All characters appearing in this work are not fictitious but the author wishes they were. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely intentional.
Special Agent Mom, the overworked single mother, went in search of dirty laundry in her teenage son’s room. None of his clothes were in any laundry basket that she could find, and he wasn’t at home to nag about it, so once again she was left to take care of his hygiene needs on her own.
As she entered his room she immediately noticed on her son’s bed a red Sharpie, a roll of Scotch tape, scissors, and the leftovers of index cards that had clearly been cut into. Her heart leaped momentarily. Christmas was in a couple of days and maybe her teenager had made her a card! Memories of his days as a little sprout making her cards for Mother’s Day, Christmas, her birthday, all of them saying “I love you, Mommy,” flashed by and for a brief second she missed her baby terribly.
She then shook her head as if to awaken herself. She knew who she was dealing with. More likely than a card project was some sort of crime in the making. The savvy mother knew to start her investigation on the floor of her son’s room. Most things of his ended up there, so it was simply playing the odds to look there. She kicked jeans and hoodies out of the way. She gingerly lifted damp towels from the floor, careful not to contaminate any potential evidence. Her discoveries included half-full plastic cups of water, a bottle of Gatorade under the bed, and a grocery sack full of unidentifiable detritus.
Finding nothing on the floor, she moved her search to eye level. The room was small so only the closet and dresser top were left to mine. The closet yielded nothing (except for her resolution to cull the too-small shoes and box full of ties sometime in the future, but she also knew herself well enough to know it would be in the very distant future, if ever).
She said aloud to no one, “What in the . . . ?” As she approached the dresser with the incriminating evidence, she noted the words written in red Sharpie on the card taped to the pitcher, “Money for Florida trip.” Mystery solved.
Now the work of the prosecution took over. The mother was both a bit pleased with her son for wanting to save money for a spring break trip he was paying for himself but also exasperated that an antique glass pitcher was used for the Savings & Loan endeavor. She bagged the evidence and took it to the kitchen to piece together the sequence of events in the crime.
The son had to have taken the pitcher from the top of the refrigerator. Granted, for him the top of the fridge was practically eye level, but so were all of the giant cups they had collected from their local college football and basketball games that were on the counter. Why did he choose the fancy pitcher?
The son returned home to a surprise interrogation. Under this close scrutiny the suspect allocuted to the crime but when his motive for choosing the antique artifact for his criminal enterprise was questioned he simply shrugged and said, “Because it was there.” The son looked at the mother quizzically.
He said, “It’s a container. I wanted something to put my money in to save for Florida. What’s the big deal? Are you completely crazy?”
The mother shook her head again. She realized that as this was a nearly full grown man he actually had not said anything. She inferred it from the entirely blank look on her son’s face.
Special Agent Mom reclaimed the pitcher from the evidence locker and restored it to its rightful place on top of the refrigerator. The son spent the next few hours watching his mother out of the corner of his eye, uncertain of what else she might know.
Once the mystery had been solved and the criminal accepted the plea agreement, it occurred to Special Agent Mom to call her own mother and apologize for having used the valuable Ruby Red Depression Glass serving bowl as a pet food bowl on the concrete patio, and apologize especially for its having been broken in this act of compassion for the family pets. She decided against it, however, as this crime was entirely different and she knew she had probably apologized upon being caught so many years ago. “No need to be burdened by history,” she mumbled to herself.
Angie Albright, author of A Growing Season