During the pandemic, as my wife and I have tried to limit our excursions out of the house, we’ve started watching more and more mysteries on TV. We have, I think, become self-anointed experts on what makes a good mystery.
It always starts with an unexplained clue (or in some cases, a dead body), then goes into a series of twists and turns, is sprinkled with interesting characters/suspects and ends with the mystery being solved by a determined sleuth who never assumes the most obvious solution is correct.
So on our daily walk Monday along an irrigation ditch, I spotted something that was a clue to some kind of mystery. Semi-hidden behind the trunk of a large tree just outside a rock wall was a pair of square-toed cowboy boots. One standing upright was fairly easy to spot, and the other was scrunched between the trunk and the rock wall. The boots were well worn but from my observation, might have been made serviceable with new soles. I chose not to pick them up for further examination over concern that they may have been worn by a COVID-19 carrier. Not having my fingerprints on them was also something that crossed my mind. I also thought it best to leave them there to see how the mystery develops. (They were still there Tuesday, and from footprints nearby, it appeared that several people had given them closer inspection.)
So why where they there? There was no unusual disruption of the ground around the boots, not even bare footprints. I looked up in the tree to see if I could see more clothing, someone hiding in the branches, even perhaps a body. Nope, no more immediately observable clues. Why didn’t the person who owned them simply drop them off in a garbage bin nearby? Why not put them in the trash at home? Why were they partially hidden, but still visible enough to be discovered? How long had they been there before I spotted them? What kind of shoe — if any — replaced the boots when the owner left the scene. So many more questions to be answered.
We’ve all seen sneakers dangling from powerlines where they were tossed by kids or blown-out flip-flops discarded along a street, so seeing abandoned shoes isn’t that unusual. I suspect these boots were left by a person most likely in the country illegally, walking along irrigation ditches to avoid authorities. But I’m still curious about why they were abandoned in that manner in that particular spot. Did they contain clues to a bigger mystery? Yes, I know I’m over-thinking a mundane discovery, but I blame COVID-19 for too much idle time in my brain.
My wife has frequently told me I should write a mystery book, so maybe this is the tipping point to begin that project.
We live in a great neighborhood, made better by the interesting mix of people who live here. My next door neighbor and I have frequent conversations across the joint wall in our back yards while sipping a glass of wine or his favorite Jim Beam. An occasional discussion focuses on our neighbors and how we might write a titillating fictional story about all these characters and the mysteries they might be hiding. I’m certain all have perfectly normal lives, but what do we REALLY know about them? Weaving these characters into “The Mystery of the Abandoned Boots” would be a natural.
I encourage any suggestions you may have about how the mystery might unfold. I may include them in future posts on this topic.
Now I need to start writing my novel. Yeah, sure.