Walter got the silk pajamas clearly worn. Dianne got the candlesticks. Tim got the two lilac bushes, one French purple, one white-an alarming gift, lilacs being so evocative of the depth and dumbness of death’s kingdom, they made Tim cry. They were large and had to be removed with a backhoe, which did not please the landlord, who didn’t get anything, although he didn’t have to return the last month’s rent deposit either. Lucretia got the manhattan glasses. They were delicate, with a scroll of flowers etched just beneath the rim. There were four of them. Andrew got the wristwatch. Betsy got the barbells. Jack got a fairly useless silver bowl. Angus got the photo basket, Louise got the dog.

Louise would have preferred anything to the dog, right down to the barbells. Or nothing would have pleased her even more. It was believed that the animal had been witness to the suicide. He might possibly have been in the kitchen eating his chow or napping on the porch but it was more likely that he’…