Charlie Ben Studdard squinted at Mrs. Kinbote and sucked quietly at his pipe. He let the cherry smoke roil in his cheeks and the tobacco glow in the bowl. She coughed daintily and unfurled a Japanese paper fan.
“Ma’am, you’re absolutely certain your husband is not a werewolf?”
Mrs. Kinbote rolled her eyes and fanned herself, occasionally fanning his smoke to the opposite side of the porch. “My, what a frank investigator you are, Mr. Studdard. But as I’m sure you’d agree, Mr. Kinbote is a busy man, state senator and devoted husband and father. I don’t see how he’d even have the time to steal jewelry from some little urchin let alone go galavanting across town every full moon.” She held the fan under her nose and giggled.
Charlie crossed his arms and held the pipe in the crook of his elbow. He studied Mrs. Kinbote for a long time. It was longer than she liked and she added, from behind her fan, that she was also a very busy woman, as the wife of a state senator, devoted wife, and mother.
“Don’t see how or don’t think he is?”
“My, my,” she declared. She snapped the fan shut and stuck it in his face. It nearly poked his nose. “I’m quite familiar with ad hominem arguments from my husband’s congressional nemeses, Mr. Studdard, but I fail to see what lycanthropy has to do with a politician’s suitability to his constituents.”
Charlie sucked on his pipe again and admired the woman’s tergiversation. “Well I don’t vote, ma’am. I’m just here to do right by my client.”
“Then good luck to you, Mr. Studdard. We have no more to say to each other.” Mrs. Kinbote turned her dainty behind to him and stepped back inside her house. Through the smoke rising from his bowl he noted the thick hairs that clung to her skirt, and smiled.
For more Charlie Ben Studdard & the Amulet Caper: