Episode 3.

Who really stole the Rolex?

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By the time I arrive back at the coffee shop, my good humour has blossomed as my head is a bit clearer, and I’m pleased the Rolex watch is in my pocket.

Bill is sitting next to my stool, speaking with Constable Randy, who is standing besides him. I’d occasionally seen the tall, fair skinned Metro police officer buying a coffee, but never on official business.

Bill’s seeing eye dog Ram lays at his feet quietly, without a smidgen of impatience.

Before reaching them, I grab the Rolex from my pocket and wave it about like I’ve won a prize. The constable hushes up, but Bill smiles, sensing that his beloved watch is within reach again. I place it on the table by his hand, then he grabs it and wraps it around his wrist with a loving grunt.

I boast that the mission was easy, as the thief was in a hurry and dropped the watch on the front lawn of the New Moon church.

Constable Randy looks a little off about what I said. I’m sure the mention of the church reminds him of the missing members of the Universal Harmony Choir.

Bill says it doesn’t seem like much to have happened.

I say yeah, it doesn’t – then worry about leaving out the main part of my story, which happened in the church. I take a deep breath, trying to numb the dilemma of holding back the whole truth from them. The shortened tale might come back to haunt me.

The best solution, of course, is filling them in on the whole truth – but passing out in front of the organist, then finding the watch on the lawn would sound delusional to someone who hadn’t been there.

Constable Randy asks me if the thief dropped the watch purposely to stop my pursuit of him, or by accident in his rush to escape.

“I didn’t see him drop it,” I say. In fact, I couldn’t recall where the thief was when I saw the watch.

Bill looks a bit spooked, then says I was gone for an hour or so, and the church is only a few blocks away.

The officer picks up his pen and pad from the table, and writes down a few notes. The air is nervous while I wait for him to speak. He might be buying time to devise a polite way to say I’m lying.

Then he reads out Denise’s description of the suspect, and asks me if it’s accurate. It was correct, recounting his long blond hair, muscular build, sunglasses, grey business suit and red tie. The only detail left out was his moustache. I mention the suspect had one of equal bushiness to the organist’s.

They both frown in confusion, then the officer asks what Organist am I talking about.

I jump into an explanation, that before noticing the Rolex, I’d slipped inside the church to search for the thief, but only found the organist rehearsing.

Of course, the officer gives a disapproving nod, then asks why I didn’t mention this right away.

Well, my quickest excuse was that I’d forgotten after the thrill of finding Bill’s watch.

But passing out in the church didn’t feel like a precursor to a thrill. I was in disbelief after finding the watch, nothing more. Should I stay on this course, and lie about my feelings, then share the truth about what happened in the church?

Perhaps the thief left the Rolex for me to find, so by returning it to Bill, I’m a puppet in some diabolical presentation. Whatever that presentation is, I can only guess without knowing where the thief went.

But before I can answer why I’d forgotten to mention going inside the church, Bill asks me why I didn’t call the coffee shop to let them know I was okay.

Well, I forgot my phone at home, I said.

Constable Randy noted this in his book, while Bill sneers about my answer, then mentions that it was an awfully strange day to forget a phone.

So I say to the guy that I’d also forgotten it on usual days, when I could have used it for important calls as well.

Bill’s face is distraught with disbelief. He says that I could have called him from the church, since I’d just mentioned going inside it.

“Bill, I didn’t notice the Rolex until I left the church.” I say.

I’d only call him because things had gotten worse. And really, they were better after I found the watch, so he was getting my story by foot. But I can’t even mention this to Bill. It isn’t worth the effort. He’s caught up in a worry that only the worst possible outcome could happen on such a strange day.

So I’m a bit anxious, but never the less, prepared to share my entire story with Constable Randy and Bill.

Then the police officer’s cell phone rings, and he steps away from us to answer it. When he’s done the call, he says he has to go, then asks for my phone number so I can make a full statement later. I give it to him, and he marches off to the door.

Bill asks me what really happened at the church, so I tell him that for some unknown reason I passed out in front of the organist, and only woke up because he splashed me with water.

Bill pouts passionately, as though he feels sorry for me. It’s hard to tell whether he thinks I’m telling the truth, or the truth is worth knowing. Then he asks if I passed out, cause I couldn’t handle my guilt for anything I might feel bad about.

I say that I have no reason to feel guilty, and if he thinks I do, he should tell me why.

Well, he swears that I’m wearing the same aftershave as the thief, then adds in that I haven’t been my same old self since my wife ran off with her fitness instructor.

Now, saying Bill has nothing better to do is unfair, as the trauma he endured from the fireworks accident deserves sympathy. The problem is, being on a pension, he has time to spread hoopla to locals who in turn will spread it to other locals.

