After Father passed, Mother took in a lodger to help cover the bills.
Mr Rice was an elderly man who ‘worked in the city.‘ He left the house each morning before breakfast, took his evening meal alone in his room.
On weekends he was gone all day too. ‘Walking’ and ‘going to service’ he explained. He would nod to us children if he encountered us on the stairs but he spoke not a work.
We found him creepy and whispered rude things about him. Mother hushed us. ‘Who knows what sadnesses he has suffered?’ she asked.
One Sunday we broke into his room. Kevin picked the lock with one of Mother’s hairpins. All we found was an old suitcase under the bed and a single photo on his dresser. It was of him and as younger man with a woman and two children.
‘That must be his wife and family,’ Emily said.
‘I bet he killed them!’ Kevin declared.
‘Don’t be an ass.’ Emily replied. ‘Mother is right, there is something sad in his past. We should try being nice to him,’
We tried, even Kevin. We addressed him whenever we could. He simply nodded, went on his way.