Monday, March 26, 2007

The Cold Case

220 The Cold Case

There’s nothing like the feeling you get when the patrol car behind you starts flashing its lights. Well, almost nothing. Here’s something that’s close: the phone rings and the guy on the line identifies himself as “Detective Freisinger of the Nautilus County Police.”

Quick self check: Are there any outstanding warrants? Did we pay the real estate tax on the house back there? Do we have any outstanding traffic tickets? Did we put some improper plastic or toxic chemical in the final recycle pickup? No to all. Pfew!

Detective Freisinger announces that the Case of the Missing Banjo has been reactivated, and wants some information. This is a cold case. Not the kind of cold case you see on TV where some skilled or lucky detective solves a 37 year old murder or a year-old mysterious disappearance.

The banjo vanished at some point during the move from Moote Pointe, NY to Moote Pointe, PA, but well before the actual moving truck pulled out of or into either location.

Nice little banjo. Custom made, more or less. One of a kind in any event. Vanished from the home office the same day the “haul-it-off” guys were taking stuff out of the house.

Descriptions circulated to the country’s leading used instrument makers, the pawn shops, that kind of thing.

So why are they opening this case again? It’s because, says Det. Freisinger, there are suddenly a lot of stolen musical instruments turning up in pawn shops in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.

A banjo in a Bronx pawn shop would stand out like an electric space heater in Las Vegas.

So tell the story for the umpteenth time and Det. F gives thanks, leaves his phone number “in case you think of anything else,” (how “Law & Order” is that!) and rings off.

This provokes a call to the maker of said instrument, a fella named Mike who used to work in Virginia but has since moved to North Carolina, and is famous in the (admittedly limited) world of modern banjo making as slow on delivery. To the point where his largest dealer posts pictures of the models with the provisos “available in very limited quantities” and “on order, expected arrival date unknown.”

Mike apologizes for not having sent the ordered (and half-paid-for) replacement yet. In return, he’s wished a happy one year anniversary of the order. It’ll be here “…by Christmas…” (year unspecified) he says once. Then “by February, 2007, for sure,” he says. It’s almost two months beyond that, and time for another call. Meantime, who remembers how to play the banjo?

Eventually, this thing will show up… the new one. Maybe Det. F. will turn up the old one, too. Then, there will be twins. Not likely though.

The appearance of one of them would be a fine way to get revenge on the guy next door who plays loud, thumping music at all hours of the day and night.

The guitars in hand are two quiet and polite to do that.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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