The Mystery of Arnold H.

This morning I woke up early, and after eating some flax-wheat flakes with toasted wheat-germ I decided to venture over to the laundromat a few blocks away and generate some clean clothes.

I descended the stairs to the street and discovered a fat leather wallet on the limestone slab which borders the steps from the porch. I picked it up and examined it. Who would leave their wallet out overnight where anyone could pick it up?

I couldn’t find a phone number inside, but I found a debit card and several business cards. I also found a copy of a court document — evidently this Arnold has some probation problems.

I showed the wallet to clerks I know at two gas stations I stopped at on the way to the laundromat. Melissa, a clerk at the Shell station, suggested that I look up the guy’s name in the phone book. I couldn’t find it there; he probably uses a cell phone.

I enjoy minor mysteries like this, little quotidian puzzles to solve.

I asked the attendant at the laundromat if she knew Arnold. Quincy is a small town and I’m continually amazed by how everyone seems to know everybody else, or at least the family name.

“Nope, never heard of him! You ought to call the bank which issued the debit card.”

When my laundry was done I drove home, where I encountered Tom, a young guy in his early twenties who lives in the apartment beneath mine.

“Do you know a guy named Arnold H.?”

“Oh, yeah, he’s one of my best friends. You ought to meet him; he’s a musician and he wants you to build him a bass.”

“Well, he left his wallet on the step here. I’ll go upstairs and get it.”

“I’m reasonably certain I’ll see him today — I’ll give it to him.”

“So what’s Arnold on probation for?”

“Oh, it was quite a mess. He had several convictions for under-aged drinking, and then he got a DUI. He was out late one night with a friend who was blind drunk and driving. Arnold talked his friend into letting him drive, that survival instinct, ya know. The truck quit on them and the police came and arrested him. He did some jail time and now he’s in rehab and doesn’t like it.”

“So why’d he leave his wallet on my step?”

“Oh, me and another guy were out in the street playin’ Ninja late last night. Arnold didn’t want to play — he sat there on the step watchin’ us. Musta just forgot to pick up his wallet. Thanks for findin’ it, Larry!”

I have no idea what “playin’ Ninja” might be — I suppose some sort of mock-war game.

Larry

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