Calling Doctor Weirdo is a series of short, very short detective stories. The stories revolve around Jack, sometimes referred to Dr. Weirdo, but not to his face. A middle age couple solve local Pacific Northwest problems and help people via their friend and associate Jack, a community supporter of King and Pierce County.
Episode 16 – Fear and Dread in Polite Company?
I was shopping at Safeway and was attacked by an elderly woman. To hear her story, I attacked her, but I didn’t really attack her. I wanted to. God, how I wanted to. I was rather foolish, however. The woman was attacking a little old man. She was verbally assaulting him. He was almost in tears.
I stepped in without knowing what was really going on. The elderly woman switched opponents faster than a certain ex-president turned on his own supporters when it suited him. There are no scars on my neck, but I swear she would have been gnawing at my throat if a policeman shopping for a cooked chicken hadn’t stepped in. The woman simply smiled at the policeman and asked him politely to have me apologize for harassing her. I turned to ask the little old man how this all began, but there was no more little old man standing there. A group of about ten people, each with squinty eyes targeting my front, back, and each side looked like they were ready to come to the woman’s aid if need be. I’m sure the rest of the grocery store went on with their shopping and checking out, but in our little circle of the world it was quiet. Too quiet as I searched for a retort or anything else to say as I could only hear a pounding tick from my heart. My head turned and looked at the other customers. None were carrying pitchforks . . . that I could see, but I did understand that it was my play. I gulped and swallowed my pride and simply nodded to the woman and then looked at the policeman and said, “I am frightfully sorry for the disturbance. I was mistaken.” Then I calmly walked away leaving two loaves of Nuts and Grain bread on the counter by the self-check-out area. Seething with unexpressed ire I fought to keep every step as nonchalant as I could, walked out and got into my car.
Never one to let an insult or hurt feeling go by, I sat in my car and pulled out my binoculars and waited to see the elderly woman come out. She was pushing a cart filled with groceries that hadn’t been there just minutes before. She wasn’t coming in my direction, so I easily watched her walk south past Roundtable Pizza and the rest of the stores. I drove away from the parking area and circled around and behind ACE Hardware and continued down the delivery area behind the stores. As I neared the end of the roadway, I saw the woman reach the sidewalk and continue up the slight hill, still pushing a black grocery cart.
Keeping my distance and driving a block over, I stealthily followed her until she turned back and looked directly at me through my binoculars. I almost poked my eye out with the lens. Seconds later I looked down the street only to find her gone.
I came home and told Rose about my encounter. Rose just looked at me . . . much like the audience around me at Safeway had. We went to bed separately. The next morning, I was up early and drove back to where yesterday’s adventure had begun and ended. I found nothing. I slowly expanded my search and at last saw a black shopping cart, just like the one the lady had been pushing, three blocks away and in the opposite direction from where I had seen and felt the evil eye. The shopping cart was left under the basketball hoop at a nearby park and close to the community police station. True, it could have been left by anyone, but I just had a feeling.
It was still early on a day with no plans other than some minor house repairs, mowing a patch or two of our lawn and cleaning up my office, so I went for coffee at Cutter’s Point. I was sitting and sipping a sixteen-ounce drip with cream and had four empty brown sugar packets on my table. I saw a black Chrysler 300 pull up and park. A thirty-ish man walked in and placed his order and then sat down at the table next to mine with coffee in hand. After a few sips I asked, “Can you tell me about your Chrysler 300? Of all the cars I’ve owned over the years, my favorite was a 1955 Chrysler New Yorker two door hardtop.” With a smile and a nod, he said, “With the little tiny shift lever on the dash?” Soon, “Jim” joined me.
