Home Grown and Garden Fed

There was something heavy in the air. It crashed through a second floor window, landing in a pile of broken glass and furniture. It was a cow.

The three strangers in the room stared in comfortable shock while they waited for their brains to catch up.

The cow had crushed Phineus Ned.

Distinguished among London high society, Phineus always appeared in authentic Victorian-era clothing, (down to the underwear, it was whispered) and spent a small fortune on articles from the era.

If you were just rich, you were boring; just weird, and you were crazy. Both, and you were an influencer. That was Phineus Ned, who lay flattened under a cow.

Their shock had thawed enough that the strangers began to talk. They came to an agreement: yes, they all saw the cow, and no, they didn’t think it was part of Phineus’s dinner arrangements.

Questions arose. Where did the cow come from? How did it get here? Was it hurled, or did it come on its own? Also, was Phineus still alive? This last question seemed easy to answer. Jeffrey Palmer, a chiropractor and coward, checked both pulses and determined that cow and man were dead.

“I’m not surprised,” he said, with relief, as he had just had the biggest surprise of his life.

Relaxing into the comfort of the familiar, he pointed out the sound of crunching bone on impact, and likened the noise to the sounds of his profession.

“Like this,” he said, and demonstrated on his neck.

Ms Darla Winters puked salmon steak. The young oil baroness was sensitive to sound, and was not prepared for an audio re-enactment of a dismembering. Unfortunately, the sound she was most sensitive to was vomiting. It was a long time before she recovered.

The men moved to the window, looking for a cow launcher, or something. Everything looked ordinary.

“Well, I think it was murder,” said Roger Lindhorn, an investment banker and heroin addict.

He pulled the shades over the shattered window frame, muttered something about the unwashed masses, and stood by the fireplace to light his cigarette. Roger was in his early forties, and while still handsome, his face was deeply lined, as if it had been pressed with a waffle iron. But the lines weren’t from a waffle iron, they were from all the heroin.

“It was definitely murder,” Roger repeated, who thought about vengeance to relax.

“It’s too precise; this window, of this house, at this exact spot. There’s no way it could be an accident. It was murder.”

“Poppy caaa…caa—uhhhgh…cock,” Darla’s gagging was subsiding. “Who would murder with a caa…caa…livestock?”

“Feeling better?” Jeffrey asked, handing her a handkerchief.

“Yes, thank you.”

“So sorry about…”

“No no,” she interrupted, “No need to remind me.”

“Well, if it wasn’t murder, what was it?” Said Roger defensively; it had to be murder one of these times.

“This is clearly an act of God.” Stated Darla matter-of-factly. Invoking God was an easy way around many problems; it was her life hack, Darla thought with pride.

“Oh, come off it,” Roger snorted, “Whenever there’s something that defies immediate explanation, the true believers are quick to point to a man in the clouds. I don’t buy it.”

“God’s acts are not predicated on belief in them, Mr Lindhorn. What other entity would either have a motive, or have the means, to careen a two ton animal through a window? It’s a sign. A sign and a warning, to all of us.”

“What would God be warning us of, I wonder?” Jeffrey asked.

Darla spoke with rigor and authority.

“Biblically, cow’s are a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Phineus represented foolish opulence.”

Roger squinted at Darla.

“Where does the Bible say that cows are a symbol of wealth?”

“Cain and Abel. Look it up,” she said definitively, hoping he wouldn’t.

“Oh, I will,” Roger lied.

Jeffry piped up. “Regardless, don’t you think we should call the police?”

“No!” Yelled both Roger and Darla.

“But, well, a man’s dead, you know, and there’s blood on the walls, and bits of brain on the floor.” Stammered Jeffry, prodding viscera with his foot. It squished.

Darla threw up in her mouth.

“Absolutely out of the question,” said Roger, while Darla spat fish scales into a period-authentic orchid pot.

Roger had used all his favors with the police, and didn’t want to risk being caught with the five hundred milligrams of black tar heroin he had on him.

“The police will only muddle things up. We were all witnesses, we all saw what happened, but the police don’t rely very much on eye-witness testimony anymore. We could be implicated in the murder, or for some other crime we didn’t commit.”

“Finally, we agree,” Remarked Darla, as she wiped her mouth. She had been embezzling heavily from her oil empire.

“Ah, OK, no police. Probably for the best. So, maybe I should just…go then?”

“Out of the question,” said Roger, “We all need to stay here until we figure out what happened.”

“It was God.”

“No it wasn’t. We still haven’t determined that anyone here isn’t guilty of the crime.”

