When Life Imitates Art

I love a good cozy mystery. It’s probably why I write them.  To me, a good cozy mystery has characters that make you wish you could move in next door to them.  At the very least, you wish you could be their friend.  I love cozy mystery series because I enjoy going back to “see” my friends and spend time with them in their cozy worlds.

Of course, it is called fiction for a reason.   Recently, one of my former students disappeared.  It was over a week and there was not a peep from her.  She loves drama, so no cell phone or snapchat contact was unheard of.  Everyone instinctively knew that something was horribly wrong.  It took the police about five days to decide that she was not a runaway.  It was the lack of contact that convinced them.   I honestly thought she was dead.  A few other teachers thought she was snatched for the sex trade.

Teachers put out flyers all over town. A man came forward and said he gave her a ride to the train station the night she disappeared.  She asked for money, but he refused.  He swore he dropped her off at the train station.   It was about one o’clock in the morning and no trains would be running until the morning.

We (the teacher squad) did what normal people do and began to obsess. We were on April vacation, but we were constantly in contact with each other.  I honestly acted like the characters in my books.  We talked about going to the train station at one o’clock in the morning and asking people if they’d seen her.  We figured that the same people were likely to be hanging around there at the same time of the night.  We were going to try and question cab drivers and go into bars and ask around.  I suggested we start a fund for a reward.  After all, the police couldn’t find her, so it was up to us.  I asked a friend of mine, a former prostitute, to go with us.  She’s great back up.   I won’t repeat what she said, but it came down to the fact that we didn’t belong with that crowd at that hour of the morning.

Before the teacher squad could all pile into someone’s minivan and hit the streets in the wee hours of the morning, the police obtained the surveillance footage from the train station and found a clip of my former student talking to a man and then leaving with him. The next thing to obsess over was this unknown man.   We put his picture on Facebook.  The police put it on the news.   The teacher squad came up with a new plan.  We were going to hit the streets with the picture of this man.  Yup, we were going to go into one of the worst parts of town and flash his picture around.  We were also going to stick with the idea of going to the train station and ask around there in the middle of the night.  It all seemed to make perfect sense.  We all read cozy mysteries and I write them –  that certainly qualified us to help with this investigation.   The plan involved working in teams so that no one was alone.  I am an overweight and middle-aged – actually, I am at the very far edge of that middle.  No one was going to rape me (God bless them if they tried) or try and sell me into the sex trade. Sell me?  Heck no.  They would owe money.  We never really considered we could be shot.  After all, who shoots plump, lovable teachers?  If Jessica Fletcher could do it, so could we!

Before we could act on our heroic plan, the child was found. She was in a shelter in another state.  I have no idea about how she got there.  Her mother has asked us not to ask about it.  Of course, we respect her request.  It really doesn’t matter.  She’s safe.  She’s home.

I look back at the past week and know that we would have gone through with it all. When people are worried about someone they care about, they will push any limit.  That’s the reality.  What is also a reality is that I began see how brave cozy mystery characters have to be.  It’s fun to fanaticize about being friends with characters and solving mysteries.  In this case, my friends are characters and we tried to solve a mystery.  If I were reading a book where the characters were going to go into one of the worst parts of the city to track down a criminal, I am sure I would be predicting a disaster- talk about a page turner!  I didn’t see it that way in real life, but my friend the former prostitute did.  I suppose the moral of the story is you’d be wise to listen to your friendly prostitute about all things involving the city at night.

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