Mr. Bostwick’s blood relatives. He knew enough to know that he’d have trouble selling the paintings if he simply stole them.

But then, still according to Jan Sleet’s reconstruction, he’d either panicked or belatedly realized that the whole plan wasn’t going to work, and that had been that.

Sharon and Will don’t really care, it turns out. Their feeling is that Craig and Mr. Bostwick will still be dead no matter what happens. I find I’m starting to feel that way, too. I don’t really follow the case — there are too many other things going on. And in any case there may never be a trial.

I did ask Miss Sleet if she thought we — Sharon and Will and I — were in any danger, and she said no. Mr. Bostwick’s son-in-law is not about to come to U-town to hurt us, since he would be subject to arrest and trial for murder as soon as he came over the bridge. If he attacks us in the city, then he’d be subject to arrest in both places — and of course he’d be the obvious suspect if anything happened to any of us.

We had a funeral for Craig. Mr. Bostwick’s family wanted to have their own funeral for him, so arrangements were made for the body to be shipped to them. So, Craig’s funeral became an informal memorial for Mr. Bostwick, too, which was nice. A lot of people came.

Sharon told me a joke in journalism class on Monday, while the professor was speaking. Then she looked very guilty, though of course nobody had heard it but me. I think I’m having a bad effect on her.

Will didn’t think it was funny, but we’ll win him over.

The End

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