From the corner of my eye I saw Johnny going up the stairs. Not that Johnny could not go up, but that there was a dead body in that part of the house. If Johnny walked into the bathroom and saw Rosemary lying in the bathtub he would alert everyone here. So far I didn’t want news of Rosemary dying spread around. My reasons were simple: I have not procured a copy of her Will yet. I was her sister her next-of-kin and she could even have drafted a Will on favour of Johnny already.
At the same time, I could not stop Johnny from going up to look for Rosemary. With quick thinking I shouted after Johnny,
“Wait, Rosemary is coming down,”
“Oh, I was just going up to get my jacket,” Johnny said.
“Rosemary will be down soon,” I replied.
I knew that there was nothing I could do to stop Johnny from going upstairs. In the meantime, the rest were at the Mysteries. I let the combined effect of the prayers settled my anxiety. Then I told the crowd,
“Rosemary and I have decided to go for a holiday,”
“Oh good, where?” Keith asked.
This piece of news was neither here nor there, and normally announced when both parties were present. But I felt that I must make known the bond between Rosemary and myself before anyone else interfered. Everyone looked at me with a question on their face, and again they asked, “where is Rosemary?” I saw that and I quickly added,
“Oh, we decided on this yesterday,” and in order to give credence to my words, I added,
“Over dinner at The Bar last night,”
“Where is Rosemary?” again someone said.
“Rosemary is upstairs, she will be coming down soon,” this would refute any allegations that I might have been the one who killed her, since I was ignorant of her passing.
And then I heard a loud cry. It must have been Johnny’s for only he was upstairs. Minutes later we saw him rush down the stairs.
“Oh my God!” he cried.
“What’s wrong?” the prayer leader Damien said.
“Nooooo ....” Johnny stammered.
I was waiting for him to declare that Rosemary was dead, and true enough he did.
“Rosemary is lying in the bath, unconscious,” he said.
“Are you sure?” Damien the leader of the fellowship asked. “Her face was green!” Johnny said.
“No, Rosemary wasn’t dead,” I blurted out. The image of her blowing bubbles in the water from her mouth still eluded me.
“You saw her?” Daniel, who hardly spoke, asked. Daniel is the younger brother of Damien.
“Yup, Err, …. when I had dinner with her last night,” I said.
“I thought I saw you go up just now?” Jimmy said.
“No,” I had to say that. I didn’t want anyone to say that I killed her. Fact was that I didn’t. If she died, then she killed herself. No one asked her to do the spa bath.
Rosemary came back last night. I could hear her talking to me.
“Where is my bag?” she asked.
“Yes, the one that I always carried with me,” she said.
“I don’t see it anymore,” I didn’t want to say that I had given it away.
I still missed Rosemary a lot, so that I continued talking to her …
The next morning, I woke up before dawn, as though I had been awake all the while in another dimension.
In the morning in my pyjamas I had my usual Americano coffee for breakfast. And I asked for my cold milk as usual. The waiter brought me hot milk. I wanted to yell at him. But Rosemary told me to pardon him, “be more tolerant,” she said. I waited a long while before I could finish the coffee as it had to take time to chill out to room temperature.
Strange that Rosemary was still talking to me. I wondered if she knew that I could not see her.
Over the week, my most imminent and pertinent question was whether I should show the suicide note. I procured it under circumstances which I did not want to reveal. If Rosemary didn’t die in the bathtub, then the note has no meaning at all. It could just be an expression of thought and contents therein could be changed at any time.
But if the note was written just before she died, then it would be construed as a Will, as it contained directions as to how her property, this house that we are sitting on, should be dealt with. I was no legal expert, but I knew a thing or two. So, shall I tell the crowd that I went up to see Rosemary shortly before she died? Assuming that she was drown in the bathtub before Johnny went up to see her.
At the same time, I wondered if Johnny had seen the note before I went up. If he had seen it, chances are the that he would have kept it.
I decided to consult Louis about this.
Louis my fiancée was a lawyer and also Rosemary’s spiritual counsellor. If Rosemary had made any Will she would have asked him to draft it. I made a photocopy of the note and kept the original.
Louis did not think twice before he told me to write a cheque for three thousand dollars.
“For that I will ensure that the property would be in your name.”
“Thank you, Louis,” was all that I could say.
At least I got some reassurance and I was feeling much better. Then I left the office to go to Kenkucky Fried Chicken for some chicken wings. But I couldn’t help thinking of Rosemary’s face in the bathtub and I was sure that no one else went up to see her after I came down and before Johnny went up.
I, Alicia Chan Lay Cheng, being the only next-of-kin made me the rightful owner to the title by default. The house was mine! To claim what was mine wasn’t wrong, despite the note on the dressing table suggesting that the house was to be Johnny’s.
Louis rang me today and told me to go to his office. “A Will must be witnessed by two persons,” he looked at me and said. Then he paused and further added, “I could give it retrospective effect,”
“after all, I was her spiritual counsellor, it is not inconceivable that she looks for me,” he continued,
“I would be the one who dated it as well,” further on he said.
“Put it as 8 May.” I blurted out.
“Huh? That was the day that she died, isn’t it?” Louis asked.
“Err, yes, she wrote it the day she died,” I said.
“How did you know?” Louis was as sharp as a leopard, I guess all lawyers were.
“She must have written it before she died, it makes sense,” I said, getting a little bit nervous.
“I know you didn’t kill her, she died of suffocation – to be precise, drowning by water.” Louis vouched for my innocence.
“How long do you think I have to wait?” I asked. It is normal to be impatient under such circumstances, to want to get it all done away with.
“Perhaps, two, three weeks, depending on the Court calendar,” Louis said.
“But wait! Who did Rosemary leave the money to in her actual Will?” I almost forgot to ask Louis.