Back in the Soup
You may remember me; my name is Wilma Porter. I own the Come Again Bed and Breakfast, which is the last B & B in Ebb, Nebraska, and the only one in Rutherford B. Hayes County that is recommended by nine Internet directories. Some time ago, I wrote to you about our local troubles and how they were fixed by an unusual lodger of mine, a man named Vernon L. Moore. Well, a lot has changed since he left, meaning we’re right back in the soup.
On the second Saturday of last September, the Bold Cut Beauty Salon was vandalized and set afire by three young men in ski masks. Loretta Parsons, the owner of the salon, Ebb’s sole resident black person and my best friend, was beaten into a coma, which broke my heart, and that’s not all. Before she lost consciousness, Loretta managed to say a few words to Dot Hrnicek, our county sheriff, about the sweater of one of her assailants. A fiber underneath one of Lo’s fingernails subsequently revealed the identity of its owner: none other than Matthew Breck, my grandson. Did I tell you that my heart was broken?
The next thing we knew, Matt was sitting in the county jail awaiting sentencing for two counts of attempted murder, one count of first- degree arson, and a long list of lesser offenses that added up to 150 years in prison—if Loretta lived. Then “Hail Mary” Wade, the county attorney, offered him a plea bargain, but only if he would name his two accomplices.
As I live and breathe, Matt wouldn’t do it. Hail Mary couldn’t convince him to spill the beans; Dottie couldn’t either. He wouldn’t say word one to his mama or me. Clem Tucker, who is the richest man in southeast Nebraska and my Fiancé in Perpetuity, hired a big-time criminal lawyer from Chicago, but even he couldn’t get through to that boy. Meanwhile, his mama was sobbing herself to sleep every night, Loretta was not getting any better, and two of her assailants were running free, which frightened everybody.
Loretta used to call our town the Last Oasis of Nice, but we were in deep, deep trouble and there was nowhere else to turn, so I got down on my knees and asked the Lord to send Vernon Moore back to help us one more time. I’m still not sure I believe what happened next. I didn’t bear witness to every pot he stirred myself but, with the help of the Quilting Circle network, my fiancé, and a few of my men friends—plus a peek or two at some police transcripts—I finally managed to piece it all together.
You’ll have to come to your own conclusions.