Secret of the Puzzling Picnic Basket
A green and yellow basket
I wrote a letter to my love
And on the way I dropped it"
Is that how it went? The song kept repeating in my head while I walked across the burning stretch of sand past the line of empty lounge chairs to check out the large picnic basket that had been left sitting out all day. Well, at least since earlier this morning when we'd gone for a run. I guess it could have been there all night. Looks like a nice one--saw it in the Crate and Barrel catalogue when I was searching frantically for a Father’s day gift last summer. As I remember, they were pricey…can’t imagine why someone would leave it here. It’s not like it’s a small thing you would forget about once you're finished eating.
Bridget told me not to come down here to check it out. She’s standing back on the boardwalk with her cell phone talking to one of her connected-at-the-ears sorority sisters from Ohio State and shouting down to me, "What is it? What is it?" She thinks it’s a bomb. Ready to take a picture if I blow up. That’s just moronic. Who leaves a bomb on a beach by the ocean? It’s not like this is someplace like DisneyWorld with huge lines of people. It’s not even crowded. Probably too early in the season to tell, but still, our bookings so far are really thin. I hope there's not a head in there. That would be smelling bad by now.
I stopped circling the abandoned basket to kneel down and sniff around the wicker sides, standing quickly to brush the hot, prickly grains of sand from my knees. I couldn’t smell anything but fishy smells from the water and the Panama Jack I was wearing. Couldn't hear anything either except the low drone of a waterbike out in the distance and the waves playing tag with the shore. No flies. Even Bridget was quiet. Well, if it was a head it’d be an old dried up one, maybe a shrunken head; not something rotting the flesh off. Leaning over with my face half turned away I slowly lifted the smooth wooden lid to peer inside.
Nothing. It was empty. I didn’t even see any crumbs or old wrappers, crumpled napkins. Nothing. The basket looked brand new; the chambray liner still crisp and creased and, in the curve of a corner, an ivory colored business card that read, “Don Shoemaker, Regional Sales Manager, Thompson-McConnell Cadillac, 1195 Redbank Road, Dayton, Ohio 41074”.
Well that's weird. Dayton's my home town, but there's no car dealership at that address. That address is our parents' street and house number.