Department of Suspense… The So Called Mystery of the Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry Jellybean Murder
by Specs McAllister

To: Pythagoras Fillmore "Beagle" Zzylinkski, Sudsopolis Sanitary Review, Belmont, California From: Melba Eudy, fourth trailer from the stop sign, Hogfat Ridge, Arkansas Re: The So-Called Mystery of the Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry Jellybean Murder

I know you been spectin a parcel from me, Mr. Zzylinkski, and whatcha got in yer hands ain't precisely the parcel you been spectin, so I reckon I ought explain how this here setta circumstances come to arise.

Round about July last, fella called hisself Specs McAllister come knockin on my screen door tellin me he's some kinda investigary journeyist come all the way from San Bruno, California, and did I had any particklers I might could share with him with regard to a sartin travellin preacher turned up dead in my church basement round the time of the Stampede to Sanctification Revival, said revival bein a tradition on the Ridge datin back to the days when the first settlers come to these parts seekin freedom from the religious persecutement they'd long endoored in Big Snake Handler Flat.

I told Mr. McAllister, if it's particklers you come lookin fer, I gotcher particklers and then some. I's the one found that preacher lyin on the linoleum cold as yesterday's breakfast, ain't I? So I said to him just gimme a minute to turn the lectrick perkilater on and put out some griddle buns and I'll set down and tell him all about it, which I did, and he just sat there real quiet like and barely lookin up from his writin pad even when the dog commenced to eatin his griddle bun off the coffee table.

And that's the last I hearda this Specs McAllister fella until I went to my mailbox this mornin and found a envelope with a paper in it fulluv alotta fancy talk and a place fer my signature authorizin my name to appear in the attached story, entitled "The Mystery of the Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry Jellybean Murder," by Specs McAllister, and would I please sign and forward the whole pile to the offices of the Sudsopolis Sanitary Review, Belmont, California, in the enclosed prepaid envelope.

Well, I don't intend to do no such thing. I don't know what kinda journeyist that Specs McAllister rascal thinks he is, but you kin tell him I wouldn't stuff his story under my washer machine to stoppit from jigglin durin the spin cycle. It is my sincerliest hope that such a scintillizin pile of defamatorious barn shuvlins will never see the lighta day so help me, Lord. To that end, I have throwed Mr. McAllister's story in the trash where it belongs and emptied out the deep fryer and a bucketa catfish innards on top uvvit.

You kin also inform him that he has superfluated his account of the Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry Jellybean Murder fulluv alotta irrelevation not to mention piled it high with unfactualities with regard to sartin particklers, ferrexample:

Partickler one: As to the characterizement of my husband as "an occasionally employed iterant farmhand whose feet seem to maintain a constant 90-degree angle relative to the Earth's surface," Titus ain't nuthin of the kind. He is a semi-retired professional hog caller which he haint got much work in that line since a runaway show sow left him partially disabled round the time our President got hisself in that perdickamint with the fancy lady, which I couldda told him she was trouble you could tell just lookin at her battin them false eyelashes and that little hat perched on one side of her head. (And by that I'm speakin of the fancy lady and not the sow.)

Partickler two: Contrarily to Mr. McAllister's unchairtubble remarks about our domestified household pet, Titus and I do not share our home with a "ferret-faced beast of uncertain evolutionary origin." Bootsie is a purebred Golden Ozark Possum Hound. I have parsooed this matter some distance with the American Kennel Society, which I don't put no stock in their high hat ideas anyhow.

Partickler three: I have never used the expression "fancy as a Hot Springs cathouse" in polite company.

Partickler four: There ain't no mystery at all to the Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry Jellybean Murder. Why it's as plain as a spinster in a mining camp who killed that preacher, which you kin see fer yerself in the followin pages, in which I have refactuated and descintillized Mr. McAllister's version of events sumthin considerable.

It all begun Wensdee afternoon of Revival Week, Wensdee evenin bein the traditional time of the Thundrin Hoofbeats of Grace Fellowship Buffet. I was in my kitchen mixin togither a tubba potato salad, and I said to my husband "Saint Peter's hat rack, Titus, you been in my cocktail olives?" Which I don't always put cocktail olives in my potato salad but I always try to make things a little more refined fer Revival Week, besides which I think it's impardunt to serve a green vegtubble.

