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Tuesday, November 27

Celiac's Are People, Too

"Celiac's Are People, Too"
(A Bo Fexler Short Story)
Short fiction - Mystery/Crime
by Clair Dickson

"Wait-- she was ill on and off for weeks before she died?"

"Well, yeah, but she was a celiac. She must've eaten something that made her sick." Wendy explained.

"Over and over?"

"Sometimes that happens. Things get cross-contaminated. And the thing with cross-contamination is that one bag might be contaminated, but the next one may not be. Makes it hard to tell."

"How long was she a celiac?"

"She was diagnosed maybe two or three years ago."

"It's gluten she had to avoid, right?" I recalled my earlier research.

"Yeah."

"And how long was she gluten-free?"

"Pretty much right after she was diagnosed. Took a little while at first because gluten hides in so many products!"

"So, she pretty well knew what she was doing."

"Oh, yeah. I mean, she ate well! She could cook all sorts of meals, and you never even knew they were gluten-free. I mean, they were just good meals."

"So, she lived a full life, in spite of her disorder?"

"Yeah. I mean, she was happily married. Never had kids, but celiac can do that."

"How did her husband take it?"

"The celiac diagnoses?"

"Yeah. And the not having kids."

"Oh, fine, I guess. She told me that he never complained."

"You get along pretty well with her husband?"

"Yeah."

"He didn't want an autopsy, did he?"

"He was opposed to cutting her up. They'd discussed cremation before."

"That's what he did?"

"Oh yeah. That's what she wanted."

"The M.E. called it natural causes, based on her condition."

She touched a finger to the side of her dry eye and swallowed. "Yeah."

"And she was cremated, destroying all evidence."

"Evidence of what?"

"You left your job as a dental hygienist about six months ago. Until I talked to them, they didn't put together that the missing mercury-- from the amalgams-- had anything to do with you. Or with you leaving."

"What-- I don't know what you're talking about." She licked her lips, then no sooner was her tongue back in her mouth, her lips were dry again.

"Oh, you were smart. No doubt about that. And it was only a freak thing that her parents called me and asked me to look into this. See, they were going through some of Jill's things, and they found a letter. A love letter. Dave surely didn't know that she had that letter. Wanna guess who it was from?"

She didn't guess.

"Which, there's your motive. Get this sick woman out of the way-- quietly-- so you and Dave can do… well, each other. Without fear of getting caught. And he can have the wife and family he wanted to have. Only, I was hired."

She swallowed. "So I noticed."

"You were so confident in your scheme-- I am impressed. You really kept your cool when I started asking questions. That's how sure you were that you would be able to pull this off. But you didn't think I'd check back to your previous employer. You probably didn't even think anyone would connect you to the stolen mercury. After all, it was such a small amount that you took. Mercury so highly toxic. It took a little bit, just a little. A couple mornings a week. In her orange juice? Or maybe on her gluten-free frozen waffles. But a celiac can be poisoned just the same as anyone else."

"The letter wasn't signed and it was typed. How did you know it was me?"

"Because you picked this funky font. It's not a standard font-- I checked. But it's on this website of free font downloads. You emailed Jill a link, once. You didn't count on me getting her computer, did you? Apparently you both liked fun fonts. You also both liked Dave. Maybe you and Dave can write to each other from your respective prisons. Only, I don't think you'll be allowed to download any funky fonts. By the way-- never ask how someone knew it was you!" I laughed, shaking my head.

"She was sick--" she tried feebly.

"She had a disorder. She was very much alive. She was just a regular woman with a cheating husband and back-stabbing best friend."

Clair Dickson writes when she's not teaching alternative high school. Or when she's not ill from something she ate or breathed. She's had more than 30 Bo Fexler short stories published so far. Visit www.bofexler.blogspot.com for links and more.

3 reactions:

Kelly Parra said...

Very nice, Clair. Thanks for sharing with FM!

mfranchi said...

Great Clair...Bo is most certainly on top of her game!

r2 said...

The softer side of Bo. This feels like it could go in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine or Ellery Queen. Kind of old school and new wave at the same time.
Nice stuff.