In Pennsylvania this week Fletcherfans, where JB is on the hunt for a proper handmade Amish quilt for Grady and Donna’s anniversary. JB is being chauffered by her publisher’s assistant Reuben Stoltz, who is not at all bothered to spend his Sunday shuttling JB out to Amish country, especially if she take a cheeky look at the contracts he has for her.
All further communication is cut short when a rampaging buggy of destruction sends their car off the road, causing complete devastation in that a couple of letterboxes got knocked over. The buggy driver, the lead singer of Amish Hanson, shoots off before Reuben can lose his mind at him.
When Reuben bends down to assess the damage to the car’s axle he collapses in agony – a muscle spasm in his back. And I have 0 smartarse comments about that because there is literally nothing worse than a dodgy back, so JB – lacking in prescription phamaceuticals – goes to seek help at the Amish town, where they clearly will have a large stash.
Holy crap. Imagine an Amish Breaking Bad. And they were smuggling meth out in the quilts. Someone needs to get onto that immediately. I’ve seen Amish Mafia, it doesn’t seem like that much of a leap.
Jess interrupts morning prayers and explains the situation. The Amish Avengers quickly assemble, although they pointedly exclude one woman who remains seated while they get wagons hitched and head over to the crash site. Reuben is writhing in agony, but still recognises the young woman with the doctor’s bag, and her husband. “Hello Jacob.” He says.
Jess begs their help getting him into the buggy so they can go and call a doctor, but Jacob tells her the phone is miles away. His wife Rebecca says she can gather some herbs, and to take Reuben back to their house but Jacob says no. Reuben has been SHUNNNNNEND. The boss guy orders Jacob to take Reuben back to his house.
JB is surprised to find out Reuben is Amish. (I am surprised to find out Rebecca is the female student in the beginning of Ghostbusters). Rebecca tells her they grew up together before Jacob interrupts to point out that Reuben was SHUNNNNED. JB suspects it might be time to leave, but with the car positively munted and the garage closed until Monday there’s nothing for it but to stay the night. Jacob is less than excited by the idea, but Christian charity etc etc.
Over dinner that night, JB demolishes some apple dumplings while Rebecca and Reuben reminisce about the time Reuben replaced a softball with a whitewashed apple during a softball game back in the day.
Reuben offers to take it outside, but Rebecca calms them down. A knock on the door signals the arrival of Franz Kauffman and Amish Hanson, come to apologise for the whole running-them-off-the-road situation, and to offer to pay for the damage to the car. Both JB and Reuben think this is fair enough, but Jacob decides a further punishment of a two month curfew is in order.
Geez. Where’s the love? (You’re welcome, Hanson fans. Fun fact, I bloody hated Hanson when they were a thing, and then I saw them on The Project a few years ago and accidentally found Taylor Hanson attractive it was a confusing time).
Outside Amish Hanson tells his father he doesn’t want to be a part of a community that has Jacob Beiler as a member (fair) and runs off into the night. The King of the Amish, Bishop Burkhardt pulls up in his Amishmobile to ask what’s going on and Franz tells him Jacob is out of control. The Bishop says he will talk to Jacob, but as Jacob is an elder there’s not much he can do. Franz ominously says he might not be one for long and disappears in a cloud of gravel and dust. By which I mean he said HIYA and drove away.
Later that night Jess is getting ready for bed when she realises she’s left her handbag downstairs. When she goes to retrieve it she finds Jacob pondering a note that he quickly hides in the collection box. She quickly grabs her bag and goes back upstairs. As she closes the blind, she spots Rebecca running sneakily over to the barn. Reuben, it has been said, is off walking.
The police arrive. The Sheriff finds the whole thing pretty dark – Jacob was killed with a pitchfork before he was strung up like a scarecrow, and since the Amis abhor violence of any kind it was totes an outsider.
“Murder is against everyones religion.” Declares JB.
The sheriff agrees and begs JB not to mention to anyone about the pitchfork, at least until after the corner has finished his report. A surprisingly jovial Bishop Burkhardt arrives to check on Rebecca and to listen in while the Sheriff asks her some questions. Rebecca tells the sheriff that she went straight to bed, while Jacob was up counting the collection. JB points out that she saw Rebecca going into the barn but Rebecca says she was going to check on her pregnant cat. Reuben says he was out walking until 10, and went straight to bed when he came back as noone else was awake. He informs the Sheriff that as soon as his car is fixed he will be taking JB back to Philadelphia, but the sheriff informs him that while JB is free to go, Reuben’s going nowhere.
