We’re sitting on her front porch, drinking skunked Haffenreffer she’d picked up somewhere. I didn’t think they even made it anymore. We have six of the awful things on ice in the Styrofoam cooler between us.
Then she drops this on me: “I think the chick next door got kidnapped. Maybe even murdered...”
“Yeah?” I say in a bored tone. “What makes you think so?”
“I found a sketch of her in the trash. In the sketch, she looks kidnapped.”
“How do you look kidnapped? And what would a sketch of her be doing in your trash?”
She looks at me like I’m stupid. “It wasn’t in my trash, dummy. It was in her trash.”
“You were looking through her trash,” I say as a flat statement of fact.
“It was on the curb.”
“That doesn’t make it right.”
“Look, forget about how I found it. That’s not the important thing. The fact that she looks kidnapped is what’s important here. Try to focus.”
I let out a long breath. “Again, how do you look kidnapped?”
She reaches into her back pocket and pulls out a folded piece of copy paper. “Like this. Check it out.” She unfolds it and hands it to me. It looks like this:
I recognize the face as belonging to her next door neighbor, Miranda.
“See? She’s wearing a gag,” she points out.
I hand her back the paper. “That doesn’t prove anything.”
“What are you blind?”
“No. Maybe she’s just into bondage. Maybe she’s got a kinky artist boyfriend who asked her to pose like that. You don’t know.”
“She doesn’t have a boyfriend. I know that.”
“Or whoever. A friend maybe. The point is you can’t tell anything by that sketch.”
“You’re such a cynic. Why do you always have to be so skeptical about everything?”
I want to say, Because you’re crazy. Because you’re always going off half-cocked on some wild goose chase or conspiracy theory. But I don’t. I can’t hurt her feelings. She really does have serious issues. So instead, I say, “Because jumping to that conclusion is a worst case scenario. You have to exhaust every other more reasonable explanation before you jump to kidnapping and murder. Remember Occam’s Razor?”
“I don’t know him.”
And then a familiar blue Dodge pulls up to the building and her neighbor, Miranda, climbs out, carrying a grocery bag. She clearly hasn’t been kidnapped. Or murdered. She looks fine.
We watch her walk into the building. When I turn back to her, I can’t help smiling.
I just look at her.
She shrugs and says, “Shut up. You got lucky.”
“I’d say she’s the one who’s lucky.”
“Whatever. It’s still a weird sketch.”
“I don’t deny that.”
We sit drinking in silence for a few minutes.
Then she says, “I’m not too religious sometimes...”
And we’re off...