Who Stole My Seasonal Pies?: Part II

Rosemary Hanson

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Illustration by MaryAnne Bowen

Winter nights in Walla Walla are long. Weary people sulk through the shadows, coming from nowhere in particular, going nowhere worth mentioning. I’ve worked some long nights as a campus student security officer, and winter nights are the longest. The air is full of tension, the people one thread from snapping.

It was my boss who told me I needed to get out of town. Said my family hadn’t seen me in months. Said I wouldn’t be needed for the holidays. I know what he really meant. I’ve made some dangerous enemies this past semester. Word on the street is the notorious Skratchel Krant wants to get even with Campus Security, and it might be best if I’m not around when he does. And I could use the break.

So I steal out in the middle of the afternoon before anyone is awake and catch the next flight out of Walla Walla. But maybe my plans weren’t so secret after all. As soon as I got on the plane, I knew something was up. The moment I sat down, some dame walks up to me with some cock-and-bull story about wanting to sit with her kid. Said it was real important we switch seats. A likely story, but the kid backed her up –– last time I trust a kid. “Row 5 seat B” she says, real casual, like it was the most ordinary thing in the world. And that’s when I see him. Row 5 seat A. James.

James. It figures it would be James. I’ve got an hour until we land in SeaTac, and I am sitting next to the biggest pie kingpin in the Tri-Cities area. And my next-door neighbor. He smiles at me as I sit down. I know then that that woman was no mother. He’d paid her off so he could keep tabs on me.

You see, I’ve been investigating James in relation to the disappearance of some pies back in October. Real nasty case. Three pies, all in seasonal flavors, disappeared from their home, my home, without a trace. I knew it was James from day one; I just could never quite pin it on him.

“Going home?” he leers at me. So that’s his game. Threatening my family. This man was more brutal than I had given him credit for.

“Yeah, how about you?” He smiled like he was not about to give me the biggest lie I’d ever heard

“Yeah.” James has no family in Seattle. It’s all a front for his pie-stealing operations. We don’t say much for the rest of the flight. I don’t feel much like talking –– what do you say to the man that ate your pie? I can’t tell you how relieved I was to get off that plane, complimentary wine or no. I was out of there faster than a senior when freshmen show up at a party. But as I’m walking across SeaTac, the stewardess from my flight catches up to me.

“Ma’am! You left this on the plane!” the woman calls to me. Now I know I left nothing on the plane because I brought nothing on the plane. I like to spend my time reading “Skymall.” I look down at what she has in her perfectly-manicured hand. A single, empty pie tin.

That bastard.