“Just answer the question Lillian! Did you or did you not knit a gorgeous lavender scarf and mitten set for donation to The Little Church on the Hill for distribution to the homeless this winter? Yes or no?”
“Yes. Yes, I did!” Lillian replied shaking. “We all did.”
Like a tough-as-nails police detective, I positioned my Avanti Samsung Tablet on the table so the six women at Stitch and Bitch, Avanti’s weekly knitting group could all see it. I knew it would break Lillian’s heart to see photographic proof of what she had just been told, but it had to be done. Justice needed to be served and I was its waitress.
Exhibit A: a screen shot of a photo off Craig’s List showing Lillian’s handmade knitted scarf and mitten recently donated to The Little Church on the Hill to be distributed to a homeless woman this winter, for sale for $200.00,” I waved my hand across the screen like a game show hostess.
“What? I made that for a homeless person to keep warm this winter. Who would steal it from a church and sell it?” Lillian said as she cleaned her glasses on her velour track suit.
“A monster,” I replied.
I showed them Exhibit B, which was a screen shot of the Craig’s List knitwear set- seller, otherwise known as Mr. Daniel Dish, whose wife, Ms. Candy Tillich, volunteers at The Little Church on the Hill in the – yup, you guessed it – donations receiving department.
Always the skeptic, Gwendolyn wondered why if they were married they had different last names. I don’t know whether there was a full moon, these dames had forgotten their meds or if they were all experiencing low blood sugar (and some, truth be told, were not the brightest-colored Crayons in the box), but I felt like I was the only one who could do the math and link things together. So, I laid it out for them. I explained that not everyone took their husband’s last name anymore, and I conjectured that in crime families it is better to have a different last name to avoid linkage. Plus, if Candy would have taken Daniel’s last name, her new name would have been Candy Dish. That’s the name of a stripper – not the name of a church volunteer – so she stuck with her own name to provide the perfect cover.
“So, let me get this straight,” asked Curly Sue. “Candy Tillich steals the knitwear from the church’s donation bags, then has her husband – with a different last name – sell it online?”
Finally, someone got it.
“Bingo!” I said, as I pushed the platter of lemon bars across the table, which she dug into with great enthusiasm.
The others still looked confused. So, I drilled on and on, ruling out the possibilities of two women in the same town near the same church possibly donating identical handmade lavender shade scarf and mitten sets. When some seemed to think I was being overly dramatic, grasping for straws and should perhaps just let this one transgression against humanity go, I brought out the smoking gun.
I found Mr. Daniel Dish’s Facebook page on my Tablet showing that he was friends with Ms. Candy Tillich. Then, I scrolled to a photo of Candy, wearing a tacky rhinestone-encrusted cross on a ribbon choker. She was holding her Teacup Pincher in the crook of her arm with her purse in the background behind her. I touched the tablet screen with my two manicured fingers and zoomed in on her purse. There it was, in all its glorious earthly realism – a portion of Lillian’s lavender hand-knit scarf peeking out of her Michael Kors handbag!
Gwendolyn gasped and quickly took her heart rate to steady herself. The Stich and Bitches started mumbling amongst themselves, their eyes bulging out of their sockets and then they started drumming their knitting needles on the table like a tribe in a ritualistic ceremony.
“Ungodly! Ungodly!” they chanted in unison.
Then, Lillian stood up and the room fell silent. She cleared her throat and announced that she was mad – very very very very very very very very very mad. In fact, she was so very mad – probably the maddest she had ever been in her whole life – that she felt compelled to call Ms. Candy Tillich’s boss at The Little Church on the Hill.
Like unflattering fluorescent lighting, the world was a harsh place. Some people realized this. Others, like Lillian, did not. I stepped behind Lillian, gently pushed her shoulders down, indicating she should sit in her chair, and then rested my head on her shoulder.
“We’re not going to get mad, Lillian. We are going to get even,” I whispered, schooling my peers.
Lillian cracked a mischievous smile.
“I’m in,” she said while positioning her two knitting needles together like a gun. “That scarf and mitten set took me over four weeks to make and it’s a cashmere blend for heaven’s sake—it’s not even priced right!”
“I’m in,” said Curly Sue who began scraping her knitting needles together like two knives being sharpened. “I’m currently corresponding with an old boyfriend in The Huntsville State Prison. I’m no stranger to danger.”
“I’m in too,” Gwendolyn said, stabbing the table’s floral centerpiece with her largest knitting needle like a dagger into the heart. “Let’s all wear black!”
I grabbed my Tablet and emailed Mr. Dish a $175 offer for the lavender scarf and mitten knitwear set to see if he’d bite. Immediately, he “accepted.” Quicker than a dog to a bone, Gwendolyn passed Curly Sue a copy of the Avanti-printed newsletter and pointed to the upcoming “Restaurant Dinner Outing” tomorrow night. Curly Sue pulled a pencil from her hair, and circled the restaurant’s time and location, then passed the newsletter to me.
I entered, “7 p.m., outside of the lobby of the California Pizza Kitchen in Hughes Landing,” into my next correspondence with Mr. Daniel Dish, as a suggested location at which we could do our business tomorrow.
This was the plan for tonight:
- I would confirm rendezvous details with Mr. Daniel Dish.
- Lillian would sneak into the Avanti Recreation Room and take a fistful of Monopoly money from her favorite board game and give it to Curly Sue.
- Curly Sue would place the Monopoly money into a sealed envelope marked “Mr. Daniel Dish, Re: Knitwear Purchase”.
- Gwendolyn would stop by each of our rooms and advise on wardrobe choices.
The plans for tomorrow:
- At 4:45pm Lillian, Gwendolyn, Curly Sue and I would board the Avanti Luxury Passenger Van for “The California Pizza Kitchen Dinner Outing”.
- We would all enjoy a delicious barbeque chicken pizza and afterwards walk around the Hughes Landing boardwalk behind the restaurant. Just like we did every month.
- At 7pm, we’d all meet up outside the restaurant lobby to board the van.
- Curly Sue, however, would not board the van. Instead, to kill time she would feign jacket zipper trouble as she awaited Mr. Daniel Dish’s arrival.
- When Mr. Daniel Dish did arrive, Curly Sue would hand him the envelope of Monopoly money, grab the lavender scarf and mitten set from his criminal hands and run like a bat out of hell away from him and into the van.
- Gwendolyn, who would sit directly behind the van driver, would stand up and reach over to pull the van’s giant door handle lever closed while instructing the driver to “step on it” for a fast get-a-way!
- From an open van window Lillian would then scream “Nobody messes with Stitch and Bitch!”
- I would shoot video of the entire exchange in a film noir style on my Tablet’s camera.
And just like that our hard-boiled plan for justice in a society flooded with corruption had begun.