Daysong Graphics
Only Yards Apart

Cyndi sat at the kitchen table and poured her first cup of coffee. She winced at her reflection in the chrome toaster. Thirty-five today. No man and now no job. The doorbell chimed, interrupting her gloomy thoughts.

A gray-haired woman of about sixty greeted her. “Hello. I’m Emily from across the street. Sorry to disturb, but your dog’s barking in my yard.”

“Ooh. I’ll get him.” She extended her hand. “I’m Cyndi. Come in.”

The neighbor stepped inside the door. “You’re new here.” She smiled. “On vacation this week?”

Cyndi slipped into her shoes. “No. I lost my job.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Emily sighed. “But you see. . . . Well, my son works nights and I keep things quiet during the day.”

“Sorry my dog’s been bothering you. It won’t happen again.”

As Cyndi left the neighbor’s yard with Luke on his leash, Emily touched her arm. “Let me know if I can help.”

Cyndi smiled. Right. How could she help me?

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Plotting Murder

With the many interruptions to her already loaded schedule, when would she find the time to kill Rita?

Margo Kawalski let herself into the house, blocking the cat with one foot and balancing her grocery bag against the doorjamb. She squeezed inside without the cat, only to face Dick’s tennis bag abandoned next to the stairs, Tina’s coat slung over the banister, and Corky’s Rollerblades askew at the bottom step. Maybe she’d become a serial killer.

Margo tossed the No Sugar Added Fudgesicles and Hot Pockets into the freezer and stashed the bag of Oreos on the top rack in the dishwasher, where the kids wouldn’t find them. She needed every Oreo to make the dirt for the flowerpot dessert to wow their Dinners-of-Eight club Saturday night.

That brought her back to her problem. Rita had to be dead before Saturday night. She opened the can of peanuts she pulled from her shopping bag and leaned her elbows on the counter. She selected a peanut and studied it before popping it into her mouth. Maybe Rita was deathly allergic to something like peanuts. Lacing Matilda Henry’s coleslaw with peanut oil at the Women’s Mission luncheon on Thursday would be easy.

Rita always ate seconds of Matilda’s slaw. If the police discovered Rita had died of an allergic reaction, the investigators might believe it was an innocent mistake. What a brilliant idea. But what if someone else was allergic to peanuts? She didn’t intend to murder anyone other than that nasty, overbearing, gossipy Rita Dugwig.

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