I tapped my knee impatiently. It was too early for bed and likely too late for another helping of coffee. Well, for a sane person, anyway. I stepped over to the coffee maker, grabbing some beans from the cupboard. I’d missed the 6pm news. At that time they were probably still trying to piece their story together, but they’d doubtless mentioned something about the explosion. I wondered if I shouldn’t call my mother and reassure her I wasn’t dead or something.
As if summoned by the thought, there was a sudden violent pounding on the screen door. I jumped from my spot beside Mr. Coffee, showering coffee grinds over my socks. My heart practically hammered a hole in my chest before I realized it was my mother and not a sociopathic serial killer banging on the door like, well, an overly caffeinated sociopathic serial killer.
I brushed coffee grounds from my clothing and traipsed over to the door. I pried it open, bracing myself for a battalion of frenzied cries.
“Are you alright?! I saw the news! I tried to call, but your phone was turned off!”
“Oh?” That’s right. I had turned it off at the coffee shop like a good little worker bee. Sure enough, a quick check of the screen informed me my mother had left me a voicemail earlier. And approximately ten missed calls. “Sorry.”
She wrapped me in a hug. Mrs. Nimsby cuts a very motherly image: bushy short blonde curls cover her head, thick glasses sit atop her nose, and her 5’ 5” figure is rather pear-shaped and always clad in mom jeans and cardigans. Currently, she was squeezing me so tightly I was likely to die…or at the very least pee my pants.
“Mom, I’m fine!” I exclaimed with a slight shove.
“Oh, my God, what kind of world do we live in?” She moaned with her arms thrown over her head. Her eyes filled with tears as she shuddered in concern and horror.
“One where strip malls in the middle of nowhere burst into smithereens apparently...”
“Oh, Jordy, you were at work when it happened, weren’t you? Right next door? Are you sure you’re okay? Was everybody okay?”
“Yes, Mom, I’m fine. I mean, we heard it from the coffee shop, of course, but our building is totally fine. I talked to some witnesses—er, some people outside the coffee shop, and they seemed alright…” I crossed my fingers behind my back, hoping she hadn’t noticed my slip. My mother wasn’t exactly thrilled when I told her I wanted to be a private investigator. In fact, she was positive death and destruction lurked around every corner of my life. Like Martha, she probably watched too many crime dramas.
“Witnesses?” Oops. “Jordan Prudence Nimsby, tell me you are not investigating this explosion! Whoever did this is crazy!” She thrust her flailing hands at me, pointing accusingly. She was also pacing, which made me dizzy. Or maybe it was the undercooked chicken again…
“Exactly! He, or she, is crazy!” I said. “I’ve already reached that conclusion.”
“Now there you go again with your private-eye talk!”
“What? You mean ‘conclusion’? How do you know I’m not becoming an essayist?”
“What?” The blonde curls fraying about her face made her look frazzled as she came to an abrupt stop with both hands on her hips.
“Essayist? You know, they write essays. ‘In conclusion’, like at the end of an essay…okay, never mind, it sounded funnier in my head…”
My mother shook her head and resumed her pacing. “Jordan, this sounds dangerous! Can’t you just let the local cops handle it?”
“Yeah, guys who, on an average day, don’t deal with anything worse than a car versus deer accident or a lost dog.” I really had nothing against the resident fuzz, but my mother always managed to bring out the best in me (commence sarcasm).
“Jordan. You know it’s their job.”
“Yeah, and it was supposed to be mine, too.” I hadn’t meant for things to get too serious, but the sting of her last comment brought tears to my eyes. I guess I did miss my old job, my dream job. “Maybe coming up here was a mistake.” I slipped into the comfy armchair, wiping at my eyes with a sweatshirt sleeve.
My mother’s voice softened, and she hurriedly wrapped her arms around me. “Aw, honey, you know I think you’re a wonderful investigator. I just don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Am I, though? Mr. Klienderstern never seemed to think so.”
“Well, Mr. Klienderstern is a horse’s ass.” The phrase “horse’s ass” coming out of my mother’s voice was so unexpected a snort burst out of me.
“Well, he is!” She stepped back and threw her arms about for emphasis. “If he didn’t realize what an excellent investigator you are, then that’s what he is.” My mother sighed. “Fine. I give my blessing.”
“Wh-what?” I was still giggling over the “ass” comment.
“You can take the case. Figure this whole bombing thing out. You have my blessing. Just…be careful.”
“You do know I was going to do what I wanted regardless of any blessings. As per usual.”
“Jordan.” Her voice now carried that warning tone it nearly wore out during my high school years. “Take the freaking blessing and be glad for it.”
“Yes, Mother dear. I love you.” I stood up and wrapped her in a hug, hoping she would leave before she got any ideas about retracting her blessing.
“You are okay, right? I mean, with everything you’ve been through this year?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine.” Don’t want to talk about it, Ma…
She gave a slight intake of breath, as though suddenly recalling something important. “You do know your old friend Samantha is a cop here in town? I think she’s a detective, actually…”
“Really? Samantha Orwitz? Wow, I never saw that coming...” Of all the ironic career paths after high school, this one took the cake. Samantha had been breaking laws since middle school.
“Yeah, why don’t you get a hold of her? Maybe you could work together or something..?”
“You know what, Mom? That’s actually a brilliant idea.”
“Well, where did you think you got your smarts? Your father?” She giggled as she made her way out the door. “Goodnight now, hon.”
“Wow, Mom, you’re really hitting the zingers today.”
“I know. It’s weird! I think it’s this new beer your father brewed…it’s a bit stronger than I’m used to…”