Sweet Caper Solved

When we last checked in with Sgt. Joe Friday, his sharp detective skills were at work in setting up an undercover operation to solve the disappearance of Gladys Jefferson’s tasty strawberry-rhubarb pie.  If you missed the first part of the story, here is a link back to “Sweet Caper.”

The opening episode of the story ended with:  

Early the next morning, the seasoned detective hides across the street from the Jefferson’s house.  The large lilac bushes provide a perfect lookout to view the kitchen window on the side of the house.

Right on cue, Mrs. Jefferson sets her freshly baked strawberry-rhubarb pie on the kitchen window sill to cool.  Friday waits patiently to see if his stake-out will lead him to discover some answers.

Photo courtesy of recipeland.com.

Waiting from his hidden observation post, Joe Friday can almost smell the cooling pie across the street.  Having skipped breakfast, he can’t help but feel a sweet craving for a piece of Mrs. Jefferson’s pie.  He quickly shrugs off his hunger, and his well-seasoned eyes look out and wait.

A young boy, about the age of seven, walks down the sidewalk.  He is pulling a small wagon with a tattered cardboard box sitting inside.  The faded letters “Billy’s Bake Shop” can still be plainly seen. 

The boy parks his wagon off to the side by the neighbor’s house, and he quickly and quietly slips up to the Jefferson’s kitchen window.  In a flash, he gathers the pie and carefully walks back to his wagon.  He hastily places the pie inside the cardboard box.

“Hmm, let’s see where this wagon travels to now,” ponders the sergeant.  As the boy begins walking his wagon back down the sidewalk away from the Jefferson’s house, Friday carefully begins to follow at a safe distance.

It appears the boy is heading toward the small downtown area.  He walks at a steady, unhurried pace as he pulls the wagon loaded with the stolen pie.  It looks like Billy’s Bake Shop is open for business.

The young pie thief stops at an alley, and he scans the area for anyone watching him.  Feeling alone and safe, he turns right and heads down the alley.  Along the alley are back entrances to a collection of small offices and retail shops.

Friday continues to keep the boy in his sight, being careful to disappear just as the young entrepreneur checks the scene for any spies.  He watches from the corner of the alley, hidden by a trash dumpster.

The boy continues walking and pulling his portable bake shop down the alley before stopping at an office door.  He knocks on the door and waits.  Before Friday can even think back to former capers he has solved over the years, the backdoor of the office opens.  The boy returns to his wagon and removes the pie from the dilapidated cardboard box.

“Wow!  I never saw this coming,” thinks the detective.  The boy is handing off the pie to Mr. Jefferson.

As soon as the transaction is finished, Billy’s Bake Shop heads on his way, and Mr. Jefferson slips back into his office.  The ever-curious detective wants to gather just a bit more information before he jumps Mr. Jefferson.  His mind is working quickly, and he wonders what the real motive is behind the mystery of the strawberry-rhubarb pie’s disappearance.

Friday walks quickly from the alley around to the front of Mr. Jefferson’s office.  He crosses the street to have a perfect vantage point of everything.

In a few minutes, a quartet of men, who seem quite friendly with each other, enter the office door.  The sergeant checks his watch . . . the time is mid-morning, exactly when many people enjoy a coffee break.

Realizing it’s time to crash the gathering, the ever-alert detective crosses the street and heads directly to the office door.  Upon entering, he finds the foursome of men sitting with Mr. Jefferson for coffee and fresh-baked strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Surprised by Friday’s appearance, the men stop eating and talking.  They know their scheme has unraveled, for sure!

The eager and hungry sergeant listens as the quintet of pie lovers explain their side of the story.  The bakery down the street has been closed for months, and the men have grown impatient with enjoying a sweet treat with their morning coffee break.  What can be better than tasting one of Gladys Jefferson’s blue-ribbon pies?

Mr. Jefferson pipes up, “How about sitting down with us for some coffee and pie?”

 

Sweet Caper

Photo courtesy of recipeland.com

Gladys Jefferson lives in a small Americana town, with its single traffic light and the usual safe and comfy feel.  While her husband serves as the town’s unofficial mayor, she has made a name for herself with her renowned and delicious strawberry-rhubarb pie.

On this particular morning, Gladys (rather Mrs. Jefferson) stands on the steps of the unofficial town hall at the Wooden Nickel Café.  She appears very distraught as she tells her husband and others about someone or something. 

Sgt. Joe Friday (yes, you have heard of him before), has been visiting his family over the past few days.  He just happens to be walking down the sidewalk when he runs into the big scene filled with people standing around Mrs. Jefferson.  With his curiosity and stellar detective skills always are alert, he decides to listen in.

“Early this morning, someone or something stole my freshly baked strawberry-rhubarb pie right off of my kitchen window ledge,” Mrs. Jefferson cries out.

Growing more frustrated with each word, she continues on, “I always leave a pie near the window so that it will cool more quickly.”

In a town with a little or no crime, the disappearance of one of Mrs. Jefferson’s famous pies is big news! 

Sgt. Friday waits for the crowd to disperse, and he then approaches Mrs. Jefferson to ask her some questions. 

Unnoticed, Mr. Jefferson skedaddles away quietly and heads back to his office.  He seems a bit perturbed with his wife’s emotional outburst on the main street of their quiet town.

After introducing himself, Friday begins to ask questions as he records some notes on his always-ready notepad.  “Ma’am, please give me the facts about what happened.  Perhaps I can help,” the detective states in his usual calm, professional manner. 

As composed as possible, Mrs. Jefferson restates the facts of the theft to Sgt. Friday.  When she becomes a little emotional, he hands her his handkerchief and reminds her, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Eventually, the detective and Mrs. Jefferson are finished with the interview. 

She reminds Friday, “I only left the pie there for five minutes.  My goodness, what can happen in five minutes?”

With Mrs. Jefferson’s permission, the knowledgeable detective works out an undercover operation which just might catch the thief in the act again.

Sgt. Friday has a hunch about this caper, and he thinks there must be someone, with insider information, aiding and abetting in this crime.  He plans to relax and enjoy a good night’s sleep before laying his trap.

Early the next morning, the seasoned detective hides across the street from the Jefferson’s house.  The large lilac bushes provide a perfect lookout to view the kitchen window on the side of the house.

Right on cue, Mrs. Jefferson sets her freshly baked strawberry-rhubarb pie on the kitchen window sill to cool.  Friday waits patiently to see if his stake-out will lead him to discover some answers.

How are you doing in solving this case?  Do you have a list of suspects?  Stay tuned for the conclusion of this story as Sgt. Joe Friday attempts to solve this “Sweet Caper.”