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Madame Alberte

part of a pie

Please note: this story was provided by the author and published as is.

My roommate just called me. The police arrested Madame Alberte. What the actual fuck? What could drive the police to arrest and take a 70 something year old woman into custody. I mean come on.

Marine, my roommate and forever pain in the ass had no more information to give me. Well isn’t that great Marine? Thanks. Now I’m gonna think about this until there are answers, which can be in a week, a month, who knows.

Oh fuck, who’s gonna feed her cats.

Madame Alberte has two cats. She often jokes she is the witch of the neighborhood. She’s old, has a lot of grey hair, not always perfectly kept – let’s be honest. She also cooks a lot – but not kids, she laughs. And she has two black cats. One of them, Milo, is perfectly black. The other one, Etoile, has a few white whiskers and a white spot on her chin. She also hates me for whatever reason, I’m no cat psychologist but she’s probably jealous because Milo adores me and ignores her. Who cares, she’s mean ‘cause she’s a wannabe witch familiar with her white spot. I will have to figure out if someone is gonna take care of them. Should I call the station? I don’t even know where they took her.

I can’t wrap my brain around the information Marine imparted on me. What did Madame Alberte do? It must be a mistake.

Ever since Marine and I moved into the same building, she was always very sweet to us. No, always ​ isn’t the best choice of words. She was super bitchy at first. She was worried that two students moving upstairs would be the death of her, that it would mean parties every night, the clickety clack of heels on the wooden floor at midnight, fights, broken glasses, water damage issues, and different boys every day and every night (I’m not making this stuff up, she told us).

Joke’s on her though! Marine and I must be the chillest students on the planet. First, we are too broke to have any fancy heels to clickety clack in – nor would we want to. We’re more the sneakers type. As for boys… well… ain’t gonna lie, there was a few boys during the year we’ve been neighbors with Madame Alberte, but as she figured out we weren’t the devil, she greatly enjoys our boy stories. She often imparts on us her boy wisdom. I should write a book, it’s gonna be a best seller and the title will be: How to keep a husband according to Madame Alberte​. It was a delight to listen her ramble about husbands and how to keep them. On one hand she had views kind of appropriate for her age: you should cook and clean, and do his laundry (Marine rolled her eyes so loud that time), you should listen to him, engage in conversation if he is feeling inclined to, and learn when to shut up when he wants to be left alone. That one left Marine and me speechless. And then, Madame Alberte carried on to explain that in bed though, he should please you first, that you ladies should teach all the men you sleep with where the clitoris is! ​See, I taught my husband, and he was a great student​ . And she then inhaled and exhaled slowly.

That is how she is. The modern woman meets the fifties wifey.

With all that sex she had with her husband, she only had one son, she always wanted a girl. Well, she told us she wanted tons of kids but fate decided otherwise.

Funny story with her son, Antoine. A few months after we moved in, she tried to set us up on a date. I was seeing someone at the time, Antoine also had a girlfriend. As a matter of fact, I think he’s been with her for quite some time, but as I recall Madame Alberte vehemently hated her, though I’m not sure why, and I didn’t really want to find out.

I saw this date meant so much to her, so I accepted, and even convinced Antoine via text, to play along. We went out for pizza, chatted for a bit and called it a night. We agreed on what we were going to tell his mother : something about us just not having so much in common yadiyadiyadda. We still laugh about it when we run into each other. He told me once his girlfriend didn’t think it was so funny. Oops. In hindsight, it was really inconsiderate of us..

But Madame Alberte was so happy we went. She was a bit disappointed when things, you know, didn’t work out.

I think she just felt listened to, and it had to feel good. She lives alone since her husband passed. Cancer. So to thank me, kind of, she started bringing us tons of food. Marine was elated, first because how long can you really survive on microwaveable food, and second because it was a huge relief on our budget. She even laughs: should have married the son, we would have been set for life! Yeah dude, no. Even if the stars aligned or something, I still wouldn’t date him. Don’t get me wrong, he seems smart and all, and raised right – cuddos to Madame Alberte – but the spark wasn’t there.

Either way, every week, new dishes. ​Boeuf bourguignon, ratatouille, quiche lorraine​ , salty pies, sweet pies, and my all time favorite : ​gratin dauphinois. Potatoes, cream, butter and cheese, I mean… Allright, I’m gonna need a minute there to recover. OK, I’m back. I’ll have to ask her to make me another one of those once she has her thing sorted out. I love how she just brings us the food. She’s not even asking what we want, she just makes it for herself, times 3. We tried giving her money for the groceries, she never wanted it. Believe me, I’m not saying this to make us look good, we even tried to SNEAK money in, to pay her back, she returned it the day after and made us swear not to pull that shit again.

I should call Marine, see if there are any updates. But I guess if she had any, she would have reached out right away. I’m worried. She has to be OK. I’ve grown very fond of her. I never knew my maternal grandma, and my paternal grandma doesn’t really give a shit, so I’m glad I have Madame Alberte. I think she feels the same way about Marine and me. She mentions often how proud she is of her son but the relationship between mother and daughter is just so different, she says. And once Antoine left to live his life, she couldn’t bear to be alone with her husband. Not that he was an awful man or anything, she always insisted that he was a good man, but he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. She wanted to talk politics, litterature, she wanted to learn how to use her Iphone correctly and she even wanted to get some Snapchat action. He couldn’t have any of those conversation with her husband. She tells us the two things he lived for: ​Le Paris-St-Germain soccer team and week end barbecues with their friends. And their son. Antoine and his father were as different as they come, but inseparable. His death was very hard on Antoine.

So after Antoine left, she took in cats. He was allergic, so once he was out, the cats were in. She didn’t even ask her husband, she just went to the rescue and picked the two cats who were there the longest.

I really wish I knew what was going on. Oh wait, maybe I can call Antoine? I must have his number still. Yes! Here he is. Ringing, ringing, voice mail, God I hate this. Lemme try again. Same. OK, I’m calling Marine.

Oh! she’s calling me! We are so connected sometimes it’s scary.

– Allo, Marine??! – Hi, is this Audrey, Marine’s roomate?

– Yeees….

– Hi, I’m Laura, ER nurse at the hospital. You are Marine’s emergency contact, you should come, she needs you. She had a mental breakdown.

MARINE, the most stable person I know, had a mental breakdown??? WAIT WHAT?
I’m flying down the staircase, jumping into my car and driving to the hospital like a maniac, my thoughts incoherent.

I get there, and they show me to Marine’s room. They tell me she is heavily sedated but conscious.

I walk up to her, our eyes meet and my first words are:​ the fuck dude?

She shakes her head. I see her hands are shaking too, even with the sedation. I take them into my own and sit down.

What’s up dude, what are you doing here? What happened?

This is one of those stories, the ones you think happen is movies, tv shows, books. They are the stuff of urban legends and creepy youtube videos. Marine tells me the story of why Madame Alberte has been arrested. And I listen, and it seems like a dream. A nightmare rather.

Her son and his girlfriend had been missing for a few months now. We knew nothing of this. They were thought to have just left everything behind, because of how Madame Alberte was treating the girlfriend.

They didn’t leave. Police arrested Madame Alberte because they know she killed them. And cooked them. Into pies.