The Pumpkin Pie Mystery — Halloween for Henry, Day 11
Normally, Henry Garber was very much against eating pumpkin pie in October.
Not that he didn’t love pumpkin pie — he did.
But Henry loved pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner and as a warm treat in the cold of December before Christmas.
In October, though, pumpkins were sacred.
They were for carving Jack-o’-Lanterns and lighting doorsteps and carrying candy. But they were NOT to be butchered and laid out as pastries in the prime of their lives.
Even so, when Henry woke up at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm on Sunday morning before church to find the house filled with the smell of warm, spicy pumpkin pie, his stomach growled in spite of his protests.
All through Reverend Peters’ sermon, the pie called to Henry, and by the time the family piled back into Grandpa’s truck to head home, Henry was famished. He knew he was going to devour that pumpkin pie, even if it meant feeling guilty about it later.
So it was that when they walked through the front door of the modest clapboard house, while Grandma and Henry’s sister Fay began setting the table, and while Grandpa disappeared to wherever it is that grandpas disappeared, Henry himself made a beeline for the pie.
Grandma had left that gorgeous orange and brown concoction on the counter between the kitchen and dining room to cool, and Henry could not wait to get another nose full of its sweet aroma. Even before he was halfway from the door to the counter, though, Henry could tell that something was wrong.
“Grandma, where did you move the pie to?” he asked.
“What? Oh, the pie,” his grandmother stopped to think. “Well, I left it right there on the counter, Henry.”
She pointed to the the empty ledge, and her face looked confused.
“Well, I thought I left it there.”
Then Grandma’s face twisted into an annoyed smile. “OK, Henry, what did you do with my pie?”
“ME?” Henry was defensive but mostly concerned. He really wanted that pie.
He turned to his sister, Fay, just approaching the table with dinner plates.
“Fay, have you seen the pumpkin pie?”
“I sure have!” Fay enthused, and Henry’s face lit up. “It’s brown and orange and looks delicious! It’s right over there …”
Fay’s voice trailed off, and her smile was replaced by disappointment, then anger.
“Hey! Henry, what did you do with that pie?” Fay accused.
Henry held his palms up at his sides. “Why does everyone always blame me?”
Grandma still looked perturbed, but she was analyzing the situation. “Hmm, well Henry, why don’t you go ask your grandfather if he’s seen that pie?”
Henry’s face lit up, “Great idea, Grandma!”
Henry walked down the hallway toward the back door, where he had last seen his grandfather. “Grandpa!” he called.
There was no answer, but as Henry neared the back of the house, he heard a muffled voice. It sounded a lot like Grandpa’s, but he couldn’t be sure. Then, through the back door, Henry saw the movement of a shadow.
Grandpa must be outside, Henry thought.
So he opened the door and stepped out onto the stoop, just in time to see Grandpa disappear around the corner of the house. The old man said something that sounded like “Mmmm, mmmmmm!”.
Was he humming?
“Grandpa!” Henry called again as he jogged to catch up.
As Henry popped around the corner, Grandpa made a quick gesture with one of his hands, and there was a rustling sound in the tall grass to the side of the house.
“Oh! Oh, hi, Henry. What are you doing out here?” Grandpa seemed surprised.
“Well, Grandpa, the pumpkin pie has disappeared! Have you seen it?”
“Disappeared, eh?” Grandpa shifted his eyes to the weeds, and he rubbed his chin. In the shadow of the house, Henry saw something crumble off the old man’s face, but he couldn’t tell what it was. “Nope. I haven’t seen it since this morning. Are you sure it’s not still in the kitchen?”
Henry was growing suspicious and moved toward his grandfather. “No, it’s not there, Grandpa. Say, what are YOU doing out here?”
“What’s that?” Grandpa looked distracted. “I think I hear your grandma calling me, Henry. Gotta go!”
With that, Grandpa pushed past Henry, and Henry was engulfed in the spicy aroma of sweet pumpkin pie.
“Hey!” Henry called after Grandpa, but the the older man was already inside.
“Hmmm,” Henry said to no one in particular as he looked to the side of the house. He was not fond of the darker areas of the farm, but he had to know what Grandpa had been up to, so he inched closer to the tall grass.
As his vision adjusted to the dark weeds, Henry could see clearly what his grandfather had NOT wanted him to see — a shiny pie tin, with nothing inside but a few orange-brown crumbs.