Hillary Faircloth is the favorite grandchild of Ruby Hayes.  When Grandma Ruby died, she left her home to Hillary,
along with a secret.  Grandma Ruby was the chili cooking champion in Between, Ga. for the last five years, until her
death.  

She had entered the contest six years previously before that, but was unsuccessful in her attempts to win.  Then
one day, Grandma Ruby discovered a secret ingredient that made winning the contest not only a possibility, but a
reality.

The funeral of Grandma Ruby was hard on Hillary and her family.  Though saddened by the events, she was excited
at the opportunity to live in the house that she’d played in as a child.  Now it was hers.

Hillary was an average looking 23 year old, Caucasian female with long brunette hair.  She had just graduated with a
four year degree in accounting from Baylor University.  Her family couldn’t be more proud of her.  They were excited
to see her.

Hillary phoned her mother when she’d made it into town.  She also called her best friend Sage, to have dinner with
them at Hillary’s new home.  She was glad to be back.  It felt right.

That night, Hillary, her mother Amelia, and Sage, sat down to a nice meal and told stories of Grandma Ruby.  They
spoke of her passion for cooking.  They talked about her secret chili recipe.  Hillary was disappointed that no one
knew it, not even Amelia.

After Hillary’s mother left, she and Sage explored the house.  It had been a while since she’d been in the house.  
They walked upstairs and checked out the bedrooms.  Grandma Ruby had many hats in her closet.  Undoubtedly,
they were her church hats.

There was a shoe box filled with pictures in it of Hillary as a child.  The girls went thru the box and laughed the
night away.  Hillary had a story for every picture.  As she put the pictures away, she reached for the top of the
box.  That’s when she noticed a key taped on the inside of the box.  

It was a single key with no note or label attached to it.  Hillary took the key and placed it in her pocket.  She wasn’t
sure why, but she really wanted to know what that key opened.  She was inquisitive that way.

The girls went to bed.  It had been a long day and the next one would be just as long.  There were a lot of best
friend things to do like go to the mall and shop.  They couldn’t wait.

The next morning while Sage was still asleep, Hillary woke up to find the power out.  She’d gone to the bathroom
and attempted to turn on the light, only to find out that a fuse had been tripped.  This was not how she wanted to
start out the morning.

Hillary went down to the basement to find the fuse box.  It was dark, but she found the light-switch and flipped it.  
She made her way down the stairs.  That’s when she noticed the box on the floor.

It was a large black metal box.  A thought went thru Hillary’s head.  She ran upstairs and grabbed the key, careful
not to awaken Sage.  She went back down to the basement.  Hillary inserted the key into the keyhole of the box
and heard the click of the lock.

She lifted up the lid.  The box was filled with ice.  There was a plastic bag buried in the ice.  Hillary lifted up the bag
and was startled by what she saw.  

It was a body limb, a human forearm to be exact.  She covered her mouth, so as not to scream in shear terror.  
Just then, Sage called out for Hillary.  In a panic, Hillary threw the plastic bag back into the box and slammed it
shut.  She ran to the basement door before Sage could come down.

She met Sage at the basement door.  Hillary was out of breath and sweating.  Plus, she’d failed to reset the fuse.  
She told Sage to go the kitchen and get out some eggs for breakfast while she reset the flipped fuse.  Sage knew
something was wrong, but she went to the kitchen anyway.

Hillary needed to be strong.  She could do this.  All she had to do was flip the fuse that was in the fuse box that
was next to the black box with the human forearm in it.  It was simple, no big deal.

Hillary had to do this and do it fast.  She didn’t want Sage seeing this new discovery.  Hillary took a deep breath,
said a prayer, and ran to the fuse box, opened it, and flipped the fuse.  She then, raced back to the door and
slammed it shut, all while never looking down.  She didn’t want to lay eyes on the black box again.

Breathing heavily, Hillary stood slumped against the basement door.  She opened her eyes, only to see Sage
staring at her from the doorway of the kitchen.  “Oh crap!” she thought.

Hillary had some explaining to do.  She was smart.  She could come up with something.  “Rats,” Hillary said.  
Simple, not wordy, it should work.  It did.

