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Mystery Fiction

“What do we have?” Chief Carter pulls at the zipper on her coat even though it is as high as it can go. She didn’t even get a cup of coffee before this call came in.

“Break in at the Oswald Bakery, home of the Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies Chief.” Deputy Smith hitches his shoulders up by his ears.

Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies, that brings back memories of Christmas with her little brother. Jessica Carter always had her Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies for breakfast on Christmas morning. It still isn’t Christmas without Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies.

“The perp made entrance through the back door, the delivery door, and then stole one thing.” Deputy Smith said.

“What was stolen?”

“Secret ingredient for the Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies.” Deputy Smith said.

“The secret ingredient for the Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies?”

“That right chief.”

“So we are looking for someone who has…”

“The secret ingredient for the Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies.”

“Which is what?”

“It’s a secret chief.” Deputy Smith opens his notebook. “A Mr. Davis, Joshua Davis, reported the broken window on the door at 5 a.m. Mr. Davis was walking his dog Fancy. Mr. Davis is a member of neighborhood watch.”

“So he’s walking through the alley and notices the broken window.”

“Actually, he noticed the broken glass on the ground below the door first. Fancy had caught the scent of something and was following it when they came upon the broken glass. He’s standing over there if you want to talk to him. He demanded he give you his information himself.”

Chief Carter looked at Mr. Davis standing by the corner of the bakery dancing from one foot to another and rubbing his hands together. Fancy appeared ready to continue their morning rounds. Mr. Davis is bundled up leaving only his beard, the color of his breath, and his nose and eyes visible. His nose is red and the twinkle in Mr. Davis’ eyes made Chief Carter think of Santa only Mr. Davis didn’t look jolly.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that then he can get on home. Have the owners and employees arrived yet?”

Deputy Smith turned a page in his notebook. “Vito Oswald’s widow Sonia Oswald lives over the bakery. She’s with Deputy Gray in the shop. Her son Tommy is staying with her at the moment but he isn’t involved in the family business.” Turns a page in the notebook, “Mrs. Oswald’s daughter Heather Gibson is the head baker with her daughter Chelsea Gibson learning the business. They have been notified and are on their way. Mrs. Oswald works the display cases and serves the customers like she did when her husband ran the business and she is assisted by Sandra Bryant. Ms. Bryant has not been contacted but she is expected to arrive for work.” Turn of another page, “They recently hired an assistant for the kitchen a Donald Thomas. He mainly sweeps, washes the dishes, and moves the stock around when needed. He normally reports to work at eleven.”

“So he would know where everything is.”

“Yes, he’s a very quick learner according to Mrs. Oswald. She’s said he is a very conscientious worker. Her bakery has never been so organized.”

“Ok, let me talk to Mr. Davis so he can get out of the cold.”

Chief Carter hoped the snow squall would hold off until they were done at the bakery and the bakery had a chance to board up the broken window.

“Mr. Davis I’m Chief Carter. I hear you discovered the break in.” Chief Carter held out her hand for Mr. Davis to shake. Mr. Davis looked at her hand as if it was the first time he had ever seen one.

“I heard they hired a girl as chief.” Mr. Davis sniffed while continuing to bounce from foot to foot. Fancy, a poodle mix, seemed anxious to continue their walk in her little blue coat and matching booties. “I was coming down Daisy over yonder when Fancy here caught a scent. We patrol these streets four times a day so I pay attention when Fancy notices something new, so we followed the scent down the alley and came upon the broken glass. I reported it right away.” Mr. Davis’ chest swelled as he told his story. “If you ask me, I’d say the thief escaped down the alley and down Daisy heading south. Fancy didn’t catch the scent until we got to the alley and we came from the north.”

“Thank you Mr. Davis, very observant of you. I’ll have my team follow up on your suggestion. Now why don’t you get Fancy home and we will follow up if we have any questions. If you think of anything else please give us a call.” Chief Carter pulled a business card out of the inside pocket of her coat letting in a blast of cold air.

“You don’t have questions for me?’

“Is there anything you didn’t tell me?”

Mr. Davis looks at the business card. “That’s the main office number.”

“It’s a small office Mr. Davis. The call will get to me or you can leave a message if I happen to be out of the office.”

