by Maddie Briggs, pursuer of killers.
From THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES, by Virginia Lowell.
Visit Livie and me in Cookies and Scream, our latest sleuthing adventure
Let me admit right up front that I misplace stuff all the time. Like yesterday, I was brushing my teeth while thinking about icing colors for the autumn-leaf shaped cookies I needed to decorate. I left my toothbrush in the kitchen cabinet nestled among my little bottles of gel food coloring. Yesterday evening, it took me half an hour to locate my toothbrush.
When you’re the mad scientist of the cutout cookie baking world, you resign yourself to this type of behavior. I like to think it’s part of my quirky charm.
Well, what happened in The Gingerbread House today wasn’t due to my absent-mindedness. No matter what Livie says.
Here’s the story… Livie and I decorated the sales floor of our store for the Halloween season, which, in the retail world, starts about now. For our main display, we created a stunning gingerbread house, complete with kitchen and oven. We embellished the scene freely with all sorts of Halloween cutters, as well as tiny decorated cookies made with fondant cutters.
Yesterday, we unveiled our—if I do say so myself—masterpiece. It was quite a hit with adults and children alike… and, apparently, with a poltergeist, too. That’s my theory, anyway.
Within twenty minutes of opening the store, five cookie cutters disappeared from different areas of the display. The shapes were:
(2) eight-petal flower
(5) haunted house
After closing, I searched every inch of the store, but I didn’t find those five cutters.
Fast forward to opening this morning. Word of our magnificent display had spread throughout Chatterley Heights, so at least eight people were waiting on the porch when I unlocked the door. Only three of them had also visited the store the morning before.
After about twenty minutes, I headed for the kitchen. On the way, I stopped at our Halloween display and guess what. Yup, those missing cookie cutters had miraculously reappeared. Except they hadn’t returned to their original locations. Instead, they were hanging out together in the cemetery behind the gingerbread house.
Aside from Jason, Ellie, Bertha, Olivia, and me, I identified three people who visited the store both yesterday and today during that crucial twenty-minute period. All three stop by often for the free cookies, as who wouldn’t?
• Binnie Sloan: editor of the local newspaper and Olivia’s arch enemy. Her usual tactics are way more direct and public.
• Heather Irwin: local librarian. She’s shy and sensitive, so it’s hard to imagine why she would secretly mess with our display.
• Lenora Dove (stage name): elderly and broke former starlet who swipes food off anyone’s plate. If this were one of her horror movies, maybe—Lenora is all about hogging attention. But she’s not all that bright.
Livie just rolls her eyes and insists I absentmindedly put the cutters back in the display. Or her brother, Jason, took the cutters and returned them. He likes to tease her.
Ellie thinks someone borrowed the cutters to make cookies and then returned them, clean. Really? There’s not a scratch or a tiny crumb anywhere on those cutters.
Bertha says I’m too creative, and that makes me imagine things. I didn’t imagine those cutters disappearing and reappearing, and neither did Bertha.
I have to say, though, I can’t think of a good reason why anyone would take those particular cutters, let alone bring them back the next day and arrange them differently. It seems like a lot of work for nothing. So I think we have a poltergeist. You know, a ghost that likes to play tricks. I’ll be baking in The Gingerbread House kitchen every night till Halloween. Maybe I’ll hear mysterious tapping on the walls, and then I’ll know for sure.
If you can think of any other way to explain this odd little mystery, let me know! I will investigate, of course, and report back next month on October 24, just one week before Halloween.
Oh, and just in case… Does anyone know how to capture a poltergeist?
SUBMITTED BY VIRGINIA LOWELL
Virginia Lowell is the author of COOKIE DOUGH OR DIE, A COOKIE BEFORE DYING, WHEN THE COOKIE CRUMBLES, ONE DEAD COOKIE, and COOKIES AND SCREAM.
Visit Virginia at: www.virginialowell.com