If Only She Hadn't A Shoehorn

Ezra Azra

Copyright 2023 by Ezra Azra

Photo by Marin Tulard on UnsplashPhoto by Marin Tulard on Unsplash

Yvonne usually took a shortcut through the park on her way from University Residence to classes. Because of last night's catastrophic City-wide electric rainstorm, there were no University classes that day, but, out of habit, she was walking through the park mainly because this was the first day in weeks that the winter sun was out, intermittently, among clouds threatening more rain.

The storm during the last two days was particularly brutal. Most students did not attend classes. Some classes did not happen because the professors had been absent.

She wanted to soak up some sun before there was no more again for weeks. Spring was another few weeks away.

She stopped abruptly when she turned the corner along the pathway. Police were everywhere, searching the ground.

She debated. Should she keep walking, and pass through among them? There were no police "Do not cross" yellow tapes anywhere. She decided against it. She had seen many episodes of "Forensic Files" on television.

If she tried to walk across their search grid, it would not matter how innocent she was, she was sure to be interrogated as a suspect by the police.

Instead, she sat on a bench, far away and watched. From one of the trees within the police area, a glint of light flashed across her eyes. Her first reaction was that it was a refraction of sunlight off wet leaves on branches blown about by the wind. Her curiosity was further piqued when the glint repeated, almost regularly.

Was it something the police were searching for? Should she be a conscientious citizen, and do her civic duty, and help the police? Again, she was deterred by what she had seen on "Forensic Files." Helping the police in a crime investigation always carried the risk of being oneself considered a suspect.

She sat and analyzed the situation. That branch was not inaccessible to a garden tool like a rake or a hoe or a shovel. If her student loan had not already been mostly spent, she could have bought such a tool and returned at night to unhook whatever it was that was triggering that glint. For a second or two the thought crossed her mind to forget the whole thing and return to her room in the University's "Women Only" on-campus Residence.

The thought of her room instantly led to the thought of her long plastic shoehorn; it started in a hook! The perfect length, too. The venture was on again in her mind, stronger than ever.

That on-and-off glinting thing could be nothing; but what if it were something valuable she could pawn or sell?

In that moment, Yvonne was so completely overwhelmed by her irrational excitement, that she quite forgot a principal lesson depicted often enough in the "Forensic Files" television show; possession of items unofficially removed from a crime scene, was sufficiently incriminating to warrant arrest and jail time.

She returned to the park that evening, with her shoehorn hidden under her rain cape. The weather had turned in her favour. The rain clouds were back. There was no wind. Any second the rain would start. Mainly because of the impending inclement weather, she was the only person in the park.

Now, there was police yellow "Do not cross" tape enclosing a wide area around the tree. She paused at the bench, and slowly and surreptitiously pretended to be looking for something she might have lost around the bench. At every angle she sneaked a look at the branches of the tree.

Yes! There it was! A feint sheen among the leaves. Good, it was beginning to rain. She headed straight for a position beneath the branch. She swung her shoehorn.

Miraculously, she snagged the thing on her first swing. Her grip on the shoehorn slipped a little, causing her to lose some of her balance. She fell into a section of the yellow tape, in her clumsy tumbling to the wet grass. She scrambled to her feet, and scooped the object off the shoehorn hook. The shoehorn itself suffered some damage in the fall. Yvonne ran, being cunning enough to make it appear as if she were trying to get out from the rain.

Neglecting to consider the possible forensic consequences, she threw the damaged shoehorn in a commercial garbage bin in an alley on her way.

In her Residence room, she went straight to the bathroom and placed the object in the sink. It was a necklace.

A ring of beads that looked like pearls. Yvonne had never seen a pearl necklace that close. She could not tell if those were genuine pearls. The ring was broken. Some of the beads must have been missing. Yvonne connected the ends with cotton thread, and stashed the ring in a pocket of a garment hanging in her closet. She planned to use the storm as an excuse to be allowed to return home out of town for a few days.

The next day there was so much excitement in the classrooms, the professor of Yvonne's class was one of many who wisely gave over the class-time to discussion of the police search.

After what she learned in that nearly-chaotic discussion in the classroom, Yvonne changed her mind about leaving campus the next few days; the police would be bound to view it as suspicious.

The victim of a brutal ambush during the rain storm in the park had been a female professor. She was in a coma in hospital.

The University had suspended all classes until further notice. Free health counselling was being made available to all students on campus.

It seems as if an item had been ripped off her throat, leaving deep bloody injuries. The search had uncovered no evidence after the first storm. But the new storm flare up that last night seemed to have stirred up evidence on the ground. The police yellow tape around a tree had been snapped, and, in sheer, true, pristine classical "Forensic Files" mode, clear forensic evidence had been found.

Bruised human tissue embedded in tiny splinters of plastic; and two priceless genuine pearls with traces of blood, in the grass.

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