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A Quiche Before Dying

A Quiche Before Dying

Titel: A Quiche Before Dying
Autoren: Jill Churchill
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    “Stop! Murderer!“ Jane Jeffry shouted.
    The rotund gray tabby cat abandoned his slink through the vegetable garden, drew himself up with flabby dignity, gave one longing glance at the robin Jane had scared away, and stalked off. As he passed a zucchini plant, a sleek orange cat leaped out of the greenery and tackled him. “Oh, no!“ Jane cried as they rolled, happily thrashing in mock battle, into a row of frothy carrot foliage. She jumped up from the patio chair and waded into the fray. Willard, a shambling yellow dog, roused from his nap on the patio, came galloping in, barking happily and trampling fledgling crops with his saucer-sized paws. He always got excited when he thought the cats were in trouble with Jane.
    “Stop it! All of you!“ Jane shouted.
    “What is this? Feeding time at the zoo?“ her neighbor Shelley said from across the fence.
    “To think they were all little and cute once,“ Jane said, scooping up a cat in each arm. They went as limp as rag dolls, except for the occasional halfhearted swipe at each other. “They should come with warning labels, like cigarettes. Caution: This ball of fluff will destroy your home and garden. Shut up, Willard! I had no idea I needed to put up a ten-foot electrified fence just to protect a few veggies.”
    “The yard’s looking nice,“ Shelley said.
    Jane looked around proudly. Her late husband hadn’t approved of gardens. They were, in his view, a nuisance that might draw him into their upkeep. But this spring, the second after his death in a car accident, Jane had gone wild planting. In the rock-hard area where the children’s long-abandoned swing sets used to be, she’d planted vegetables. Nothing too difficult this year: radishes, carrots, tomatoes, and three zucchini plants that were threatening to take over the world. There were also some cucumber plants next to the back fence that had run over into the undeveloped land behind her house and were, as far as she knew, producing great crops for the benefit of the field mice. Next year she planned to tackle the mysteries of cauliflowers, peas, and asparagus.
    She’d also taken a tentative stab at flower gardening around the edges of the yard. Again, she’d started with the tried and true: lots of marigolds, some astonishingly ugly coleus, and a lot of vivid red geraniums that made up for the coleus. There were also the good old standbys alyssum, salvia, and a very puny peony that had put forth only two flowers this year, but might do better next spring.
    “You know, we never stayed in one place long enough to have a real garden when I was growing up,“ Jane said to Shelley. “Every time my mother planted something, the State Department sent my father somewhere else. Want a cup of coffee?“
    “I’d love it. Denise is having a hair crisis I’d like to escape from.“
    “Come on around. I’ll bring it out to you.“ Jane put down the cats, who raced her and each other to the door. They persisted in the greedy but naive belief that she might forget that they’d been fed, and feed them again. They were always disappointed. Jane found the cans of cat food so repulsive that it was all she could do to open them once a day. She ignored their entreaties and took a mug of coffee back to the patio. “What’s the crisis?“ she asked, handing Shelley the mug.
    “Oh, you know... slumber party, haircutting at four A.M., tears, hysterics. I wouldn’t be fourteen again for anything.“
    “How bad is it, really?“
    “Pretty awful. She has my aggressively straight hair that goes spiky if it’s too short.“ Jane found this hard to believe. She’d never seen so much as a wisp of Shelley’s dark cap of hair out of place... but she liked her anyway.
    “I told her it would grow out,“ Shelley said. “Worst thing I could have said. It meant I didn’t understand. That I didn’t care about her at all. That I was a terrible mother. I tell you, if every woman had to spend one week with a teenage girl at the beginning of her marriage, the birth rate would drop to zero.“
    “I’ve always felt that way about Cub Scout pack meetings.”
    Shelley shuddered. “How are you and Katie doing on your own?“ Jane’s younger son, Todd, had gone on a trip with his paternal grandmother to Disney World, and her older son was on a tour of colleges with his best friend and the friend’s father. She and her daughter were by themselves.
    Jane sighed. “I was really looking forward to this time,
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