Thursday is trash day in the neighborhood. Because the city wants the containers out by 5 am and I’m not much of a morning person, I take mine out on Wednesday evening. And I’m not the only one. On this particular Thursday I happened to come back from yoga at around noon and figured I’ll roll my container in. I lifted the cover to make sure it was empty. OMG!!! Not only it wasn’t empty, it was full to the brim. Whatever had been piled on top of my garbage was covered by a colorful fringed blanket, like the ones tourists buy when visiting Mexico. I confess, it freaked me out. Didn’t want to move anything, I mean…what if there was a dead body down there?
I noticed my neighbor Lee working in the garage, so I called out to him. “Lee, did you see someone put stuff into my container?”
He looked at me, scratched his head, “Like what? Money?”
“No, no, I’m serious. There could be a body hidden under the blanket.”
“You still looking to meet a guy?”
“I mean a DEAD body, stop joking.”
He walked over, glanced at the inside without touching a thing, closed the lid and rolled the container back and fourth a few times. “Nah, too light.” Turned around, went back into his garage and thirty seconds later the door closed.
By the time the garbage was picked up and my empty container back in the garage I had forgotten about it—until the following week. This time I could see large white plastic bags, neatly secured with blue ties then piled on top of my brown grocery bags (hey, I recycle) and then, over that, a colorful man polo shirt. I slammed the lid shut and ran back home, I had to think.
But the phone rang and a friend stopped by and I forgot about it until it was time to take the empty can in. And then it wouldn’t leave me alone, I kept thinking about it. It got so bad I decide to call the Solid Waste Management office. Yes, that’s the name of the department; I’m not making this up. I told my story to a lady with a sympathetic voice who happened to answer the phone. I assumed she would either make fun of me or assume I was a nut case and try to appease me. She didn’t, she took notes, asked questions and explained it was against the law to do that and that an INVESTIGATOR, you read correctly, an investigator would be assigned to the case of the garbage appearing mysteriously in my container weekly. Now I’m counting the days to the next pick up, and by the way, according to the helpful lady, she has been working in that office for five years and this is the first such case.
From now on when someone asks me where I find ideas for my mysteries, I’ll truthfully say; “In the trash.”