La Feria News

Miss Bitsy: Chapter 5

by Nandy Ekle

Miss Bitsy slowly turned back to the detective and batted her eyes sheepishly. “Oh…. well, I guess you heard that.”
Jeremy was trying to close his mouth, but his shocked brain slowed the process. The sweet goop fell out of his mouth, bounced off his shirt and splattered on the plate.
“All these darn ghosts around here.” Then Miss Bitsy told a story that almost shut down Jeremy’s senses and nearly stopped his heart. “Eli always complained about the money I spent at the grocery store. Every time I bought groceries he went berserk. He told me he would take my name off the checking account and start giving me an allowance if I didn’t stop spending so much money on food to just give it away. I always wanted to have plenty of casseroles and cookies and pies and cakes and things like that for the neighbors. Well, I just couldn’t let him stop me.”
Jeremy grabbed a napkin and wiped the chocolaty mess from his mouth, chin, and shirt.
“I read up on vitamins, minerals and herbs—home remedy kinds of things—and then I just added an extra dose of potassium to his beer. When he died of a heart attack, no one questioned it. Had his funeral, collected his life insurance, and bought new appliances for my kitchen.”
Somewhere in the back of Jeremy’s mind a niggle of professionalism tried to return. “Miss Bitsy, I’m not sure—“
“But it turns out Eli was right. His insurance wasn’t real huge and it didn’t last all that long. Soon my money ran low again. So I found a renter: Anton Easley. Oh, Anton was such a nice boy. I loved him and he loved me. He fixed broken things for me, ate my cooking, and did all kinds of little chores around here. I was the happiest I had ever been.
“Miss Bitsy, you’re the kindest, sweetest person I know.” Jeremy couldn’t quite process the story coming from her in that pink and yellow room with sunshine beaming in through the window like warm water.
“One day I thought I had dreamed that Mrs. Biggers around the corner, that her son—you remember Clint?—and daughter-in-law had a baby and I wanted to take her something to celebrate. Only, my Pyrex wasn’t in the cabinet. I couldn’t find it anywhere.
“I asked Anton about the dish and he denied that he had touched it. He said he didn’t even know where I kept it. But the thing is, like I said before, he and I were the only ones in the house, and the dish was not in the cabinet or the dishwasher. I knew he must have put it somewhere. If he hadn’t lied about it, I would have believed he’d just put it up in the wrong place.
“And then my apron was gone. I wondered whether he was playing jokes on me by hiding my dish and my apron. When I want to cook a casserole, the first things I do are get out my rose-colored Pyrex and put on my green apron—green for nutritional food. I wear the yellow apron for cooking sweets since yellow is so cheery. My pink apron is for breads since breads are comforting, like pink. I wear the blue apron when I’m cooking for someone who needs a meal brought to them to help brighten their day because they feel…. well, blue.”
Jeremy pushed his plate away. His appetite had left him with grief in his stomach. A thought rolled through his mind. She’s gotten away with Eli’s murder for years, so why arrest her now? It would mean digging him up and doing all the forensics to find the proof. Surely there could be no harm in forgetting what he had heard.
“Anyway, I wanted to make a casserole, but I couldn’t find my Pyrex or my green apron. Anton swore he didn’t know anything about them, but I knew he was lying.” Her face began to change again as she took on a determined look. “I thought if I could sweeten him up, he might tell me what he did with them, so I decided to make a cobbler. I put on my happy yellow apron and pulled out my cobbler dish, mixed up the pie crust, and realized my beautiful, heavy marble rolling pin had also disappeared.
“I asked Anton about that and he told me the same lie, said he didn’t know what had happened to it. He said he saw me put it in the refrigerator to make it cold so my crust wouldn’t stick to it, but when I looked in the refrigerator it wasn’t there. I told Anton I knew he had taken it and I wanted it back. I told him these little jokes he was playing on me weren’t funny. He said he honestly didn’t know where the items had gone. I figured he took them to a friend’s house or something. And then when the flour sifter vanished, well, I got angry. It was just a little metal sifter, but out of the three I own, that one worked the best. The other two have little bits of flour permanently stuck in them.”
Miss Bitsy’s face began to look sad and dark. She shook her head. “To think I loved him so much and he could steal from me and then lie about it. I was utterly heartbroken. I cried for two days over the fact that he would do that to me. Well, I knew I couldn’t let him get away with it. Those were just piddly little things, but he had no right to hide them somewhere.”

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