The stewardess behind the podium announced that Flight 109 bound for Little Rock, Arkansas was on time and would passengers please start boarding.
“I'll miss you both,” McCormick gently hugged Aunt Zora. “Hey, who won the competition?”
“Oh, Margaret Lessingham solved the murder. She always does.” May shook her head sadly, then turned a puckish face to her older nephew. “Except when we do.” She then pecked Hardcastle on the cheek and patted his shoulder before turning to Mark. “We'll miss you both, too. It's been a wonderful experience.” She gave him a hug then turned to pick up her overnight bag as Zora embraced the judge.
“We had such a wonderful time, Milton.” Zora straightened her jacket, then reached for her own bag. “Thank you both. And I know you'll do wonderfully on your exams, Mark.”
“Yes indeed,” said May. “And don't forget to use up that nasty non-alcoholic beer on your petunias, dear.”
“You bet,” grinned Mark. “I'm just glad it's good for something.”
Hardcastle ushered the aunts to the line forming to board the airplane. “Now you drive carefully from the airport, okay? And call me when you get home.”
May patted his shoulder. “We will, Milton. And we'll see you both next year in Arkansas.”
“You planning something I didn't know about, Judge?” McCormick raised his eyebrows at the older man.
The judge raised his shoulders and shook his head, palms held up. “Not me.”
“No, dear,” May walked toward the gate, smiling. “You weren't aware of it yet, but you'll be staying with us next summer when the annual L.A.D.I.E.S. get-together is held in Little Rock.”
“That's right,” said Zora with a twinkle in her eye, “next year, it's our turn to host a murder.”
In Memoriam Larry Hertzog
NEXT, ON HARDCASTLE and McCORMICK – Virtual Season 4:
The busboy rode inside an ambulance, siren wailing and speed evident by the lights flashing past outside. The swarthy diner groaned and sweated on the gurney beside the busboy, then made loud retching noises.
The busboy wiped sweat away from his own forehead and glanced around the ambulance with an expression of heavy anxiety. Looking back briefly at the sick man, he closed his eyes briefly as if in prayer, muttering, “Oh, Hardcastle, you better believe me.”
“Chez Pierre? For dinner?” Hardcastle looked up at the younger man leaning against the counter. “Do you know how expensive that joint is? And we’ve already got some perfectly good hamburger sitting right there.”
“Yeah, but in the cause of justice, huh, Judge?” said McCormick.
Fingers shook his head and shot another look behind him, sidling nervously. “You haven’t heard the worst of it. Two nights ago, we had a guy get poisoned! Right here! Now he’s claiming it was intentional, and you know who’s going to be get pointed at when he brings the cops around – me!”
Mattie frowned a bit at the slight man as he left. “I don’t like people who help me that much. And he has beady little eyes, too. Milt,” she turned to her escort, “I’m still not sure about this.”
He shushed her and aimed a thumb to his left.
A tall, curly-haired waiter approached their table and bowed slightly. “Good evening,” he said decorously. “My name is Mark and I’ll be serving you tonight. Here is our menu,” he presented one to each diner, “and our special tonight is Canard a l’Orange. Do you require a few minutes to make your selections?”
“Ah, can you tell me what this dish is?” asked Mattie, pointing with a finger at Supremes de Volailles de Versailles.
“No, madam,” said Mark definitely, but with a polite smile.
Mon D’Or took one more piercing glance at Henri, then turned and raced out the front door just in time to see the judge and Lieutenant Harper striding up the sidewalk toward Chez Pierre. Mon D’Or leapt into his Jaguar convertible as Hardcastle yelled “Get him!” to McCormick.
Mark spotted Fingers and Bernard at the end of the pier and waved at them from the hot dog stand. “You want sauerkraut on yours?” he yelled to them.