Seeing the two of them together always made no sense at all. Leo was drop dead handsome, and he had a smile that sparkled. It was electric, and the girls flocked to him, not just for the smile, but the swag in his demeanor. He held himself like a man who knew he was valuable and didn’t have to brag about it. Carl, on the other hand, was short and lanky—way too skinny, and unlike Leo, he felt the need to brag loudly about everything, as if he were announcing to the world that he was special and more than worthy to be around Leo.
Daniella arrived at Carl’s house around 2 pm. She knew she couldn’t stay there long as visiting hours at the prison were only from 5-7pm today and she wanted to see Leo to tell him what she’d been up to. As she parked, she noticed the laundry hanging out on the line and the fields of tomatoes and other vegetables. It seemed that Carl had a variety of things he was growing, but the plants looked a bit skimpy.
His horse stables did look great, though. She caught a glimpse of a beautiful stallion grazing outside the barn. He was black and obviously well cared for, as his coat was shiny black and he looked well nourished. She walked up to the house and nervously rang the bell. She heard a little kid scream from inside, “The doorbell is ringing!”
A woman walked quickly toward the door and said as she opened it, “I got it! I got it!”
She looked Daniella up and down in a very critical way and said, “Well Hello. How can I help you?”
Daniella took off her sunglasses and said, “I’m sorry to disturb you this afternoon Ma’am, but I’m here to see Carl Walters. I’m Daniella Pierce Sulieman. We went to high school together and he was a friend of my cousin Leo.”
She looked blank for a moment and then realized who Daniella was. Her name was Susanne, and she was a country girl to the core, complete with apron and flour on her face from all the baking that she’d been doing. Her hair was a mess and her teeth were in need of a whitening treatment, but she tried to put on her best Southern manners.
Susanne quaintly said, “Oh my Lord! Yes, Carl’s mentioned you before. Weren’t you Leo’s adopted sister that went crazy and married a sand, nigger? He said you don’t even believe in Jesus Christ anymore.”
She ended that question with such a big smile on her face that it left Daniella in awe somewhat. Racism certainly is stewed to perfection around here, she thought.
Daniella was so blown away that she could hardly move, but held her own and replied, “Yep, that’s me! The crazy adopted sister. Is he here?”
Susanne looked less than satisfied, hoping that she’d get a rise out of her, but instead confirmed, “Well you’re gonna have to set a spell cuz he’s out in the field. You can wait here in the kitchen if you want. You want some iced tea?”
“Why yes Ma’am. That would be nice.”
Susanne brought the tea and said, “Well, if you’ll excuse me, I still got a lot of work to do in here. It’s not that I don’t wanna be social or anything.”
Daniella said, “No, it’s fine. You go on about your business. I’ll be fine in here.”
As Susanne left, Daniella felt relieved not to have to talk to her anymore. She wasn’t exactly the most charming creature in the world. She sipped on the tea, but not for long, as it was kind of funky tasting, obviously not made fresh, so she occupied herself by noticing all of the heads mounted on the walls. Carl had an unusually big collection of them, and one had to wonder why a man would need to display his kills so much. She was briefly reminded of a time that Carl was throwing rocks at squirrels outside their house. He was trying to get Leo to join in, but Leo refused.
Shortly after, Carl’s kids, Carla and Bobby came bursting through the door. Carl followed them inside. He glared at the sight of Daniella sitting there but turned his attention towards the kids. Carla excitedly told her mother, “Mommy, Daddy showed us the baby horse today!”
Susanne replied, “He did! , Well that’s wonderful baby!”
Bobby kept on staring at Daniella, and she couldn’t help noticing those piercing green eyes.
Bobby said, “Daddy who’s this?”
Susanne said, “Well that’s a friend of your Daddy’s baby. Now let’s let them talk in private and go in the living room a while.”
Bobby felt offended and asked, “What’s she got to say that she can’t say in front of me?”
Carl snapped back, “Don’t sass your mother boy! If you do, you know what you’ll get!”
Bobby complied, and as soon as they left the room, Carl sharply asked, “What brings you here Danny? Or do I even need to ask? It’s about Leo, isn’t it? Everybody knows what he did.”
Daniella replied, “Oh that’s Bullshit, Carl, and you know it! Leo may be a lot of things, but he’s no murderer. You know that as well as I do. I know y’all have had your differences, but a murderer? Come on! Now help me figure out who may have done this to him.”
Carl’s fists and teeth clenched as he barked, “That son of a bitch is capable of anything! I’m surprised you’re here for him Danny, after the way he treated you?”
He looks at her for a moment and continues, “If anyone had a reason to kill him, it’s actually you. You had a reason to kill them both.”
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