What time was it anyway? Lizzy looked at the clock on the wall and sighed deeply. It was now 10 am. She glanced around her living room in dismay. Everywhere she looked she could see nothing but garbage, remnants of the party her roommate had thrown for their friend who was moving to Alaska to start a new job. Lizzy grabbed a black garbage bag from the kitchen and began putting the littered red solo cups into the bag.
MaryAnne came out of her room, rubbing her bloodshot eyes. She nearly tripped over a pile of beer bottles piled up near the hallway. Startled, MaryAnne looked down at her bare feet. “Gross,” she exclaimed as she nearly put her toe into a puddle of vomit. “What happened here?” she asked.
“Don't you remember? You threw a party for Robert last night.”
“Yes, I know that! I mean why on earth is this place so trashed?”
Lizzy laughed. “We have some wild friends. Go back into your room to get changed then come back and help me clean up.”
The roommate turned around and went back into her room. Meanwhile, Lizzy had just finished filling up one bag and went back into the kitchen for another. She grabbed a few and handed one to MaryAnne after she emerged from the hallway.
The couch was in dire need of attention so MaryAnne began clearing a path towards it. There was a huge pile of cups, napkins, plates, empty chip bags, and a blanket on top of the sofa. Once MaryAnne reached the davenport she tried to figure out the best approach to cleaning it off without knocking everything to the floor. Starting at the top, she started picking off the cups, napkins, beer bottles and put them into the bag her roommate had given her. “Shouldn't we recycle the glass and aluminum?” she asked as she took the fourth glass beer bottle from the pile.
Lizzy looked up from the pile she was working on near the kitchen. “Sure, that sounds like a good idea. Do you need a second bag for recyclables?”
“Yes,” MaryAnne nodded, “and maybe another one for the paper products. This one is full.”
Lizzy handed MaryAnne two garbage bags and took the full one from her friend. MaryAnne got back to the task at hand.
“Hey, there's a purse in this pile of crap!” she called out suddenly. Lizzy looked up again from her pile. MaryAnne was holding a light brown leather purse with a long shoulder strap.
“Whose name is in it?”
“I haven't looked yet, my hands are too sticky from all the spilled food I've been handling. We are such slobs!”
“Okay, throw the purse towards the hallway and we can look at it later. Oh, and check to make sure there isn't a phone inside of it first, you don't want to break someone's phone.”
“Right.” MaryAnne felt the purse for the shape of a phone, and finding none, she tossed it towards the hallway.
“Whoa,” Lizzy exclaimed soon afterward. “Someone lost a diamond bracelet over here.”
“How are we going to trace the owner of that?” asked MaryAnne.
“We will figure that out later. Let's finish picking things up first, then return lost items second.” She put the bracelet onto the kitchen table then returned to her pile.
“Hey, let's have a contest to see who finds the strangest things while cleaning up. The loser pays the winner's phone bill for a month,” suggested MaryAnne.
“And who judges this contest?” replied Lizzy.
“I think we would be able to decide the winner ourselves,” answered MaryAnne.
“Okay, you're on!” agreed Lizzy. They returned to cleaning things up.
Two garbage bags later MaryAnne screamed.
“What is it?” asked Lizzy, rushing over to her friend.
“A dead mouse!” cried MaryAnne as she pulled a paper plate out from under the couch. The plate had what appeared to be a dead mouse on top of it.
Lizzy leaned over the plate. The mouse looked strange, and she knew it hadn't been there the day before because she had vacuumed under the sofa herself. “Hmm, I think it's fake or planted by a prankster,” she said as she poked it with a pencil. “I think this is strangest yet,” she added.
“Take it!” MaryAnne exclaimed. “It's giving me the creeps.”
“Fine,” Lizzy said as she took the plate away from the disgusted roommate. Lizzy placed the plate on the table next to the bracelet.
Lizzy rummaged around another pile, this one near the coffee table on the west wall of the living room. She was finding mostly plates and napkins in this pile. “Eww!,” she exclaimed, jumping back a little.
“What did you find?” asked MaryAnne, up to her arms in beer bottles.
“A used rubber,” Lizzy said. Using the same pencil she had poked the “mouse” with, she picked up the condom and showed it to her roommate.
“Yea, we don't need to save THAT,” MaryAnne commented. “And it beats the fake mouse,” she added.
“What do you mean fake?”
“You are right. The way that looks you'd expect it to be stinking the place up. All I smell is spilled beer and the vomit over there,” MaryAnne said, pointing towards the puddle near the hallway.
“Someone needs to clean that up soon. We don't need it staining the carpet, do we?”
MaryAnne nodded. “I'll get to it once I finish the davenport.”
Lizzy turned to MaryAnne. “You're not done with that yet? How much is left?”
“Not much. I just haven't looked under this blanket. Speaking of which, do you recognize this covering?”
Lizzy walked over to the sofa. The blanket in question was red, white, and blue in the pattern of the US flag. “Nope, it's not mine.”
“Mine neither. Do you remember anyone bringing one in with them?”
“Nope.” Lizzy shook her head. She faced her roommate, a concerned look on her face.
“Okay, let's look under it together,” Lizzy said as she grabbed one of the corners of the blanket. MaryAnne grabbed the other hesitantly. Together they gently pulled back the blanket to reveal a woman who was dressed in jeans and a sparkling blue t-shirt. MaryAnne screamed and jumped back, dropping the cloth in her panic. Lizzy leaned forward and looked at the woman more closely. She thought she could barely detect the woman's breath.
“Go get me a mirror,” Lizzy directed MaryAnne. “I want to verify she's breathing.” MaryAnne ran to her room, stopping off at the bathroom first to wash her sticky hands. Soon she was back with a small compact one and handed it to Lizzy. Lizzy took the mirror and put it in front of the woman's lips. The mirror clouded up, indicating the person was breathing. Lizzy sighed deeply in relief.