Well, I walked inta the parlor, and shurnuff there was Titus asleep in the recliner and a empty jar on the coffee table which Bootsie had his snout in it tryin to lick out the last pimento.

I said "Titus, ya blame fool, wake up. Bootsie done ate ever last wunna them cocktail olives. You run down to the Odd Lot King and get me a new jar and be quick about it. I's sposta be at the church ten minutes ago, and Enid's gonna wonder what become of me." (Me and Enid bein the co-chairladies of the Hogfat Ridge ParkNRepent Holiness Temple's Fritter and Buffet Ministry.)

Well, Titus ain't whatchud call exackly fleetafeet, especially since his hog callin accident, and he didn't git back with my cocktail olives until about five minutes till services was bout to commence, which I said to him "Don't even turn off the ignition, Titus, I'll just git in the truck and mix the olives in on the way to revival," which I did, arrivin at the church parkin lot with Melman's Bargainaise and olive brine all over my best dress owin to the fact Titus had to keep swervin to avoid wildlife, Revival Week coincidin as it does with the matin season of the Arkansas Dusky Footed Wolverine.

First thing I notice when I git outta the truck is the church is real quiet, that bein unusual fer a Revival Week afternoon, which normally this would be bout the time you'd hear the lectrick organ goin and shouts of praise not to mention the Spirit descendin upon Minneola Turlock, which if you ask me always looks more like somebody stuck a porcupine down her pantyhose, but that's between Minneola an the Lord, and it ain't my business to judge no matter what kind of foolheadedness she takes a mind to go about carrin on with.

Well, like I said things is real quiet out there in the parkin lot, and I tell Titus stop standin there like he's waitin fer the Turniminta Roses to go by, go open the door caint he see I got my hands fulla potato salad, and then I proceeded inta the vestibule thinkin I was late. Well, there wunt a soul in the vestibule just me and Titus, so I directed Titus to tuck his fool shirttail back where it belongs and go on inta the sactuary and find Gladiola.

Now Gladiola Ledbetter been the church secketary at the Hogfat Ridge ParkNRepent Holiness Temple long as anybody kin remember, and truth is she ain't been exackly in her right mind since she had that stroke round about the time they built that casino in Little Rock, which we wouldnta knowed she had a stroke, but one day the casino bus stopped outside the Starlite Pancake House out by the Interstate, and Gladiola clumb right on board. As far as anybody kin figger, she musta mistook it fer the bookmobile. By the time we found Gladiola, she'd won seven hunderd dollars at Bingo, and some of the gals at the Temple tried to tell her "Gladiola you caint take that. That's the Devil's money." But I said "You don't listen to them, Gladiola. You keep them winnins. Now's yer chance to buy that wiglet you had yer eye on and with what's left over we'll gitcha a ID bracelet case yevver find yerself on the wrong bus agin."

So Titus come inta the vestibule with Gladiola, and I told Gladiola, "Honey, gimme the keys to the basement. I gotta tubba potato salad here needs to go in the frigerator fore the Bargainaise turns."

Gladiola begunta root through her purse, and she said to me "Mel, I don't see them keys in here atall. I shurrrlee don't know where I musta put put em."

I told her, "Gladiola, you ain't gonna find a thing in there without you put yer readin glasses on."

She said "Well, land sakes, Mel, I don't see them in here neither. Maybe they's in my pocket." Then she reached inta her sweater and pulled out a canister of Cap'n Ahab's Fish Flakes.

Well, I could see we was goin nowhere on a all day pass, so I handed Titus the tubba potato salad and told Gladiola to gimme her purse, at which pint I quickly dug up the root of her perdickamint. I said "Gladiola, this ain't yer purse, honey. There's a thirty-day supply of birth control pills in here and a matchbook from a karaoke bar in Daytona Beach."

I told Titus I said "Titus you go put this back where ya found it and go git me Gladiola's purse." Then I said to Gladiola "Why's it so quiet in the sanctuary, honey? Anybody'd think the congregation done turned Presbyterian on us."

