August 16, 2014

Murder Comes to Dinner


They traveled in the same circle, that was all. Wives who Canasta-ed, movie-ed and churched together.

But Annette was never anyone’s friend and when she got the house and their white-gloved community after the divorce, which everyone politely avoided the mention of, the ladies took it upon themselves to adopt her, having her to dinner, taking her over to the city for a day of light shopping and girltalk. Secretly they had their suspicions, that it was Annette who had the roving eye and Scott who had done the walking out.

All this ran through Madge’s mind as they sat at table on that fateful Thursday night that would upend their world, that would throw up the blinds in so many quiet homes on Mayfair Court. It was Madge’s turn this Thursday, and was it her imagination or was Roscoe dressed a bit too nattily for a weeknight? The guest of honor, as was the rule, was the center of attention. And Annette held it with all her Belle of Savannah Second Runner-Up charms dialed to a sugary fare-thee-well.

There was the harmless flirtation with Beau, who had just made captain on the Centralia High’s swim team, and the more reckless gay banter with Roscoe, who flushed a bright red when she cooed how well he was looking, oh my, vice president, you must be so proud of your man here.

Madge returned a wintery smile, and felt the serrated edge of her steak knife, digging the thumb in that it might restraint her. The honey molasses was flowing without mercy, and as she would later tell the arresting officer, the last thing she remembered was that she seemed to be the only one at the table to hear the flecks of steel in Annette’s silvery laugh when Miss Second Runner Up turned to her and said, “Why Madge, honey, I do declare you must have found more uses for the pea than Mister George Washington Carver!”


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