It was mid-morning when I heard a knock on our front door. I don’t know why people would knock on the door when there is a doorbell ringer on the door as well as an intercom just to the right of the door. I don’t mind being interrupted, but I like to have the door knocker person make sure they’ve come to the right place, and if they use the intercom they can explain who and what they are, so I don’t even have to walk up from the basement or the kitchen table where I read the morning paper and lay out my plans for the day. This day I was waiting for the call to pick up my wife from a strength and training exercise treatment center. I figured she might even take a nap on the way back home.
I unlocked and opened the door to find a fairly young man in a sport coat and tie with pressed jeans and brown oxfords. Darrell introduced himself, showed me his I.D. and asked if he could go over some questions about the neighborhood and the neighbors. I said, “Sure.” and soon we were sitting at my desk, well, breakfast table, anyway.
I made some quick microwave coffee and detective “William” asked simple questions about the neighborhood and the people.
Answers were fewer than the questions. We knew people directly next to us or a little further down the block, but most of the people were only nodding aquaintences. As far as we knew, there were no current crazies or strange people around.
William had some photos that he set out one at a time. They meant nothing to me, but one I asked to return to as he dealt another photo down. The photo was a little more alluring with big hoop earrings, carefully curled bangs, and nicely made up lips. “Do you know her?,” William asked. “I’m not sure,” I replied. “I can’t be sure, but the photo reminds me of a young woman we saw several blocks away at a neighborhood garden.” “How long ago?” asked William. “Months ago,” I replied just before the phone rang. I answered and then turned to William. I have to pick up my wife.”
Twenty minutes later the three of us were sitting at the breakfast table. William had driven me to pick up Rose, who only raised one eyebrow. William hadn’t asked the first round of questions like he had asked me, but did present the photo I had commented on to Rose. Looking over the photo and closing her eyes, Rose nodded her head and said, “Tight worn jeans, nicely kept up . . . and a yellow tie-back of her hair. She had a nice smile for both men and women. I think she was maybe asking about joining the co-op and how they shared the clean up work around the garden. I don’t recall seeing her again.”
I shook my head in agreement and then added, “The tightly worn jeans brought back a little more in my mind. I think I saw her over by the gulch near the old Weyerhaeuser mansion.” That ended all my memories. Rose nodded her head as well and then shrugged her shoulders.
William understood and then as we walked towards the front door, I asked, “Why did you come here and ask these questions. Have you asked others on the block?” He just looked at me with a blank stare before saying, “A friend told me that you two always knew more than you let on.” With that he was gone, while Rose and I looked dumbfounded at each other . . . and then we both said, in unison, “Jack.”
Five minutes later, Jack walked in after ringing the door bell with several cranks. Twenty minutes later we had the entire scoop. Billy somebody had a North end home. His girl friend had disappeared without any clues. Billy claimed he knew nothing and that “Missy” had simply left town. Billy’s home had a number of gardens around the yard . . . mostly fairly new. Billy was lazy and cheap . . . and drank a bit. His home was only two blocks from one of our north end gulches.
Rose laughed. Jack looked at her and then me and then back to Rose. I said, “There’s a tavern between here and the Proctor area. I bet if you stop in there and have a drink, you could ask a question about a woman in tight jeans. I bet she acted scared and perhaps even mentioned her boyfriend’s name. You might also ask about a man carrying a heavy bag.”
Once Jack left, I turned to Rose and said. “I think you already solved the problem.” The clever women just shook her head up and down.
Several days later Jack stopped by again and said, “You were wrong. The owners of the tavern knew nothing.” Rose said, “Annnnnnd?” Jack smiled and said, “The barber from across the street knew . . . and gave me the skinny.” Just like you thought. Someone else mentioned the heavy bag.” “Do you think I could get into a photo when the police arrest the culprit?”
Rose looked at Jack and said, “What culprit? There was no murder.” Jack’s mouth dropped open and he looked back at me. I just nodded. Rose continued, “I think your culprit was just lazy and he and his girl friend came up with an idea to get someone else to dig up a yard and prepare it for planting. The girl will come back on her own and act surprised. It was all planned out. Unless there is some sort of stupidity involved on both sides, there was no real crime. Entrapment on the police’s side? Stupidity by the couple? You name it. You deliver that news to William and walk away a winner.”
Jack looked at us both and then said, “Do you think you could write up a story for The Suburban Times where I am a hero?
Rose and I nodded, “Yes . . . both you and William.” Jack left a happy man. Rose looked at me and said, “Five to one, he springs it on William and takes all the glory.” We both just laughed and opened a bottle of Pino Grigio. We drank to our health, Jack, and the world as a whole.
c. 2022 Don and Peg Doman