Whitman Wire

Who Stole My Seasonal Pies?

Rosemary Hanson

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Illustration by MaryAnne Bowen

I remember it like it was yesterday. There are nights when the whole world seems to press in on you –– the clouds linger close to the streets, and the air is cold and dense, concealing the covert and the unspeakable. Even the streetlamps seem like pale stars, feebly holding back the darkness and casting shadows on black figures in their enigmatic missions.

It was my roommate who found them. All three of them. I’m used to seeing this kind of carnage –– three years on campus security and you have pretty much seen it all –– but this, this was different. This was personal.

I surveyed the empty tins on our kitchen table. Crumbs and bits of filling were scattered everywhere –– the only remains of the pumpkin, the cranberry-apple and the cherry. I’d seen them only this morning –– so fresh and full of steam. Yet here I stood, on the very doorstep of my home, faced with the inconceivable brutality of three stolen pies. I’d like to think they were still whole somewhere, but I knew those pies too well. They were delicious. They were long gone.

I stepped into the hallway –– the whole apartment seemed to be closing in on me –– and that’s when I saw her. A platinum blonde sporting a pair of cherry-red heels that just matched her lipstick. Everything about her was pressed and neat, but she exuded an air of fullness I could not shake. Who was she, and why was she coming out of the downstairs neighbor’s room? James was not the kind of man who kept women like that around. Come to think of it, James was the kind of man who loved pie.

James. James from downstairs. If I am Sherlock Holmes, then he is my James Moriarty. But I’ve got no time for limey prep-school sleuths with too much time on their hands. Give me a real yellow-jacket, flashlight wielding gumshoe any day, and you can keep your Benedict Cumberbatch. Besides, James is not the kind of man to play games –– simplicity is his protection. But here –– here was a complication he hadn’t counted on. You can’t pull off a heist this size –– eat three pies –– by yourself, and accomplice is just a fancy word for a weakness in your plan.

So I corner the blonde in the hallway. She looks at me with two of the biggest blue eyes I’ve ever seen and in a voice like dark chocolate she purrs:

“Hey! Are you headed to class?”

Oh, I know her game. Well, I am not about to be distracted. Women are all the same –– they pretend not to be hungry, but inside they all thirst for pie. I look her straight in those sapphire-blue pools as I ask her the question she already knows is coming.

“Hey, you haven’t seen my pies, have you?” Just a flicker –– that was enough to know the truth.

“No?” her eyes dart to the door. “Class is in, like, 5 minutes –– you know that right?”

As if I cared –– as if I could care. But I can tell she’s onto me, onto my game, and now it’s too late. Turns out James chooses his friends better than I thought. I watch her leave and turn back to the door of James’ apartment. Of course there would be no way to prove it. James is too smart for that, no. I just have to wait. Wait for him to slip up. That’s the real life of a gumshoe: You see crime every day, but there is never any justice. It’s a cold, cruel world out there. I light a cigarette and stare out the window, out into the darkened street. Not even the fire alarm can move me from my perch –– watching the night, waiting for justice.

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Who Stole My Seasonal Pies?