Episode 14 – Fake Mormons
On the way to bed the night before I told Rose, “I think we’ll see Jack, soon.” My answer to her “How do you know?” look just received a shrug of my shoulders. Often you can just feel things as they are about to happen. Even so, I was shocked to see Jack (AKA Doctor Weirdo) walk into our house with a copy of the Seattle Times inside a little plastic bag on top of a box of our favorite donuts and fritters early the next morning. “Are they from last night or did you help yourself to the back door of Poa’s Donut Shop? Jack smiled and said, “They’re as fresh and the twenty-dollar tip I left.” Generous is Jack’s middle name . . . not really of course, but he generally spreads joy where ever he goes.
Jack had also been juggling three large paper cups of hot brew. We sat down at the breakfast table. The kitchen light was on, but not the light over our well scarred and well used breakfast table. I was about to turn the light on over the table when Jack said, “No leave it off.” We both sat down and looked out at Puget Sound. A grain ship was headed out to sea. A thick belt of dark gray clouds rose above the lights of Des Moines and ran northward. Within an hour the ship would sail past Seattle.
After a few sips of coffee and a bite or two from a blueberry fritter as big as my head, we looked at each other. With a raise of an eyebrow, Jack spoke. “What do you know of Mormons,” he asked. “They live in Salt Lake City . . . and wear funny underwear?” Jack smiled and said, “Anything else?” “Well, I know they are big on disaster relief and they help people discover their roots. Why do you ask? How does this affect Rose and me for example?”
With a nod of his head Jack shared a little story about someone called Braxton, who might be running a Mormon scam of helping people, getting to know them and then ripping them off. I nodded my head and asked, “How is Braxton involved, where is he and is he a descendant of Braxton Bragg the Confederate General?” “Braxton is an English name and many early Mormons came from England . . . don’t have a clue about the general. But reports are that this Braxton is helping senior and handicapped non-Mormons for free and then once they establish a friendship, they help themselves and plunder whatever they can and disappear. He may be a Robin Hood in reverse. Or perhaps it’s just a bitchy comment or two about some innocent angel,” replied Jack as he got up to leave, waved at a surprised Rose on the stairway up to our bedroom, and headed toward the door. He was out the door a second or two when he rang the metal clanging twist of a door bell and opened the door just wide enough to peek around the jamb and say, “Braxton wears black pants and white shirts and has those strings on his underwear that looks really strange.” And Jack was gone, before I could ask were the strings strange or was it the underwear. Our assignments from Jack are usually pretty sketchy.
Rose sat down in her chair at the breakfast table and sipped from her container (tea) and ate her favorite donut . . . well donuts. We pooled our knowledge. We knew of a Mormon church near Tacoma Community College, which was only a couple of miles away. Rose knew more about the Mormons than I did. A friend of hers had recommended the helpful Mormons for clearing out her over-filled art room. They help people at no charge. I parked nearby and let Peg stop in and ask questions. Although they were extremely helpful, we gathered no useful details about Braxton nor his work; however, she did keep a phone number with art room clean out possibilities.
Like most detective work, it involves endless hours of nothing but disappointments. We widened our circle of searches for nearly two weeks. One bright day as we were leaving University Place, we decided to buy some sandwiches and visit nearby Paradise Pond Park. The park is still under construction . . . there’s not much of a pond, and I don’t think there are any facilities there, yet.
We were sitting down at a picnic table directly across from the Fircrest Golf Club, and only a few yards from the busy street and our car when out of the woods on one of the paths we saw a friendly smile on a friendly face. Rose waved him over. We even shared a sandwich. We talked and laughed. He mentioned being Mormon, but you couldn’t tell it from his dress. We told him our names and he quipped back, “I’ll spin you some gold if you guess my name.” We laughed and Rose said, “I’m guessing your name isn’t Rumpelstiltskin.” He shook his head no and then I guessed Braxton. You should has seen his eyes and the expression on his face. I’ve never seen a jaw drop that far before. “How . . . why . . . who . . . what . . . where did that come from.” I laughed and said we were just talking to Mormons a few weeks ago and I looked up the most popular Mormon names for baby boys and I was surprised to see the name Braxton. After explaining about connections between Rose’s art room and Mormons, Braxton said, “That fits right in with my mission.” We set up a time for him to come over and see what we had in store for him.
Braxton showed up two days later on our doorstep with another, more Mormon looking young man, Layton. They scanned the large art room and asked questions about Rose and her collections. I showed off a tiny video camera that sat by the large window and had flashing red lights as it constantly recorded movement outside the window to deter break-ins. Actually, the camera recorded in the opposite direction. We had buried treasure hidden where it could be easily found. Rose surprised Layton twice looking at the real treasures before putting them away again. By the end of the week, Braxton and Layton had done a fantastic job clearing out piles of art supplies we could give away to local schools. We thanked them when they were finished re-arranging the art room and gave them each a sandwich and a nice thank you card created by Rose.
Rose and I were sitting at the breakfast table talking about the two Mormons and how nice they had been. We were a little disappointed in Layton, but Braxton had a great future in store for him.
A few minutes later we heard our front door intercom ring. I opened the door to find Layton, with his badge out introducing himself and revealing who he really was. He thanked us for the help in capturing the criminal known as Braxton. Layton showed us the booty that Braxton had set aside from both the art room and around the house where we had never expected anyone to search and find . . . including a cashbox of cash Jack had given us for jobs well done.
Two weeks later we went to claim our valuables from the police . . . who knew nothing of the sting operation. We were the ones who were stung.
— Written by Don and Peg Doman
— Illustrated by Dr Johnny Wow
c. 2022 Don and Peg Doman