Mr. Raney was always a favorite of ours. Our neighborhood is one of the loveliest neighborhoods around. When he first moved in everyone breathed a sigh of relief because he moved into the ugliest and most neglected house on the street. We expected great things from him. Little did we now how popular he would become.
My mom brought him over a pie, Mrs. Jane brought over a Jell-O mold, and many other neighbors brought him cakes and cookies. Mr. Raney was having many things in the house redone. The first year, the painter came to repaint the house. I really liked that painter because he always handed out bubble gum to the kids. He was there for three months of spring. The painter painted the inside and outside of the house. The rumor was that the bill was thousands of dollars, but Mr. Raney was happy with the results. A few days after the painter finished the job, my dad was reading the paper. One of the articles was titled: Local Painter Goes Missing. What? How could he go missing? Mr. Raney seemed very upset. He said his therapy for stress was gardening. I asked him what he was planting. He said tulips, daisies, carnations, lilies, and more. It was going to be a tremendous garden!
Weeks later, Mr. Raney had a plumber come to fix the pipes and leaky faucets. Mr. Raney said that the bill was around two thousand dollars and that it was reasonable for all of the work that had been done. Mr. Raney was in his garden a few days later again, planting more flowers. The first flowers had already started to bud.
Mr. Raney was doing very well in our neighborhood. Everybody seemed to like him just fine. When he was out in his garden many people walked by and talked to him. He was always very glad to speak to them. But Ms. Francis didn’t like him at all. She said that there was something strange about him and “Something was just not right.” She told the neighbors that she wondered why he was always gardening and how could he afford all of the repairs. Ms. Francis always read the paper and she told us that it was rather strange because she saw a picture on the obituary page that looked a lot like the plumber.
Ms. Francis came down with a bad cold and it spread around the neighborhood. People were too sick with their own illnesses so Mr. Raney said he would help her. Mr. Raney went over to see her. He told everyone that she seemed to be in pretty bad condition and that he would take care of her. A couple days later he said that her condition had worsened. He called a few of the neighbors over and indeed she was very ill. Mr. Raney said that her brother from Ponca City was coming to take her to live with him. Everyone thought that she was an only child and didn’t have any siblings or relatives. Later that week Mr. Raney started a new flower bed shaped just like the other ones, long and narrow and mounded up real nice. He said it made them grow better. And indeed, his flower beds were gorgeous.
Several weeks later, the police arrived at Mr. Raney’s house. They were questioning the whereabouts of Ms. Francis. Mr. Raney said he didn’t know anything but what she had told him. The police explained there wasn’t a brother in Ponca City and they wondered where she went. Mr. Raney had no answers. A missing persons report was issued for Ms. Francis, and eventually Ms. Francis’ house was sold.
Winter came and went and Ms. Francis still was on the missing persons list. Mr. Raney started digging in his garden beds again, and started to plant more flowers. That summer, the IRS came to Mr. Raney’s house and he was arrested for failure to pay his taxes. Eventually, we found out that Mr. Raney had died of a heart attack in prison.
That summer, new people moved into Mr. Raney’s house. . .They found the remains of three bodies in the garden beds.