Picket Fences

A (Soap Opera) mystery
Black Picket Fence. Picket Fences.

For Angela Wingate, it’s always a Beautiful Day by the Bay. But a knock on her door will change the life she’s built in the town of Benicia, California, with its bustling main street boasting sparkling lights around every tree, and beautiful homes on the water … it is the epitome of California living.  Angela is a well-known realtor in town, liked by almost everyone.  Some would describe her as effortlessly beautiful with a smile that could make your day, and milk chocolate brown hair to match her deep hazel eyes. In the cul de sac of Bristol Lane, she shines. Between taking care of her family – husband Bruce and son Payton – Angela also makes time to host social gatherings at her home.

Angela starts the day like any other day, getting up at 5:30am to head downstairs to make breakfast and start the coffee for Bruce. She makes herself a cup of Earl Grey, then scrambles eggs and prepares toast for the family. She glances at the clock and sees that it’s 6:15 and time to wake Payton for school. Heading upstairs, she peeks into Payton’s room, pausing to reflect on how he’s grown. In just a few years he’ll be off to college. “It’s time to get ready for school, honey” says Angela. She is rewarded with a light grunt and movement. 

She heads back downstairs to meet Bruce in the kitchen. With a kiss she asks, “What’s your day looking like?” 

Bruce smiles and says, “I have a meeting with Benicia Flooring Company to go over some design plans for the new office. I’ll be home at the usual time, see you later!”  

He turns to walk out the back door and runs into Madalyn, who rushes in, knocking into Bruce like a little blonde tornado. Madalyn, Angela’s best friend and the bombshell who lives next door, was in and out of the Wingate house so frequently, Bruce wondered if she’d pilfered their hide-a-key. 

“Hi, Madalyn,” says Bruce, startled. Madalyn returns the “hi” without even looking at him. Helping herself to coffee, Madalyn gets down to business. “You know the old Baxter house on Kellyn Court?” she asks, Angela starts, “Yes, the one that no one has been able to sell, and it’s been empty since forever?” 

“Exactly. It looks like it may finally have some traction,” she says with a grin Angela recognizes. The one that means gossip is on its way. “What do you mean? How do you know?” Angela asks, leaning in. “Karen called me yesterday,” begins Madelyn, “she saw a car parked in the driveway and a woman looking at the house.” 

Suddenly a man’s voice cuts through their conversation “Maddy! …Maddy?” “Damn, it’s Hank. I swear that man can’t make eggs without me. I’ll see you later, hon!” Madalyn drains the last of her coffee, and dashes out the door for home.

Angela heads upstairs to change and get ready for work, passing her four awards in the hall – three celebrating black women in business, and one recognizing her company. Realizing she’s running late, Angela quickly dresses in a simple but sophisticated outfit from one of the local shops. “So nice to have great clothing choices right in town.” She thinks to herself. Checking the mirror, she grabs her red handbag and is out the door.

Driving to her office on First Street, she takes a detour to Kellyn Court and stops in the middle of the small residential street. A chill comes over her as she looks at the house. She thinks of Carol and Shane Baxter and how it all went too far… 

Another thought comes to her, “Maybe it’s time for something good to happen here. Maybe the new family can make it a home again…” Her phone rings, startling her from her musings. It’s Mark from the office asking if she could bring him a honey latte and cinnamon sugar toast from Farm and Flour. “Yeah, no problem. I’ll be there in a few minutes,” she replies. 

As she turns the car around to leave Kellyn Ct., she looks out at the sky and thinks to herself, “it’s such a beautiful day.”

To Be Continued…

 

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