This is a piece I wrote for FFF #27 back in April of this year. Not sure what happened, but I never finished it So being lazy and generally an all around reprobate, I finished it off and here it is. I wonder what Cormac will think?
The challenge was Four Words that had to be incorporated into the body of the story-
Cache ~ Cashew ~ Eschew ~ Through
The Nut Lover
Wilbur Pettigrew rifled through his stash of gourmet nuts. He was looking for that unopened bag of Premium grade cashew nuts. He eschewed the new jar of grade A Almonds, shoved aside his bag of unshelled and undyed pistachios. Wilbur ignored his can of mixed nuts from Brazil. Cashews were what he wanted, but no cashews were in his cache. Fondling the bag of Pistachios, Wilbur contemplated the gastronomical pleasure of pistachios this evening for dessert. No. He had been jonesing all day for cashews.
"Mom!.....MOM! Where's my goddamned cashews?" Wilbur stomped into the living room.
Mrs. Pettigrew slumped semi comatose in her usual Post dinner position on the couch, her second pint of Mad Dog 20/20 half gone sitting with the top off on the end table next to her. Clutched to her bosom was Wilbur's now opened bag of special order cashews.
To Wilbur's horror, Mrs Pettigrew had slumped just right so that from her gaping drunken mouth, a string of drool hung down into the center of the bag of those special ordered cashews. It was as if she had staked her claim and she had deployed the drool as a kind of tether or leash to make sure those cashews stayed in her possesion even if she dropped her guard.
For the millionth time Wilbur stood over her with clenched fists vowing silently that this was the last time she stepped over the line. For thirty years he had put up with her obnoxious drunken ways. No longer. He had been put on a waiting list for those cashews. They came from genetically superior Cashew trees in Panama. The nuts were beyond category and their taste was famous and sought out by nut lovers around the globe. His mother had finally pushed him over the edge. Tonight he would have to kill her.
"So doc, what did her son use to kill her? We figure from the ligature marks it was his hands. But I don't know. If you took a look at this guy, you'd never believe he had the strength to crush her windpipe like that. And then look at her. She has to out weigh her son by 50 pounds at least. No way he would have over powered her. Musta caught her when she was out. From what the neighbors say, she was out quite often."
The medical examiner looked up from the cadaver he had splayed open on the slab. He gazed at the young detective standing near the foot of the autopsy table. Taking his scalpel he pointed it towards Mrs Pettigrew's liver. "Oh Yeah, she was out quite a bit. Advanced Cirrhosis here." Moving the scalpel up to her heart, he said, "And if that didn't kill her soon, this little beauty was a heartbeat away from blowing up. This lady liked her alcohol cheap and her tobacco in heavy doses."
"Doc, I don't care what was going to kill her. I just want to confirm what did kill her." The cop moved closer to the table. Leaning in, he stared at Mrs Pettigrew's insides like he was perusing a newspaper.
The forensic expert walked to the lab counter upon which sat a very expensive microscope. "Well you will most likely have to let her son go I think. He didn't kill her."
"What do you mean he didn't kill her? He admitted it."
The Medical examiner peered into the microscope and then stepped back. "Take a look. This is what killed her."
The young detective bent down and gazed at the specimen under the lenses. "Okay Doc, what am I looking at?'
"Son, that is a Cashew nut morsel. See the darkened edges?"
"Yeah I see it."
That's a mycotoxin. And not just any mycotoxin. These cashews I fetched out of her guts are some kind of hybridized nut I have never seen before. The cashew tree this nut came from has been manipulated to produce nuts that are larger and more flavorful. Unfortunately, the mycotoxin density increased when larger nuts were grown. I did some research and it looks like your killer lives in Central America.
Better late, uh, being late does not make it better. It just means I finally showed up.