"We's waitin fer the preacher," Gladiola told me. "He ain't made his peerance yet."

I said "Well ain't that just like a travellin preacher. Wait for the audience to get all squirmy with anticipazement, and then walk in twenty minutes late with the overhead lights bouncin off the appleeckays on his custom-sewed sport coat."

By which I aint mean to implivize all travellin preachers is the type to get caught up in pridefulness and sparklizin panoply. Why I suppose in any profession, you'll meet respectable folk as well as those that stumble inta the temptations of this world. You take the cosmetology line ferrexample. I have always regarded my diploma from the Starlite Beauty Academy as a sacred covenant obligin me to walk steadfastly in the ways of righteousness. But some of my colleagues at the shop would just as soon send you out inta the street lookin like you just jumped off a velvet swing, not to mention try wring every last bitta trash talk outta ya while yer sittin under the dryin dome.

Well, it's just the same with travellin preachers. I kin remember when Brother Lamar Gundelmeyer used to take the Greyhound as far as the county seat and hitchhike inta town wearin homemade britches and a nylon cap from a feed store in Tulsa. Used to sleep in a kitchenette camper parked in the used car lot on Feral Ox Road. Always drew a good crowd fer Revival Week, too. People'd come from miles around, godly folks in three-button suits and ankle length dresses with Bible verses glued to the backa their car.

But this year's travellin preacher was sumthin altogether different. He come rollin inta town in a shiny red LeBaron, and he wunt stayin in no used car lot neither, which allow me to elaborize on that pint.

The gal who works the registration desk at the Starlite Motor Court come inta the shop one afternoon. You know how ladies get to talkin when they're sittin under the dryin dome, and I overheard her tell the manicurist "Oh honey, that travellin preacher shar must be rakin in the love offerins. He done booked hisself into the Palomino Suite. It's got the works-- minibar, massage-o-tub, dimmer switch built inta the nightstand. And I don't know what was goin on in there last night, but I saw him make three seppert trips to the ice machine."

Then the manicurist leaned in real close and turned the dryin dome up to full power, so I couldn't make out the particklers of the conversation, but I figgered out the general shape of it it from the way them two gals giggled and carried on until the dryin dome finally overheated and burst inta flame.

Well, Titus come out that sanctuary with such a armload of purses he looked like a winda dresser at the Starlite Fashion Emporium, and followin right behind him was a gaggle of gals puttin up such a commotion as had not been seen ner heard at Hogfat Ridge ParkNRepent Holiness Temple since the day we buried Lester Merriweather, which didn't nobody knew he was a bigamist until all six of his widdas showed up at his funeral.

"What's the big idear?" hollered a redhead in a crushed velvet minidress, as she walloped Titus upside the head with a rolled up missalette.

"Yeah, gimme back mah purse, ya thievin scoundrel!" implortoned a squealy platinum blonde in ivory go go boots, and she kicked Titus in the shin so hard he dropped them purses, from which spilled such ackootreemints of harlotry that I shaint even sully these here pages with a detailed inventory.

I said "Titus, whatchoo startin all this ruckus fer?"

He said to me, "It ain't my fault, Mel. Gladiola musta grabbed half a dozen purses tonight. I reckon she must be havin wunna her fuddlement spells."

I then addressed myself to that gaggle of ruckus incitin harlots. I said "I kin tell you ladies ain't from these parts, otherwise you'd know not to leave yer purses unattended around Gladiola. When the fuddlement comes upown her, she has a tendacy to pick up whatever handbag is within reachin distance at any given moment. I know them church keys is in this pile somewheres, and once I find em, yer welcome to reclaim yer personal belongins off the vestibule floor."

I then fished the church keys outta that jinglin jumble of tropical scented sordidness and headed downstairs with my potato salad.

You could barely see a thing in that kitchen, what with dusk comin on, and me with my hands full of church keys and potato salad and no body part handy to turn the light on with. I opened up the frigerator with my foot, and the first thing I seen when the frigerator light come on is a big plattera Enid's jellybean squares settin on the top shelf.

