Riley LaShea & the Case of the Neighborhood “Background Check”

It was just before 5 p.m. when the knock came at the door. Hoping to find the important package filled with rare goods* she was expecting sitting on her doorstep, where the lazy courier always dropped them, sometimes without so much as a knock, Riley was surprised to discover a standing package instead – a man moving back and forth from the door, dressed in shady intentions. Through the peephole, his real clothes looked earth-tone, like the uniform of a UPS driver if this weren’t noir and UPS wasn’t a futuristic delivery service.

Dressed in her Lady Rainicorn** onesie, because the frigid temperatures inside were almost as cold as her hard-edged neighborhood on its worst day, Riley beckoned her goblin butler to open the door for her.

Instead of the anticipated courier, the man who stood there had a badge and gun at his hip, coat drawn back to flash them into the whites of the goblin butler’s eyes.

“Raleigh P.D.,” he said. “Do you know Lauren Something-or-Other from across the street?”

“No,” said the goblin butler, but the policeman didn’t seem to believe her. Nor did he seem to be much of a policeman. “I don’t know any of the neighbors,” the goblin butler tacked on when the man didn’t walk away, because Riley and the goblin butler were an antisocial people. The neighbors spent too much time in their driveway with yappy dogs, letting their delinquent minors ride skateboards into the side of their roadster, making ruckuses where quiet would do.

“We’re just doing a background check,” the so-called policeman said.

Hmmm, Riley thought from the other side of the door. Since when is this how background checks are done? If it took that much legwork, no competitors would offer them for the low-low price of $19.95 with a free oven mitt if you bought right now.

On the lie, the man left, an unlikely policeman. Instead, unidentified, a potential threat to the decent working people of a tough neighborhood. Crossing the street, he knocked at another door, was invited inside, then let himself in and out several times as if he owned the place. Or was sexing the owner up good and proper.

The whole thing stunk of skunk tactics and the tuna still on the phony cop’s breath from lunch, and it was as flimsy as phyllo dough rolled out for baklava on a Greek grandmother’s countertop.

Though the clues didn’t add up, watching the man’s car finally roll down the street and out of her town, Riley let one get by her. Not all mysteries, after all, were hers to solve.

*organic candy
**1940’s Lady Rainicorn

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