I called the cleaners and asked them if they had any more information on the dress. The staffer said I should talk to Elaine, one of the owners, she knows more.
Elaine called me back. She no longer had the ticket with the name and phone number but they remembered the woman’s name: V. Abbott, a strikingly beautiful African American woman.
Elaine had been calling the number on the ticket for a while. She said that when she reached Ms. Abbott the first time she was told Ms. Abbott still wanted the dress. No one came in for the dress.
Some time later Ms. Abbott came by the cleaners to ask if her dress was still there. Yes, it was. Ms. Abbott said she still wanted it but could not afford to pick it up right now. When Elaine commented that she had been trying to reach Ms. Abbott unsuccessfully for some time, Ms. Abbott replied that she “had to leave the state for a while.” Still, no one returned for the dress.
Elaine continued to try the number periodically. She finally reached Ms. Abbott for what turned out to be the last time. Elaine told Ms. Abbott that they really needed her to come in and retrieve her dress from the cleaners; they could not hang on to it any longer. Elaine told me that Ms. Abbott sounded unusually down during this call. Still, no one came for the dress.
Elaine kept calling the phone number on the ticket and finally got a hold of a woman identifying herself as Ms. Abbott’s mother. She was the one who told Elaine about the homicide and said to sell the dress for whatever she could get. The mother did not want it. Elaine told me she didn’t want to pry into so delicate a topic so she had no further information.
I told Elaine about my idea to create works of art using the wedding dress and that I’d like to find out more about Ms. Abbott. Would they be willing to donate the dress to the project? Elaine said she was sure they would but she would have to check with her husband and get back to me.
She asked me to keep her in the loop about what I found. I felt with my newspaper researcher background I could find what I needed.
The research begins…