Now the way you make jellybean squares is you take the crust offa loafa bread and feed it to the chickens if the dog don't git it first, and then you toast yer bread slices and cut em inta squares. Then you make a frostin outta powdered sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, molasses, and cream cheese, and you spread that on each square and arrange the jellybeans on top which you kin either put yer jellybeans in a random pattern or use em to spell out "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" or the "Footprints" poem or what have you.

Now these jellybeans in question wunt arranged in any partickler pattern that I could see, but what caught my eye about em was there was only one jellybean square on the whole platter as had a Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry jellybean on it. I recognized it right off as a Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry jellybean, havvin many times chaperoned the church youth group at Abstinence Jamboree Weekend in Gopher Springs, and the kids always ask if they kin stop on the way at the the Beanie Meenie Miney Mo plant and take a factory tour. Natcherly, I got to be sumthin of a authority on the deeversifized vurioty of Beanie Meenie Miney Mo jellybean flavors, which I kin tellya right now I never put no stock at all inta the rumor about the aphrodesiatric properties of Key Lime Kowabunga, so don't go blamin me fer all them unplanned pregnancies.

Well I could see I needed to reconfigurize the frigerator some. I couldn't just set my potato salad down on toppa all them jellybean squares. Once you smush the plastic wrap down on em, they's ruined. You might as well scrape em off and throw em in the slop bucket. So I turned round lookin fer a place to set my potato salad, and that's when I seen the light from the frigerator reflectin off that preacher's sport coat, and him on the floor just as dead as you please.

I reconfigurized the frigerator best as I could under the circumstances, and then I went upstairs inta the sanctuary and right on up to the podium, and Titus hollered out to me "Mel, whatchoo doin up there fer? Services bout to git underway."

I said "Ain't gonna be no services, Titus. Ain't gonna be no services on accounta I just found that sparklizin preacher down in the basement sprawled out on the kitchen floor."

I put one hand to my chest, assumin a attitude of piety. "It was as harrowizin a sight as I ever seen," I said, turnin my gaze towards a devotional artsncrafts projeck suspendered off the ceilin. "Black circles roundabout his eyes, tongue a bulging, lips turned blue, and the glow from the frigerator settin that sport coat to shimmerin like a pile a dry cleanin from a Diamond City go go lounge."

Titus said "Well, tell that preacher to git off the floor an git hisself up here then. Don't he know it's booffay night? Sooner we gits services underway, sooner we kin commence to booffayin."

Summa the slower witted fellas in the audience begun to nod their heads in agreement, and I could see if I wanted to pound the stupid outta this revival, I was gonna need to git muhself a bigger hammer.

I said "Titus, dint you hear a word I jess said? That preacher ain't goin nowhere."

"Why not?" Titus said to me.

I said "On accounta he's dead as a wall-mounted trophy boar, that's why not."

Well, the whole crowd sat there just as still as a Studebaker on cinderblocks, all except fer Enid Pogue. She right off commenced to bawlin and clutchin at her handkerchief and movin her mouth like she was tryin to say somethin but wouldn't no words come out. Well, I figgered she could just as soon do her carryin on downstairs in the kitchen as up there in the sanctuary, so I said "Listen folks, there's a whole messa good grub downstairs, and ain't no sense lettin it go to waste. Now I need a couple you fellas from the Fetchin and Totin Ministry to take these keys and go get a ping pong table out the recreation room. We'll lay that preacher out, throw him a right godly wake."

Then I told Enid, I said "Enid, pull yerself together, honey. We got us a whole heapa buffet to set out." which, me and Enid being co-chairladies of the Fritter and Buffet Ministry, was our holy obligation, sparklizin dead preacher or no sparklizin dead preacher.

I headed to the kitchen with Enid, and she didn't cease her bawlin ner carryin on the whole way down there, and then when she laid eyes on that preacher on the floor she like to screamed and knelt down beside him and put her head on his chest. I said "Enid, we're tryin to give this preacher a respectable wake, and here you are smudgin yer foundation all over his shirt front." I handed her a compact and a lipstick out my purse, and I told her "Fix yer makeup, honey. You look like you been bungee jumpin in Buzzard Gulch and miscalculated the distance."

