The Bed and Breakfast Christmas Mystery
“Where are my poinsettias ?” Claire asked anxiously as she hurried through the lobby of her place.
“They were supposed to be delivered this morning, and its one thirty!”
Claire’s husband Carl just rolled his eyes as she carried on. He knew how his wife went over the top about everything, especially when it concerned their home.
The exceptionally large home had been converted to the Blue Bell Bed and Breakfast two years ago. The empty nesters found themselves milling around the large house.
They always loved it here, and their four children were raised in this home, before they went off to start their own lives. The five bedroom, five bath, three story house stood there majestically, and now welcoming guests year round.
They were going to be very busy this Christmas season, as the Blue Bell was totally booked until after the new year. Claire has been using her decorating flair like never before. The whole house looked like a Christmas Wonderland. The lobby exhibited two Santas in different poses. The sleigh in the corner was filled with beautifully decorated packages, and Rudolph’s nose blinked off and on when anyone walked past it. Large, brightly colored Christmas tree bulbs hung off garland that had been strewn around the massive mahogany desk. The mistletoe was everywhere. There was no way anyone was going to make it through the lobby without getting their Christmas kiss!
The entire house has a nostalgic, warm, magically inviting atmosphere. Everything was in place, except the poinsettias.
“Carl, I’m really concerned about my poinsettias!” Claire said with a cry in her voice.
“Babe, it’s snowing outside, its three days before Christmas, everyone is extremely busy, and delivery men are just trying to keep it together. He’ll be here.”
“Yes I know, but I think I’ll step outside on the porch. You don’t think he would have left them out in this cold do you?”
“I really don’t think so, but I’ll step out with you.” Carl responded.
It was very cold outside. The temperature on the outdoor thermometer read 13 degrees. The two of them followed the wrap around porch, and looked out at the acreage surrounding the house. The snow covered the ground like a very large blanket. In the summer, the fields look like a blue lake with all the blue bells growing wild. Claire and Carl named the bed and breakfast the Blue Bell because of this.
As Claire turned to go back into the house, she spotted something on the ground, on the other side of the barren azalea bush. “Carl, what is that?” as she pointed to what
looked like a black boot.
“I’m not sure.” Carl walked down the steps toward the questionable object. “What the heck? Oh my God!”
“Carl, What is it?” she asked, frightened.
“It’s a dead man with a bunch of poinsettias around him.”
Claire ran down the steps toward her husband. “It’s my flower delivery man! Those are poinsettias! I’ve got to get them off the snow before they die! Carl, help me move him into the tool shed He can’t stay here. People will be checking in tomorrow.”
“Claire, the man died, don’t touch the flowers! They are evidence. “
“Evidence? Was this guy murdered?”
“Well, I don’t know. All I know is that you don’t touch a body that you find under suspicious circumstances .”
“Well, alright Columbo, what do you suggest we do?”
“I suggest we call the police. They’ll take care of it.” Carl replied.
He took his cell phone out, and quickly dialed 911. He felt as if he was having an out of body experience as he told the dispatcher how he found a dead flower delivery man in
his azalea bushes.
“Are you sure he’s dead?” the dispatcher asked.
“Well, he’s not breathing, and he’s been laying there on his stomach for quite some time. I didn’t think I should be messing with the body.” Carl answered defensively.
“We’ll be sending someone out shortly. Thank You.”
It must have been a slow day, because within eight minutes two patrol cars, an ambulance, and the county coroner arrived at the Blue Bell. They spent a long time
with the dead man. Claire and Carl were standing with the police, being asked many questions.
The paramedics turned the man’s body over. His lips were blue, with white foam at the corner of his mouth and on his jacket. The coroner and paramedics were talking quietly together, at which time the body was loaded in the ambulance.
“You know” Claire started talking to no one in particular.” Those poinsettias are mine. I’ll just take them into the house.”
“Sorry Ma’am . We’ll need to take them with us.” The police officers stated.
“But I paid for them, and I really need them. It’s almost Christmas.” She said, almost pleadingly.
“You will have to take that up with your florist. She’ll probably replace them or reimburse you,” one of the officers responded.
“Oh, alright.” “Will you let us know what happened to that gentleman?” Carl asked before they left.
“Yes we will keep you posted.”
It was a few hours later, when Carl and Claire were having their dinner, when Claire jumped slightly in her chair.
“Carl! Do you think people will start cancelling their reservations when they find out what happened?”
“IF they find out, and No. It’s not like he was hacked up in our home. We don’t even know what happened to him. There wasn’t any sign of violence. He could have had a heart attack or something.”
“Yes, you’re right.
“Did I tell you the poinsettias will be delivered first thing in the morning? I just hope this guy doesn’t die.”
The next day went by quickly, with quests checking in and out, and all the activities planned at the B&B, and in town. There was no mention of that dreadful incident, and the poinsettias looked beautiful placed carefully throughout the house.
It was Christmas Eve, with such a hub of activity. Carl was at the desk in the lobby, when he looked up to see a nicely dressed man come in the front entrance. He went up to Carl, and introduced himself as James Morgan, a detective in the homicide division.
“How can I help you Mr. Morgan?” Carl asked.
“I wanted to fill you in on the case regarding Andrew Matey, the gentleman that died on your property two days ago.”
“Oh yes, of course.” Carl replied, quite intriqued. Claire, come here. This is Detective Morgan.”
“Oh, What did you find out?” Claire asked. “Well, in a nutshell, Andrew’s soon to be ex- wife got tired of begging him for money all the time. She remembered an old life insurance policy he had, with her as a beneficiary, for twenty five thousand dollars. As it turns out Andrew loved his gummy worms, you know, the ones that are coated with sweet and sour granules? He would keep a container of them in his delivery truck. His wife decided to add an additional coating of cyanide to a few of them. He apparently grabbed a tainted one right before he made your delivery. According to the coroner, he had probably been in your azalea bush for three or so hours before you found him.
“Oh how awful! Claire responded. That poor guy, killed for the twenty five thousand dollars that she’ll never use.”
“She’ll never use it is right. Andrew changed the beneficiary three months ago to his mother! She’s going to be quite comfortable in her new nursing care center. She’s eighty two years old, and needs more care now.”
“Well I guess this ended on a fairly good note.” Claire stated.
“Well I’m happy for the mother.” Carl acknowledged.
“I am too,” Detective Morgan said as he headed for the door. You guys have a Merry Christmas.”
“And a Happy New Year Detective.” Both Claire and Carl said together.
“Let’s go have some fun” Claire said smiling.
“You know, Carl, I think a couple of my poinsettias are looking a bit peaked”
“Claire, please don’t mention the word poinsettias for the rest of the holiday season!” Carl said emphatically.
Claire simply smiled and said “I promise.”