A detective story.
It was 3 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. I knocked on the door for what seemed like five seconds. I remember thinking, “What gives?”
Finally, a little girl opened the door. From the look on her face, I could tell she’d been crying.
“Mommy says no more reporters.”
“Save the guff,” I replied. “I’m here to find out who murdered your father.”
I muscled my way into the kitchen and was greeted by the victim’s bawling widow. From the look on her face, I could tell she was still in the process of crying. I’m not made of rubber, so I placed my warmest hand on her shoulder and said, “There’s no need to cry, Mrs. Patterson. I’ll find out who butchered your husband.”
Before viewing the crime scene, I sat down and asked a few questions:
“You call this coffee?”
That one usually gets a laugh, but in this case it didn’t work because she hadn’t offered me any. I pressed on:
“Mrs. Patterson, do you have any idea who the perp was?”
“What’s a perp?” she asked. “Is that short for something?”
I honestly didn’t know, so I said, “My patience is growing ‘short’ for your nagging questions!”
She took me into the living room to view the crime scene, and the sight of the blood-soaked carpet made her break down into convulsive sobs again:
“How could anyone….he didn’t…I never thought…!”
I placed my warmest hand on her shoulder and said, “I don’t understand what the hell you’re trying to say! And what gives?”
But men, too, can cry.
Believe me, I tried to do what they trained me to do in private d**k school, where I learned to survey every grisly crime scene with the dispassionate eye of an objective observer, reacting to every sign of human cruelty with an odd combination of amusement and watered-down pity. But I’d been at this for too long, and after scanning the room, with its wall-to-wall gore, I fell into a fetal position and wept uncontrollably. Then I vomited all over the evidence.
“Pull it together, tiger,” I thought.
Minutes passed as I took in deep breaths and wondered if it was too late for a career change. But at this point, what else could I possibly do?
I’m too young for retirement and too old to finish elementary school. I’m too dumb to be an astronaut and too shy to be a fluffer. When I was a kid, I wanted to be King of the Moon. Now I’d just settle for anything that puts a hot sandwich on the table. What happened to that self-assured young man who grabbed opportunity by both buns and squeezed until blood came out? It’s amazing how quickly the world can castrate your ambitions with the rusty scissors of—
“Are you just gonna lie there? Why the fuck do people hire you?!”
It was the widow. I’d forgotten all about her! I got up, dusted myself off and tried to give her a weird hug but she recoiled. What do these people want from me?
“The thing about cases like this, Mrs. Patterson, is they have a funny way of solving themselves,” I said rather lamely as I made my way to the door. But then I met eyes with that little girl.
Other men might have been unaffected by her tears. Hell, some guys would’ve kicked her in the face! But the Lord, that old Jokester, saw fit to saddle me with a conscience, so I couldn’t leave without doing something. I walked back into the living room.
“Widow Patterson? Are you seeing anybody right now?”
Photo by/CC Jenelle Wolny on Flickr