I had spent the next three days being intimate with my phonebook – calling every Florence Parker I could find. No success. Then every Florence Parkes, Parke and Park. No success. But everyone I called I left a message with them of my name, address and phone number and the idea that I might know something about the death of Clara Parker. Nothing. I got the increasing sense that I wasn’t going to get an answer to all this. Perhaps all this about Sylvester Spence Palvine is just a fairy story. Perhaps there is no Clara Parker. Perhaps Miles Pearlhall died of old age. Perhaps The Palvine Residence is empty and someone put the pumpkin there as a joke. Or Perhaps Sylvester wanted to be found.
Nothing had happened on the front of The Palvine Residence for about a month and I had a wonderful Christmas without him in my life.
I began to forget out all I had heard as my enquiries had so clearly come to a dead end.
That was until the new year on a particularly miserable grey day when a small note lay in my front porch. My first thought was how did that get into my house, then I realized it came in via a median know as a letter box. I picked it up and read it carefully;
I got your message on my answering machine. I’m sorry I haven’t contacted you sooner, I don’t use my land line much anymore. Please meet me tonight under the willow tree on the corner of Addison Avenue at 10pm. Come alone. I’m so sorry you’ve been involved in this.
So, I did just that. I came alone. Against my better judgment I waited in the cold under the willow tree that night until I saw a surprisingly young woman with waist length auburn curls in a long trench coat and red heels. “Hello” I whispered, “Are you here to meet me about Clara?” she murmured, I nodded and she lead me to a cold alley way with very little street lighting and it suddenly dawned on me that she might be intending to mug me. She took my arm and pulled me up a flight of metal steps to a small white panel door which she opened with a key and locked firmly once we had entered.“What do you know?” she said oddly calmly as she indicated to me to sit down on a plastic chair beside a dining table. This room was quite different to that at Rita Pearlhall’s house;indeed, this was much less neat and tidy and had a much darker colouring with photos on the walls without frames and a small fluffy blanket on a red sofa. “Can I be completely honest with you, Florence?” I asked kindly, she nodded “I met with a lady a short while ago about a very strange place called The Palvine Residence… she seemed to think it was deserted by a young man called Sylvester Spence Palvine about five years ago, but I have reason to suspect its not. She told me that she believes he murdered her husband with poison… but the police couldn’t find him. She also told me that if I wanted to know more, I needed to find you. And that’s what ive been trying to do for about a month. She seems to think that the death of your little girl Clara might be somehow related to Sylvester Spence Palvine…” I paused for breath “Does this make any sense?” “No. I don’t know what happened to my daughter, but I don’t think she was murdered by my lover.” She responded. “What? Sylvester? Then you must have some idea what happened to him.” “I don’t know what happened to Sylvester. How should I? the last I saw of him was when he showed up here when I had Miles over and worked out little Clara wasn’t his… yes he was angry but I don’t believe for a moment he’d kill Clara he loved her” then it began to make sense. For course Sylvester had killed both of them, the man his lover had cheated on him with and the product of her betrayal. “I’m sorry Florence, but do you know what happened to Miles?” I whispered, checking if my assumptions had been correct “Unfortunately I don’t I saw him again a few times after that walk in but not much longer. Three months if I had to guess, then he just stopped picking up my calls and I couldn’t find him.” She shook her head as she finished her sentence “What if I told you Miles was married… his name was Miles Pearlhall and he died about five years ago.. he was the husband of the woman I met” I whispered shyly “Oh I knew Miles was married. Those two got married when he got back from Vietnam but his future wife was beautiful when he left and shed found herself a lover and they had a child sortlyafter he came home, her and her lover, which, rumor has, he killed. That’s why she kidnapped a baby from the old nursery down on Old Oakbournne Street before it closed down.” I was astonished at what she’d told me. She began to weep a little. “Are you alright?” I asked “yes yes just surprised hes dead… I always thought he’d stopped seeing me because Clara was gone.” Seeing the time had passed 11pm, I told her I must leave and she unblocked the white door and took me back to the willow tree on the corner and said goodnight.