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Teryl Oswald
Teryl Oswald

Excerpt from Still Kickin'

Had Mary Dodson prepared Marvin’s last supper?

Harmony Hills took an extensive medical history of each resident and encouraged those with food or drug allergies to wear a medical alert bracelet. Marvin never went without his.

The lack of shrimp in the pasta could mean the administrator had accidentally served the dish to Marvin. But if she had, it would have been her duty to admit her mistake to clear Walt from suspicion.

Aware of Marvin’s cause of death, either Mary lacked ethics to confess the error, killed him deliberately, or hadn’t served him the meal. I had to find out the truth.

I pounced on her at the funeral home. “Did you fix dinner for Marvin the night he died?”

Sucking in a quick breath, her hand flew to her throat as she choked on the breath mint.

This must have been how Marvin felt when his tongue swelled and his throat closed. The image of his torturous last moments sprang to mind. He must have been terrified struggling for air, unable to call for help.

I slapped her between the shoulder blades without success. My CPR training kicked in. For a while, I’d been a paraprofessional at a preschool and I knew how to dislodge a hotdog from a toddler’s throat faster than you could say “Bob’s your litigator.” I stepped behind Mary, wrapped my arms around her middle, and hastily jerked up and back. The mint flew from her pursed lips toward a spray of white mums. The tip of the plastic pick holding the sympathy card hooked the hole in the mint. Circling the point, the candy spun until gravity pulled it to settle on the petals of a spidery bloom.

“It’s just that I overheard Marvin say he was going to ask you to make dinner for him. That day.”

Coughing, she couldn’t answer.

“The day he died,” I reiterated.

Digging in her purse, she took out another tissue and patted her lips. “I did not go to Marvin’s apartment the evening he was…” She sputtered, “I wasn’t there the night he died.

Her nervousness palpable, clearly she was hiding something. I’d have to find out what it was.


Teryl Oswald