The rhythmic beat of a knife to a cutting board echoed through the house. Vanessa Roberts, a formidable brunette woman at the tender age of 32, stood tall in her kitchen; exuding a sense of power even while engaged in a menial task, such as dicing pork. Her cuts were precise, timed, and practiced. She wielded the instrument with skill that insinuated that perhaps there was more behind her practiced hands.
She moved the expertly cut pork into a bowl and began to work on another set of ingredients. Her kitchen was spotless. The white tile countertops, glistened in the fading sunlight as she prepared her meal without ever tarnishing the pristine condition of her kitchen.
She took pride in her work. Holding a stable job as a corporate auditor, she was used to cleaning up messes. Vanessa had a knack for digging up dirt and exposing the lies and frauds of the world. She reveled in clean environments, clean house, clean kitchen, and a clean job. There was no room for trash, nor clutter in her life. She would spend several hours a day inspecting her apartment, to make sure it was spotless. She would dust, vacuum, sweep, and then dust again. “A clean home means a clean mind” she would say to herself. Vanessa reached over to her knife block and grabbed the sharpener. She began running her knife over it, quickly.
Her home was not enough, though. The moment she would step outside, she could smell the filth in the air. She would look at her neighbors and grimace as they went about their daily lives, covered in grime and dirt. Perhaps, not physically, but within. They needed to be clean, too. And thus, Vanessa began to clean up her neighborhood…and her neighbors.
She first learned of Mr. Hannigan, who was a grubby old man that lived three houses to the left of her own. He kept mostly to himself, and didn’t come out much, but that didn’t stop Vanessa from uncovering his dirty past. It so happened that Mr. Hannigan was a convicted child molester. Although the records stated that he had served his prison time over 20 years ago, he still carried the air of immorality with him. It disgusted her! This man did not have a clean mind, and therefore, could not have a clean home. She had to fix that. And fix it, she did.
It began with a few pleasant visits and gift baskets. One with a bottle of champagne, and flowers; a gesture of neighborly gratitude. Then began the homemade pies: Pumpkin, Apple, Pecan, and Arsenic. The old man never saw it coming, nor tasted it really. The problem now arose that she had a dead body three houses left of her own, and she needed to clean that mess up. So she paid her last visit to his home and invited him over for supper. He now spends all of his days relaxing in the basement freezer below the house. Eventually joining Mr. Hannigan would be: Phillip Nolman, the misogynist from accounting, Debra White, a shallow woman who had insulted her cooking, and Ingrid Stelowski, for giving her a “dirty” look.
Vanessa finished sharpening her knife and placed a large slab of meat on her cutting board. She began to go to work on it. Tonight was a big occasion. She had caught wind that the police had suspected her in the disappearances of her colleagues. She was going to have company for dinner tonight and she didn’t want to disappoint them.
She moved toward the spice cabinet and began to rummage through her varied collection. Rosemary, Basil Leaves, Ground cumin, Hemlock, Ricin powder, Azaleas honey… ‘Ah!’ she thought, coming across her favorite. He reached into the depths of the cupboard and pulled out a plain, white bottle marked CN- on the front. She smiled. Of course she would have to clean up her apartment again before they arrived, but that could be any time now. Perhaps, if she had time after dinner, she could attend to the living arrangements for them in the basement.
The sun set behind the distant hillsides, as evening settled in. Vanessa was startled out of her cleaning trance, when doorbell rang, twice. She climbed up the stairs from her basement and approached the door, excitement in her step. Dinner was already prepared and waiting in the dining room, just for them. She opened the door. “Mrs. Roberts?” a tall pale man asked. He was wearing an overcoat and a police officer stood beside him. “Yes?” she answered nervously. “I am detective Conner, and this is Officer Gonzalez. You mind if you come inside and ask you a few questions?” he asked holding his police badge before her. Vanessa nodded. “Of course! Please, come in…”