I picked up the sealed envelope from the counter and headed for the train. The October morning air was chilly, and the sun was just starting to come over the distant hills in the east. I was hesitant about opening another cold case from my dad. As a long-time sheriff’s detective, he regularly sent me copies of old cases that had turned cold, if they took place anywhere near the Coaster Train corridor which ran from Oceanside California to Downtown San Diego. While most were interesting to read, a few had led to danger and possible death. Like most people, I like adventure, but the danger part has always been a problem.
Like a letter from the IRS, I tend to hold these at arm’s length until I can muster up the nerve to break the seal. My name is Cory London, I’m a guy, 35 years old, and been through a lot, but the fear is still there, especially in the last case that had a gun pointed at my chest.
Thankfully, as I entered the train that morning, my two train mates were already on-board car number three, sitting at our usual table number one.
Smiling, I said, “Good to see both of you this fine Monday morning.”
Both nodded. Shelly said, “It’s too early for that big of a smile, Cory. What’s up?”
I held up the envelope. “Look what I have. Another sealed envelope. Care to open it with me?”
My petite French friend Amie sat forward, with an inquisitive look in her eye. “Oooh, an envelope. What kind of mystery will this bring?
Shelly laughed, “You sound like Nancy Drew, Amie. Maybe it’s ‘The Mystery of the Crooked Stick.’ Possibly the ‘Mystery of the Haunted Bridge.’ Could it be the ‘Secret of the Hidden Lair?’”
I piped in, “Maybe it’s ‘Footsteps Under the Window,’ like the Hardy Boys.”
Amie shook her head. “I don’t get it, who are Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys?”
“Those are American children’s detective series heroes. Nancy Drew for girls and Hardy boys for the guys.” I said.
“Oh, I’ve seen French copies in one of the larger bookstores in Paris. So now this adventure will have to have a certain air of mystery. You’re a writer, Cory. You need to chronicle our adventures and come up with compelling titles. Now I definitely want to see what’s inside the report.”
I put the official-looking government envelope on the table in front of us. As I ran my finger along the tab to open it, I could see both girl’s eyes firmly staring at the contents. As I pulled out the usual three sheets of paper, I did a quick perusal and then handed the materials to Shelly. “Since you have a new position as County Office Manager, Shelly, why don’t you give us an overview of the case?”
She took a minute and looked over the three pages and then went back to the summary. She said, reading aloud, “This is a case of robbery at a Tina Tahiti clothing and accessories store in the beach town of Encinitas. It appears that expensive one-off fashions and jewelry are missing from thefts overnight. According to the report, complete outfits are disappearing off the main mannequin in the window, while other mannequins are in different positions in the morning that they were the night before. The alarm never sounds, and there is no apparent break-in.”
I laughed. “So, we have a case of mannequins coming alive at midnight. Sounds too funny to be true.”
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