The Pursuit of the Purse


“A Cleveland Court resident told police her purse was stolen while visiting a friend Thursday morning.”
Star Beacon November 19, 2011

“Chief, we’ve got another one.”
“Another what, Hennigan?”
“Stolen purse. A Mrs. Elsie Greenwood called and said her purse was stolen.”
“Hennigan, it’s the 21st Century and this is a big city. Purses are stolen all the time.”
“I know. I wasn’t born yesterday. Jeez, I’ve been on the force for fifteen years,” Hennigan said. “But this one’s different.”
“You said, ‘We’ve got another one.’ Those were you’re exact words. Right?”
“Yeah.”
“Well, if we’ve had other ones, how can this one be different? Tell me that, Hennigan.”
“OK, OK. Let’s just say this purse was stolen in a unique manner.”
“Get with the program, Hennigan. My dictionary says unique means ‘existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics.’ This purse snatching can’t be unique if there were others like it.”
“Chief, if you would bother read all the definitions, you’d find that unique can also mean ‘not typical; unusual.’ And this case is certainly unusual.”
“Why didn’t you say that in the first place? All you people playing fast and loose with the language are putting the nation and all of Western Civilization at risk.”
“Sorry, Chief.”
“Yes, you’re one sorry cop, Hennigan. So, what is so unusual about Elsie Greenwood and her stolen purse?”
“It seems Mrs. Greenwood’s purse was making a social call when it was filched.”
“What?”
“The purse had gone next door and was having an intimate moment with Mary Erbell’s purse when it was stolen.”
“And Ms. Erbell is in custody, I hope.”
“No, she isn’t, Chief.”
“Why not, Hennigan? I bet this Ms. Erbell broad stole her neighbor’s purse. Lock her up.”
“We were going to, but Mrs. Greenwood says her purse was on the kitchen table when she ate breakfast. She knows this because she made a shopping list while she ate and then put in her purse.”
“So when did the purse go missing?”
“Mrs. Greenwood said she did the dishes right after breakfast, and that’s when her purse went next door.”
“The purse just got up and went next door?”
“That’s right, Chief. They say the new purses have that capability.”
“And you believe them?”
“This is the third report we’ve received in the last month of a purse being stolen while visiting a friend. Remember, I thought it was unique, but you corrected me. This has happened a few times before, so it is unusual. Highly unusual, I would think.”
“And I think you are uniquely credulous, Hennigan. While Greenwood was doing her dishes, Erbell sneaked in and swiped the purse. That’s what happened.”
“Chief, Greenwood said her purse disappeared sometime between nine and nine-fifteen that morning. According to three people in the neighborhood, Erbell was outside at that time, yelling at a woman named Mitzy, whose beagle left a calling card on her tree lawn. Even Greenwood says she heard the altercation. Besides, Ms. Erbell is a large, clumsy woman. If she was creeping around in your kitchen as you did the dishes, you’d notice.”
“So, how do we know Greenwood’s purse was visiting Erbell’s?”
“Erbell says she saw them on the stand in the hallway.  Apparently their straps were entwined and they were doing the pocketbook equivalent of making eyes at each other.”
“Hennigan!”
“ No, I’m serious, Chief. All these Smart Phones and other gadgets women put into their purses, make it possible for the purses to do things they’ve never done before. Some purses even develop emotions. Apparently, the Greenwood and Erbell purses were having an affair.”
“Says who?”
“Greenwood and Erbell.”
“I think you’re all crazy. But if it wasn’t Erbell, are there other suspects?”
“Well, a woman called Candy Barr lives down the street, and her purse was involved with Erbell’s for a few months. From what we’ve determined, Candy’s purse is no sweetie. In fact, it became insanely jealous when it discovered the Greenwood purse was seeing Erbell’s.”
“So the Greenwood purse had the Erbell purse in its clutches, eh?”
“That’s right, Chief. And we figure Barr’s purse snapped.”
“Now what?”
“We’re going to get a search warrant for the Barr place. If we find Greenwood’s purse, Candy will have to shoulder the blame, and once we have the case in hand, we can bag her for receiving stolen goods.”
“Good job, Hennigan. And for you, that is unique”

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