Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Scholarly Suspect

On Monday the Mister and I were watching the Olympics and marveling at the 80 pound, 10-year-old Chinese gymnasts when we were suddenly interrupted by the unmistakable crack of gunfire. Mind you, I don't live in the ghetto. I live in a nice, boring neighborhood from the 1950s filled predominately with original owners. Our neighbors to the left, Fred and Pam, are retired officers. Behind us is the ophthalmologist, Al, who recently lost his wife, Wanda, to a massive MI at the age of 83. With all the polyester around here, we were more likely to suffer a crime of fashion before a crime of passion. Or so we thought.

The first bullet to hit the air took us by surprise, and I daresay we thought it was Fred's or Al's or Eugene's or Harve's 1969 Buick LeSabre backfiring. The second, third, and fourth bullet had us ducking our heads as we ran towards the boys' bedrooms. They were sawing logs, of course, because that's what you do amidst gunfire. The Policy and Procedure Book for Children Aged 1-5 clearly states that one must wake up screaming (1) for no reason, (2) between the hours of 2:00am - 5:00am, (3) on the nights before deadlines, meetings, appointments, and school. They were off the clock in their minds.

But we were up and at attention. The Mister went outside to check on the neighbors while I stayed inside by the phone. As luck would have it, all the neighbors went outside to investigate at different times, so we all missed each other. The next day the street was abuzz with speculation and everyone recounted the story from their perspective. This was way bigger than the sale at Walgreens. In fact, this was up there with Medicare Part D. Fred swears he saw the suspect jump his fence and enter another neighbor's yard. No one really believed Fred because of his reputation for embellishment, but tonight handed me some evidence that makes me think ol' Fred may not have been spinning a yarn, after all.

We were outside playing with the boys. The Mister was checking the grass for doggie land minds, and I was his second set of eyes. I kept pointing out piles with my feet. Here's one. Here's another. You missed one right here. Oh, and here's...a book?

The Scholarly Suspect

Not two feet away, over by the boys' slide, lay a book wrinkled and beaten from the sprinklers. A Stephen King book, no less. My mind raced with criminal possibilities as I shrieked and pointed it out to the Mister, who remained unconcerned. Maybe it belongs to Fred or Pam. Maybe their son, Kevin, accidentally dropped it over the fence. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I wasn't convinced.

The Scholarly Suspect

Then the Mister found the second book, this one about a foot away from the first. At this point I remembered every episode of CSI, CSI NY, CSI Miami, Law & Order, Criminal Minds, True Detective, and Medium I have ever watched. Any number of whackos could have left those books. Remember the Urban Legend about the life-sized clown statute that turned out to be an escaped criminal from the insane asylum? What if it was that guy?!

I handed over the evidence to Fred, who immediately instructed Pam to get her CSI kit, even though as waterlogged as the books were, fingerprints were unlikely. I could hear Fred's retired wheels spinning. He is going to be up all night.

I am, too. Not just because the books suggest someone was in my backyard, most likely running. As shocked as I was 20 minutes ago, now I'm just flat confused. I'd love to speak with the suspect (behind bars) and ask about the books. Because, really? Books? Did he think he would get a break in the mayhem and madness and catch up on a few chapters? You know, in between stuffing silver candlesticks in his robber-bag he might like to read chapter 14 real fast because, let's face it, when you hit the arc in a suspense novel you have to ride it to the end. Am I right?

Clearly, my criminal is a scholar. Maybe not of fine literature, but a reader nonetheless. Hey, if anyone can appreciate the call of a good book it's me. But might I suggest that he put down the crime and suspense and read this:

Something tells me he could learn a thing or two that may be useful for his line of work.