I’m not gonna to admit to Maddie that the hotdog was a mistake. It was; it went right through me and I’m barely hangin’ on. But as soon as I head for the john she’s gonna know. If I can keep her from chit-chatting with this woman while we interview her about the missing… whachamacallit, we can get back to the office before… anything happens.
“Why are you so fidgety, David? You’re making me nervous.” She hits me with her purse when I open the door for her.
“Mrs. Mills! I’m Madelyn Hayes. You say you’ve lost your [thingamabob]?”
Didn’t introduce me, and for once I don’t mind. But I still don’t understand what they’re lookin’ for. What did she say?
“Ms. Hayes! Yes. Jerold and I were the only ones here, and the office door was locked. The [doohickey] was sealed in this box at 10 am to be shipped. But we opened it to add a packing slip at 3:30, it was empty.”
I pick the box up, turn it over, and start hunting around. Maddie walks over to talk to Jerold, and I feel sorry for the guy. Five-foot-seven of Chanel and determination coming ‘atcha is enough to make any guy… distracted from the current situation. She asks questions, but he mumbles what Mills said and stares at her chest. Frustrated, she turns to me and we put our heads together.
“Maddie, there are only a few solutions to a locked room mystery. #1 – Mills or Jerold stole the whachamacallit before the box got sealed…”
Her: “2: the thingamabob was stolen when it was opened…”
Me: “3: the doohickey is still there…”
Her: “4: the hoozy-whatzy never existed…”
Me: “5: the veeblefetzer was turned into something else…”
Her: “6: someone else was in the room and stole the thingamajig…”
Just when I think we’re on that back and forth where we work out the solution, I realize…
Me: “Wait. You don’t know what this thing is either?”
Her: “I thought you did! You took the first message!”
Me: “You called her back!”
Her: “She mumbled!”
Me: “We don’t know what we’re looking for.”
Her: “When do we ever, though?”
Wait, there was a stack of shipping boxes in the corner.
“Maddie, go look through those boxes. I’m going to… check out the hallway.”
She gives me that look-she knows. But I think better in the john. I’m there fixing my situation, when it hits me. No, literally it fell out of the ceiling tile and landed on my head. It’s a lacy doily thing. Whatever a ‘gehaakt cadeautje’ is – this is probably it. I head back into Mill’s office with it, holding it up in the air.
Jerold’s face lights up, but Mills makes a run for it. Maddie trips her and stands on her back until the police arrive. Jerold writes us a check for a cool $10,000. We’re driving home…
“Where did you find it?”
“Fell on my head.”
“Too bad it wasn’t an anvil.”
“At least I know how to say ‘anvil’.”
“Well, thank god for that hotdog.”
Note: A ‘gehaakt cadeautje” is (in the Dutch language) a small crocheted gift that you make ahead and keep a stash of, then give to friends as a token of friendship at various non-birthday or non-Christmas times of year. A little thoughtful present that says “I appreciate you.” An Americanized version of the term came up on the radio show A Way With Words Crocheted Gidote, and after much investigation, people figured out it was this dutch custom.