“Well,” asked MaryAnne, “don't keep me in suspense. Do we have to call 911?” At that moment, the woman sat up and yawned. She looked around, her blue eyes still glazed over. She tried to focus on the two young women in front of her. After blinking her eyes several times, she reached up and rubbed them. “Darn,” the new woman exclaimed, “has anyone seen my glasses?”
MaryAnne and Lizzy looked at each other in disbelief. The room wasn't even a quarter of the way cleaned up, how were they going to find this woman's glasses in all of that mess?
Lizzy turned towards the newcomer. “Where was the last place you had them?” she asked kindly. The woman thought a little then replied “I think they were in my purse. Have you seen it?”
MaryAnne looked towards their hallway where she had thrown the brown leather one. “What color is it?” she asked.
“Blue with red stitching,” the new woman replied.
“Nope. We haven't seen that one. We have a brown one over there,” MaryAnne responded, pointing towards the purse she had tossed.
“Great, not mine.” The woman looked dejected as she settled onto the filthy couch.
“Umm, my name is Lizzy and this is my roommate. MaryAnne,” Lizzy pointed to her friend. “What is yours?”
The woman looked startled. “I”m sorry, my name is Constance,” she replied. She regarded Lizzy more closely. “I don't think I know you,” she said. She turned towards MaryAnne and stared at her for a few seconds. “I don't think I know you either.” Constance stood up suddenly. “I'm at the wrong party!” she exclaimed in a panic.
“Well, that explains a little bit of this mystery. Whose party were you supposed to be at?”
Constance scratched her head. “Peter's party. It's on West 9th Street.”
Lizzy and MaryAnne exchanged glances. “We are on West 6th Street,” Lizzy said. “Do you remember getting to that party? Maybe you left your glasses there?”
“Yes, I remember seeing Peter at his party.” Constance looked around the room, “it didn't look anything like this place. Your house is much nicer,” she added.
“Thank you,” the girls said in unison.
“Okay, so maybe we should get you to Peter's to look for your purse. By the way, is this blanket yours?” Lizzy pointed to the patriotic cloth that was covering Constance when they found her.
Constance shook her head. “It's not mine,” she said. “If I'm going to Peter's house, I am going to need some help. I don't think I can see well enough to find my way there alone.”
MaryAnne raised her hand. “I'll go with her,” she offered. Lizzy sighed. “Okay, I'll get done what I can before you come back.” Together they helped Constance navigate the clutter to the door, and then MaryAnne left with their unexpected visitor.
“Wait!” Lizzy opened the front door and called after the two. Constance and MaryAnne turned back towards the house. “Constance, did you have a diamond bracelet last night?”
Constance looked down at her wrist in panic. “Yes!”
Lizzy turned around, ran to the kitchen table and took the bracelet, then ran it to Constance. “Is this yours?” she asked, panting heavily.
“Yes, that's my bracelet! Trevor would never forgive me if I lost it! Thank you!” Lizzy handed the jewelry over to their new acquaintance and went back to the house.
While they were walking, MaryAnne asked Constance a couple of questions. “What was the reason for the party at Peter's house?” she asked.
“Oh, Peter is my brother's roommate. Bob just got a new job in Alaska.”
MaryAnne stopped in her tracks. “Bob? As in Robert? As in tall, dark, and gay?”
Constance stared at MaryAnne. “You know him?” she asked, trying to keep her voice calm.
“Yes! Our party was for Robert and his new job in Alaska! I'll bet that's how you ended up at our house, you came with Robert!”
“Yes, that sounds reasonable. Wow, what a small world!”
"Oh, and you must be Connie he's always talking about. Duh!" added MaryAnne.
They reached Peter and Robert's house, where MaryAnne left Constance. She hurried home as fast as she could to help Lizzy finish cleaning up.
When MaryAnne arrived at the house, most of the mess was gone and there was a pile of items on the kitchen table. Lizzy pointed to the 12 large garbage bags near the back door. “Can you toss those out back while I finish mopping the kitchen floor?” she asked her roommate. MaryAnne nodded, then got to work removing the bags. Once she was done, Lizzy motioned for her to sit at the kitchen table.
“These are the things I found while you were out: $500 in odd bills, 2 rings, one of them with diamonds, one with rubies, a phone, an empty wallet, a pair of black high heel shoes sized 11, a pair of sneakers sized 12 wide, and a box of Twinkies yet unopened.” MaryAnne stared at her roommate in surprise.
“How are we going to return these things?” she asked.
“Social Media. I'll post that we found some things and see who inquires. They will have to tell us what they lost before we hand anything over.
"Also, I returned the purse to its rightful owner. Meg called me just after you left and asked if I had seen it. One less item to relocate."
“Right. I'm glad that got returned in a timely manner.” MaryAnne paused. “Guess what I found out?”
Lizzy shook her head. “I have no idea. Just spill.”
“Well, I found out that Constance is Robert's sister and that the party she started at was at Robert's house, being thrown by his roommate Pete.”
“That two-timing, son of a ...” Lizzy interrupted. “This means some of this stuff may have been left behind by people we don't even know!”
“And, it may also mean Our friends aren't the slobs, it may have been Robert's friends who trashed this place,” added MaryAnne.
“Well, that's a relief! I really didn't think the people we hang out with were this messy.”
MaryAnne glanced at the clock on the wall. It now showed 5:00 pm as the time. “Lizzy, have you had anything to eat yet today?”
Lizzy shook her head. “Let's order pizza. I don't feel like doing anything else that requires work.”
“Agreed! BTW, what do you think was the most unusual thing that was found during our clean-up?”
Lizzy laughed. “I think you won the contest, you found Constance!”