Verses for the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child Read Online (FREE)
Verses for the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Originally published: October 2018
Authors: Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
ISABELLA GUERRERO—KNOWN to her friends and fellow bridge club members as Iris—made her way demurely through the palms of Bayside Cemetery. Overhead stretched an infinite sky of pale azure. It was seven thirty in the morning, the temperature hovered at seventy-eight degrees, and the dew that still clung to the broad-bladed St. Augustine grass drenched the leather of her sandals. One plump hand clutched a Fendi bag; the other gripped the leash against which Twinkle, her Pekingese, strained ineffectually. Iris walked gingerly through the graves and coleus plantings—only three weeks ago Grace Manizetti, laden with groceries, had lost her balance while coming back from the local Publix and broken her pelvis.
The cemetery had opened half an hour before, and Iris had the place to herself. She liked it that way—Miami Beach seemed to get more congested with every passing year. Even here in Bal Harbour, at the north end of the island, traffic was worse than she remembered from the congested New York of her childhood, growing up on Queens Boulevard. And that dreadful mall they’d built a few years back north of Ninety-Sixth had only made things worse. Not only that, but an undesirable element had begun to creep up from the south, with their bodegas and casa this and tienda that. Thank goodness Francis had had the foresight to buy the condominium in Grande Palms Atlantic, right on the beach in Surfside and safe from encroachment.
Francis. She could see his grave ahead now, the headstone a trifle bleached by the Florida sun but the plot clean and neat—she had seen to that. Twinkle, aware their destination was approaching, had ceased tugging on the leash.
She had so much to be thankful to Francis for. Since he’d been taken from her three years ago, she’d only grown more aware of her gratitude. It had been Francis who’d had the foresight to move his father’s butcher business from New York City to the Florida coast, back when this section of Collins Avenue was still sleepy and inexpensive. It had been Francis who’d carefully built up the establishment over the years, teaching her how to use the weighing scales and cash register and the names and qualities of the various cuts. And it had been Francis who’d sensed just the right time to sell the business—in 2007, before real estate fell apart. The huge profit they’d made had not only allowed them to buy the Grande Palms condo (at a rock-bottom price a year later) but also ensured they could enjoy many years of comfortable retirement. Who would have guessed he’d be dead of pancreatic cancer so soon?
Iris had reached the grave now, and she paused a moment to look beyond the cemetery and admire the view. Despite the crowding and traffic, it was still a tranquil sight in its own way: the Kane Concourse arching over the Harbor Islands toward the mainland, the white triangles of sailboats tacking up Biscayne Bay. And everything drenched in warm, tropical pastels. The cemetery was an oasis of calm, never more so than early in the morning, when even in March—at the height of the tourist season—Iris knew she could spend some reflective time at the grave of her departed husband.