Mr. Davis slid the business card into the pocket of his coat mumbling something Chief Carter didn’t catch before continue on the morning rounds with Fancy.

“Chief,” Deputy Smith is standing by the door to the bakery. “Do you want to look at this? I’ve taken some pictures already and I dusted for prints but I wasn’t able to pull any that weren’t smeared. Was probably wearing gloves anyway.”

Chief Carter walks over to the door noting that the only damage is the broken window. On the ground below the window is a pile of broken glass. “Can we look inside?” Deputy Smith reaches through the broken window and unlocks the door before opening it. Chief Carter looks at the few shards of glass have fallen inside the bakery.

“Deputy Gray has been taking statements from staff through there.” Deputy Smith pointed at the doorway to the bakery shop. Chief Carter looked around the kitchen. Is that what’s it’s called in a bakery? Everything seemed to be in its place except for an empty space on one shelf. Anyone looking to cause mischief would have had a field day in here with the number of bags of flour and sugar along with the other ingredients neatly stacked.

“This is Chief Carter.” Deputy Gray practically bowed out of the way revealing an older woman with a stocky build, a sturdy, stable woman. She could have a career modeling for any company looking for the archetypical grandmother to sell their products.

“What are we going to do? Tomorrow is December 1st. My Vito always made the first batch of Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies on December 1st. It’s tradition.” Mrs. Oswald demanded like someone used to having order in her life.

“I’m sorry to hear about the break in. Can you tell me who you think would do something like this?”

“No one! We are an honest business with many loyal customers.”

“What about disgruntled staff?”

“What staff? There is me, my daughter who took over from her father, rest his soul, and her daughter. Sandra is practically a second daughter to me and Donald is the kindest, sweetest soul you will ever meet. No, no one working here would have done anything so despicable.” Mrs. Oswald puffed up her chest daring Chief Carter to say otherwise.

“I understand it is the secret ingredient that has been taken.”

“Yes, yes the secret ingredient.”

“Which is…”

“The secret ingredient. No one knows the secret ingredient.” Mrs. Oswald waved away further questioning.

“Someone has to know what the secret ingredient is to make the Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies.”

“Only the bakers, my daughter and granddaughter.” The bell above the door jingles announcing someone entering the bakery. Deputy Gray steps forward holding his hand up to the new comers.

“I’m sorry, the bakery is closed.”

“I’m Heather Gibson and this is my daughter Chelsea.”

“Let them in Deputy Gray. Maybe you should stand over by the door so we aren’t interrupted.” Chief Carter steps closer to the kitchen area.

“Can you think of anyone who would want to steal the secret ingredient to the Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies?”

“What? No. Why would someone steal the secret ingredient? That doesn’t make any sense. Are you ok Mom?” Mrs. Oswald pats her daughter’s arm calming her child.

“Grandma?” Chelsea asks.

“It’s ok little one. Your Uncle Tommy and I are fine. All someone did was take the secret ingredient.”

“Can we go into the kitchen?” Heather asks.

“Why would someone take the secret ingredient? Chelsea, we need to gather up the other spices we got in last week.” Heather said.

“Yes, yes. Chelsea take all the other ingredients on that shelf up to my bedroom and put them on my dresser before Sandra and Donald get here.” Mrs. Oswald grabs a basket and hands it to Chelsea.

“Can we go into the kitchen?” Heather asks.

“As soon as we have finished processing the scene.”

“I’ll get on the computer and place an order for what we need and see if they can’t deliver it tomorrow.” Heather said.

“They must deliver everything tomorrow. The first batch of Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies must be made on December 1st.” Mrs. Oswald said.

“Mom, it will depend on their schedule and if they have everything we need.”

“While you do that, may I speak to your son Mrs. Oswald?” Chief Carter asks.

“Yes but I don’t see what good that will do. Tommy was upstairs with me. I’m sure he didn’t hear anything from his bedroom.”

“His bedroom is right above the kitchen Mama.”

“So is mine and I didn’t hear anything last night so I know Tommy didn’t. You know your brother can sleep through anything. That wife of his complained about him sleeping through their kids crying when they were babies.” Mrs. Oswald’s eyes flashed at the thought of her daughter-in-law.

“Would your daughter-in-law know what the secret ingredient is?”

