Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 24
Osric looked truly surprised at the question, his eyes large and round, his mouth popping open as he looked from Leonard to Wilhelmina.
“I-I would have thought that was obvious…” Osric’s voice drifted away, his glance darting in Leonard’s direction, searching for some sign of understanding before returning to Wilhelmina. Her arms were crossed again, though in more leisurely fashion than before; no longer as if she was trying to hug her anger into submission. She waited silently for Osric to answer.
“I wasn’t sure who I could trust, and there was no time to waste in giving you the antidote. If you slipped into too long a sleep, it was possible you’d never wake. Rather than squander time attempting to suss out the truth, I elected to give it to you myself, quietly, to be certain that you…that you would recover…” Osric grasped his hands behind his back, head slightly bowed with his gaze now on the floor in front of Wilhelmina’s feet.
Despite the sincerity in his explanation and tucked into the creases of his pained expression, to Leonard, it still seemed like Osric was hiding something. From the unsatisfied look on Wilhelmina’s face, she was having similar thoughts. She let her continued silence speak for her.
“What else do you want me to say?” Osric finally entreated, his arms held out inviting her answer. His brow was furrowed, eyes beseeching. If Leonard had not been a man to trust in his first instincts, he might have believed that Osric was truly confused by Wilhelmina’s skepticism.
“Please, don’t insult my intelligence by pretending you aren’t keeping something back,” Wilhelmina said sharply. Her face had a stormy quality to it, a darkening on the horizon that was rapidly moving in. Leonard felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.
Osric seemed to be frozen in place, surveying Wilhelmina as the cogs in his mind turned.
The miserable look returned to his face, crumpling under some unseen weight. “I still don’t know who to trust, Mina…it’s been years, and all I’ve managed to find has only led to more questions and uncertainty.” He rubbed his temples and sighed with obvious frustration.
Leonard couldn’t help but find himself curious to see how Wilhelmina would react to being addressed with a nickname; he also recognized in Osric, a man ashamed of what he had to say.
“Is that all?” Wilhelmina asked gently but sternly, ignoring the familiar moniker and further exhibiting her shrewdness as she narrowed her locked stare with Osric. The large man squirmed marginally, shuffling his feet and switching his weight more than was necessary, hands now clasped behind him. Leonard was sure he was clenching and unclenching his hands, the way Osric’s shoulder muscles continued to tense and relax at intervals.
With another heavy sigh, Osric moved to a bench that had been hidden by shadow in a dark corner of the poorly lit room. He propped himself up against it and crossed his arms over his chest, eyes turned to the floor. His face was partially cast in shadow, like a cloak of darkness around him.
“At the time, when I realized your illness was actually attempted poison…I-I had reason to susp-….” Osric cleared his throat and tried again. “I had reason to suspect….certain people that were close to you, had access to you, obviously. But…you must understand how convoluted things have become, I-“
Osric shook his head and rubbed his right temple before crossing it again over his chest. Another pained sigh wrenched itself from Osric’s mouth before the rest of his words fell out, “I’ve never had proof, nothing to act on, only suspicion and a hunch…but, I have reason to believe that…oh damn it all, that it was Etta that tried to kill you…”
Click here for Part 26!