“I feel like an email about the event doesn’t really do it justice,” Holly announced. “I need you to tell me the story about your keys now that we’re face to face.”
When she smiled slyly, her beautiful face lit up as brightly as the August sun that shone down on them.
It was Sunday and the best friends were seated on their favorite bench along the river.
“But it’s so embarrassing,” Aaron pleaded to get out of sharing the tale.
“I know,” she remarked. “That’s why I want you to tell me.”
She smiled even wider and then took a sip of her coffee.
Aaron sighed and accepted his fate.
“It was Wednesday morning, so it was garbage day,” he explained. “I normally go for a run before work, but since I had to be in extra early, I had decided to skip my run. That was why I was half asleep and still in my pajamas.”
He took a long sip of his Snapple like he needed the sugar rush before he could continue.
She giggled. He rolled his eyes.
“More like an old pair of running shorts and one of my Jets tee shirts,” he corrected her. “As you know, I’m a creature of habit, so my keys go in the same place every time I enter the house…”
Holly nodded. “In the bowl on the desk in the foyer, along with your wallet and work ID.”
“Exactly,” he confirmed. “So I reached into the bowl for the keys and came away empty handed. Confused, I actually opened my eyes and took a closer look. The bowl was there. So was my wallet and my ID, but no keys.”
“Dum, dum dum!” Holly added a dramatic soundtrack more for her amusement than anything else.
“I walked into the living room to check the couch, thinking that maybe I’d forgotten to put the keys in the bowl, and they had then fallen out of my pocket when I sat down to watch TV. Alas, no keys.”
“The mystery deepens,” she commented.
“Mind you, I’m still not really awake, but it seems logical that the keys must still be in the pocket of my shorts, so I trudge back upstairs. They were not in my pocket. I also decided to check the laundry in case I’d accidentally tossed my keys in there when I changed for bed.”
“But no keys?” Holly asked.
Aaron shook his head. “That’s when I started to panic. I had a short window to get ready for work and then leave for the office, and suddenly I’ve got a mystery on my hands. I rushed back downstairs and started checking the other rooms. The keys must have fallen out of my shorts at some point.”
“Then I looked out the dining room window and saw the zero gravity chair. After dinner, I’d gone out to sit in the chair and read. My keys sometimes fall out of my pocket when I’m all inverted in the chair.”
“That sounds promising,” Holly quipped and took another sip of coffee.
“Before I can go outside, however, I’ve got to find the spare key,” he explained. “The last thing I need is to lock myself out of the house in my pajamas. It took me a minute to remember where the spare key is, but I found it and hustled outside. If I wasn’t wide awake by now, the cool morning breeze certainly made sure that I was.”
“I checked by the chair, but no keys. And I don’t just check next to the chair. I searched the entire yard. I moved the chair. Several times. The landscaper had just cleared the yard, though, so there wasn’t really any place for a set of keys to hide.”
“For some reason, I decided to check the garage. Maybe I threw out something when I was outside, so I dug through the garbage. I evened check the car. Oh, I should point out that my house key and car key are missing. Luckily, I had a spare car key as well.”
“That is lucky,” Holly said with a straight face.
She knew it probably looked evil of her to find amusement in her best friend’s misfortune, but she knew the story ended well, so she didn’t think it was that bad to enjoy the fun in it.
“I remembered that I went for a walk after dinner, so I decided to retrace my steps,” he went on. “I’m power walking up the block now, not quite wanting to break into a run and draw attention to myself. But there I was, in my ratty pajamas, staring intently at the concrete like a crazy person in search of secret messages in the cracks.”
“I was at wit’s end now. I wondered if I should call the police. Clearly, someone had broken into my house and stolen my keys. But why would they do that? If they were already in the house, why not rob it then rather than waiting to come back later and use the keys to enter? And if they had my car key, why didn’t they take the car?”
“All excellent questions,” Holly assured him.
He nodded. “That’s why I didn’t call the cops. And even though I had the spare house and car keys, I didn’t feel comfortable going to work while the originals were lost. What if someone found them, realized they were mine, and let themself into my house while I was at work?”
“That does seem possible,” she had to agree.
“So I decided to go back to the house, call my boss, and tell him I was going to be late,” he explained. “I didn’t know how I was going to find the keys, but I was going to spend the day figuring out a plan.”
“When did logic finally push the panic aside?” she asked.
He took a long sip of Snapple. “When I used the spare key to let myself into the house, I realized that I wouldn’t have been able to enter the house last night if I’d lost the keys outside.”
“Hurray for logic!” she applauded loudly. Again, more for her amusement.
“I decide not to call my boss,” he told her. “The keys were obviously in the house. But where? I tried to retrace my steps in my head. I was outside reading and listening to music on my phone. When I went back inside, I should have put my book and phone on the desk and placed the keys in the bowl. Then I would have put my ear buds on the shelf…”
Holly smiled. The mystery writer had finally cracked the case, and she so happy to see the look of relief on her best friend’s face.
“The ear buds,” he mumbled. “I don’t leave them on the desk because I’m afraid the cats will play with them and strangle themselves…”
“So you put them on the shelf above the coat rack, where you put your gloves and hat after your winter runs,” she finished his thought for him.
He finally smiled. “My keys were tangled up in my ear buds. I must have had them in my hand when I put the ear buds there and just didn’t realize.”
“Mystery solved,” Holly announced. “The silver lining being that you now have an idea for your next mystery novel.
She giggled. He shook his head and took another sip of Snapple.
“I’m glad my freakish anxiety amuses you,” he said as he shot her an evil glare.
“It really does,” she confessed. “Speaking of solving mysteries, I figured out the clues in that little tale you spun for me last Sunday.”
The slightest grin crept across his lips, but he quickly dismissed it. He raised an eyebrow in confusion.
“I have no idea what you mean,” he said with the slightest hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“I knew that dream was fake, but I have to admit it took me a little bit to figure out why you would tell such an elaborate lie,” she explained. “I finally cracked the code and understand completely. Now I just have to figure out how to pull off the seemingly impossible action outlined in your clues.”
He tried to keep a straight face, but the sly smile would not be deterred.
“I have no idea what you mean, but I suppose a ‘Good luck!’ is in order,” he played it cool.
“Don’t worry, smart guy. I’m going to figure it out,” she vowed.
Aaron shrugged and turned his attention to the river. Secretly, he hoped that she would succeed…
If the ending confused you, you might want to go back and read last week’s Aaron & Holly story, Dropping Therapy.