VIOLA - When my daughter was a young girl, I bought us both bicycles. Our apartment complex in a Milwaukee suburb had a long, low building of individually locked garages alongside the parking lot. Never having had a garage, I was thrilled, until one day we discovered our bikes had been stolen. For someone motivated enough, garage structures like that one were easy to break into.
When my daughter was older, I took her and a friend on a trip to Jamaica. While sitting on the beach one evening, they were approached by someone demanding their money.
Events like these and living alone have made me wary. During one of my phases where I double- and triple-checked to make sure I’d locked the door before going to bed, it occurred to me that I had nothing worth stealing. My homes have always been a hodgepodge of furnishings I can’t imagine anyone wanting.
In fact, there were times I’d think, why am I worried? One step inside my house and a robber would throw up their hands and say, “I’m too late. She’s already been robbed.”
Recently, I’ve been shaking my head trying to figure out who’s been inside my home. I’d been gone for a few days and had friends taking care of my critters, but the evidence that was puzzling me wasn’t left by them. It was something bigger, something more mysterious.
Nothing was actually missing. The thing that was out of place was stranger: my towels under the bathroom sink were neatly folded and stacked. A reverse robber?!
At first I suspected Dane. After all, he’s been known to use my shower. When I questioned him he zoomed into the bathroom, opened the cabinet, and in one extended exhale said, “Wow!” followed by, “Not me.”
Days later, I decided it was my neighbor who lives up the ridge. I hadn’t seen her in a while and assumed she was a snowbird, but I remembered coming home one day last summer to a note she’d left on my kitchen table:
“Hi Jane, my granddaughter had to go potty and couldn’t hold it until we got home. We stopped to use your backyard but no go. We went inside and used your bathroom. Thank you.”
Maybe she’d stopped by again and, after her granddaughter used the bathroom and washed her hands, needed a towel. Upon opening the cabinet the towels would have spilled out, so she would have folded them. This made perfect sense, so I emailed her. Nope–she’s in Florida.
Since I could find nothing missing, and the only change was that the towels were neatly organized, I refrained from calling the sheriff. But, I couldn’t crack the case.
I opened the cabinet many times to gaze in admiration at the symmetrical order of my towels. They’d never all fit under the sink before, and shoving them in there had always caused me to sweat. Darned if they weren’t all sitting there now, like darling ducklings all in rows.
One afternoon, I plopped down on the couch and dozed off. Ruben, being a puppy, wasn’t having anything to do with nap time. When I woke, the house looked like a cyclone had hit. Ruben had busied himself with emptying his toy box.
Grumbling, I walked around picking up the toys. I keep the dogs’ toy box smack in front of the back door. It’s the best place for it, because if a robber came through the door they’d stumble into the toy box and break both their legs.
I noticed one of my favorite towels on the floor, meticulously rolled into a tight snake shape and tucked up against the bottom of the back door. Before I had left town, Bonnie had come over to repaint a wall and left me a note saying she’d placed a towel there to block a draft.
Aha! The pieces fell into place. Bonnie had gone into the bathroom to get a towel, opened the cupboard, the towels spilled out, and she went bonkers.
Once, a long time ago, Bonnie had been in my house for less than a minute when she used my sink to wash her hands. Before I could blink, she pulled out a screwdriver from her back pocket, took the faucet screen off, located my vinegar, filled a cup, and dropped the screen in. I watched, slack-jawed. Next thing I knew, she was standing in my tub, explaining the damage hard water can cause, while prying off the showerhead.
It had to be Bonnie. I sent her an email.
Two days later I received an admission of guilt: “I hope I didn’t cross over the line. I’m kind of crazy like that.” More like a saint or a superhero, I thought.Now I need to figure out who left the delicate, delicious holiday cookies on my kitchen counter.