Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Criminal in Our Midst

I was about to offer a 5 cent reward for information leading to the capture and arrest of the perpetrator. I hoped it would be sufficient incentive.

It was early Sunday morning and, like every other Sunday morning, the screen door opened, the doorbell rang followed immediately by sounds of feet quickly descending the steps. It all had one undeniable meaning; our friend had delivered the paper. The whys of that are for another story and another day.

Minutes later, I left the comfort of the bedroom, wandered down the stairs, opened the shades in several areas of the house and headed to the front door. When I reached down to review the headlines of the NY Times, I came up with nothing but air.

Immediately my mind focused on those most likely to have committed the most heinous of crimes. I dare not mention names of those I silently accused for fear they will read these words, but they know who they are. I quickly alerted my wife and son that we had been burgled. Their response was as anticipated,  at once a mix of disbelief and disgust.

It was strange that none of us had heard anyone ascend or descend during the course of the pilfering, but I gave that little credence. I merely assumed it was consistent with the whole idea of being a thief.

I called my friend to be absolutely certain that I had not imagined the paper arriving at our doorstep. He assured me that, like the postman, his duty was paramount. The NY Times had been deposited in its usual place. He insisted on updates as I sleuthed my way to the criminal's lair.

My son and wife began to assist me in my effort to retrace the movements of the criminal. My wife walked down the front steps, out into the driveway, looking for clues. She said that in her mind she was contemplating either writing an email to all those in our complex to determine if they had spotted any suspicious activity or alternatively to let out the air in all the tires of those in residence. Either way she was not filled with joyous ruminations.

This was not an undertaking with easy solution. Without obvious signs left behind by the wrongdoer, how would we ever uncover the truth? It seemed, at least for an instant, as if this was to be one of those unsolvable riddles, much like Stonehenge or the pyramids. Then it happened.

From the dining room, my son shouted, a mix of exasperation and incredulity in each word uttered. For there, in the middle of the dining room table, was (you guessed it already didn't you) the NY Times.

It all came back to me in a flash. I had, upon leaving the bedroom gone directly to the front door, picked up the Sunday morning paper, read the headline about all the candidates posing for selfies with anyone and everyone along their path, contemplated writing a letter about this practice, gone to the dining room, placed the printed words on the table and moved on, opening up the shades throughout our residence. Only absolutely none of that had remained in my brain when I made the second journey to the front door just moments removed from the first undertaking.

My son has already made reference to the nursing home on more than one occasion. Am I really that absent minded, that scattered, or is there something far more sinister going on inside my noggin? Am I something other than mere idiot?

My vote is for idiot. I don't sense any unusual concern in my family, nothing to suggest that this is but another example of why my wife and children are to be pitied.

I got back in touch with my friend to tell him the conclusion of this sordid tale. I think he was almost too confused by my level of stupidity to know how to respond. When we hung up, I suspected he would immediately be relating this strange tale to his wife, unsure what to think or how best to frame it.

And I apologize to those of you whom I have silently accused of wrongdoing. Forgive my trespass, for I have unjustly castigated you. Please understand that I am a flawed person and that I meant no harm or disrespect.

I think that starting next Sunday I will be asking my wife if she would go downstairs when we hear the bell ring. For it is apparent to me that I should not ask for whom the bell tolls... it tolls for me and my disintegrating presence.

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