My dinner party was not supposed to become a crime scene, but it did. There was a sneaky thief among us, and we needed to find the culprit by the end of the night.
Even though the party was supposed to be fancy as far as having a four-course meal, I had let the guests know that they could feel free to dress casually. After all, I had a new rescue dog named Angel, and she had a habit of jumping on people to greet them. I wouldn’t want anyone’s expensive clothing to get ruined.
When my friend Christa arrived with her boyfriend Chad, Angel greeted them with her tail wagging. Angel reached down to pet Angel’s head. Angel got so excited that she started to run around in circles. Chad and Christa laughed, so I was happy to discover that they were dog people.
Even though Christa was in jeans and a casual top, I noticed a stunning white-gold bracelet she was wearing.
“I love your bracelet,” I said.
“Thanks, Christ said. “It’s white gold. Chad gave it to me.”
I didn’t know Chad too well, but he seemed like a decent fellow. He was sitting down now, and Angel had planted herself at his feet.
Christa leaned in close and whispered to me, “Chad said he is going to propose soon. He just wants to get a ring before he does.”
I whispered back, “Well, congratulations!”
My next-door neighbor Mrs. Firestone arrived next. I knew she was a lonely widow, so I tried to include her in activities as often as I could. When Angel tried to greet Mrs. Firestone, she sniffed and said, “I am not accustomed to animal greetings.”
Mrs. Firestone had always been formal in nature. She had shown up to dinner in a Chanel suit, and she was wearing a diamond necklace, diamond stud earrings, and a diamond ring that was clearly more than one carat. I guess her husband’s death had left her well off. Before his death, she never draped herself in diamonds.
Finally, my girlfriends Amy and Lindsey came in. They had been with me when I got Angel from the shelter.
Angel seemed to remember them both as she ran up to greet them. Amy crouched down, took Angel’s face in her hands and said, “Hello, Angel. So glad to see you again.”
I know some people think this isn’t possible, but I think I saw Angel smile.
Lindsey then said, “Ah, Angel, good to see you again.” Angel turned her head toward Lindsey. Angle’s tongue and tail were both wagging with delight.
I brought out my cheese course of brie and oyster crackers. Mrs. Firestone asked, “Where is the restroom? I must wash my hands before partaking.”
I directed Mrs. Firestone toward the restroom.
Mrs. Firestone returned from the restroom and stood next to Christa. We all were enjoying brie and oyster crackers, when suddenly Christa yelled out, “Oh, dear! My bracelet is gone!”
“It must have fallen off,” I said. “Did you just now notice it?”
“Yes,” said Christa. “I felt a slight tug on my arm, and when I looked down, the bracelet was gone.”
I noticed Mrs. Firestone subtly move a few inches further away from Christa.
“I’m sure we will find it before the night is through,” I said. I thought the missing bracelet must be an accident. Of course, we would find it, and my dinner party would not be ruined.
Still, at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel a suspicious about Mrs. Firestone. She seemed to really enjoy jewelry these days, and how much did I really know about her anyway? Her husband had died suddenly, allegedly from a heart attack. Could Mrs. Firestone have been somehow been involved? Was she a thief and a murderer? What kind of dinner party was this turning into?
I didn’t like where my mind was going, so I snapped back to matters at hand.
“Oh, dear,” Mrs. Firestone said. “I left my ring in the restroom. I took it off when I washed my hands. I’ll be right back.”
Mrs. Firestone’s return to the restroom was punctuated by a loud yell,.
“Where is my ring?” Mrs. Firestone called out. “It’s gone!”
Hmmm, I thought to myself, so much for thinking Mrs. Firestone was a thief. It had to be someone else.
I really didn’t know Chad all that well, and Christa had said he wanted to get a ring for a proposal. Could he have taken the ring? But, why would he have taken Christa’s bracelet, too? Things weren’t adding up.
I went to the restroom to help Mrs. Firestone look for her ring.
“Where did you place it?” I asked.
“On the corner of the sink,” Mrs. Firestone said.
“Maybe it fell into the sink?” I said. “I’ll get a plumber out here first thing tomorrow.”
Mrs. Firestone said, “Oh, I’m too upset to eat now.” Still, I admired her moxie when she stayed at the dinner party.
I didn’t know what else to do but to continue the dinner. The appetizer course brought the next discovery of a missing item. We were all seated at the dining room table to eat crab legs. As people began to eat, Lindsey said, “I’m so sorry, but my place setting is missing a fork.”
I knew I had gone over the place settings meticulously, and there had been a specialty fork on the table placed by each plate. In light of everything else that happened, however, I didn’t want to cause any undue fear, so I didn’t say anything and just got Lindsey another fork.
Besides, who would take a specialty fork?
As I returned with the fork, Amy said, “I brought a small hostess gift for you. I forgot about it until now.”
As Amy stood to reach into her pocket, I said, “You didn’t have to do that. You are always welcome here, and no gifts are ever necessary.”
Amy then said, “The gift is gone!”
“That’s okay,” I said.
“I know for a fact I brought it with me,” Amy said. “What is going on here? Did you plan this dinner party as a crime scene mystery night without telling us?”
“I did not,” I said. I was as perplexed as everyone else.
Amy said, “Well, it was just a little pair of earrings. Let’s enjoy dinner and not worry about it.”
The salad course came next. Chad wanted to show us all a photo of himself posed in front of Stonehenge during his recent trip to England, but when he reached into his pocket for his cell phone, he found nothing.
“My cell phone is missing!” Chad said.
“Are you sure you brought it with you tonight?” I asked. The only decent explanation was that he had left it at home. I didn’t care for the implications otherwise.
Christa chimed in, “Yes, I know he had his cell phone with him because he got a call as he was driving. He had me answer his phone, and it was his sister. Chad told me to tell her that he was driving, but he would call her back later.”
“I guess you just misplaced the phone here somewhere,” I said to Chad. All my excuses were starting to sound lame.
What was going on? Was there a thief among us? There had to be; that was the only explanation that made sense. But who was doing this and why? The dinner party was supposed to be progressive courses, but at this point, it was just getting progressively worse.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. I had thought I could trust everyone here, and we would enjoy a wonderful dinner. Instead, everyone had become a victim of theft.
Crista said, “Chad, let me call your cell phone to see if we can find it.”
We all sat in silence, then we heard the chiming ringtone of Chad’s phone. We followed the sound into my bedroom. There, in a corner, Angel was holed up in a corner, sitting comfortably. Directly in front of Angel was Christa’s bracelet, Mrs. Firestone’s diamond ring, Lindsey’s fork, Amy’s hostess gift bag, and Chad’s cell phone.
“Your dogs is a thief!” Mrs. Firestone said.
Fortunately, Angel did not offer any resistance when I picked up the items and returned them to the rightful owners.
“I’m going to get Angel some training so she knows not to take things that do not belong to her,” I said.
For the first time, Mrs. Firestone responded outside her usual zone of staid propriety. She said, “I guess Angel might need to be called Devil instead.” Her smile gave away that she wasn’t serious, and a full grin came across her face when everyone laughed.
Maybe, if the somber Mrs. Firestone was starting to have fun, my dinner party could be declared a success after all!