Edward, left: “The aroma of this cognac is delicious. How delightful of you to offer such a treat.”
Josephine, center: “It doesn’t smell like poison at all, does it?”
Jean, right: “Josie, you fool. He’s going to get suspicious if you keep talking like that.”
Edward: “Actually, I’m getting suspicious with how both of you are talking. Why on earth would either of you want to poison me? I’ve been nothing but a gracious guest all evening.”
Josephine: “That’s precisely the issue. It has been all evening.”
Jean: “Some guests just don’t know when to leave and drastic measures become necessary.”
Edward: “It seems like there might have been a better resolution to this situation. Perhaps you could have simply asked me to leave instead of instantly deciding to take my life.”
Josephine: “Well, it wasn’t an instant decision. I was on the fence until you started talking about Proust. No one should have to tolerate such.”
Jean: “Besides, we gave you as many hints as we could. Surely you noticed the scowl on my face when you insisted on a second helping of sponge cake.”
Edward: “Jean, I love you dearly, but your face always looks like that. How was I to know?”
Josephine: “You should have known something was amiss when I slammed the liquor cabinet and locked it.”
Jean: “I heard the bang all the way in the kitchen when I was trying to find the arsenic.”
Edward: “I didn’t think anything of the slamming and locking. After all, I still have grown children at home who have never moved out and therefore I have security measures with my own libation inventory.”
Josephine: “So you do understand why people who refuse to leave are just so annoying. I don’t understand why you’re complaining about our actions.”
Jean: “Just drink the damn cognac, Ed.”
Edward, sighing: “I suppose you’re right. If I’ve offended you this deeply, I should be a man and endure the consequences. Proust once said that-”
Josephine: “Do NOT mention that wretched man again. We’ve suffered enough.”
Jean: “And do you really want his words to be your last?”
Edward: “Fine. I’ll swill the ill. But first, perhaps we could celebrate my passing with a nice nosh on some exquisite almond cookies.”
Joesphine: “Almond cookies? That seems odd. And we don’t have any.”
Jean: “And you’ve eaten nearly everything else in this house, which means we have little left to offer. Wasn’t the supper we just had good enough for a last one? Really, Edward, you have a serious degree of cheek. I’m feeling less and less guilty about the arsenic, though I am still a little troubled about where we’re going to put your body. All the good hiding spots have been taken.”
Edward: “My dears, no reason to fret. I just happen to have an artfully crafted foil packet of almond cookies in my suit jacket. I was saving them as a parting gift for the evening, tucked into an inner pocket at a time when I was unaware that the parting would be my own.”
Josephine: “Oh, that’s rather sweet of you. Had I known about that bit of thoughtfulness, I could have endured another thirty minutes of your babble before I signaled Jean that the tipping point had been reached and she’d best run prepare a cordial. Perhaps I’ve been a bit hasty with my adjudication.”
Jean: “Sister, steel your resolve. We lost five hours of our life this evening. Five hours. We’re beyond the point of possible redemption.”
Edward: “Although I appreciate the extra time on this earth, we seem to be drifting from my symbolic cookie proffering. Would you like some? They’re the Queen’s favorites.”
Josephine: “Do you mean Harold across the street?”
Jean: “That girl does know her baked goods. I relish his Christmas baskets.”
Edward: “No, the queen of England. I had them imported, just for this night. Back before I realized that you consider murder just another possible party treat.”
Josephine: “The queen of England? That seems rather festive. And we’ll need the sugar boost for the body-hiding. I’m not as energetic about these things as I used to be. Sister?”
Jean: “Well, I suppose we could have a biscuit or two, as the Queen would say. Or what I think she would say. She never returns my calls these days.”
Edward: “Have you killed anyone in her family? She’s possibly miffed about that.”
Josephine: “Not that I recall. But we were really busy during Passover. Sister?”
Jean: “No, I’m fairly certain we haven’t hosted a Windsor. But now that I think about it, there was that one guy with an accent who ate too many of the shrimp puffs. I thought he was from Belgium, but I might have been mistaken. We really should keep better records.”
Edward: “Anyway.” He pulled the packet out of his pocket and proceeded to plunder the population of such. “Oh, look. There are exactly six. Two for each of us. Unless you have someone waiting in the wings for a second act. Perhaps this is a double feature night?”
Josephine: “No, it’s just you.”
Jean: “Things have slowed down since Passover. We’re in the off season of offing.”
Edward: “Splendid.” He arranged two biscuits in front of each sister and then a double helping in front of himself. “Bon Appetit!”
Josephine: “Goodness, these smell delicious. What is that essence?”
Jean: “I’m assuming it’s the almond. Because they’re almond cookies. I swear, sometimes I wonder about you.”
Josephine: “Well, I’m wondering what this will do to my mouth.” She popped one in said orifice.
Jean did as well.
They crunched. In a lady-like manner, of course.
Josephine: “Good heavens above. These are extraordinary. I simply must have the other.” She snatched it up and hurled the biscuit into her bulwark.
Jean: “That’s the most excited I’ve ever seen you be about putting something into your mouth a second time.”
Josephine: “And it’s the first time you’ve never gone after a second serving of something in your mouth.”
Jean: “Jealousy doesn’t look good on you, Sister. Don’t judge me because I have more paramours than you. I have needs.” Still, she double-dipped as well, crunching away, crumbs flying.
Josephine: “Wait, why are we the only two talking? What happened to the writer having all three of us speaking in sequence?”
They turned to look at the writer.
The writer pointed at Edward.
Edward was smiling, cookies untouched. “Dear sisters, do you know what also smells like almonds?”
Josephine: “That gourmet butter Harold tucked into his Hanukkah basket? It’s the only thing left in the fridge that you didn’t eat.”
Jean: “That Belgian undercover agent who might have been British? They never bathe properly.”
Edward: “Arsenic, my lovelies. Arsenic smells like almonds.” He plucked up the foil wrapper and tucked it back into his inner suit jacket pocket, hiding the evidence and his fingerprints. “It’s been a delightful evening, but I must run. I’ll see myself out.”
And he did.
Previously published on “Crusty Pie”, revised and considerably extended for this post on Bonnywood.
Categories: Past Imperfect