An exercise in Creative Nonfiction. I wrote a whole humor book on this stuff: Musings on Minutiae
We should have answered the door after the second knock, but because our neighborhood is full of salesmen and Jehovah’s Witnesses, we waited until the pounding came a third time and was emphasized by a muffled vocalization of, “Sherriff’s Department!”
When most people think of Orlando, Florida, they assume that our days are full of sunshine and Mickey Mouse ears. This particular Sunday had neither. In fact, it was pouring down rain outside. For most of the afternoon my wife, Amanda, and I had heard a man wandering the neighborhood hollering out the name “Roy.” We assumed this fellow was out in search of a lost dog, but once the police came to our door, everything changed.
Amanda and I opened the door to see two drenched officers staring back at us. Illumined by our porch light they proceeded to question us regarding the disappearance of an 8-year-old neighborhood boy named Roy. After understanding that we hadn’t seen Roy, the Officers asked if they might look in the back yard. This was not a problem, until they asked if they might come through the house to get there.
My wife is a “Southern Girl” so the idea of inviting someone into the home without a clean house and food to offer goes against everything she believes in. This Sunday was also “Laundry Day,” so our home was in disarray with piles upon piles of clothing scattered everywhere, which at a glance looked like miniature, multicolored volcanoes.
As the officers made their way inside, I noticed that Amanda’s face had gone pale. Without warning, she darted in front of them picking up piles of clothing and throwing them out of the Officer’s way.
“Don’t mind the mess!” she hollered nervously, “I’m sorry!”
Most likely having seen it all in their line of work, the Officers walked through the room toward the back door. Then she said something that made one of the Officers flinch.
“I swear it’s never like this!” Amanda continued, “Please don’t look over here — Don’t pay attention to the mess!”
Once the Officers were in the backyard and the sliding glass door closed behind them, I turned my attention to my wife. In her dirt-induced panic she didn’t realize how completely and utterly suspicious she was acting. I reminded her that when the police are looking for something, the last thing you want to tell them is “Don’t look over here.”
She agreed to calm down and let me do the talking. The Officers returned to let us know they’d received a call that Roy had been found. Amanda stood quietly while I escorted our guests to the door. They apologized for the interruption and took their leave.
Once the door was closed behind them, Amanda stood amongst the dirty clothes volcanoes staring at the tile floor. The police had left muddy footprints the length of the kitchen and I knew right then and there, we’d be cleaning for the rest of the night.