The Basement Files

Bedfellows and bread

Hamble

Hamble

Happy adjournment sine die everyone.

As many of you already know, this is my favorite time of year. The snow is gone, and so is the legislature. This means Republicans and Democrats are on vacation and for the next couple of months they can’t ruin anything else. So, if a vacation is good for legislators, it’s got to be good for me. So I’ve loaded up on cigars, iced tea and bug spray and I am off to relaxation-ville. See you in a few. But until then, enjoy this new short story, with a not-so-brand-new friend…

Betrayal, Bedfellows, and Bread.

It’s raining again. It seems to be doing that a lot recently. The constant patter of water on the window, and the distant, rolling rumbles of thunder would be relaxing to me, but trouble always finds me in dreary weather turns. And today would be no different. It’s a good thing I’m prepared.

A knock on the door is followed by a slow creak.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for help.”

I motion to come in as I pick up my pipe. She was a tall, slender gal, wearing a hat with a brim three sizes too big, and a red dress with a skirt three sizes too small. I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty face. Fortunately for me however, she seems to have been hit by the ugly stick a few extra times over the years. I still smell trouble though, among other things.

I strike a match. While I would normally savor the strong scent of phosphorus before gently lighting up my carefully packed pipe of sweet Cavendish, I instead hastily lit the pipe, as the overpowering odor of coconut perfume wafted in before she entered the office. I’m not a fan of coconut. Years later I would come to terms with why, and why I could never trust a woman wearing red.

“What can I help you with, ma’am.” I said. It was the wrong thing.

“Ma’am? Do I look like your mother?” No, she wasn’t as hideous.

“I’m sorry, it was a force of habit. You asked for help. What I can for you?”

“It’s my husband. He’s missing, and I think he’s cheating on me.”

I could have guessed that from the moment she sat down. Well, the cheating part at least.

“Missing?” This part had me intrigued.

“For two days. I don’t know where he went, but I have my suspicions. And this.”

She reached into her oversized purse and pulled out a brochure. She handed the glossy pamphlet over. Hawaii. It looked nice. Blue sky, green trees and a few too many coconuts for my taste. But it sure beat the gray, drab weather we seemed to be cursed with here.

“I want to know if this is where he went, and why.”

Domestic disputes are not my forte.

“I can pay well for any information.”

But I’m willing to take on a few here and there.

“I’ll see what I can find.” I said, “Do you two share a bank account?”

“Yes, but he didn’t use that money,” she answered.

I figured as much. If he was cheating, why would he be stupid enough to leave any trace of it on his bank account.

“He used his business account, which I don’t have any access too,” she said.
Or not.

“What does he do?” I asked.

“He’s a baker, he runs the Bread Barn down on First Street.”

“I’ll see what I can find out,” I answered, handing her a card. “Call me if you find out any more yourself.”

“Try to make it fast, I want to have everything ready for him when he gets back.”

She left, which was good, because I don’t take to being rushed, even though I had a day, at most, to try and find out anything I could about this trip. Time might not be on my side, but skill is. If there is anyone out there that can solve this case on such short notice it’s me, or my name isn’t Frank.

Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.

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