The murder had been a long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait. Dale’s third wife, Damaris, had tragically drowned. One minute she was sitting in a wheelchair in the sunshine reading Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind and the next minute she herself was gone – floating dead in the garden goldfish pond, wheelchair and all.
Husband Dale was distraught. “I never knew wheelchairs could float,” he gasped at the policeman. People in morning sometimes say the silliest things. Later he added something about “fortunately she didn’t get the book wet.”
It must be stated clearly from the beginning that Damaris didn’t need to sit in the wheelchair. She was perfectly well in all respects. Her visiting sister, Brierley, was using the chair because she had sprained an ankle while messing around with Dale in the garden. Brierley had gone inside the house “to have a rest and put her foot up” and Damaris was sitting in the wheelchair because it was convenient and she liked to watch the fish. Suddenly the unbraked wheelchair went whizzing into the goldfish pond, and although Damaris was a reasonable swimmer she couldn’t untangle herself from the chair.
The deed was done! It was a tragic accident. As soon as they can dry the wheelchair Brierley will be making a fast entrance down the aisle of the nearest church. Let’s hope Dale doesn’t try any funny business with his latest wife. After all, Brierley has secret, perhaps handy, photographs of Dale holding Damaris under water.
It was almost impossible to imagine. Stella was in shock. She never dreamt it could or would happen to her, but it had. She didn’t believe it. Would she ever get used to it?
For fourteen years Stella had got around in a wheelchair. Fourteen years ago they had amputated her left leg below the knee. She had asked again and again for an artificial leg. Too expensive. No insurance. And so the wheelchair became her sole means of travel. Once in a while, with the aid of a crutch she would stand on one leg. But taking a walk was out of the question as Stella found it too tiring. Her upper body was too weak.
And then the impossible happened. Who could ever have guessed? This is happening to me, muttered Stella. Happening to me?
Yes, it was true. This was no rich benefactor making a generous appearance. This was no sudden successful raffle drawn for a prosthetic leg. It was less spectacular than that, but shocking nonetheless. The doctor told Stella they were going to amputate the other leg.