Shirley was in the middle of connecting red strings to polaroids on her bulletin board when a knock was heard on her apartment door. She set down her supplies to open the door, revealing a face she hadn’t seen in a long while.
“Ambrosia? What are you doing here?” The French cook’s eyes widened at being remembered by Shirley, before returning to a downcast look.
“Please Madame H, you must come with me, there’s been a murder at the Mangez Jusqu’à Ce Que Vous Tombiez restaurant! My seester who w’rks there told me and I could think of only you to solve eet.” Shirley sighed before grabbing her essentials and following Ambrosia to her car. Along the way Ambrosia explained more.
“The renowned food creeteec Martin Mystery was visi-ting the restaurant for his yearly review when, during ze meal, ‘e collapsed.” Shirley recognized that last name. The Mystery family was one of the elite families in Hamview, known for being one of the city’s founding families and for the wild eccentricity among their members. “If you meet one of the family members, zey may geeft you something extravagant,” Ambrosia spoke up, attempting to make this trip feel a bit lighter in mood.
The restaurant was swarming with police, most likely because a significant public figure had died. Shirley thanked Ambrosia before setting off to group up with the trio of friends she spotted by the entrance.
“Glad to see you,” Aimi said. “It’s a real mess, especially since there were a lot of people that evening and it seems no one was near him when he passed.”
“Current analysis of the food found traces of an unknown toxin in his meal,” Parvath muttered. “The sweat on his clothes and the description of his actions just before his death indicate a potential heart attack.”
“Contact was established with the Mystery family, and it was confirmed that despite eating a lot, Martin Mystery had a perfect bill of health, and the family history had no heart problems,” Hercules concluded.
“That gives us next to nothing,” Shirley mumbled into her fist. “Are there any nearby locations that may have any sort of influence on the case? This is a more open area being on the street and all.”
“There’s an apothecary right above, accessible by those stairs,” Hercules answered along with a jab in the direction of the metal steps. “You three can go investigate. He’s an all-natural medicine maker, so it agitates my allergies. I’ll see if I can get any info from the staff.” With a nod of agreement, the group split.
The group of three knocked on the door of the medicine shop, only for the door to slightly open. Entering to find the shop in complete disarray, the trio noted these things: samples spilled on the floor, a busted back door, broken glass lining the shelves, and a gramophone loudly stuck on the end of the record, creating a cacophonous noise. Aimi shut it off as Shirley and Parvath looked around for any worker. Shirley knocked on the door at the back of the room. When she did not receive an answer, she turned to leave until she heard a noise.
“Help, please,” a voice could be faintly heard from behind. Shirley directed Parvath and Aimi’s attention to the door where they once more heard a cry for help.
“We must save them, that must be the owner or a worker!” Aimi exclaimed. Parvath backed up before ramming his shoulder into the door. When that achieved nothing, he backed up and rammed it again, causing the weak wood to begin to splinter. Finally, he reeled back and punched the door, causing the now brittle wood to fall off. Shirley fumbled for a light and turned it on, revealing the room to be a supply room, and a young man beaten and tied to a crate in front of them. Aimi hurried over and undid his restraints before helping him back to the main room.
“Th-thank you,” the man stuttered. Shirley took this moment to take in his appearance. Cuts, bruises, and a black eye adorned him. “M-My name is Silvanous Woyak, and I’m the owner of this sh-shop. I was doing my business when a man in white entered asking for some throat medicine. I turned and grabbed it, but when I turned back around, he held up a ladle…I think, and he struck me with it. After a few more hits I lost consciousness. He tied me up and I-I guess looted my store.”
“Any idea what he may have actually wanted?” Parvath asked. Silvanous was silent before nodding, gingerly.
“I can see that he trashed my store, but as someone who ran this place since its opened, I can tell when things are out of place.” With effort, he limped over to a shelf that was surprisingly clean. “He took a rat poison, one that gives them heart problems for a quicker death. Very bitter in taste, I hear.”
Shirley nodded before excusing her and her two allies to leave. “Before I fully leave,” Shirley paused at the doorway. “Around what time was your assault?”
“Around 6:30. I c-close early to not bother the restaurant with my stomping. Besides, the owner hates me, and I don’t want to step on his toes.” Shirley nodded at Silvanous’ answer before closing the door.
The three entered the restaurant, sidestepping the police as they sought out Hercules, who was writing down a cook’s testimony. When he was finished his eyes met Shirley’s and he excused himself to regroup with his friends. Shirley, Aimi, and Parvath recounted what happened in the apothecary. Hercules nodded along, absorbing the information they told him.
“How went the testimony-gathering?” Aimi asked. Hercules brought up his notepad and flipped it back to the start.
“Well, it seems like the restaurant was short-staffed that evening. Waiters Lance Prettson and Viola Gladys were the only ones to be runners, and they were having an argument when Martin showed up. There were two chefs and the owner who had to perform chef duties as well. There’s Fleur Guilliard, a new chef who prepped the deceased’s entrée; she was on edge the entire night because this was the first critic meal she made. Then, we had head chef Adeline, who made the main course, which consisted of a unique potato soup. She was uncharacteristically sloppy it seems, because the waiters spied on Marvin and found that he had already begun noting critiques. Finally, we have the owner Lorenzo, who was agitated because Marvin is not only a great critic but has a voracious appetite, and he didn’t want to be run ragged. He added the finishing touches to the meal because he is skilled at knowing complimentary flavors. It also seems he was extra grouchy because his favorite ladle vanished.”
Shirley pondered for a moment before her eyes lit up. “I think I have the pieces figured out.”
Who do you think committed the crime?
Heart a la Carte. Mangez Jusqu’à Ce Que Vous Tombiez, the restaurant's name, means ‘Eat Until You Drop.’ Restaurant by Lisa Fotios courtesy of Pexels.com