Jim asked what I was driving and I responded, “An older Chrysler Pacifica. It drives like a truck, but I like it.” Jim laughed and added, “Lots of room in the wayback.” I asked about the 300 – a classic car when I was a teenager. Jim responded, “It’s a 2021 300S with all the options. It’s a nice cruiser . . . a little like a truck, but comfortable all day long. There’s lots of room in the back seat. Visibility is nice. Compared to the Challenger/Charger it’s only okay, but the 5.7 Hemi gives it plenty of power for most driving. It’s not mine. I have a classic 240Z.” I beamed, “I had a yellow, ‘73 240Z! I wish I had kept it, but I like all kinds of cars. I also have a 1964 GTO with the four-gear shift on the column.” His nod told me he knew how rare that was. He was about to speak when he got a call on his cell. He answered and all he said was “Mam” several times. When he turned the phone off, he said, “Well, gotta go. You have coffee here every morning?” I told him it was a sometimes thing. It was then I saw the bulge under his left arm, and I added, “But tomorrow is looking good.” He nodded, cleaned up what little mess there was and excused himself and headed towards the door.
I drove leisurely home, read the morning paper and waited for Rose to rise so we could talk about the day so far. Two hours later, Rose asked, “So you think there is a connection between the driver and your mystery woman?” “Just a feeling. Just a feeling.” We left it at that. As the day progressed, neither of us wanted to cook dinner so we tried a new restaurant, well, not really new, but re-done and expanded. We had a comfortable table with a window to look out and a nearby mirror to check out our hair and the fold and fit of our clothes. The food was good and the atmosphere was friendly until there was a slight disturbance. I looked up from my rib-eye and in the mirror saw our waitress getting a dressing down from a customer. The second time I looked up a gesture of the patron took me back to Safeway. Our waitress hadn’t been the best in the world, but I doubted she deserved the word-whipping she was getting. Soon the patron waltzed out of the restaurant. Out the window my eyes followed the mean woman as she walked through the busy parking and got into a black 2022 Chrysler 300. When our waitress returned to ask if we wanted dessert, we declined. As she walked away all I could make out was the word “bitch.” I don’t think she was referring to Rose.
Rose and I talked about the event and the possibilities. The next morning, I drove the GTO to coffee. About half an hour later than the day before, my Chrysler 300 driver, Jim, came in and joined me. I had seen him walking around my car and admiring it. “Beautiful car. What did it cost? If you care to share.” I said, “It was a gift from a friend . . . a long story. Would you like to drive it?” He shook his head yes, but “No, I’ve got to drive my employer back to Bellevue.” “Rich?” I asked? “Ultra” he added. Jim was staying at small B&B nearby owned by a woman who used to cut Rose’s hair. Jim’s employer was staying at McMenamins in downtown Tacoma. We simply nodded and exchanged phone numbers.
Several weeks later, just in time for reading the morning paper and delivering excellent coffee and our favorite fritters, friend, confidant, mister-knows-everyone-rich-in-Seattle and our life-line to excitement and the good life . . . Jack returned with the ringing of our mechanical doorbell. He had a caper for us as he always does. But before he explained the latest, I had to ask about the crazy lady whose path had crossed with mine in Safeway. Jack knows everyone who is anyone or at least knows who they are. I described the woman and drew a sketch. A look of absolute terror overcame Jack, like the shadow of death. He merely looked around and over his shoulder, and whispered “Bertie Wooster’s Aunt Agatha, Rumpole of the Bailey’s She Who Must Be Obeyed, and Pandora and her box all rolled into one . . . my sister, Beatrix.” She knows everyone in Seattle and King County that has money and power. She’s a fund raiser for many projects for the community, but keeps a very low profile . . . but don’t ever think of crossing her. She amuses herself every once-in-a-while and terrorizes people. Gets her jollies out of it, but away from the Seattle sphere. I’ve got to go, got to go. Here are my notes about something that needs to be done. Please, read and do what you can . . . gotta go . . . gotta go.” Jack fled in full retreat.
With our mouths wide open Rose and I looked at each other. I merely said, “And you didn’t believe me.”
c. 2022 Don and Peg Doman