Edward Drayton. He stared at the name on the file. Another one. This job never got any easier. Edward Drayton had no doubt taken his wife’s name after marriage. Not unusual in these parts. Drayton was an old name, one from the time when Europeans first came here.
He breathed in. Sighed it out. Prepared himself. He knew what was coming. He buzzed Drayton in.
Drayton came in, sat down. Drayton was the usual. Embarrassed. Agitated. Desperate.
Drayton started speaking almost straight away, ‘Nobody in my wife’s family has ever died.’
Even before Drayton said it, he recognised the look on that face. His heart sank. It was common in these parts. Locals called it the vamps.
‘Nobody?’ he said calmly.
He knew Drayton had chosen him as a therapist because he was from out of town. Deliberately chosen him, no doubt Drayton had done some research. Someone with no connection to the family that he knew of, but there were so very many Draytons. How could anyone be sure?
His surname was different, but he had taken his wife’s name on marriage too. He had tried to distance himself from the stories. Drayton had come here, taken a chance, looking for a kindred spirit. Who was he to judge?
‘Well there was Cousin Lola.’ Drayton continued. He remembered cousin Lola, quite sad. He showed no emotion though and Drayton ploughed on.
‘Impaled on a fence, but I went there. Wooden fence!’ Drayton said this with finality as if there was only one explanation.
He tried to maintain a professional composure. There was the rest of the family to consider.
‘And they don’t like garlic. I once made a chilli with a lot of garlic for my wife and her sisters and their kids, whole family. They all sat there, barely ate it.’
Drayton was on a roll now. He tried to remain calm, neutral, professional. Even as the saliva was pooling in his mouth.
‘And my wife, sometimes she sleeps during the day and haunts the house at night. She says its menopause.’
‘And she hates silver.’
He wanted to put up a hand and stop it then and there. Drayton was looking for answers but none of the behaviours he described were unusual. Some people preferred gold. Garlic was relatively new in this part of the world when his wife was growing up. Someone died in a random accident on a wooden fence.
He knew the conclusion Drayton wanted to draw. It was sad. Always sad. He prescribed something random, told Drayton to think about it, come back in a week. He wanted to add ‘but only if you see your wife howling at the moon.’ He didn’t. Sarcasm was not professional in these situations. His was a difficult job. He had some sympathy. The women out west were odd sometimes.
He knew as Drayton opened the door to leave, he would have to make that phone call.
He called his mother. To tell her to call her cousin. To tell her cousin to call her sister. To tell her to call her daughter. To tell her,
‘It’s time to eat your husband.’