Telling the Bees – Chapter 20
After Market Day
It was a perfect March morning amidst the thickly forested hills of the Upper Yarra Valley, full of light and warmth and the songs of insects and birds. Rivers of bees spiralled upward and were lost to the eye in that impossible blue, while others descended in reciprocal streams.
The beekeeper sat between them, bareheaded, no suit or veil, her hands resting on the warm, rough-sawn cypress pine of the hives to left and to right.
‘So you probably already know that she isn’t coming back,’ continued Lottie. ‘She loved you very much. She asked me to look after you, to treat you kindly. And I will, I promise.
‘She was my best friend, you know, the only one who listened to me, respected me. Who treated me like a person, not just a big, lumpy thing with a spotty face and enormous boobies.
‘I wasn’t there when it happened. But this is what I was told.
‘Somehow, she smuggled her gun to the market in that little white delivery van that they drive – that they drove. In Harris’ blanket, they said.
‘She knew they would be there, you see. They come to – came to – every market, Jason and Louisa. Just like real locals.
‘Something happened to Amélie in the days before the market. I don’t know what, but Louisa was involved somehow. On the Saturday, we spoke and she was, I dunno, weird. Not really with it. A bit the way she could be sometimes: wild. Not scary, but like, reckless. You felt she could do anything, and stuff the consequences.
‘So anyway, there everyone was, at the market. It was quite busy, and lots of locals were there, and some tourists too. It was about ten o’clock, they said.
‘Amélie sees Jason and Louisa arrive in that big, bouffy American truck they drive. Drove. She – Louisa that is – is all tarted up as usual. He’s wearing that flat cap and that stupid jacket even though it’s already nearly thirty and anyone with any sense is in shorts and singlet and thongs. But that’s how they are. Were.’
‘Well from one end of the market to the other, and okay so it’s not a big market, maybe twenty stalls tops, Amélie sees them coming. And she goes to the van and pulls out her gun and shouts something. In French, so they said. And before anyone can stop her, she gets off a single shot and hits Louisa right in the chest.
‘Everyone’s like “What the fuck just happened?” and running for cover and Jason goes to help his wife, and before anyone has the sense to stop her, Amélie reloads, aims and gets him too. I mean, who would have thought she still had it in her, all weak and shaky and unsteady on her feet like she’d got? Amazing.
‘Well, Louisa was stone dead and Jason copped it in the face. They say he’ll never see again.’
‘But the best is yet to come.
‘When the cops turn up at the Homestead to break the news to Jason’s godson, Henry –he can’t speak cause he’s autistic or something – they can see he’s all upset, even before they’ve said a word about the pair who got shot. He drags the cops down to the cellars – and they find a young bloke there, all chained up! Poor little sod hasn’t had any food or water for days and he’s about half dead. Backpacker, from Germany or somewhere.
‘Turns out the pair of them were psychos. Serial killers. Like, Silence of the Lambs kind of crazy shit. Apparently the cops are digging up the yard now, looking for bodies.
‘But you want to know what happened to Amélie, of course.
‘She calmly put the gun down, the cops arrested her without a struggle and took her away for questioning. At the police station she gave them a load of information about the Homestead and old murder cases. You know, what they call “cold cases”?
‘So anyway they put her in the secure unit at the mental hospital, but she never gave them any trouble. She was quiet as, just sat there in her room. They let me in to see her one time, but it was like our Amélie wasn’t there any more. She’d already gone.’
Lottie stopped to wipe her eyes.
‘Then all of a sudden her eyes light up, and she leans in towards me and says “Tell the bees – I won in the end!”
‘She died that night. Passed away peacefully in her sleep.
‘I loved her so much. I really miss her.’
And that, my friends, brings us to the end of Amélie’s tale. Thanks for your company. I have to admit: I’m going to miss her too.
Next week we’ll be starting with The Plot – a mystery set in and around a Melbourne community garden.
Acknowledgement of Country: The Woiwurrung people of the Kulin alliance are the Traditional Owners of the land on which this story is set. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
Disclaimer: The people and events described in this story are entirely the product of the author’s imagination; they bear no intentional resemblance to real-life people and events. The locations are based on real places.