Beatrice Bevins had been a beacon in the community for some time. Between volunteering at the First Baptist Bazaar to chairing the hospital and library committees, she had her hand in every cookie jar from the tracks east of town to freeway. Then suddenly, she was gone without a word.
Vie Billings made note when she didn’t show up for her bowling league. In fact, she made certain that the gossip was shared in record time by calling up Breanna Wright. Breanna called everyone around town and it turned out that nobody had seen her in nearly a week. The police were involved and they drove over to her brownstone one Fifth and Broadway to investigate.
The officer on duty knocked sharply on the door before calling out, “Ms. Bevins?” After several attempts, he walked around the house to discover the back door was ajar. Something was definitely wrong. Calling for backup, he proceeded to enter the residence. Entering the kitchen, he saw no sign of foul play beyond the open door and the half eaten bagel next to half a cup of coffee. He noted the lipstick stain on the mug. Someone, presumably the missing Beatrice, had separated the paper into various pieces. Officer Baker noticed the ads were missing and that the date was Monday. “Today is Thursday,” he commented quietly under his breath. He called again for Ms. Bevins to no avail.
Moving onto the living room, Baker realized the cushions were a bit askew on the sofa. The TV flickered in the corner. Her cat, Beulah, began to rub on his legs purring. “Hungry, kitty?” In answer, the cat stretched her claws up his pant leg kneading for attention. “Don’t worry. We’ll get you fixed up.” He radioed for animal control, knowing Betty would make sure the cat was in good hands while they investigated.
He heard the other officers arrive on the scene and he began to direct them to take pictures and gather evidence. “Baker? Do you really think her breakfast is evidence?” argued Fitzhue.
“Benning may be a small town that doesn’t receive a lot of crime, but something is definitely awry.”
While the snapping of photos and the bagging and tagging of evidence continued in the lower rooms, Baker approached the stair. Climbing up to the next level, he made note of the shoe left on the middle landing. Continuing on, he checked the first bedroom, then the next. The bathroom also revealed no additional information.
Brow furrowed, he returned downstairs to direct the crime techs to the shoe on the landing. Stepping outside, he looked over at the garage. The Bentley was still parked in its usual place. Across the alley, he saw the old fire station turned art studio. Would the girls know something? Could they have seen something?
Baker crossed over to the next yard. Avery answered on his third knock. “Well, hello, Officer Baker. It’s been awhile. Can I help you?”
He blushed and looked flustered for a moment before clearing his throat and answering, “It’s about Ms. Bevins. Have you seen her lately?”
Avery stared at the ceiling for a moment or two searching her memory. “Why yes! She rode off on that old fashioned bike of hers with the basket. I think it was Monday. Is she not back?”
“It appears not. I believe something may be wrong. She left the door open and Beulah uncared for.”
“Oh, that doesn’t sound like her at all. I do know she’s been having trouble with that back door, though. I noticed Beulah out back yesterday rummaging in the trash.”
“Hmmm,” he responded while scratching down some more notes. “Oh, one more thing.”
“Do you happen to have Monday’s paper? The ads?”
“Come in while I look,” she answered turning back inside. He followed her in. The place had changed since he had last seen the inside. His break up with Allie had been one of mutual agreement. Still, they had not reached that state of friendship they had hoped for. Avery, however, seemed perfectly at ease. He saw stacks of newspapers to the left near the painting debris. She was digging through the stack while she chewed her lower lip.
“Ah! Here it is!” she called out, tossing him the rolled up newspaper. He quickly removed the band and slipped the ads from the bundle.
“Thanks.” Turning toward the door, he waved his farewell and slipped out the back. As he walked into the yard, he began perusing the ads, looking for what might have caught the eye of Ms. Bevins. If she left on her own, he thought, her whereabouts may be spelled out in print.