I’m Lauren Halloren, free-lance writer. I’m an adult, a professional, although the people of my hometown don’t seem to understand that. They still insist on calling me my childhood name, Lauren Grace James.
When I left for college, twenty years ago, I took with me everything that was of importance. I had no intention of returning – ever. Evelynton, Indiana was a small town, more of a village, really. You know the saying, “It takes a village…” The busy-bodies of Evelynton took that to heart. There were far too many neighbors, teachers, even strangers who concerned themselves with what I did with my time. “Lauren Grace James, what are you doing?” “Lauren Grace, it’s late, shouldn’t you be at home?” “Girl, nothing good happens after ten p.m.”
As if there was ever any danger on the streets of Evelynton. Nothing ever happened there.
Now, I’m back. This move was not by choice. It was a necessity. I thought, perhaps it would be a good thing. I thought I would find a quiet place to write, replenish my bank account, regroup, and prepare for a new life – somewhere else. I felt most alive in the city – any city. I will get my life back, just as soon as I figure out what is happening here. Evelynton looks the same, seems the same, but there is a difference. There is an uneasy undercurrent lurking in those quiet, tree-lined streets. In the short time that I’ve been back, I have been accused of theft and suspected of murder. I’m even afraid that the real murderer may come after me.
What have I gotten myself into?
I'm Lauren's best friend from high-school.
I happen to be one of the top real estate agents in Evelynton and I am proud of it. It wasn’t easy. I worked hard – still work hard – to get and keep clients. I’m available to show a house almost anytime. Just call me. I’ll drop everything to help you find the perfect home. My friends may think I'm obsessed, but I’m determined to be the best in my field. I’m single and available, guys. Tried marriage once but the two of us just didn’t click. He had no ambition and I have an extra helping. He’s married again and happy working a ‘nine to five’ job, living in a little old house, and raising kids. That’s alright for him. We’re still friends. I even like his wife. I’m looking for a professional man with ambition and money and who likes to have a good time, because I like having a good time - and a good bottle of wine.
Another thing about me; I love nice clothes. There will be no soccer mom jeans and sneakers for me. I will always have my high-heels on. My makeup and my hair will be done. You never know who you might meet. I always dress for success. Always present your best look, is my motto. I call it curb appeal.
I’m glad my old friend Lauren, is back in town. We had so much fun in high-school. She’s had a difficult time since, with her husband getting shot. But, it’s been five years. How long can you be in mourning? Maybe it’s depression. All she wants to do is stay home and write. My first mission is to get her out of the house.
She is so pretty. That’s one woman who can pull off minimal makeup and casual clothes. Not that I don’t think she should put a little more effort into it. You have to let them know you’re in the market - you know? She dresses like she’s married with five kids at home. Once she lets it be known she's available, you can bet some man will want to scoop her up. Then my mission – once I convince her to open her eyes - will be to prevent her from falling for the first guy who comes along. This is a small town. There are men, but the ones with class are hard to find.
Mr. Binion declined to be interviewed. I spoke to a neighbor.
Wallace is good neighbor. He never makes noise or causes trouble, friendly, but not outgoing - meaning he doesn’t visit the neighbors. He is a good-looking man, with a full head of white hair. It’s hard to tell what age he is, but whatever it is, he is in good shape for it. Never causes any trouble. Once in a while, he has company, usually men who stay a while and then leave. Nobody I know.
He takes good care of his yard and has a small vegetable garden out back. Sometimes, days will go by and I don’t see him. I think he goes out of town a lot, but the house and yard are always taken care of. I’m not sure how he does that, since I never see anyone else cutting the grass.
He drives a covered pickup truck of some kind. Green. He parks it in the drive, not in the garage. He must have something in the garage, maybe tools or something. I’ve never seen inside it. But, that’s how I know when he’s home, when the truck is there.
He does have a lady friend, Rarity Peabody, from the Rare Curl beauty salon. Now, she is a friendly one, She loves to talk, but doesn’t talk much about Wallace. Oh, she says they go out to dinner and that he supplies her with plenty of vegetables from the garden, but she won’t say what he does for a living. I suppose he is retired. And, she won’t say where he goes when he’s away. She never complains that he is away so much. I think I would. She calls it his walk-about and seems perfectly content with it. Walk-about? Oh, Rarity says that’s an Australian term for when a man has to go out in the wilderness to be alone with nature. No, I don’t believe he goes to the wilderness. Why would he? It’s not like he’s a big-game hunter or something. I’ve never seen any rifles or anything. Maybe he’s a gambler or maybe he does have a job that isn’t a nine-to-five kind of thing.
No, I don’t know much about Wallace Binion. He’s a mysterious one.
The source of this interview wishes to remain anonymous.