She kept tryin to say something to me, but it just come out soundin like them monkeys you see on educational television that's always hootin at eachother and pickin bugs out their hair, and I told her "Don't try to talk honey, just work on makin yerself presentable."

Well, I opened up that frigerator and there was them jellybean squares on the bottom shelf where I done left em and that one Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry jellybean just settin there and not another Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry jellybean on that whole platter, and I looked over at Enid and she had my compact in one hand, and with the other hand she was spreadin lipstick out to her cheekbones and halfway down her chin till she looked like a rodeo clown been abusin painkillers.

Then I remembered Gladiola pullin that cannistera Cap'n Ahab's Fish Flakes outta her sweater, and the luridgious details of that travellin preacher's final moments appeared in my mind just as clear as a neon truck stop sign on a moonless night.

The congregation and such outta town guests as had joined us fer the Revival gathered in the Fellowship Chamber and was fellowshippin and havin a righteous time, which that preacher couldnta asked fer a nicer wake, and then in walked Buddy Ray Phoang, him bein the County Sheriff. I said to him "Lemme fix you a plate Buddy Ray," figerrin he could use a snack havin drove all the way out from the county seat.

"No time fer a plate," Buddy Ray said, "I need to go see about yall's decedent."

I said "Help yerself, Buddy Ray. He's over there on the ping pong table. That's just the way I found him when I unlocked the kitchen, flat on his back and starin up at the fly tape."

So Buddy Ray walked over to where the boys had that preacher laid out, and on the way over he grabbed hisself a chicken fried zucchini out the steam tray, which I couldda just as easily put it on a plate fer him, but that's always been Buddy Ray, very single minded about things, and Buddy Ray took one look at that preacher and spit out a mouthfulla chicken fried zucchini and then called out real authoritarily, "Yall folks stop whatcher doin right now and put down yer vittles! This preacher done been pizened!"

Silence fell upon the Fellowship Chamber, as diners affixed worrified eyes upon their disposable party plates.

I said "Course he's been pizened, Buddy Ray. I couldda told you that. Judgin by the black rings about his eyes and the way his tongue's a bulgin, I reckon he's got a dose a black banded mud wriggler venom in him. You know you kin buy that stuff over the counter in Big Snake Handler Flat."

Buddy Ray said "That sure does peerta be bout the shape of it, Mel, but tell me sumthin. Why'd anybody wanna slip this here preacher a dose a mud wriggler venom fer?"

I said "Because he was a philanderer that's why," at which pint gasps and murmurin eruptuated througout the Fellowship Chamber.

"That's right, a philanderer," I said, gazin around at all them people looked like somebody just poked em in the fanny with a live jumper cable. "Take a gander round this Fellowship Chamber, folks. What mannerra souls been drawn to this here revival from distant parts? From what I was able to deductivize out in the vestibule, I'd say a lot a single gals, fancy ladies come from as far away as Tupelo and Lubbock, all uvvem with purses fulla flavored lip gloss and glitter nail polish and such unspeakable personal care products as I don't even care to relate. Yes, that preacher been philanderin arright, and them outta town fancy ladies is amongst the primary philanderees! I happen to know fer a fact one of em's been to a karaoke bar in Daytona Beach, and she's got enough birth control pills on her to supply a hot tub party at a sorority house."

All around me I heard the distinctual sound of troubled fingers fumblin fer smellin salts, pocket fans and child proof containers.

Buddy Ray said "Well, I spose that does shed a sartin light on the matter, Mel, but I don't see as how you's offered any definitary proof as to the alleged philandrification."

I said "Well, you just hold on a minute, Buddy Ray, and I'll show you Exhibit A."

"Where's them fellas from the Fetchin and Totin Ministry?" I said. "You boys go round up my husband. If I know Titus, you'll find him out in the Prayer Grotto lyin in the Meditation Hammock."

I said "If it's definitary proof yer lookin fer, Buddy Ray, you ought go talk to the night manager at the Starlite Motor Court. Ain't no man fills up a ice bucket three times in one night that's up to anything decent." At that pint few parishioners went limp, and as they was bein escorted to the first aid station, Titus come walkin inta the Fellowship Chamber holdin that platter I give him, but there wunt a solitary jellybean square left upon it.

