In the previous episode, Vera and Celeste had spotted Fern trying to go into Marta’s apartment, despite the yellow police tape. As suggested by the readers, Vera and Celeste came back later and spied on him.
“Let’s come back later and see what he does,” said Celeste.
Vera never pictured herself partnering up with Celeste, but it looked like they were going to do an old-fashioned stakeout.
Later, when the sun had set, Celeste and Vera met up outside of an apartment complex across the street, both dressed in dark clothes. The only visible color on Celeste’s sweater was a turquoise broach in the shape of a tulip.
When a tenant came out of the apartment, they held the door and weaseled their way into the foyer area. In the foyer, they watched through the door’s window to monitor activity outside of both Fern and Marta’s brownstones.
“What if he already did something?” asked Vera. “What if we missed it?”
“If he’s smart, he’d come back later and not be so conspicuous.”
“I reiterate. He may have already done something.”
They stood there for a while. Tenants came and went, and some eyed them suspiciously. Vera worried that she and Celeste would be asked to leave before they could spot Fern doing something wrong. But eventually, the door of Fern’s brownstone opened, and out came the nosy neighbor who had just hours before attempted to get past the police tape and into Marta’s apartment.
Celeste gasped. “There he is.”
It looked like Fern was up to his same old tricks as hours before. Only this time, he appeared to be a little more cautious, looking around to make sure no one was watching him.
“He’s totally up to something.” Vera was sure of it.
Celeste and Vera watched as Fern walked up the steps to Marta’s brownstone and into the building.
“What do we do now?” asked Vera.
The two women exited the apartment complex and walked across the street toward Marta’s place, pausing at the entrance before pushing past the yellow barricade tape. They turned the knob and slowly creaked the door open, careful not to make too much noise.
Inside, it was so dark Vera could barely see her feet. But noises were detectable, coming from somewhere in the apartment.
“I think he’s in the kitchen,” whispered Celeste. “I’m gonna get a flashlight from my purse.”
Celeste rummaged through the purse for a few moments, while the ruckus in the kitchen grew louder.
“Wait. Got it.”
Celeste turned on the flashlight just as Fern had entered the living room, his face illuminated by the small spotlight as if he were a performer on stage. With a brown cardboard box of stuff in his arms, he let out a scream when he saw the two women, dropping the box onto the floor.
“What are you doing here, Fern?” asked Celeste.
She looked down at the floor and spotted all Marta’s kitchen utensils sprawled across the hardwood.
“What are you doing with Marta’s things?”
Fern grabbed the frying pan and lunged at both Celeste and Vera.
When Vera awoke, she was on the floor of Marta’s apartment. Alone. Celeste was nowhere to be found. She rubbed her head where the frying pan had hit her, looking around as she got up to survey the scene. What had happened to Celeste?
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