“What would be any of our motive? None of us knew him particularly well, so emotional ties are minimal. Money isn’t it, since we’re all independently wealthy, except for Jeffry, who’s wealthy but still has to work. Why would any of us do it?”

“Maybe Jeffry did it, then,” said Roger, disgustedly, throwing up his hands.

“I didn’t,” said Jeffry, looking hurt.

The whole affair was making Roger itchy. Probably best to get rid of the evidence, just to be on the safe side.

“Please, if you’ll excuse me, I need to use the restroom.”

Darla and Jeffry watched him go. Flies had started to buzz around the cow’s glazed eyes and lolling tongue, the jammy smush of the late Phineus Ned seeping into the 17th century carpeting.

Jeffry pulled out his phone, saying he’d check the news.

Darla stared right at the purpling pile; fortunately, she had a strong stomach for sights.

“Nothing,” said Jeffry, pocketing his phone.

He had also looked up cow symbolism in the Bible, and found nothing, but was too non-confrontational to mention anything. He paid his brother a salary for the same reason.

A maid came in carrying a tea tray.

Her scream echoed throughout the flying buttresses of the mansion. The tea tray crashed to the floor, and she bolted from the room.

“Stop her!” Darla yelled at Jeffry, “She’ll call the police!”

“Oh, good,” said Jeffry. The path of least resistance was starting to pay off.

Darla grunted in anger, picking up her skirts and running after the woman. Kicking off her heels, she skidded on stockinged feet into the hallway. It was long, dimly lit, with polished oak floors. The screaming had stopped. The maid was at the other end of the hallway, weeping into a phone.

Darla began running down the hall. Where the hell was Roger? She could have used some help.

“…Yes, three guests in the room. Mr Palmer, Mr Lindhorn, and Ms Winters,” The maid noticed Darla, her explanation changing to a shriek.

Darla frantically made a shushing motion, and tried to stop running. Polished oak and stockings heavily favor perpetual motion, however, and Darla kept sliding, fast, her shushing only serving to throw off her own balance.

“She’s attacking me!” Was the last thing the maid said before Darla crashed into her.

Sergeant Bertram Huxtable entered the crime scene with two officers, and surveyed the scene.

A large cow, covered in broken class, lay in the middle of the room on top of a man dressed in Victorian clothes and copious amounts of blood. Both looked deceased. Behind that, a broken window, the curtains drawn and fluttering from the outside breeze. A man standing in the corner, his face transitioning from relief to distress at regular intervals. Suspicious. Keep an eye on him. And a woman, an ice pack on her head, leaning against a mahogany table leg, being glowered at by a tearful maid. Not sure what to make of that, yet.

“Alright, what the hell happened here?”

Jeffry, relief on his face, said, “We had just met with Mr Ned, when a cow crashed through the window and crushed him,” He switched to distressed. “I’m a chiropractor.”

“Is that it? That’s all you’ve got?” Huxtable looked at Darla, “What about you?”

“It was a sign from God.”

“She attacked me!”

“I said I was sorry!”

“OK, both of you stop, you’re giving me a headache. Everyone be quiet.”

Huxtable was going to ask for a raise after this.

Roger woke up in the bathtub. He had slept through the commotion earlier thanks to all the heroin he had injected. Now he was awake thanks to a hallucination of a commotion.

He stormed into the room, applying pressure to his left forearm.

“What’s going on here!” He yelled, too high to know the danger he was in. “And you,” He said, poking Huxtable in the chest, “You’re the murderer! I can feel it!”

“Get you’re hands off me!” Huxtable yelled, pushing Roger away, “And who said anything about a murder? Are you trying to do my job, or was that a slip of the tongue?”

“I’ve never done heroin!” Roger screamed.

Huxtable blinked. What the hell was going on? He motioned the two officers, who’s faces were wide with confusion.

“McEvens, Peterson, let me talk to you for a minute.”

The three men huddled together, speaking in hushed tones for exactly one minute, before the wall ripped apart and another cow cannonballed into the trio, spraying the room with gore.

“Ah ha!” Yelled Roger, as if he had solved the case, then chewed his nails.

The maid tried to scream, but only a faint, cracking whisper came out.

Jeffry stood very still, and waited for good things to happen.

“God always strikes twice, when he is not understood, Jeramia 2:16!” Darla quoted incorrectly, to no one in particular. “It’s all clear! I can see the meaning of it! For when…”

Darla was cut off by Jeffry wetly blowing his nose. She heaved another chunk of salmon at a priceless candelabra from Queen Elizabeth’s kitchens.