My 14.75-year old dog Wilson and I sometimes pretend we’re detectives. Because we dress as ninjas—or more likely because we’re past a certain age of loveliness—we saunter unnoticed through the streets of Fort Bragg.
Over the past several months, I fancy that I’ve become quite the savvy gumshoe. I can identify a number of street drug dealers and people who live in their vehicles. Sadly, I recently learned that those are the only two things I’m good at detecting.
Last Monday afternoon, I was startled out of concentrating on my day job by a pounding on the door. Through the top leaded glass quarter panel, I saw a young waif of a woman standing on the porch.
In mere seconds, several things raced through my investigative brain:
- Europe? Who says they’re from Europe? People are more likely to specify that they’re from a particular country.
- A few months ago, the Fort Bragg Advocate News reported that a young fellow went door to door and claimed to be a local College of the Redwoods student raising money to study abroad. When an older gentleman invited him into his home, the fellow ripped off cash and valuables and ran away.
- She’s probably faking her French accent.
- She’s going to try to rip me off.
“You need to leave.” I slammed the door and called the police.
The dispatcher asked what the young woman wanted.
“I don’t know.”
“Was she selling something?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did she threaten you?”
By this time I was a bit embarrassed. (I’ve been accused of overreacting to more than one situation during the course of my lifetime.)
I was asked to describe her. (Apparently “waif-like” isn’t sufficient for the police.) And the color of her jacket? Holy crap—purple? Let’s say purple.
I was asked which direction she went. Oh my God—I did not know!
After I hung up the phone, I was ashamed that I’d failed to fulfill my civic duty. I should have grabbed the European, put her in a choke hold while dialing 911, and held her until the police arrived. At the very least, I should have been able to describe her.
I dressed him up, grabbed my cell phone, went out the front gate, and saw her bicycle parked in front of a house up the street. As if to confirm that there is a Higher Power, a police car pulled up to the intersection. (That pesky Higher Power seems to enjoy playing this trick on me.)
I madly waved and gestured, “Over here! Come here!” My armpits were gathering moisture.
I bent to speak to the officer and was struck by his youthful appearance. He looked like he’d recently received his driver’s permit. I introduced myself as The Concerned Citizen Who Had Made The Call To Dispatch.
“There’s her bike!” I pointed. “You can zoom over there and nab her right now!”
He asked a series of questions: what did she want, what did she look like, what was the color of her jacket? In an effort to appear credible—but certainly without intending to—I may have made up some details. He respectfully listened.
“Even I can mimic a French accent.” I tried to say this with French inflection but it came out sounding like Hillbilly British.
As he wasted time questioning me, I feared the European would emerge from the house and sprint away. Wilson and I would have to run across the street and tackle her.
I worried that Wilson might not be up for it (he is awfully old). The entire ordeal moved me dangerously close to requiring a sedative.
Finally, the officer smiled and said, “So you told her to go kick some rocks down the road.” (Where did the City of Fort Bragg find this guy? He’s too darned cute.)
He assured me he’d check it out. Wilson and I wanted to stand on the sidewalk and gawk, but felt we’d spent our vigilante chips for the day.
When we returned from our walk, the bicycle was gone.
I later spoke with a neighbor who said that the European had knocked on their door stating she needed help with a map.
HA! I’ll bet! Go talk to Google, sister!
First there was the fake College of the Redwoods student claiming plans to study abroad (probably in Europe). Now it’s the fake European. I must develop a plan to bring future trespassers to justice.
First, I’ll stop opening my door to strangers. When one does arrive on my porch, I’ll grab my cell phone and take a picture of him/her through the leaded glass window. When I call dispatch, I’ll refer to the photo while being questioned for details.
The police will declare, “Man, does that broad ever have an eye for detail. We should make her an honorary detective.”