based on a true story
Wednesdays my mom doesn’t go to work. On this particular Wednesday, it was another gloomy autumn morning: the promise of rain hanging in the air, the sun losing another battle to the heavy clouds, the enchanting spell of sleepiness muffling the town. However, it felt less depressing than the previous day, and somewhat more peaceful. That is until my mother stepped out onto our terrace and saw what I had seen just moments before when I let our family dog out to do his business.
Her plant sat naked (bare of its pot but still caked in its soil) on the terrace. Previously, it had sat comfortably in a small red pot on the outdoor table. Now it looked like it had hopped off the table and stripped itself to say, “Here I am!” to the new day like the neighborhood pervert.
I had frowned in confusion when I first saw it, but had figured my mother must have removed it from the pot to do something with it–I don’t know how gardeners work. Her reaction proved I was wrong.
“What happened?” she asked as I joined her out there. Our terrace is out in the open courtyard of the apartment buildings where we live.
“Oh, I thought you did that.”
“Why would I do that?”
I shrugged. “Maybe a deer was nibbling at your plants again?” Yes. We have deer who constantly come around our place to eat her plants. Once, a deer dared to calmly look into our window while munching on a plant like a lazy cow, asking, “What are you gonna do about it?” The deer had a point.
I could imagine a deer having gotten at her plants again and knocked one over onto the ground.
“But then where is the pot?” Very good question. There should be broken shards of it lying around the plant.
We had a mystery on our hands–a very strange one. I felt fairly calm inside, knowing there has to be some explanation, but it was admittedly an odd situation. I could somewhat understand my mother’s panic about it. But I was still the least committed detective in the history of detectives.
It looked like somebody had cleanly pulled out her plant and placed it on the ground, so I told her as much. Only the little tray the pot had been sitting on was left on the table. “So I guess someone stole your pot?” I suggested. They didn’t want the plant, though. Fuck that plant.
It was a weak theory, I knew. Imagine a neighbor crept over to our terrace in the nighttime because they had their eye on this red pot for months, and now was finally the time to do the deed. They had gotten the perfect geranium to go with the red pot, so it will be theirs, decency be damned!
My theory somehow freaked out my mother, anyway, who gasped and exclaimed, “Why would they do that? This is so scary.”
Hearing that, I briefly wondered if she thought it had been some supernatural occurrence. I couldn’t quite see what was scary about this, but it turned out she really was worried it had been some plant-pot thief. She insisted, “If they did this, think of what else they could do!”
Come back and…steal another generic pot? Was this a rival gardener who wanted our pots but not our plants? Was there something special about that pot? Was it a serial plant killer, but only one plant at a time? And with plenty of time to re-pot it? What the hell was the motive? But also, why was this scary? Was stealing a neighbor’s pot a gateway to committing a house invasion? Was this a warning?
I was puzzled but not particularly bothered by the crime. My top suspect was still the deer. All I could think was that a deer must have gotten to my mom’s plants again, but a deer couldn’t clean up after itself if it had indeed knocked a pot over… Did it have an accomplice?
Before I could think of another theory, my mom made me take pictures of the scene of the crime, so I broke out the bad boy, my Nikon D3200–I’m just kidding. I quickly grabbed my phone. I wanted to eat my breakfast already. My bagel was waiting for me, damn it.
However, I took a couple photos from different angles and at different distances–my mom said I had to get the whole picture. Maybe there was some clue I was missing.
I supposed I was going to text it to the super this morning and be like, “Explain this atrocity!” but my mother had other plans:
“Should I go to the police with this? I guess I should report this!”
Sure, give our town’s police something to do.
My mother hurried to her bedroom to tell my dad, who had pulled out his fluffy robe by now because the weather had gotten cold. Right away, it hit me what had happened–because my father’s voice is really loud and I could hear him from the hallway. We had found our key witness.
And the accomplice.
My dad is an early riser–he is the first one to get up in the morning. It turned out he had heard a loud crash in the morning, and my dog had to go out to pee, so when he took our master out, he saw the pot on the ground with the shards lying around it. He looked up to see a gang of deer, staring at him from the distance–again, the audacity!–to ask, “Yeah, what are you gonna do about it?”
There was nothing to be done. He cleaned up after them. They were his masters now, them and our dog. He left the plant, though, like some sort of symbol of his submissiveness to the deer who run the courtyard. An offer to them, perhaps, so they’ll leave the other pots alone.
Good thing we didn’t go to the police. I’m pretty sure the deer own them, too.
My mom was right to be scared. Who knows what they’ll do next.