The alarm went off. Much too early for Saturday. I reached over and hit the snooze button, then I remembered the Friday night disaster. I reviewed the telephone conversation I had had with my husband that night. He assured me he wouldn’t need to use the credit cards and he would be home Sunday instead of Monday. We agreed I would call and cancel the credit cards, and I did so.
Still in bed, I yawned and stretched. I picked up the book I had been reading last night, the latest Sue Grafton novel featuring Kinsey Millhone. Too bad Kinsey isn’t real, I thought. I could use her help on my missing wallet case. Well, why not. I can still use the same techniques she uses. After all, I’ve read books A-P. I should know something about detecting by now.
I started by making a detailed list of all the places I had been in the hours before I discovered the wallet was missing. An hour later with a list of over thirty items, I moved to the second step of my plan; search for a pattern. The pattern that emerged was that in the hours before the wallet’s disappearance was discovered, it had been in my office, in a drawer, inside my purse. Great. Absolutely useless. No new information there. What would Kinsey do next?
I needed to go out to the school site, the scene of the crime, walk the area and look for additional clues. After all, every detective, including Kinsey, ultimately relied on field work, the hard “grunt” work, searching the scene for hidden clues. That’s why they used to call private investigators “gum shoes”. They get gum on their shoes from walking around detecting.
I got dressed, jumped into my car and tore off toward the school. I was in sight of the empty school parking lot when I heard the siren and saw the flashing lights of the squad car in my rear view mirror. It was Saturday and I was the only car on the road. No question who they wanted. I pulled over and rolled down the window.
“Hello officer. How can I help you?”
“You can help me by giving me your license, registration, and proof of insurance.”
“Yes, of course. Is there some problem?”
“You were speeding. Going 60 in a 45 mile zone.”
“Oh. I need to get those things out of the glove compartment.” As I reached into the glove compartment, it dawned on me there were only two of the requested items in the glove compartment. My license was still missing.
I handed the registration and proof of insurance to the officer.
“I need your driver’s license. Please remove it from your wallet.”
“About that, officer…”
I related the story of the lost wallet and my pathetic attempts to play detective. He didn’t seem particularly sympathetic to my plight.
“You can’t drive without a license. Can you call someone to come and get you and drive the car home?”
“Yes. An excellent suggestion officer. I’ll do that.”
” Yeah. Good idea.” He scowled at me. “No ticket this time. Paperwork wouldn’t be worth it to me.”
“Yes, officer. Thank you, officer.” He watched me leave the car and walk toward the school office. I unlocked the door, disabled the alarm, turned and waved to the officer and closed the office door. Crud. The neighbors I knew were out of town, my husband wouldn’t be back for a day and the rest of my family lived out-of-state. The insurance wouldn’t cover a tow because the car was not damaged. I couldn’t pay out-of-pocket for a tow because all my cash was in my wallet. My stomach growled. That’s it, I’m not going to starve as well. I’ll just have to take the back route home.
The back route wound through isolated country roads, all of them in poor repair. The recent rain would have left puddles and washed out areas, making the route even less inviting than usual. That beat starving and sleeping in the school office. Forty-five minutes later I pulled into the garage at home. My usual commute was twenty-minutes, but at least I had avoided further contact with Officer Grouch or his friends.
I bent down to pick up the purse I had placed on the floor on the passenger side. In addition to the purse, I felt a leather rectangular object. I picked it up. Yes! My wallet!. I opened it and gazed at my driver’s license. Horrible picture, but a beautiful license! I looked lovingly at my credit cards, my checks, family pictures and cash. It was all there. Somehow, it must have fallen out of my purse and gotten wedged somewhere under the seat where I couldn’t see or feel it. The bumpy back route roads must have jarred it lose.
Now, all I had to do was break the good news to my husband.