Squashed to Death
The Latest from Persimmon Worthing and Blossom City
August 9, 2017
Today I bring rather unsettling news—Petal Choufleur died a somewhat violent death yesterday. According to the investigating police officer, Sergeant Milton Courgette, a blunt instrument did the deed. Based on the evidence strewn near her body (being chunks of green squash and a pink and white gingham ribbon) he speculated Petal was zonked on the head with a beribboned zucchini. And not your dainty serving-for-one zucchini either. Nope. “That zucchini,” Sergeant Courgette said as he stood on my porch, “would have fed a family of six. For a week.”
I believed him because we are in the midst of zucchini season and every gardener in the neighbourhood is scrambling to harvest those humble green squash before they become monsters. Which we know will definitely happen if we turn our eyes away from the veggie patch for an instant. I told Courgette as much.
Ahh,” Courgette said, “you grow zucchini, Madame Worthing?” No doubt he was speculating he had found his suspect.
“Everyone does,” I said. “This is Blossom City, it’s what you do if you have a vegetable garden. Most of us grow only one zucchini plant—enough to feed ourselves and most of Lithuania. Petal Choufleur outdid us all. Did you look at her garden?”
Courgette nodded and blew out a short puff of air. “Bushels of squash back there.”
“Uh-huh, you know it. Fifteen plants at least.”
He glanced at a spot near my door then, and said, “Did you know you have a zucchini there, with a ribbon tied around it?”
Sure enough, tucked next to my door was a mid-sized zuke sporting a pink and white gingham ribbon and bow. I picked it up and said, “I expected this. From Petal of course. Last year’s ribbon was green and white. The year before that it was yellow with blue polka dots.” When Courgette stared at me blankly, I went on. “Yesterday, the eighth of August, was Sneak-a-Zucchini-Onto-Your-Neighbour’s-Porch-Day. One of Petal’s favourite days. Or perhaps I should say nights, because she did her sneaking after dark.”
“She put them on everyone’s porch? Every year?” Courgette said. When I nodded, he asked, “How’d you feel about getting a large zucchini every year?”
I shrugged. “It’s not a big deal. To me at any rate.”
He took note of that. “Oh, but it was to others?”
I didn’t want to tell tales, but he was trying to solve a heinous crime. And it surely was my civic duty to assist. “Rumour has it one person threatened to squash Petal’s head if she ever put another zuke on their doorstep. But it wasn’t a real threat. It was just your normal Blossom City chitchat.”
“Who was this person?”
“I don’t feel comfortable naming names because I heard it fourth hand.” I shook my head and buttoned my lips but still I couldn’t stop my eyes from sliding away from him to the house directly across the street. Where Ginger Delarue lives.
Courgette stared at Ginger’s porch for a long moment before thanking me for my time and continuing his canvass of the neighbourhood. I puttered among the roses in my front garden and watched his progress along the block, across the street and finally to Ginger’s door.
When they put Ginger into the back of the police car, I heard her protest. “But Petal never gave me a zucchini this year. I told her not to.”
The police confiscated and catalogued all the beribboned zucchini from the neighbourhood. Every porch had one. Except for Ginger’s. Sergeant Courgette’s theory is Ginger didn’t have a zuke on her porch because she used it to kill Petal.
Petal Choufleur loved Sneak-a-Zucchini-Onto-Your-Neighbour’s-Porch Day. She wouldn’t have paid any attention to demands she stop sharing her harvest. Especially from Ginger, our local femme de la rue.
Suppose someone was deeply wounded by home-wrecker Ginger and knew about Ginger’s threat to do Petal in? I could name two recent divorcées who qualified. Suppose that person waited patiently for the eighth of August and then snatched Petal’s gaily attired zucchini from Ginger’s porch and smashed Petal’s head with it. A few dozen times.
I may give Sergeant Courgette a call. He’s lived here fewer than ten years, much too short a time to gain an accurate understanding of the private lives of our townspeople. Since I have lived here all my life and am attuned to the town’s goings-on, I can provide welcome context to the bare facts.
Of course, some of Courgette’s officers may tell him my theory of the crime is too Machiavellian for our little town. But I think he’ll find my suspicions are correct. This is, after all, Blossom City and things are rarely the way they first appear.
Until next time,
© Charlotte Morganti
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