Be sure to check out yesterday's post first which is a visit to Cohagen's Chronicles (where the Farmer's wife and I are obviously too bored with snow to think of anything to write about with our families right now so we have turned to fiction), to catch up with our slueths Fern and Joanie before you begin reading......
Fern leaped into action. She pulled the smelling salts from her zebra faux purse and began waving them under Joanie's nose. Thank goodness she had kept those in there from the last time Homer Grand Theater had shown Out of Africa...oh, that dreamy Robert Redford.
Joanie sat up with a stunned squeal.
“Mr Cuddles? Wait, FERN? Where is Mr. Cuddles and (gasp) that MAN.....”
Fern surmised she had hit her head harder than she thought.
“Joanie, I don't know where your dog is right now. You need to concentrate.”
“Dog? I don't have a dog. I have only Mr. Cuddles.”
She must have hit her head VERY hard. “Joanie...concentrate. Yes, you have a dog. Look, see all the dog toys all over the place?”
“No no no, those are Mr Cuddles' play toys. He is such a large cat.....” Just than the monstrous yellow tabby cat jumped in her lap. Fern's raised eyebrows cause Joanie to pull the behemoth cat a bit tighter to her....she had been told before that Mr. Cuddles needed to lay off the vanilla ice cream.
Fern shut the door soundly behind her. “Joanie, what happened?”
“A large super handsome, Fern, he was suuuuupppppeeeeerrrrrr handsome, man was at the door and he spoke, well, lands sake, like no one in Homer has EVER spoken.”
This was Fern's Watson?
Sherlock Fern Holmes pushed herself to her feet, helped Joanie to the table and put in her call to Amelia.
“Have you learned anything yet?” no need to chat with all these crazy happenings in her town. It appeared it was up to Fern and her book clubbers to get to the bottom of this mystery alone.
“Well, Clyde, he tells me that Clara's death seems odd, they can't really pin it on anything in particular. The coffee shop is just abuzzin over Clara's boyfriend, Hans.”
“HANS is Clara's boyfriend?” Fern plopped in the chair next to Joanie.
“You know him?” Amelia asked.
“Oh no....but I have heard tell.”
“Lands sake alive, who knew that Clara was such a cougar?” asked Joanie, fully shocked. She shuffled over to the mirror to reapply that frosted rose lipstick she always kept near her.
Fern quickly filled Amelia on the bare facts of what she and Joanie had learned, which, giving only the bare facts added up to nothing. At all. Except for the blueberries delivered to the door.
“But, well, blueberries delivered to the door? That doesn't make any sense! The Farmer's Market is to
day, those blueberries would have to show up tonight to make any sense of someone missing Clara and dropping them off.”
Fern suddenly realized they were on the trail again. “Joanie, we're going for a ride down to the Farmer's Market.” Fern went back to talking on the phone. “Amelia, we'll be checking in soon. Keep your ear open to any new news.”
Joanie made sure her lipstick was reapplied, the Mr. Cuddles knew where she was, the note from the blueberries was safelyin her rrhinestone clutch and her pep-too bismal pink scarf was securely tied around herperfectlyycoiffedd hair and when she was securely settled into thepassengerr car of the pink Honda gold wing, they were off to the Farmer's Market, completely in conspicuous.
The Homer Farmers Market was a long standing area attraction. It was held on the courthouse lawn every Wednesday and Saturday. Fern's idea was simple, she would just find a vendor that was selling blueberries and ask if they knew Clara because she just raved about the blueberries and than ask the farmer what on earth the note meant.
Joanie was soon distracted by a little girl selling cat nip toys but Fern was not easily swayed by the flower bouquets, sweet corn and the like. She found the only friendly looking family selling blueberries and they had not sold to Clara but they were more than helpful in pointing out the vendor who did. An old man whose eyes were a bit too much like a possom's for Fern's liking. She meandered over to the conniving little man. Fern didn't recognize him from around town. And he didn't seem overly thrilled to be there.....almost like a cover of sorts.
“Do you have any blueberries?” Fern asked.
“Sure. But they are more then the farmers down the row,” he growled to her.
“Yes,” Fern nodded, a chill going through her, “but CLARA told us to see you.”
Joanie appeared at her side with a bag full of cat nip toys. “Clara, you say?”
“Oh!” chirped Joanie, “You know Clara? Then you must have dropped off the blueberries to her house.” Fern noticed his eyes darting around now. “Oh, they are fine blueberries. But lands sake, why's this in the bottom of the quart box?” Joanie began reading the now unfolded note aloud “Keep your Hans off my........”
“You two are in over your head.........” the man hissed, grabbing for the note. But just then he caught a glance at something that must have frightened him and suddenly he turned to run.
Fern looked behind her to see a perfectly handsome man, tall, built like a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger running toward her. He stopped and held his hand out to her. “hello,” his deep accented voice said, “I am Hans, Clara's boyfriend. And I believe you two are in much danger. Come with me.”
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