There were three things that were constant on Maybelle Street. The first was the barking of Mrs. St. Claire’s precious, long haired poodle Casper every morning. The second was the sound of Mrs. Daphne DuBois yelling at Mrs. St. Claire’s precious, long haired poodle as it tried to dig up her prized magnolia’s from their flower beds. The third was Mrs. Daphne Dubois prized magnolia’s themselves, which bloomed every Spring. And won First Prize at the county fair that summer so often, it was rumored that she bribed the judges with either her sweet potato pie or money depending on who voiced that particular rumor allowed.
There were many stories about Mrs. Daphne Dubois. But three in particular stood out. The first, most popular one was that she had been involved in a fling with a writer of some renown from the Mid West as a girl, and still had a picture of the two of them tucked away in a locket given to her by her mother. The second was that, as a young Beauty Pageant Queen, she had had a secret screen test for Scarlett O’ Hara but ultimately had to turn the role down because she was too young. The third — and this was the one people talked of in hushed tones — was that her husband had ran away with the maid, because Mrs. Dubois cared more about her flowers than him. And he was never seen or heard from again.
Early in the morning, Mrs. Daphne Dubois would rise from her bed to the sound of her ancient powder blue alarm clock. She would put on her pink furry slippers, her pink robe, then shower and ready herself for the day. Once her hair was done, and her face was done, and her sundress of the day was done, she would go down stairs and have a simple, light breakfast.
Buttered toast, and orange juice, one of the few indulgences she allowed for herself. She would grab her gardening gloves from the drawer in the kitchen which she kept them, along with her gardening tools on the end table by the entry way, and her sunhat to keep her face freckle free. Then, with everything in hand, she would go out to her lovely, front yard where her lovely, prize winning flowers were and begin her day of gardening.
So was the routine on Maybelle Street. Mrs. Daphne Dubois on her knees, tending to the soil, shovel in hand, like Persephone, bringing forth Spring with the touch of her fingers.
But, as fate would have it, there was always something watching, waiting to bring Persephone down to the ground. In this particular case, it was Mrs. St. Claire’s precious, long haired poodle: Casper. Who had taken it upon himself to sneak from his owners yard, into Mrs. St. Claire’s to get at the precious flowers that he had such a fascination with. And so, it was how Maybelle Street awoke, to the sound of Mrs. St. Claire’s hysterics as she tried to pull her precious dog away from the prize winning flowerbeds of Mrs. Daphne Dubois.
Only to have him pull up the flowers, and a human femur. It wasn’t long before the rumors circulated on the tiny, little street on a small town in the middle of no where. But not Mrs. St. Claire knocked on Mrs. Daphne Dubious door, with shaking hands, to show her what her little mongrel had found.
“D-d-d-aphne I’m so s-s-sorry. I don’t even know how he got in there. I’ll pay for them all, of course. But — — but — — “ she helplessly gestured to the bones that had been pulled out of the flower bed.
“Calm down, Alma St. Claire. You’re going into hysterics!” she went outside, a shawl over shoulders, and looked at what her friend had found. Human bones, strewn across the lawn by the dog. Her face paled, and she muttered a name she had not muttered in nearly twenty years. “Jameson.”
“Jameson? Y-y-your husband?” Mrs. St. Claire stammered.
“Yes, isn’t it obvious? That girl of his took care of the gardening before I learned how after he….departed. You knew me then.Didn’t have a green thumb, not till I devoted myself to flowers after he left.”
Mrs. St. Claire’s eyes widened. “Yes — — yes, of course. That makes absolute sense. She must have killed him because he wouldn’t leave you for her. Well — — Daphne, the police!”
Daphne reached over, and gripped Mrs. Alma St. Claire’s hand tightly. “Alma, my dear old friend, do you think you could call them for me? I…I don’t have the strength.”
Mrs. Alma St. Claire gripped Daphne Dubious hand. “Oh, yes…..poor dear…of course I’ll call them.”
“I’ll go back into the house,” said Mrs. Dubois, “to wait.”
“Yes, of course.”
Mrs. Dubois glanced at the bones of her husband, scattered, on her lawn and her face remained cool. Not a single tear shed. She retired to her home to wait, despite the on going hysteria that was fast filling Maybelle street. She went to her fridge, pulled out a pitcher of lemonade, poured herself a glass and then retired to the dining room table to drink and wait.
And in the first hour, Mrs. Dubois pulled out her hip flask, and poured whiskey into her lemonade. It was mid morning when the doorbell rang. She smoothed her greying, blond hair, then the skirt of her dress, and fiddled anxiously with the pearls around her neck that had been a gift from her husband. She got up, and she went to answer the door trying to make her face as cool as possible.
“Gentleman,” she said, to the two policemen that stood at her door.
“Mrs. Dubois,” said the tall, thin man with a brown mustache who was named Hank Haywood, “we’re here about the bones.”
“Yes,” she said, “I…I have reason to believe that it was my husband. There was a girl, you see, who worked for us as a gardener, taught me all about flowers you see and….”
Hank Haywood coughed, and put his hand up. “You don’t need to explain, Mrs. Dubois. This is Maybelle St. We know all of the scandals here.”
She gave him her former Beauty Pageant Queen smile. “Oh, well, bless your heart, Officer Haywood. I’m certain my dearly, departed husband will be in excellent care.”
“Of course, ma’am,” said Officer Haywood with a nod. He glanced at her flower beds, still all torn up. “Shame about your flowers, ma’am. They are a staple here. What’s your secret?”
She gave a girlish laugh. “Oh, you’re too kind. It’s the soil. Always the soil.”
“Well, at least there was only one. Good luck with the other.”
“Yes, good luck, indeed. Thank you, Officers.”
They nodded politely at her, with a tip of her hats, and then they went off with the ambulance that was carrying her husbands bones. When they were long gone, Mrs. Dubois went to the second flowerbed. And she went to work, tending her flowers.