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Interview: Second follow-up with Arthur Beck

Saturday, November 5, 2011 - 11:00 a.m.

At the end of the detectives' previous interview with Arthur Beck, Mr. Beck invited Detective Murphy to come to his residence for a tour of his garden. On November 5th, Detective Murphy dropped by his residence at 1590 Jackson Avenue and took him up on his offer.

Participants:

  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Arthur Beck

Detective Murphy: Hi, Mr. Beck. I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd take you up on your invitation for a tour of your garden.

Arthur Beck: Well... I was sort of hoping you'd call first. I wasn't really expecting company this morning.

Detective Murphy: Oh, I'm sorry. Is this time inconvenient for you? I'm not really company, you know. I'm just interested in seeing this yard I've heard so much about.

Arthur Beck: Well, I guess it's as convenient as any other time. It's just that a man alone in a house... That is, I'm not much of a housekeeper. Doesn't seem much use since nobody sees it except me.

Detective Murphy: I promise not to look at your housekeeping. I just want to see your garden.

Arthur Beck: Well, OK. I spend most all my time in the garden. But you got to realize this is sort of off-season. Some of the roses have had their major bloom and are sort of slowing down, if blooming at all. The main bloom for the roses is in the summer.

Detective Murphy: You have a lovely home, Mr. Beck. It's very cozy and warm feeling. Did your wife do the decorating herself?

Arthur Beck: She did all the deciding. You know, for the colors and the furniture. Then I'd do most of the heavy work. She had a knack for it.

Detective Murphy: Is this her picture?

Arthur Beck: Sure is. That was taken the year before she got sick.

Detective Murphy: She looks like a really sweet person. She must have had a lot of friends

Arthur Beck: Everybody loved her. She didn't have an enemy in the world.

Detective Murphy: Do they keep in touch with you?

Arthur Beck: A couple of them called after she was gone, but I wasn't interested in any of them. That minister from her church, Rev. Baker from the Baptist Church. Calls now and then, drops by once in a while to see how I'm doing. He wanted me to go for counseling, but I've got no use for any of that. He's a nice man. Means well, I guess.

Detective Murphy: That's a lot of medication on the sink there, Mr. Beck. Are you ill?

Arthur Beck: Oh, that's just the signs of aging. I have high blood pressure and arthritis. Some of those are leftovers of Frannie's. I've got to throw them out one of these days. Now, just go through those doors and you'll be in the backyard.

Detective Murphy: Oh, Mr. Beck, this is lovely. I can see why you are so proud of it. And your roses still look very colorful. How do you keep them blooming so long?

Arthur Beck: Well, after they have their summer bloom, I cut them back in August or September. Then they usually have one more good bloom before they go into dormancy for winter. That is, if they survive being dug up by those mangy mongrels from next door.

Detective Murphy: I can see why you would be upset to lose a beautiful rose bush that you had cared for so lovingly.

Arthur Beck: The worst part is that this last time he got to Frannie's favorite. It was dug clear out of the ground! If I'd got my hands on him... Well, I don't know what I would've done. Frannie had picked that one out of the Jackson-Perkins catalog. She was so excited when it arrived, she had me plant it right that minute. Now I don't know if I can save it. It's like losing the last living thing that connected to her.

Detective Murphy: I'm so sorry for your loss. You really miss her, don't you?

Arthur Beck: More than life itself. Some days it hardly seems worth getting out of bed in the morning. What is there to look forward to? I try to keep busy, but... Now, over there is my tulip bed I'm getting ready. You have to refrigerate the bulbs for a time here in the South, you know, or they won't bloom. Too warm. Then I plant them near Thanksgiving. I put pansies over them so I have some color, then in the spring there's all these pretty flowers. My Frannie loved bulbs. She said it was magic: "Now you don't see them and now you do." Good thing I hadn't planted them yet when that four-legged black devil got in here again.

Detective Murphy: That's a pretty big trash can you've got over there. You keep your trash all the way out there instead of closer to the house?

Arthur Beck: Oh, that isn't a trash can. That's my compost. I put all my coffee grounds, clippings from the yard, wood chips that Evans fellow gives me and other organic materials in there. It makes great compost for my soil after it's been there for a while.

Detective Murphy: Is that your storage shed over there by the compost?

Arthur Beck: Yes, it is. I keep my tools in there, the sacks of manure, and all that sort of stuff.

Detective Murphy: You seem so organized. I could use some pointers on organizing my garden tools. May I see?

Arthur Beck: Sure. Come on in. See my hand tools go there on the pegboard. Each one has a place. Then I know where everything goes back when I've used it. I clean them off and hang them back up. Then they're all ready for the next time, and I don't have to go looking for them.

Detective Murphy: What about your larger tools, like your hoe or shovel or pruners? Oh, I see. They go on that wall over there. You have a peg board to put them on too. And a wheelbarrow over here. That looks like a nice sturdy one.

Arthur Beck: Yep, one of the best. Really comes in handy so I don't have to carry the heavy stuff around. Those sacks of manure are kind of awkward.

Detective Murphy: I can tell these tools get a lot of use.

Arthur Beck: They wouldn't be much good to me if I didn't use them.

Detective Murphy: The floor's so clean for a storage shed. Is it new?

Arthur Beck: Yep. Had to put a new floor down a while ago. Other one was rotting out.

Detective Murphy: Thank you so much for the tour, Mr. Beck. You've put a lot of work into your yard and it shows.

Arthur Beck: Well, long as that Pace sister doesn't move in with that dog, it'll stay that way.

Detective Murphy: Well, I'll keep a good thought for you about that. Thanks again. You have a good day now.

Arthur Beck: You too, Detective.

End interview: 11:23 a.m.

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