Reuben and JB get a lift into town, Reuben to check on his car and JB to finally buy that quilt for Grady. She recognises the shop assistant as the woman who was being excluded at the prayer meeting. When she asks the woman when her baby is due, she bursts into tears. It’s not the baby, she explains, but something terrible that happened. JB guesses it’s about Jacob, and the girl, Sarah Lapp says that the Sheriff can find a needle in a haystack so it won’t take him long to search the barn. They are interrupted by the arrival of two more Amish women who take one look at Sarah and walk over to the other side of the store.
Over at the crash site Reuben is supervising the retrieval of his car, with the mechanic and a group of Amish Avengers to assist. The Sheriff arrives looking for a cigarette and a lighter, and when Reuben can’t produce his lighter he pounces. It’s because the sheriff found the lighter in the barn. Along with a whole lotta blood. Reuben is arrested. Jess goes to see him at the sheriff’s office and Reuben explains that Jacob had Reuben shunned back in the day after a fight about somethings that shall remain nameless. He tells Jess that he had a cigarette in the barn and must have forgotten his lighter, but he thinks he threw the butt away outside the barn so there’s no way it will be found and no he’s not holding out on her, and he didn’t kill Jacob.
Suspicious, JB fills Rebecca in on what’s happened, and asks her for the truth. Rebecca comes clean – she met Reuben in the barn, not for some sort of romantic assignation, but to tell him she knew Jacob had goaded him into the fight that got him shunned. She begged him to tell the elders and repent so he can come home, but he told her no. The thing he fought to stop from happening has happened anyway and anyway he’s not sorry he fought Jacob but he won’t lie to God. Rebecca says that was the point Jacob turned up. He and Reuben nearly came to blows but instead Reuben left the barn and Jacob ordered Rebecca to go back inside. She says it was 9:30 when she came inside and went to bed. Jess wonders what Jacob was doing in the barn to begin with and Rebecca assumes he came looking for her when she wasn’t in bed. Rebecca also mentions hearing someone moving around outside the barn when she went back inside but she didn’t see anyone and assumed it was Reuben. Jess doesn’t think so – she remembers the note Jacob hid in the collection box and suggests they check it, but Rebecca says Franz Kauffman took the collection box that morning.
Jess heads over to house Kauffman, where she finds Amish Hanson loading up his buggy to hightail it out of town – he’s had enough, he’s off to start a boyband (probably). Jess hopes his departure has nothing to do with Jacob’s death, which he seems surprised about, but then his father arrives pitchfork in hand. He found it down by the river where Amish Hanson liked to hang out and it’s clear to him that Amish Hanson killed Jacob.
A hysterical Amish Hanson is put in the cells, leaving Reuben free to leave. He doesn’t seem particularly thrilled about it though, and in the car on the way to drop JB off at the bus station he tells her he was the one who put the pitchfork in the cave. He doesn’t want to say why, but Jess tells him she’s already spoken to Rebecca, and she knows everything – at least up until Rebecca went inside after hearing movement outside the barn. Reuben swears it wasn’t him – when he went back to the barn, on account of seeing the lantern, Reuben was already dead. He tried to help but knowing how it would look he decided to hide the body until after he could leave. He strung Jacob up and wiped the pitchfork clean of prints. Jess suggests that the whole thing was done to make the Sheriff think the killer was a man, and that Reuben was protecting Rebecca. Reuben says JB can’t possibly think Rebecca was involved and she says she doesn’t but obviously Reuben did.
They go back to Rebecca’s house – she’s delighted to see Reuben, surprised to hear Amish Hanson is in jail and horrified to hear her husband had been killed by a pitchfork. JB suddenly remembers noone knew that Jacob had been killed in the barn with a pitchfork.
Well, nearly noone.
Jessica returns to the quilt shop, where Sarah has the quilt she bought all wrapped and ready to go. Jess quietly points out that noone knew that Jacob was killed in the barn, so why would Sarah say that the Sheriff would be searching the barn?
Sarah tells her Jacob was her baby daddy, and he was going to have her shunned, so she threatened to expose him. They met in the barn, he came at her, she grabbed the pitchfork and Jacob tripped.
And there you have it gang. Amishtery solved. Man, I really thought I’d come up with more Amish puns.
Until next time.