Sage certainly wasn’t going down to the basement to look at a bunch of rats.  It definitely would have freaked her
out.  Anyway, the lights were on and that’s all that Sage cared about, that and the eggs.

The two girls sat down to eat breakfast, but Hillary had lost her appetite.  She needed to go down to the basement
and figure out why there was a human limb down there wrapped in ice.  And more importantly, why was there a
human limb down there wrapped in ice in her Grandma Ruby’s house?

That day, Sage and Hillary drove to the nearest mall and shopped the day away.  They had lunch at a local café and
for a moment, Hillary even forgot about the black box.  That was until Sage asked Hillary what was really down in
the basement that could made her sweat.

Sage was a smart cookie.  She wasn’t completely fooled by what Hillary had told her.  But Hillary was smart also.  
She stuck to her story.  She didn’t want to involve Sage in whatever was going on.  Hillary needed to just believe
the lie and Sage would to, eventually.

Hillary still had a problem.  Sage had planned to stay with her for the next couple of days.  Hillary had to get rid of
her, even though she didn’t want to do it.  But she had to find out what was in the black box.  

Hillary finally got a break.  Sage had to run a couple of errands.  She said that she would meet up with Hillary later
that night after she was finished.  That was good news for Hillary.  She could resume her investigation.

They parted ways and Hillary pulled out her cell phone.  She immediately called her mother, Amelia.  Using subtlety,
Hillary asked her mother every question she could think of about Grandma Ruby.  

Nothing struck Hillary as being odd.  Grandma Ruby appeared to be your average, everyday, typical grandmother.  
That was a relief.  Just before Hillary hung up the phone, Amelia told her that she was stopping by for dinner so
that they could practice making Grandma Ruby’s famous chili.

Hillary’s jaw dropped.  “No,” she thought.  Her loving, caring, always there for her grandmother, couldn’t possibly
be a serial killer, could she?  Was Grandma Ruby slicing and dicing up her chili competition?  Was she hacking up
people in order to win a trophy?   Hillary’s dream homecoming had become a nightmare.

Finally making it home, Hillary went straight to the basement.  She knew that she had a couple of hours before
Sage came back over, but even a shorter amount of time before Amelia dropped by.

Hillary returned to the black box.  She pulled out the key and inserted it into the lock.  Hillary was afraid of what she
would find, but she needed to make sure she was not hallucinating.  She turned the key and opened the box.  It
was gone.

The forearm was gone.  The plastic bag was gone.  The plastic bag with the forearm was gone.  Hillary was
mystified.  Was it ever really there?  Did she dream it all up?

Hillary searched the entire basement.  She wondered if she had put the plastic bag back into the black box.  Then,
she heard a knock on the front door.

Her mother’s voice seemed so close, but the door was locked, so she was probably still outside.  Hillary went back
upstairs after locking the black box, though there was no need to now.  

When Hillary made it upstairs, her mother was already in the kitchen.  That was odd.  Hillary was sure that she’d
locked the front door when she came in.  She did, however, come into the house in a rush to get to the basement.  
It was possible that she’d forgotten to lock it.

Amelia had spices, onions, sausage, and hamburger meat.  She was ready to cook.  She had two aprons.  Cooking
chili could get messy.

Amelia and Hillary got to work.  It took them two hours, but they finally finished, and just in time.  Sage had arrived
with her boyfriend Justin.  

Everyone sat down at Grandma Ruby’s dinner table.  Hillary said grace, as Amelia served up the chili with cornbread
on the side.  It was a real southern meal.

After dinner, the group moved into the living room.  The conversation was light.  Sage’s boyfriend, Justin,
commented on the chili and raved about the spices.  He said that the last time he’d had chili so good, it was at the
county chili cook-off.  Hillary stopped eating.  Her fork dropped to the plate.  The shocked expression on Hillary’s
face told it all.  She looked at mother.

Amelia smiled and said, “Even Hillary doesn’t know the entire recipe, but I’ll tell her one day.  It’s a family tradition.  
I learned it from my mother.  It’s the meat.  It’s all in the meat.”
GRANDMOTHER’S
CLOSET

By: Dedrick Frazier