Isobel turned to peer through the rear windshield toward the front gate, focusing on the simple brass lock that held the metal doors in place. “How are we going to get in?” she asked in a whisper.

Isobel heard Gwen’s seat squeak, and she glanced back at her just in time to see Gwen lean over and pop the latch on her glove compartment. The little pocket door swung out, sending a rush of maps onto the floor mat, along with a little black case.

“Same way everybody else does,” Gwen answered, plucking the case from the scattered stack of maps.


Cemetery Sighs

“Are you kidding me?” Isobel whispered. “Gwen, someone’s going to see us!”

“Would you just hold the flashlight still?” Switching angles, Gwen lowered herself onto her knees in front of the gate. She peered up at the padlock and, taking one of the two metal tools she’d pulled from the black case, slipped its flat, spatula-looking end sideways into the keyhole. Holding the lock steady with one hand, she pressed her thumb against the long, sticklike handle of the spatula tool, adding tension. Next she took the second tool, its tip a thin, sharp point, and shoved it into the toothy slot, wiggling it back and forth. The faint sound of metal scraping against metal echoed through the cemetery.

Isobel stood directly over Gwen, hoping to shield her actions from the sight line of any passing cars. Or security patrol vehicles. Or officers on foot.

In one hand, Isobel held the black leather zip-up case inside which lay a full assortment of long metal tools. In her other hand, she squeezed the tiny flashlight attached to Gwen’s mad tangle of keys so that a dim ray shot out from the miniature bulb, casting just enough of a glow to illuminate the lock.

Turning her head from side to side, she glanced either way down the sidewalk and then behind them, across the street.

“Would you quit moving?” Gwen snapped.


“I’m trying to keep a lookout.”

“Well, stop it!” she hissed. “I told you. The entire gang who watches from inside the church left for dinner thirty minutes ago. Why do you think I waited so long to come get you? The way I see it, we’ve got an hour and a half easy. Maybe longer if they spring for martinis. And the Poe Toaster fan club shouldn’t start showing up until after nine at the earliest.”

“Yeah, but there are people crossing the street over there. And how do we know the church doesn’t have cameras?”

“It doesn’t,” Gwen said. “I checked.”

Isobel dropped into a crouch next to Gwen, laying the leather case open against the patch of sidewalk in front of the gates. “How long does this take?”

Gwen turned to glare at her. “Maybe you’d like to find a place where we can dig ourselves under? Say hello to Edgar on our way up. Or how about this?” She pulled the picking tool free from the padlock and pointed its spindly end at Isobel. “You can try shimmying up and over while I go in the normal way, because I’m not hiking my tuchus over any walls.”

“Okay, okay!” Isobel said. “Just . . . can we hurry up?”

“Can I get my light back?”

Keys clanking, Isobel aimed the tiny flashlight at the lock.

“Hmm,” Gwen said. She tapped the metal tool against her lips before holding it out to Isobel the way a surgeon might offer a used scalpel to her nurse. “Hand me the ligature director, would you? It’s the one that looks like a claw.”

Isobel snatched the spiked tool from Gwen. She tucked it into a random spot in the open case and turned the flashlight toward the others. She scanned the row of neatly aligned sharp metal objects, each secured with its own elastic band. It seemed as if at least half of them had ends hooked like claws. “Which one is it?” she whispered. “I can’t tell. And what are you even doing with a lock-picking tool kit anyway?”

Gwen grabbed the hand that held the flashlight and, aiming the low glow in her own face, eyed Isobel with a baleful glare. “They’re not lock-picking tools,” she said. “They’re orthodontic instruments. My dad keeps a set in both cars in case he ever has to make hospital calls for face trauma patients.”

“And you use them to pick locks?”

“I always sterilize them when I’m done.”

Isobel twisted her hand in Gwen’s, aiming the flashlight at her own face. “Okay, Gwen, what I mean is—how the hell do you know how to pick a lock in the first place?”

Dropping Isobel’s hand, Gwen reached down to the black leather case and extracted the instrument she needed before returning to her work. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be a magician when I grew up,” she murmured. “Harry, the all-time master, was my idol. I still have a poster of him hanging in my room.”

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