Shades – Earth Day/Birthday edition


It was a dark and stormy night. In fact it had been a dark and stormy day. My name’s Craig and I work out of the 99th precinct. But tonight I was on a caper of my own.

It was raining (did I mention it was a dark and stormy night?), So I pulled my trench coat around me and held my fedora low on my head. As the wind howled and the storm stormed, I ducked in to the first genealogy blog I spotted to find shelter. The storm had knocked out some of the neon lights, but the sign appeared to read “f*****Mave*s.” Which I suppose could have several meanings, depending upon how you looked at it. I looked at it and saw “famous Mave’s.” I’d never heard of it, but you know what they say. They say “any blog in a storm;” that’s what they say.

I could immediately tell that this was not just any blog. The place was dazzlingly lit and decorated with thousands of old photographs. It was near closing time so there weren’t many folks hanging about.

I noticed an attractive blonde at one table. On the table in front of her was a long thin clove cigarette – perfectly legal – but I had an investigation to conduct. So I went over pulled out a chair, took off my fedora, leaned across the table and began with one of my favorite investigative techniques.

“So what’s a bad girl like you doing in a nice place like this?”

Sheri, she said her name was. That was what her name was, Sheri.

[Oops! Wrong reel! Rewinding .. . .]

At one table (a a different table than the one I didn’t notice in the wrong reel), I noticed an attractive blonde (a different blonde than the one I wasn’t supposed to notice. In the last reel, you recall). On the table in front of her was a huge stash of cash – perfectly legal I assumed. What it looked like was she was counting the night’s receipts is what it looked like – but I had an investigation to conduct. So I went over pulled out a chair, took off my Fedora, leaned across the table and began with one of my favorite investigative techniques (a different one of my favorite investigative techniques than the one I wasn’t supposed to use. One that was more woman friendly you might say; more politically correct you might say, if you said things like that).

“So you the dame that owns this place?”

“I am,” she said crisply.


The dame arched her eyebrows, and said, “Brilliant deduction, Lieutenant, but it’s Maven.”

She motioned with her right hand summoning the bartender over. She whispered something in his ear and he left in the direction of the backroom.

“Where is that guy going?” My hand was reaching for my .38 Police Special in my shoulder holster.

“What’s it to you?” the blonde dame said.

“Well I’ve got an investigation to conduct, and I don’t need no trouble.”
“An investigation?” she asked. “Have you got a warrant1?”

“I don’t need no stinking warrant,” I said using my best professional law enforcement officer voice. “I’m just trying to find somebody. You can help me here or or you can help me downtown; it’s up to you, sister.”

The blonde pulled the cash closer to her looked up and said, “You know what the fourth amendment 2 is, don’t you? Or how about the fifth 3 or the sixth 4.”

How does she do that I wondered, but did not ask.

“So what about the guy?”

“Well, if you must know – and it seems you must – I sent him to fetch my Nez Perce.”

“You mean your pince nez.”

“No, I meant my –. . . .“  At that moment, the bartender returned with a middle-aged Native American man, who took a seat at the table and folded his arms across his chest. The blonde arched her eyebrows at me again.

She was already wearing glasses. Her hair was up in a bun and she wore high collared collared frock. Attractive for sure, but she reminded me a little bit of a law librarian I once knew.

“Some people have the wrong impression of law librarians.”

I stood up with a start. Had I said something out loud? She continued, “Some of the best parties I’ve ever been to were thrown by law librarians, you know.”

Yes, I did know. Internal Affairs also knew about the Criminal Law Update after-party thrown by the North State Association of Law Librarians after I had been their keynote speaker.

“Sit down, Lieutenant,” she said.

I sat back down. “You said you were looking for someone. Who might that be?”

“I’ll tell you, but first, you tell me how you did that thing. That thing with the numbers appearing behind each sentence you spoke?”

She smiled. “I’m not just any maven5,” she said, “I’m footnoteMaven.”

“I’m from Missouri—you’ll have to show me.”

“So am I—from Missouri that is.”

I believed her. She pronounced it correctly—not like some drawn-out homonym of “misery.”

“How’d you know all that stuff about the Constitution?” I asked the Maven.

“I went to law school,”  she said.

“Really? So did I.”

“So who are you looking for?”

“A woman—my sister,” I told her.

“Have you got a photograph of her?”

I handed her the photo I had pulled from my pocket. She studied it awhile. A strange look overtook her.

“Does she sometimes wear glasses?” the Maven asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

The Maven adjusted her glasses. “I think I can help.” She went on to explain that the  photograph had been taken on April 22 (birthday of great women, I thought but did not say) of a particular year with a particular brand of camera. It had been printed on a particular paper available only in certain years in certain parts of the country. As she spoke, the little superscripts appeared above her head punctuating and sourcing each of her statements.

“Well, all that’s very interesting, Maven, but how does that help me find her?” I asked.

“You said you went to law school, right?” she asked.

“Yes, but . . . “

“Which legal fraternity?”  she pressed.

“Phi Delta Phi,” I replied.

The Maven stood up, undid her hair and took off her glasses. She held her arms out and said, ”Brother!”


Happy Birthday!!

My sister "in Law", a perennially phenomenal and brave woman who sometime wears glasses.

Photo Source: shamelessly stolen from Shades of the Departed, 2008, in contravention of copyright law and even common decency.

Read the rest of this Shades special:

A Sense of Face, by Rebecca Fenning
Shades: Birthday Edition — A Teacup Throne at Moultrie Creek, by Denise Olson

Show 5 footnotes

  1. See U.S.Const., amend. IV
  2. Id.
  3. U.S.Const., amend. V
  4. U.S.Const., amend. VI
  5. See, “maven,” in Unabridged. Source location: Random House, Inc. Available: Accessed: April 21, 2012.

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