This Week’s Issue: There are often a few lawmen present at Faded Glory Farm, but not usually in their official capacities. Actually, some of Homer’s best friends uphold the law in Fannin County, GA., but he rarely ever see’s them ‘working a case.’ This time, Homer gets involved and saves the day.
Just the Facts, Ma’am
The sun was just beginning to rise, and I had just finished my morning ‘constitutional’ out near the woodline behind Faded Glory when I noticed a Fannin County patrol car idling near the rear entrance of the Inn. Occasional bursts of static and the crackle of exchanged conversations from the car’s radio were the only other sounds to break the stillness of the morning.
Deputy Andrew Sweat’s county patrol car was parked on the grass outside of the kitchen porch with its blue lights still flashing and the driver’s side door fully ajar. Inside, on the front seat with his steaming cup of coffee balanced on his left knee, Andrew was laboring over a police report on a worn vinyl clipboard that was perched on the center console of his patrol car.
Sitting dejectedly on the stairway of the back porch was one of our guests, Mrs. Catherine Rogers from Atlanta, dressed in a white terrycloth robe, drawing occasionally on a lit cigarette. Her jet black hair was still wet and stringy from her recent shower, and she looked somewhat disgusted with the entire early morining scenario.
This being a Wednesday and still quite early, my buddies Ranger Matthew Tipton , State Patrolman Pete Warren, and Sheriff Kenny Payne had not yet arrived for their usual coffee and biscuits. I wondered if Kenny would be surprised to find one of his deputies here when he arrived.
Turns out that Mrs. Roger’s new, diamond studded tennis bracelet had gone missing from the top of her chest of drawers in Room #4 while she was taking a shower. Catherine had purposely placed her jewelry on a folded silk scarf for safe keeping, and she could still determine its imprint on the soft scarf when she returned from the bathroom. Realizing it was gone, she immediately asked Isabel to call the Sheriffs’ office to report it missing. Her husband, O. Fulton Rogers, Jr. had not yet returned from his morning jog up Route 60.
Luckily, the list of possible suspects was limited by the fact that it being Wednesday, the Inn was nearly empty of guests. The Mabrys from Marietta, along with their two toddlers, were just beginning to stir and the Stiles family, visiting from Newnan , were still asleep in Suite #6. Micah Davenport wasn’t due in to work for another thirty minutes. Louella Hess was still banging around the kitchen, keeping one curious eye on the blue lights and hushed conversations. But for the police presence, it was a typical Wednesday morning at Faded Glory Farm. Actually, there seemed to be so few folks to question that I began wondering if I needed an alibi. Let it be understood that I steal food once in awhile, but I really don’t look that good in diamonds.
By this time Fulton Rogers arrived on the scene, flushed, still winded, and sweating profusely in his Adidas shorts and tee shirt. “And you think dogs smell nasty?” I thought as I edged away from his sweaty body. Mr. Rogers didn’t seem too upset by the incident, and, in fact, he speculated that Catherine must have “misplaced” the bracelet because his $8000 Rolex Mariner and sharkskin wallet still lay undisturbed on the dresser near the spot where the bracelet went missing. “I guess that’s what insurance is for,” was his parting shot as he mounted the steps to go for a shower. Catherine just glared and appeared to sink deeper into her large fluffy white robe.
By 9 a.m. Deputy Andrew had questioned everyone at the Inn and was sitting in the kitchen with Sheriff Kenny, Patrolman Warren and Ranger Matt Tipton. It seemed obvious to all that there were no real suspects in this mystery, and there was growing speculation that Mrs. Rogers must have been mistaken in her belief that a crime had occurred here.
By 9:30 a.m. our local law enforcement folks were milling around at the door of the kitchen and were making sounds like they were ready to disperse. Sheriff Kenny and Deputy Sweat were scratching their heads trying to figure the whole thing out, and the Inn’s paying guests were in the diningroom enjoying a hearty Lumberjack’s breakfast. but still glancing around excitedly to take in the action. Fulton and Catherine Rogers were under the portico completing packing the last of their suitcases into their car. Something just didn’t seem right here.
I decided to take a quick tour of Room #4 where the Rogers had been staying. They had already checked out, but the room had not yet been cleaned. Although wet towels were strewn everywhere, nothing looked out of the ordinary until I happened to notice a telltale, sticky, white substance that had trickled down the side of the dresser. My discriminating nose quickly confirmed the white substance to be ‘crow crap.’ At my level of perspective above the floor, and with Spook’s wings clipped, I see it quite often around the Inn. Spook had indeed been at-large in this very room quite recently . . . “And where is he now?” I thought it strange that with all the commmotion at the Inn, I hadn’t seen a trace of our old friend Spook that day.
I sauntered into Isabel’s sitting room to ascertain the whereabouts of our feathered friend, and sure enough, there he was, sitting innocently on his perch in his cage with the cage door wide open. He stared at me and readjusted his feathers. but he didn’t react or say a word. Not a word! Highly unusual for my vulgar friend! I knew right then and there, that he was either sick, or something was going on. My usually ‘noisy’ lice-ridden friend was being very quiet this morning.
I couldn’t get up high enough to see into his cage, but I had a hunch that Spook had something to do with this morning’s theft. Then I remembered! Last Christmas, Isabel discovered that Spook had accumulated several strands of tinsel, as well as a delicate silver angel from the Christmas tree, and had hidden them in the corner of his cage. “Merry Christmas, Spook, we’ll just have to watch you closer in the future,” Isabel had intoned as she removed his stash of ‘bling’ from the cage. I remember how we all marveled that Spook, who can’t fly, had worked his way through the branches of that tree to get that angel. Now I knew. Spook was our culprit; but how could I tell Isabel?
I know this sounds corny, but just like Lassie on television, I decided to bark; bark until somebody came to investigate. I stood under the cage and started a real ruckus. Because its not my nature to bark indoors, Isabel came running first, followed by Micah Davenport, and subsequently my good buddy, Ranger Matt Tipton. At first they seemed confused, but I kept on barking and scratching at the bottom of Spook’s cage. Within minutes, Isabel finally looked into Spooks’s home and saw one tip of Catherine’s tennis bracelet sparkling on the floor of the cage.
The rest is history. Case closed. I must admit that I really did enjoy the petting, kind words, and the leftover ribs that Isabel hauled out ot the cooler for me later that day. This will be “one tough act to follow,” but, as long as I am able, I’ll always be on the job at Faded Glory Farm.