I didn’t expect to meet anyone at the garbage dump; but fate has a strange habit of rearing its head at the most inopportune times. The dump is a huge area near our town, where all of the city garbage trucks deliver their loads.
She was there, before I arrived. She was bent over a stack of trash, poking though the green bags. When I arrived she was about fifty or so bags down the hill from where I was standing. I had gone to the dump to search through dumpster drops for a certain weapon used in a recent holdup. A witness had reported that the thieves had thrown a weapon into a nearby trash bin – a common practice with thieves, to buy a Saturday night special, use it once then toss it.
“Hey.” I yelled across the sea of trash.
She looked up, but didn’t answer.
I tromped into the garbage a few steps and yelled, “I say, did you lose something??
Sunlight reflected off of her sunglasses when she stood up. “No, I just enjoy the smell. What’s it to you?”
“Okay, sorry, stupid question. I’m a cop and not many people come to the dump.”
“Your beat, huh, nice.” The sarcasm in her voice was obvious.
I thought I might top her. “Beats writing parking tickets.”
“Really? Sheesh. You gonna arrest me for something?” She bent back over and opened a trash bag.
“Nope. Here to dig through the trash too.”
She was dressed too well for garbage dump diving. I was in police-issue coveralls and gloves. She was in tan slacks and a white blouse.
I stepped deeper into the trash. “Tell me what you are looking for, and if I find it, while I’m looking I will get it to you.”
She didn’t bother to look up. “Pewter Cross and my wedding rings. I think I scraped them off of the kitchen counter.”
“This is where route 12 dumps.”
“Route 12, yeah, I know. That’s what they told me.”
By four in the afternoon I was exhausted, my companion had moved further up the hill as the afternoon progressed, and apparently had left by the time I topped the mounds. I figured she had given up.
I hailed the dump’s bull dozer driver. “See that woman digging in the trash?”
“Yeah, she asked me where 12 dumped.” He pointed to where I had been. “I told her over there.”
“Know who she was?”
“Nope,” he said. “She just showed up early this morning, dressed like going to work, but driving a beat up old Dodge. I noticed the car, partly cause the old design license plate, probably expired.”
“Too classy for digging through trash.”
“Yeah, I thought so too. By the way route twelve won’t dump here tomorrow, if you’re comin’ back.”
“Spect I will be, didn’t find what I was looking for.”
He started the dozer and I hopped in my departmental vehicle and drove directly to the YMCA for a quick shower. But, in the parking lot was an old Dodge, just like had been described. Indeed, the plates were expired.
I stopped at the front desk. “Anyone know who that old Dodge belongs to?”
The woman behind the desk held her nose. “Phew, I think that belongs to Kathy. Why?”
“Plates are expired, but I won’t ticket her here.”
The clerk waved me though. “I’ll tell her.”
I let it pass and headed for the shower. The thought kept crossing my mind. What has a beat up car, a pretty woman, the YMCA and the dump have in common? Minutes later I was out of the shower and in the office of the Y director.
“Kathy Schuler was her maiden name. Nice kid. A regular in the Aerobics program. She done something?”
“Oh, no. I just noted her car.”
“Yeah, I think she is still a hostess down at the Midtown Café, too bad about her husband. I think the military funeral was just a month ago, it was in the paper.”
I took a deep breath. “Here.” I pulled out my wallet and handed him a hundred dollar bill. “I imagine her new license will run that about that much. Tell her it was from a friend.”
He looked at me strangely. “Okay.”
“I’ll be back tomorrow for another shower, I got some extra searching to do at the dump tomorrow.”
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