While Lorraine was guzzling margaritas and rolling around the tile floor with puppies at the home of El Chapo in the Mexican jungle, poor Frederick was beside himself with worry at 44 Cherry Street in Black Mountain. When Lorraine had taken off to visit her sister at her Mexican hacienda before Thanksgiving, Frederick was confused. Why did she go? What could anyone have against the holidays? Later when he learned that she was not only unexpected by her sister, but also that she had never arrived, he decided to take action. He called the Black Mountain police. “My wife! She’s missing!!”
Our boys in blue jumped into action, storming Lorraine and Frederick’s apartment and pushing Frederick into his armchair. “Where is she?” they demanded.
“Anyone who has ever watched a television cop show knows without a doubt that the husband is always the perp. What did you do with her?” asked the captain.
This was not at all what Frederick expected. Lorraine had disappeared into thin air. Frederick was a worrier. and went from zero to dead by the side of the road in thirty seconds. He could picture poor Lorraine lying in a ditch, her black hair streaked with blood. Or maybe she had run off with the Uber driver. She was that beautiful that no man could resist her. Fat tears ran down his cheeks as the officers looked under the bed and in the closets to see if he had stashed her body.
He wanted to shout at them,”Stop wasting time! She has disappeared and might be in trouble,” but he didn’t want to make them angry.
After they had made a mess of the apartment, throwing all the clothes onto the floor and emptying the kitchen cupboards, The policemen turned on Frederick again. “You are a cagey one, aren’t you? What did you do with the body?”
“I did nothing!” insisted Frederick. “She took off in an Uber this morning and I haven’t heard word one from her. That’s just not like her! Something is very wrong!”
“You are darn tooting it is! We don’t get murder cases in Black Mountain very often, but we will get to the bottom of this one, come hell or high water!” declared the captain. “And if we can’t find any bloodstains ourselves, we will call in the Feds who will. But don’t be mistaken. We have our eyes on you. Don’t leave the county!”
“I won’t,” promised Frederick. “Thanksgiving is coming and my daughter invited me to her house. She lives in Leicester. Call me on my cell phone the minute you learn something. I won’t be able to swallow a bite of turkey until I know she is safe.”
After the police clomped down the stairs of 44 Cherry Street, Frederick was wracked with sobs. Suki was upset and was hopping around like Rumplestilskin yapping at Frederick. He ignored her and the barking just increased in volume. The dog was confused herself about what was going on, and she wondered where her mistress was. Lorraine was bad about giving Suki bits of meat and wedges of Brie even though the dog was overweight. Suki loved and missed Lorraine and was trying to instruct Frederick to find her and bring her home.
The barking and sobbing made such a racket, that they almost muffled the pounding at the door. Frederick finally rose from his chair and opened it. Before him was a skinny woman in polyester clothing. Her sparse grey hair was standing out at strange angles. She had attempted to apply red lipstick without looking in the mirror and she resembled The Joker. “Frederick!” she cried, “what in the world is going on? I heard stomping on the stairs and then a racket coming out of this apartment.”
At first Frederick didn’t recognize her and just stared at her blankly. “It’s me! Ellie! Your across the hall neighbor!” she announced. “Are you okay?”
“No I’m not,” he declared flatly. “Lorraine is missing!”
He filled her in on all the details of Lorraine’s hissy fit and her disappearance as Ellie sat opposite him on Lorraine’s chair. “Oh good heavens! First thing is I’ll fix you a cup of tea. That will make things better. It always does.”
She went into the kitchen, picking her way over the mess left by the police. On the counter was the contents of Frederick and Lorraine’s liquor cabinet. When the Asheville Grey tea was steeped, she added a big helping of rum and carried it out to Frederick. She instructed him to drink quickly while it was still hot. Then she prepared a refill. And then another.
Sipping that third cup was the last thing Frederick could remember when he awoke in a strange bed smelling of sweat and fried pork rinds the next morning. He gasped as he turned over and stared at the scrawny naked body of the woman beside him. What had he done??