“I just came home from the market. I was buying a few things for a Valentine’s Day dorm party. I saw a rose by my dorm room door. I reached down to pick it up, and the next thing I knew I was in this room.” Heather Jothany attended Armstrong University where I teach. I remembered seeing her around campus, but had never met her.
“Heather, tell me about your week. Anything happen that was unusual?”
“Not really. The only thing different than my usual routine was the party. They put me in charge. I’ve been shopping almost every day for candy, snacks, beverages, paper plates. Other than that it was the same routine of morning classes and afternoon study.”
“And the nights?”
“It’s a dorm, not much quiet time at night, if you know what I mean.”
As I entered Mary Louden’s room, she was arguing with the nurse.
“I don’t care what the doctor wants. I want out of here within the hour. I have work to do and have no time for lollygagging around in bed all day.”
“But Ms. Louden…”
“Don’t Ms. Louden me. Either get my clothes or I’ll walk out of this hospital in this gown and you do not want to see my backside walking away.”
She caught sight of me. “You. You the doctor? I’m telling your flunky here, I want out, and I want out now.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not with the hospital. I’m consulting with the police on your case. I would like to ask you what happened.”
“What happened? Some fool dustbrain left a poisoned rose on my doorstep. I picked it up and blacked out. I woke up here with this moron telling me they were keeping me for five days for observation. How much do you need to observe? I ask you. I mean it. How much do they need to observe?”
“I wouldn’t know. Did anything unusual happen before you found the rose.”
“Nothing unusual. I still work with morons. Idiots still outnumber the intelligent. The only unusual thing that happened was the owner of the accounting firm gave each of the women a valentine gift – a crappy box of valentine hearts. I work my fingers off crunching numbers for this guy and he thinks some stupid 50-crumb * box of candy compensates for his incompetence the rest of the year.”
When I left Mrs. Louden was still arguing with the nurse.
Tina Kalleigh had her handheld open when I entered the room. Two round faces crowded into the screen.
“When you coming home, Mommy? We miss you.”
“Oh, I miss you too, but they say I have to stay here for another day or two. You can come visit me tomorrow. Someone’s here. I love you both and tell Daddy, I love him too.”
“I’m Carolyn Masters. I’m working with the police. I would like to ask you about what happened.”
“It was scary. I got home from picking up the girls from ballet practice and saw a rose on the door step. I figured that Bill – that’s my husband – left it for me. He’s always doing little things like that. I pricked my finger, and, then, I felt myself falling. The kids were yelling at me. Imagine my kids seeing that. I’m just glad they didn’t stick their fingers. Who would do such a thing?”
“I don’t know. That is what we are trying to find out. Have you done anything unusual this week?”
“Not really. I’m a stay-at-home mom. One day is pretty much like the next. Of course, this week, we are getting ready for Valentine’s Day. We’ve been getting Valentine’s cards and candy for their friends.”
“Sounds like a busy life.”
“It is but I love it.”
Teresa Mullins sat in bed surrounded by crayon drawings.
“They are from my students.”
“What grade do you teach?”
“Third and fourth combination.”
“Now, what can I do for you. I assume you are here about my little tumble. It’s probably a story you heard before. I came home, found a rose, pricked my finger and woke up in the hospital.”
“Have you done anything unusual this week.”
“There’s no such thing as a ‘usual’ week in elementary school. The kids are excited about our Valentine’s day activities. That means we are decorating, learning about colors and shapes, cutting and coloring. I bought a big heart shaped piñata. I have to keep long sticks away from the kids until the big day.”
As Tina went back to looking at her drawings, my handheld rang. It was Mike.
“We have another victim. Get over here now.”
What is going on? It seems like all we find out is just more confusing. Can our heroes solve this mystery? Well, come back later and find out.
*A note about the lunar currency. The first settlers on the moon had a sense of humor. People had referred to money as "bread" for centuries. So, they based their currency on the price of a loaf of bread. The basic unit of currency then is the Loaf based on the price of a loaf of bread when the colony was founder or about $4.00. Each loaf is divided into ten slices and each slice into 10 crumbs. So, 50 crumbs is half a loaf or about $2.00. To find out more about what life might be like on the moon and to read other stories like this one and an excerpt from Dark Side of the Moon visit the Dark Side of the Moon Novel Website. Also, check out the book at the Muse It Up Bookstore.