I. The Call
My phone buzzed on the nightstand.
I have it set to DO NOT DISTURB between the hours of 10:00pm and 6:00am every night to eliminate telemarketer and occasional drunk caller rudeness. If this call was getting through at 1:00am it indicated a second call within three minutes. This was a deliberate attempt to reach me. Not a good sign.
“Hello?” I answered while simultaneously thinking it had better be an emergency that woke me up yet fearing the worst.
“Mr. Horndecker?” an abrupt deep voice on the other end of the line asked.
You had better not be a telemarketer, I thought. “Yes,” I responded.
“This is Deputy Marks with the Washington County police department.”
That caught my attention and my eyes not only opened but opened wide. I take it back, I wanted it to be a telemarketer.
He paused a moment. “Sir, I don’t know how to tell you this but we have your grandmother here at the Sheriff’s office.”
I sat up in bed as my mind raced through several scenarios. “Grandma?” I asked. “Is she…is she okay?” I couldn’t imagine one good reason my grandma would be at the Sheriff’s office at 1:00am.
“She’s fine, sir,” the officer stated matter-of-factly. “She’s here because, well, she’s actually in jail.”
“What?!” I exclaimed and jumped out of bed. “For what? Going 10 under the speed limit? Oh wait, she doesn’t have a car anymore.” I thought about it for a moment and remembered there did seem to be some tension between her and her roommate at the nursing home this week. Oh man, I hope grandma didn’t accidentally kill Helen in her sleep! “Is her roommate okay?” I asked slowly.
“She’s fine. She’s actually here with your grandma.”
“So they are both still alive?” I asked relieved.
“I’m sorry, I just can’t possibly understand what grandma and Helen are doing at the Sheriff’s office.” I pictured my sweet old grandma who had raised me since I was 12. She was the type of grandma who baked cookies and had them waiting for me after school. So maybe she always burned dinner that was no crime as far as I knew. This had to be some kind of mistake.
“Your grandma and her roommate were caught trying to steal county property at the fairgrounds late last evening.”
It seemed the deputy had slipped into using some foreign language because I sure did not understand what he was saying. “Um, what?”
“At around 11:30pm last night your grandma and Helen Oswald were caught at the fairgrounds while trying to remove the newly placed lariat from the Cowboy Cal statue. We just had the ceremony placing the lariat in Cal’s hands yesterday afternoon. It was quite the to-do. The paper and the radio station were both there. I myself gave a speech.”
I stopped listening after I heard the obvious error in this story. “You say 11:30pm? My grandma is always in bed by 9:00pm at the latest.” Ha! Take that Perry Mason. Case closed.
“Sir, your grandma is here with us now. She was picked up at the fairgrounds at 11:30. She may go to bed by 9:00 but she was definitely up again by 11:30 this evening.”
Oh yeah, she was actually there. Maybe I should give Perry Mason a call.
“Sir, you need to come down to the station and fill out some paperwork. Your grandma refused to talk but Helen has already implicated about 40 other residents in the nursing home. You should know, your grandma is the ringleader of a gang that call themselves the,” he paused and gulped, “Silver Hair Robin Hoods. Apparently the Red Fox Nursing Home is their home base. They have been quite active the last several months.”
“They have been stealing for months?” I asked.
“Technically misplacing. They don’t keep objects they just move them to other areas in the community. The town’s police department have been looking for this band for months. The group managed to elude them because the police thought it was kids goofing off. They never suspected a geriatric gang in town. They,” he emphasized the word to let me know his department was not included, “probably would have still been looking if your grandma hadn’t decided to move up to county property. That fell in our,” another emphasis, “jurisdiction.”
I could tell he was proud of himself.
“Anyway, you should come down to the station and fill out some paperwork. We have some questions for you as well.” He hung up the phone and I was left standing alone in my dark room.
“What?” I asked again this time to the universe. The universe had no answer to give.