A raw food mystery novelette, part 2
Recipes in italics
If you missed part 1, you can see it here.
Mrs. Marchetti’s mystery guest was still eyeing the gift bag containing the treats I had brought for her dog. “Did you wanna come in?” he asked. I was torn about that. If I went in, I might see some clues that could tell me where Mrs. Marchetti might be, but if this guy just happened to be her murderer, it might be the last discovery I ever made. I decided on a compromise between the two.
“Actually, I don’t have time, but let me just set these treats near Monty’s treat jar so Mrs. Marchetti will see them when she gets back.” The man seemed not to know what to say to this, but finally mumbled, “Uh, okay.”
I walked slowly to the treat jar, scanning everything around me as quickly as I could, and set the bag down on the counter. Not a clue. I turned to make for the front door again when I saw some kind of paper on the desk. Drawing closer, I found it was a timetable for Grand Central Terminal. Turning to the man, I asked, “Got any idea what this is doing here?”
“Uh…no…I mean, I don’t know. That was here when I got here.”
“When you got here?” I meant this as a prompt to get him to tell me more.
The stranger looked me in the eyes cautiously as if trying to discern whether he could trust me with more information or not. “Yeah. This morning. Got here this morning. Now here—let me accompany you to the door, because I have some work to get done.”
“Oh…okay,” I answered feebly. I was obviously getting the bum’s rush because the guy did not want to tell me what he knew. I took Chippy and left. So much for my brilliant idea.
Back at my laptop again, with Chippy at my feet, I had trouble concentrating on my work. An hour later, I had still not written a single word when someone buzzed me from downstairs in the lobby. I made my way to the intercom and flipped the switch. “Yes?”
“Hey, can I come up?” It was Charlie, the newspaper boy.
“Sure, I’ll buzz you in.” BZZZZZT.
While Charlie was riding up in the elevator, I kept turning over the situation with Mrs. Marchetti in my mind. Strange man—timetable—and Monty. Wait! That was odd—Monty had seemed fine, just like usual. If Mrs. Marchetti had been murdered and possibly dismembered, Monty clearly didn’t know anything about it.
A triple knock on the door signaled the arrival of Charlie, who walked inside in a rush the second I opened the door. “Hey, have you seen Mrs. Marchetti today?” he asked. Without waiting for my answer, he continued, “She was s’posed to bring me a cupcake from the Magnolia today, and she never showed. I was just wonderin’ if you seen her. She’s a old lady, and she might’ve took a fall or somethin’.”
Hmmm. So I wasn’t the only intended recipient of a cupcake. That Mrs. Marchetti sure got around. “Yeah, sorry about that, Charlie. I lost out too. What flavor was your cupcake supposed to be?”
“Mine was banana.”
“Okay, tell you what. You tell me what you know about Mrs. Marchetti disappearing, and I’ll make you some banana yogurt pudding.”
“Oh, that would be great! Thanks.”
As I mixed together a carton of Fage 2% yogurt with a teaspoon of vanilla extract and some stevia, slicing two pleasantly ripe bananas into the mix, I questioned Charlie. “What did Mrs. Marchetti tell you yesterday besides promising you a cupcake?” I layered the banana pudding mixture into a dish with two heaping tablespoons of coconut palm sugar and presented it to Charlie on a saucer, spoon on the side.
“Well,” he began, talking between bites of pudding, “She told me she was going to Grand Central today…and [unintelligible]..she would be at the Magnolia Bakery…schmrfg…and when I asked her where she was going at Grand Central, she said, ‘I’m visiting my friend Mrs. Ankeney, who has asked to see me.’”
“Mrs. Ankeney? Who’s that? She’s never mentioned that friend to me before.”
Charlie stopped for a moment to lick the remainder of the pudding off his spoon before answering. “Oh…she told me Mrs. Ankeney was her best friend from when she was a little girl. They went to school together, and they stayed in touch.”
“Do you know where Mrs. Ankeney lives?” I queried.
“I’m not sure. She said…no, wait…I ‘member. She said she lived in Buffalo when she was a girl, and Mrs. Ankeney lived down the street and around the corner from her house.”
“Where in Buffalo?”
“I dunno. Say, that was good pudding. Got any more?”
Charlie polished off another dish of pudding, and I tossed around all the possibilities in my head. Mrs. Ankeney—Mrs. Marchetti’s best friend in life—murdered her? No. Couldn’t be. Maybe Mrs. Marchetti had decided to stay overnight at Mrs. Ankeney’s. Or got sick there and was not well enough to come back yet. Or maybe both women got murdered at Mrs. Ankeney’s home….
“Oh, one more thing,” Charlie added, “Mrs. Marchetti said that Mrs. Ankeney was in some kind of trouble. That’s why she asked to see her.” Trouble! Maybe Mrs. Marchetti went to help Mrs. Ankeney and got into trouble with her. It did not sound good.
Charlie thanked me again for the pudding and left, and as I held the door open for him, the stranger from Mrs. Marchetti’s apartment showed up at my door. “If you wouldn’t mind,” he began, “I’d like to come in for a minute.” He did not have Monty with him this time, and I was probably taking a chance, but I opened the door a little wider and said, “Come in.”
To be continued in part 3.