So what would happen when everyone found out that because my wife left me, I started wearing the same aftershave as the man who stole Bill’s watch.

Chances are, everywhere I visit in the Mysterious Bluffs someone’s nose would be aimed in my direction, indulging in the scent of corruption, because they had nothing better to smell. So before Bill can ruin my reputation, he has to be convinced his story is crazy, but in a way that comforts him about being wrong.

I ask him to have another whiff of my aftershave, because so many kinds smell similar. I lean my neck near his nose, and he smells the air. He says he’s near a hundred percent sure it’s the same aftershave as the thief’s, and that since he went blind, he’s had a better nose than a blood hound.

I say that my aftershave is called Shanghai Nights, then admit that it’s quite common, and the odds are good that someone else who wears it would enter the coffee shop, whether it’s the Rolex thief or not.

Well, Bill said that until today, he’d never smelt my aftershave on anyone, except me, so it isn’t as popular as I’m trying to lead on. In fact, before he was a fireman, he worked at a department store in the men’s toiletries section, and he’d never heard of an aftershave from Shanghai.

I don’t believe his story, because he’s lied before just to win an argument. We once had a dispute after he admitted to averaging fourteen cups of coffee a day. I told him this habit was no good for his health, but he claimed that his dad had owned a coffee shop, where he built up his tolerance for caffeinated drinks from the time he could ride a tricycle.

Anyway, I ask Bill if he told Constable Randy about my suspicious aftershave. He says no, because he didn’t get to mention it before the officer left. So I say he should run it by him, to see how it weighs in as credible evidence. I pat Bill on the back, then joke that such a little coincidence shouldn’t be taken so seriously.

Well, Bill says that sometimes the cops overlook certain evidence that can solve a case, so he’ll have to investigate the theft on his own.

I knew it – he’ll spend his ample free time asking locals if anyone’s watch had been stolen in the same way, and if I’d recovered it for them, and if I smelt like the thief. And I’m sure Bill would hear no from everyone, but the part about sharing aftershave with a crook will stick.

All of this made me wonder what Bill was going to say about my ex wife. So I ask him about her.

Bill chuckles like an elf in jello. He says that he’s been listening to Dr. Phil reruns and heard a story about another woman who left her husband for a fitness instructor. The reason why, is that the husband always acted like a hero, when he was really an abusive and drunk jerk.

When she left him, they were about to move from mansion to trailer home.

I stop Bill right there, knowing the tale is pure fiction. So he grabs my shoulder and says if I have any reason to feel guilty that his watch was stolen, it’s because I’m trying too hard to be hero.

Why should I feel guilty about being a hero? I ask Bill.

He says that if I don’t know why, I better think about what I just did.

What did I do Bill? What did I do?

He finally says it. I had his watch stolen by a very close friend so I could be the hero who recovers it.

Bill, you don’t seriously believe that, do you? I say.

What else can it be, he cries.

The lady knitting a bowling ball bag, has been ease-dropping all along. She jumps up, and says that Bill staged the robbery.

Bill lets out the most dismayed grunt, but the woman continues speaking without a flinch.

First, she saw Bill in the coffee shop the week before, and he wasn’t wearing such a shiny, attention getting watch. It was a strange coincidence that someone stole it on the day he decided to wear it.

Bill says he doesn’t always wear the watch, but I disagree, as I haven’t seen him wear it for ages, which is a lot longer than not always.

He shakes his head so fiercely that his sunglasses almost fall off, then says he wore the watch on this special day because it was exactly twenty seven years since he joined the fire department.

You couldn’t have planned a more heart wrenching day for your Rolex to get stolen, I say.

Bill shakes his head again, then says that he couldn’t imagine someone else holding his watch, even if it were during a fake theft. Apparently. I have no idea what he was going through while the Rolex was stolen. He almost couldn’t live with himself.

And I could live with myself? I ask Bill, So a few coffee shop customers see me as a hero?

And how did I figure out when you were going to wear the watch to the coffee shop, Bill. Where did you get the idea that I could devise such an elaborate plan? From your own capacities to do the same thing.

Bill says that he can’t be bothered to keep track of me, so he has no idea when I’m at the coffee shop either.

Well, that moustached monster you had steal your watch could have kept track of me for the past year, I say. I’m sure it wouldn’t be much for him to follow me wherever I go.

The woman says that nobody in their right mind would make such a big effort to steal a Rolex.

At that moment Constable Randy enters the coffee shop and marches straight towards us. His face is contorted with astonishment.

He stops at our table and announces that the Organist at the New Moon Church has been found dead.



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