I said "Titus what you done with all them jellybean squares as was on that platter?"

He said "Well, blame it all Mel, I got hungry. You was so busy with yer tater salad all afternoon, I didn't have nothin to eat but a coupla cocktail olives and half a bagga pork krispins I found in the glove compartment."

I said "Well, Buddy Ray, looks like the evidence just went down my husband's fool gullet, so I'm just gonna have to spell it out ferya best as I kin. Somebody as knew all about that preacher's philanderin ways done blenderized a dose a black banded mud wriggler venom inta some cream cheese frostin and made a deadlified jellybean square outtuv it. Then that pizener fed that jellybean square to that there preacher and sent him on to Glory."

Buddy Ray pinted what was left of his chicken fried zucchini at Titus and said "But Mel, if them jellybean squares was pizened then how come yer husband done ate a whole platter uvvem, and he's standin there just as healthy as a blue ribbon razorback?"

I said "The whole platter wasn't pizened, Buddy Ray. Just wunna the squares, the one that the killer done marked with the Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry jellybean."

"But Melba," Titus said, his voice squeekin like windshield wipers in a chigger swarm, "I done ate the jellybean square as had the Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry jellybean upon it!"

I said "King Solomon's house slippers, Titus, will you let me finish? I'm tryinta wrap up a homicide investigation."

I then proceeded with my concludifyin remarks as follows: "Those of us as has been active in the Fritter and Buffet Ministry knows that jellybean squares presents sartin difficulties when yer tryin to tote em any considerable distance. Fer one thing, you caint wrap em too tight or the corn syrup and cream cheese gets to stickin. So we all know that when Enid got in that Pontiac Safari this afternoon with them jellybean squares, the plastic wrap was wrapped around em real loose like. Well, with no plastic wrap to hold em in place and Tooter Pogue swervin to the left and the right tryin to avoid them Dusky Footed Wolverines been dartin all over the roadway these past few days, them jellybeans took to rollin. And that solitary Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry jellybean rolled right off the pizened jellybean square it was settin on and right on over to a adjaciary jellybean square. But the killer didn't take no notice of that rollin jellybean, bein too distracted by the mayhem and confusement wrought by all them scamperin, sex-crazed wolverines.

"Well, Enid got to church with her jellybean squares, and first thing she done is she went lookin fer Gladiola to let her inta the kitchen. Now we all know Revival Week kin be a busy time for Gladiola, what with all these outta town guests showin up and necessitatin her to run around and fetch up extra hymnals, missalettes, plastic forks and inspirational wall hangins. And we know as how these here extra responsibilities can be highly taxin on Gladiola's faculties. Well, Gladiola had no doubt picked up the wrong purse by the time of Enid's arrival and was likelimost as not standin in the hallway outside the church office with a zebra print handbag slung over one shoulder tryinta unlock the storage room door with the starter key to a candy apple red Cabriolet.

"Surmizin the level of fuddlement that Gladiola had attayned and needin a place to set down her plattera jellybean squares while she looked for Gladiola's purse, Enid walked inta the church office, where she found the purse in question settin in plain sight right where Gladiola left it when the fuddlement spell commenced, on toppa the fish tank."

I directed Gladiola to reach inta her sweater and show everbody the cannister of Cap'n Ahab's Fish Flakes, subsequentiary to which I proceeded to drop a kaboom of such explosivity as had not been dropped on Hogfat Ridge since the time that Russian Space Station lost power and took out the Bar-B-Q Hut: "But Enid wunt the only one in the church office," I said. "In Gladiola's guest chair, goin over the notes to his sermon, set the travellin preacher, that travellin preacher laid out on that there ping pong table, the same travellin preacher as Enid had done been philanderin with at the Starlite Motor Court."

At this pint all eyes in the Fellowship Chamber (sep those of the guest of honor, naturally) done alit upon Enid's husband, Tooter.

