“She’s dead? Old Lady Bainbridge?” The color drained from Billy’s face.
Tom stood outside Billy’s window. “She keeled over after reading it.” Tom looked around and then whispered. “We’re murderers.”
“But it was a joke. They can’t blame us, can they?”
Tom stretched one leg over the windowsill and slowly slid in. “We gotta go get it, you know, before anyone finds it and gets our fingerprints and stuff.”
Billy sat down on his bed and stared at the floor. “We gotta have a plan. The police have probably taped it off as a crime scene.”
“I don’t know. I was too scared to go look, you know what they say about returning to the scene of the crime.”
Billy got the red pen and a tablet from his desk drawer. “First, let’s burn the evidence.” He grabbed his jacket. “I’ll go tell Mom we’re going to your house.”
Tom grabbed Billy’s arm. “I’m scared. We’re only ten, we can’t spend the rest of our lives behind bars.” “I got a plan, just follow my lead.”
The two boys crept down the stairs. Billy’s mom was in the kitchen talking to Mrs. Webber, the town gossip. Mrs. Webber was talking about Old Lady Bainbridge’s death.
Both women were silent when the boys walked into the room. “Mom, I’m going to Tom’s. Bye.” The door slammed behind them as they ran out.
They kept running until reaching their secret place in the woods behind the park, by the rotting log.
“Okay, get the matches from under that big rock.”
Tom handed Billy the book of matches. Billy made a circle of rocks, placing the pen and tablet inside. He lit a match and caught a piece of paper on fire. The tablet burned quickly, but the pen smoldered.
“It won’t burn.” Tom poked it with a stick. “We’ll bury it then.”
Both boys began clawing at the dirt until they made a hole deep enough to hide the pen.
“Okay, let’s go get the letter.” Billy stood and wiped his dirty hands on his jeans.
“What if the cops are there?”
“Tom, we gotta get it, it’s the only evidence they have against us.”
Billy pulled Tom’s arm. “Hurry up!”
Billy ran toward Old Lady Bainbridge’s house, dragging Tom behind him. When the boys got close to the house, they crept to the back yard. There was no sign of the police, so Billy peeked in the back door window.
“No one’s there,” Tom said.
“See, all we have to do is get inside and find the note. Easy, huh?” Billy went to the window put his hand on the glass and pushed up. “It’s open, come on.”
Billy slid in and Tom followed. “Okay, find the note as fast as you can.”
The boys jogged from room to room searching for the note. “I found it,” Tom whispered. “In here on the kitchen table.”
Billy ran in. “Do you think this did it? Did it kill her?”
Both boys stared at the piece of paper lying in front of them. Written on it, in red ink, were the words Die, you old Witch. The letter looked as if it were written by a shaky hand, all crooked and distorted.
Billy was about to shove the letter into his pocket when a lady walked in. “What are you boys doing in here?”
“Uh… we just wanted to …” Tom stuttered, not knowing what to say.
“Aren’t you Carol’s boy, from down the street?”
Billy hesitated. “Yeah. That’s right, Mom, she wanted me to come over and ask if you needed anything.”
“I’m Helen, Alice’s, I’m mean Mrs. Bainbridge’s, daughter-in-law.” Luckily, in Helen’s disoriented state, she didn’t ask how they got in.
Both boys shook her hand. “Nice to meet you.” They said in unison. “It’s so sad how someone can be fine one day and be gone the next, isn’t it?” Helen made herself a cup of coffee.
Billy shoved the note down the back of his jeans. “Yeah it is. We better go now.”
“Okay, hon. Tell your mom thanks for the offer, but we’re okay, for now.”
The boys ran back to Billy’s house. Mrs. Webber was still sitting at the kitchen table and still gossiping.
Billy stopped in the doorway. “Mom, I’m home.” The boys ran upstairs. Billy’s older sister saw the piece of paper peeking out of Billy pants.
She grabbed it. “Oooh, what’s this, a love note?” “Give it back!” Billy grabbed at it.
She opened it up and read it. “What is this?”
“Please don’t tell.” Tom pleaded. “I can’t go to jail.” Billy’s sister laughed. “What are you talking about?”
“Sara, come in here.” Billy pulled his sister into his room and shut the door. “We sent this to Old Lady Bainbridge, she read it, and died.”
Sara cackled and smacked her leg. “You stupid, runts. Your dumb letter didn’t kill her.”
“But she died right after.” Tom said. “Maybe, but she died from an aneurism.” “What’s that?” Billy looked confused.
“Maybe, but she died from an aneurism.” “What’s that?” Billy looked confused.
Sara stopped laughing long to explain. “It’s a blood clot in your brain that bursts. It happens in an instant. Why did you send her this note anyway?”
Billy’s face was red. “It was a joke, just to scare her for being a mean old witch.”
“Yeah, if a ball or anything went into her yard, she wouldn’t give it back,” Tom said.
“Boys are such idiots.” Sara left the room.
“We’re not murderers, Billy. Shew! I feel better.” Tom plopped down the bed.
Billy thought for a moment. “What if our letter cursed her? We did put a drop of bat blood in the ink, remember?”
“I’m goin’ home.” Tom headed for the window.
“Maybe we should send one to Mrs. Appleton. I mean, after all we got away with it. We could put a—”
“Oh no, no more letter writing for me. “ Tom climbed out the window.
Billy counted the change in his sock drawer. “Yes, just enough for a new red pen.”