Leaving for my nursing shift at the town hospital, I saw new tubing for the sugarbush out beside the barn. Merde alors! Earle had agreed to let the sugarbush recover from two dry seasons. Qu'est-ce qui s'est passé?
I met him at the sugar shack door. He was ready. "Maggie, I don't care if I kill the whole damn bush. Gonna suck 'em dry. We're selling the farm, orchard an' all, when sugar weather's done. Let 'em make that new suburb out here."
"You cannot do that!" I said. This was my family's patrimony, had been for generations. It would have been Jean-Marc's if he had not died on the ice, but he did. That left only me. And Earle.
Earle got angry, like he often did. "It's my land. I'll do what I want."
"This is our farm," I told him. "And these are my trees. I will not agree."
I hadn't talked back to Earle in years. He hit me, much harder than usual. He knocked me down in the mud outside the shack and hit me twice more. "Stupid pepsi bitch!" he shouted. "Think I married you for looks?" Then he went back inside.
Earle never heard me come home that night, with the needle. He took most of a week to die, out there in the shack. I kept saline dripping into him to replace his fluids. He died slowly, just like my trees.
* * *
"And what happened to the blood?" asked the detective. The answer was due back soon from the lab, anyway.
"Earle's Maple Syrple!" I laughed. "Grade A Dark Amber."
The detective shuddered. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed the number from his notepad. "Monroe? Yeah. Better get moving on that recall…."