Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Attache Case

"I'll call 911!"

"This is the emergency telephone service; how can I help you?"

"I just found, in the front yard of my house, between the bushes and the house, what appears to be a kids' attaché case, which contains a balance beam scale, … "

So began a brief and quite bizarre episode in the life of this homeowner and his wife. I had been mowing the lawn and noticed, behind the bushes in the front of the house, a small, pink, attaché case. The bushes were low dense evergreens and nobody would have spotted it from the public sidewalk running in front of the house. I did because I was looking in from the side, behind the bushes.

This is a youngster's attaché case … we don't have children living at home and there are none in the immediate vicinity of our house; strange, indeed. I went behind the bushes, got the case, and took it to the back door; "Honey," I called to my wife, "come see what I found."

She came and gave me a rather funny look, as if to say, "So? Where did you get that?"

"I found it behind the bushes in front of the house," I said.

"In front of our house?" she asked, still seeming puzzled.

"Yes, our house. Stashed, as it were, behind the bushes."

This seemed to pique her attention. "Hmm. What's in it?"

"Don't know; let's look."

"Duh, good idea."

We went to a table on our porch and opened the case. Much to our surprise we failed to find "business papers" of any kind. We did find numerous small zip lock plastic bags, several of which were full or nearly full of some sort of white powdery substance. And a balance beam. Crude, but a working balance beam. "Some kids were playing druggie," Ellie said.

"I doubt it," I replied. My knees were feeling a little weak and my stomach began twitching just a little. "I'll bet … ," and, "I wonder … ," and, "Who might … " came out of my mouth, under my breath, almost inaudible.

"What?" she asked.

"I'll call 911," finally.

After hearing what I'd found the 911 operator took my contact information and said she'd send someone. Moments later ( or so it seemed ) a clearly marked city police cruiser pulled onto our parking slab … strangely having come in the alley, approaching our property from the rear. A uniformed cop ( I use that word with utmost respect ) got out of the car; "Whatcha got?"

I showed him the case, describing how I'd found it and where; he put it on the hood of the car, opened it, sighed a little, noted the balance beam scale, wet the tip of his forefinger with his tongue, touched the powder in one of the bags, and put a small amount of the powder to his lips and tongue. ( "They tell us we're not supposed to do this." ) "Drugs," he said. "I'll take this whole thing to the station."

He wrote a case number on a business card and gave me the card, suggesting, "You might want to know what happened to this; call 911 and ask." With that he took the now closed case, got into the cruiser, backed off the parking slab and zoomed away.

"Well," I said to Ellie, "that sure happened fast. I blinked and he was here and I blinked again and he was gone."

"Was he actually here?"

I waved the business card he left; "Yes, he was here. His name is Officer Tripp."

As we told this story to family and friends we became more and more curious. "You sure he didn't just take off to ( for example, Tahiti )?" was a common reaction.

Our inability to be sure was unsettling. This feeling was only to grow.

I had not planned to follow up, but the kinds of questions asked when telling this story ( Full Disclosure: our own curiosity was involved here. ) pushed me. 

"This is the emergency telephone service; how can I help you?"

I gave her my name. "I'm following up on a call I made last weekend. The officer you dispatched gave us his card with the case number on it and invited us to follow up."

The emergency dispatcher had only two problems: there was no record of the case number Officer Tripp left with us; there is no Officer Tripp on the staff of the city's police department.

If you would like to comment but don't care to use the comment field, send an email to  walter.comments@inkfounta.in.

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