“No. Tommy and his family have had nothing to do with the family business. Oh Vito wanted to hand his business down to his son but Tommy needed to prove himself.” Mrs. Oswald turned to Chelsea. “Chelsea, why don’t you take the Chief upstairs and see how long your Uncle Tommy will be on the computer. Tell him to hurry up so Heather can use it.”

*****

“Living room is this way.” Chelsea leads the way upstairs turning towards the front of the building at the landing. The bedrooms must be located in the back. “Uncle Tommy, how long are you going to be on the computer?”

Tommy’s head drops to his chest. “I was planning on all day.”

“Mom needs to get on it to place an order.”

“Another order? Didn’t the bakery get an order a couple of days ago?" Tommy turned his mouth staying open a fractions too long when he caught sight of Chief Carter.

“Excuse me, I’m Chief Carter. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” Chelsea headed back downstairs to the bakery.

“Um, yeah I guess. Has something happened?"

"Someone broke into the bakery last night. There is a broken window on the back door and something was taken.”

“I didn’t hear anything.” Tommy turned to face the computer. Chief Carter just caught site of the job search website over his shoulder. On the shelving above the computer is a line of pictures. A timeline of Tommy and Heather at different stages in life.

“That’s what I was told but sometimes people remember things if the right question is asked. I see you were voted most likely to succeed in high school.”

Tommy squirmed in the chair. “Yeah, Dad was proud of that. He blew that photo up from the yearbook and framed it.

“Here without your family?”

“Yeah, my wife took the kids to her parents for Christmas. I’ve been recently laid off so I thought I would come here and concentrate on applying for a new job.” Tommy ran his hand through his mousy brown hair that appeared thinner than in the photo.

“You know, my favorite thing for Christmas was getting Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies in my stocking. My younger brother and I would race downstairs. I went right for my stocking dumping it out on the floor and searching for the Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies. That was always my breakfast.” Chief Carter took a seat in the armchair across the room from Tommy. “My brother would dive into the gifts under the tree. Once he had ripped open all his gifts he would then take his stocking and carefully pull each item out until he got to his Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies. He would hurry off to hide it somewhere in the house.”

“My Dad came up with the Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies. People come from all over to get them during December.” Tommy turns back towards Chief Carter though he is busy studying the carpet pattern on the floor.

“Well my brother liked to wait a couple of days until you could no longer get the Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies then he would bring it out and eat it in front of me. I don’t think he really cared for Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies but he enjoyed watching me fume that I couldn’t have any.” Chief Carter stood up and walked to the window. “ Then came the year that he hid his Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies in a box of old toys that Mom threw out before he could retrieve his Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies. He was so mad that I got to eat my Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies but he didn’t get to eat his. He was so mad he took my dolly and hid her in the house.” Tommy shifted in his seat. “My brother always thought he was smarter than me and didn’t know how to handle his disappointment in failing that year.” Chief Carter looked out on the Main Street just beginning to wake up.

“So, what happened? Did your Mom punish him?”

“Well, Dad said that if my dolly would reappear by the next morning then nothing more would be said about it. My dolly was sitting on the kitchen table when I went down for breakfast the next morning and we never mentioned it again. Dad knew that getting my dolly back was all that was important.” Chief Carter shifted her gaze to Tommy. “Well, I need to head back to the station. It would be nice if the secret ingredient would be returned. I have a feeling that is all your family cares about.”

*********

Chief Carter walked into the office the next morning with a coffee in her hand. “Thought it was supposed to be warmer today.”

“Not until later in the day Chief.” Deputy Grey said.

“Chief?”

“Yes Deputy Smith.”

“Got a call this morning from the Oswald Bakery telling us the secret ingredient showed up this morning on the shelf like it had never been gone. No sign of anyone breaking into the shop. The board in the back door was still firmly in place so they are calling a locksmith today to have all the locks changed.”

“Sounds like a good idea.” Chief Carter put her coffee cup down on her desk and starts unbundling.

“So, what do we do now?”

“Well, we really don’t have much to go on. Keep the report on file in case we get a similar break in.” Chief Carter takes a sip of her coffee letting the hot bitter liquid warm her from the inside. “Maybe we could order some Sugar Bubble Gummy Gummies for an office treat.”

December 10, 2020 23:08

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