And while them eyes was alittin, I just continued with my concludifyin: "Enid fetched the church keys from outta Gladiola's purse, and that preacher then followed Enid down inta the kitchen, and them two lovebirds sat down at the Duranoleum table that's in there and took to courtin and canoodlin over that platter. In the process of said canoodlin, she handed him a jellybean square, and he done ate it. Then, unaware of the toxitized properties of that deadlified jellybean square, she gave that preacher a deep, spit-swappin, tonsil-probin kiss and licked the frostin off his chubby little sparklizin fingers. That's how she ended up ingestin a small dose of mud wriggler venom, jest enough to paralyze her tongue and make half her face go numb, renderin her temporarily unable to speak or apply lipstick."

A few more folks went down, but most the sturdier ones was still on their feet, as I revealed the identity of the Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry Jellybean Killer, which at this pint in the story has no doubt been disinterned by any reader as has the sense the Lord gave a cross eyed coyote.

But I'll pause right here case any yall needs to take a moment to ruminize over it.

I said "You see, due to the fact them jellybeans had shifted in transport, Enid thought she was feedin that preacher a ordinary jellybean square. She didn't know she'd done gave him the jellybean square with the mud wriggler venom blenderized into it, the square she done took such care to mark with the Razzle Dazzle Flamingoberry jellybean, the square she was plannin on puttin on Tooter's plate at tonight's buffet so she could do him in and run off with that preacher.

"Yes, you thought you was bein so careful, dintcha, Enid? You knew you and the preacher couldn't leave the kitchen togither without touchin off the unholy fires of a trash talk infernero, so you walked outta that kitchen alone and on up the stairs and back to the hallway where poor Gladiola, still in the grippa her fuddlement spell, continued to fumble with the storage room door. You handed her the church keys and joined Tooter in the sanctuary, not knowin the philanderin motor court Casanova you'd left in the basement writhed in his death throes as the black banded mud wriggler venom coursed through his innards."

Lookin back, I spose my remarks mighta been a trifle too explissive fer more sensitized listeners, but I reckoned anybody as was gonna faint had already hit the floor by that time.

Billy Ray said to me "Sounds like you figgered it out pretty thorough, Mel, but there's one crucial question in this case as remains unanswered."

I said "I don't see as how there's any question bout it, Billy Ray. I tellya Enid killed that preacher sure as baby wolverines in May."

Billy Ray said "But you jest told me that kitchen door was locked. How dya count fer that dead preacher gettin hisself locked in the kitchen?"

I said "Well, that don't require no countin at all, Billy Ray. Why that's as clear as a hole in a nuthin donut. Gladiola done shut him in there. She always locks things up before services git underway. We'd never hear a burglar in this place once Minneola Turlock gets took up in the Spirit."

He said "You mean to tell me Gladiola walked inta that kitchen, turned out the lights and closed the door without noticin a dead preacher on the floor in a bejeweled and sequined sport coat?"

I said "Oh hell, Bud, her husband was dead four days, and she was still puttin lunch out fer him on the TV tray."

Which is the truth. I come over to give Gladiola a blue rinse one afternoon, and she was tellin him to pick up his feet so she could vacuum under the couch. I told her "Put down that vacuum cleaner, Gladiola. The Lord done called Buck home."

So obviously it weren't nuthin fer Gladiola to lock a dead preacher in the church kitchen.

Well, that's just how it happened, which I reckon it ain't such a bad story once you remove the all the superfluary scintillizement, and I guess I don't have no objection to my name appearin in this here re-edified version of Mr. McAllister's mystery, which you kin see fer yerself there ain't no mystery to it at all aside from why Tooter Pogue not only stays married to that murderin woman but continues to eat her cookin.

See the State didn't have much of a case what with Titus consumin the incriminatin jellybean like he done, and Enid managed to plea bargain herself down to disorderly conduct. Got herself sentenced to 30 days community service. One mornin I's drivin to church, and I seen her on the side a the road in a orange vest. It was such a sorrifyin sight, I couldn't help but pull over and help her fix her makeup. I told her "Seek repentance with a contrite heart, Enid. The Lord will forgive you no matter what you done, and He wants you to look yer best, honey, even when yer standin out here with yer snow shovel on this foresaken stretcha highway, scoopin up all these poor flattened wolverines."

Specs McAllister
1 jun 2015