The Amateur Sleuth

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2 years ago

Christian was on foot. He had lost all he owned in a bitter divorce to a perennial cheater of woman. Men were always being pointed out as the most prolific cheaters, and that was true, but women cheated on their spouses, too, it just never got a lot of traction in the divorce court wars.

Having saved up $525, he walked to a car lot he'd spotted while riding the Metro bus a week earlier. He had eyeballed a 1973 Pontiac Lemans in passing and headed back to see it was still on the lot.

A slick looking salesman greeted him as soon as Christian set foot on the premises.

"What can I do you for today, young man?" The man was balding and the sun beat down on his sunburned forehead.

"I was curious to know if you still had the '73 Pontiac for sale; I don't see it on the lot."

"As a matter of fact, I do. It's around back getting detailed. Jack's the name." The man extended his hand.

"Christian." They shook hands firmly. "Nice to meet you. How much you have to have down on the Pontiac to drive it away?"

"$350 down, $25 a week," Jack replied. "Want to take it for spin?"


"Are you employed?"

"Yes, sir. I am a computer geek of sorts. I'm making money off of the Internet these days."

"Do tell. You can do that?" Jack inquired, suspiciously.

"Hey, man, it's 2010 already, and people are getting rich off the Internet. Heck, I heard some dude named Satoshi Nakamoto invented a currency called Bitcoin. I think it will be huge one day."

Christian had learned the in's and out's of computers in a vocational school, using his military school benefits after coming home from Iraq. Though he was regarded as somewhat of a geek, his athletic build and handsome features (blue eyes and blonde locks) did not fit the typical geek pattern or look. He'd invested $200 in Bitcoin.

After a test drive and some paperwork, Christian drove the Pontiac off the lot and was on his way to some semblance of new found freedom.

On the I-4 headed west to Tampa from Orlando, he called his friend Steve on his new iPhone 4. "Dude, I bought some wheels. Where you at?"

Just then the car lurched, stalled, and Christian dropped his phone between the driver's seat and never never land. He wheeled the car off the highway and onto the shoulder, cursing his dumb luck.

In his excitement he had forgot to top off the tank and had run out of gas. The nearest exit was a mile plus up the freeway. He began walking.

Upon returning 90 minutes later, the car was gone. Tire tracks of mud were all that was left. He noted straightaway that a heavier vehicle appeared to have towed or pulled the forest green Pontiac away.

He caught a ride with a stranger and reported the car stolen to the Kissimmee police department, near Disney World. Unsatisfied with the desk sergeant's lackadaisical attitude, Christian decided to take matters into his own hands.

Back home after a long bus ride, he reached for his phone and found he had lost it in all the panic. "Black cat bad luck," he murmured to himself under his breath.

An idea popped into his had once he recollected his emotions. PTSD could set even the strongest willed individual back.

He walked down the block to Steve's crib. "Hey, Steve, open up, man. I need to borrow your iPhone."

A disheveled Steve invited him inside. "Dude, just don't call China. My bill is already $341. Where's your phone?"

"I've no clue, but I'll find out after I find my stolen car."

"What the...!"

Hey, wait a sec. I've got Find iPhone!" He found the location of his dearly departed smartphone in under a minute, 4 miles away.

Steve gave him a lift to the location near a barbershop. He checked the location again. Moved! Now it was at a Chevron gas station. Steve mashed the gas pedal and headed for the location.

Upon arrival, Christian saw two cars in the parking lot, a blue Dodge and a police car. It was either in one of the two or the thief was inside the store.

Should he ask the policeman for assistance retrieving his phone?

Rather than act rashly, he waited and both the police car and the Dodge left, while a Chevy Silverado pulled in. Christian waited three minutes and checked, and sure enough, the location had changed.

The police car had turned north, the Dodge south. Steve drove north. The police? No way, Jose!

The police car was parked at a convenience store when the duo pulled up, the officer munching on a microwaved burrito and sipping on a Cherry Slurpee.

Christian waited nervously, like he had in Iraq when the Taliban had staged an attack on his unit's firebase. The cop brought a phone to his ear, mumbled something inaudible, and yapped for perhaps a minute before disconnecting.

"Dude, that's your flipping phone!" Steve yelped. "Now what? It's a cop. An armed cop."

"I figure whoever has the phone has the car. Let's check it out." Christian and Steve alit from the latter's Ford F-100.

"Excuse me, officer. I believe you have my phone," Christian began. "I'd like to get it back now."

"Excuse you is right," the cop growled. "Back off; I'm eating and have no patience for pranks." The officer unsnapped his gun holster to send the two a warning. "Now beat feet before I haul you both off to jail."

Christian and Steve jumped back in the truck and drove a quarter-mile down the road. "Give me your phone again, Steve."

"Mind telling me your plan, Sherlock?"

"Hide and watch." Minutes later two police cars pulled up and met up with Christian.

"So you're telling me a police officer stole your phone, right?" After a hesitant nod from Christian, the police officer said, "And you believe he also stole your car?"

"Yes, sir."

"Hard to believe but we'll check it out." The two cop cars sped off, Steve and Christian giving chase. When the young men got there, both patrol car officers were questioning the suspected thief.

Christian shared Steve's Find iPhone app with the lead officer and the officer verified it. "You're under arrest, Officer Foster. Turn round and place your hands behind your back. "

"May I have my phone back, officer?" Christian requested once the cop was in the backseat of the squad car.

"No, sir, we'll need this for evidence. "

"Well, can I use Steve's Bluetooth and grab a couple of pictures from it?"

"I don't see any harm in that," the officer stated politely, handing the phone to Christian.

"Holy mackerel! My freaking car! Christian shouted.

The police officer grabbed the phone and looked at the green Pontiac parked next to a house with a For Sale sign on the windshield. The license plate was visible. "This is your car, sir?"

"Absolutely. I just bought it, ran out of..."

But the officer cut him off. "We had a report on this earlier over the radio," claimed the cop.

A week later Christian got his car and iPhone back when a police car drove up to his place with the original investigating officer.

"Appreciate your work, officer," Christian blurted.

"We appreciate your detective work. Come to find out, Officer Foster was stealing cars and reselling them. He and a car lot dealer named Jack were working together. They're both in jail awaiting trial."

"Whoa!" Christian was tripping.

"Say, the department is hiring if you're interested. We could always use a new sleuth."

Christian chuckled. "I'm an amateur sleuth, though."

"We're all amateurs in the grand scheme called life. Take care now, sir."

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