Ed Lynskey - Isabel and Alma Trumbo 02 - The Cashmere Shroud
if he planned on paying the office elves to finish his day’s work. After he wound down, she inserted a hasty but congenial farewell. She had pressing matters to square away.
    “Silly man,” she said while bustling down the hallway past her bedroom entry to reach the door on the brick rambler’s wing. “He needs to get a rambunctious dog like Petey Samson to complicate his life.”
    Alma poked in the door to open on an airy chamber she and Isabel left unheated during the winter months to trim the natural gas heating bills. The interior temperature plummeted to the low point where they liked to refer to the cold room as Siberia.
    Siberia housed their extensive mystery and crime fiction library. The only firearms, trench coats, and fedoras they kept around the house existed on the printed pages. She marveled at the wall shelves laden with the used paperbacks and hardcovers, contemplating what a glorious pair of pack rats they’d become. “A room without books is like a body without a soul,” according to Cicero. If the Roman philosopher’s adage was true, then they had lots of soul.
    Neither sister could bear to part with a book once it’d been read from cover to cover. They never could predict when they’d get the itch to reread it. No liberal application of calamine lotion would relieve the itch, only holding the dog-eared paperback in your palms for poring over again. Alma entertained a notion they’d be breaking down and buying the newfangled e-readers soon, but for now, the printed page was the only way to go for them. Then Isabel had suggested they hold a yard sale to clear out some of Siberia’s overflow. They’d donate the proceeds to their favorite charity.
    “What did you just say?” asked Alma, bug-eyed with disbelief.
    “ We should organize a garage sale and unload some of our clutter,” replied Isabel, cringing a bit. She knew she’d really stepped in it this time with Alma. “We’ll let somebody else enjoy the books as much as we have.”
    She felt her face turning frosty as a Popsicle. “I’d rather cut off my other foot, so I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear your sacrilegious statement.”
    “What happens when you and I are no longer here to be their caretakers?”
    “ Simple enough. We’ll bequeath them to Megan.”
    Scratching her collarbone, Isabel looked skeptical. “Have you spoken to our niece about this? She is getting our honking big family bible, but her also taking our entire library of mysteries and crime fiction might overwhelm her.”
    “ I realize she doesn’t have the same voracious appetite to read like ours, but that will alter once she immerses herself in our trove of books.”
    “Pigs will fly like eagles first. Megan will haul our books out of Siberia. She’ll put them out on yard sale tables set up along Church Street on parade night. Either that or she’ll order our paperbacks to be pulped and made into birdcage liners.”
    “Pulp ed. Birdcage liners.” Alma gasped behind her shaky hand put to her mouth. “You’re just pulling my leg.”
    “Unless you know how to fly the U-Haul crammed full with them up to the Pearly Gates and Saint Peter, yes, I mean our books.”
    Alma posed a solution. “Leave them to Sammi Jo. She’s already a real life detective.”
    “Doing it and reading about it are two different matters, and I see her as being far more the former. Let’s table the issue, and return to it when we’ve had enough time to analyze it more properly.”
    “So ordered,” Alma had said.
    S he now dragged her fingertip along the shelved rows of paperbacks organized in alphabetical order by their authors’ last names. She saw the usual suspects, past and present authors. She might ask Phyllis to borrow her feather duster and hit the dusty shelves. Then Alma knitted her brows at spotting the gaps in the collection as if a thief had plucked out a paperback here and there so the casual observer wouldn’t notice their absence. Slick, but Alma wasn’t

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