Mystery Shave

One recent morning I was faced with a mystery.

There was no chalk outline, and the police did not festoon the area with yellow tape, but it was still deeply perplexing.

(Not that this is saying much; it doesn’t take much to perplex me.)

In order to save time (and hot water) in the shower, I habitually shave in the car. Driving the quiet back streets in the early hours of the morning, I use a little battery-powered portable shaver given to me by Kathy’s brother (thanks, Phil!) to assist me in my grooming. On this fateful day, I picked up my portable shaver (I keep it in the console of my little silver car) and turned it on, but nothing happened.

Pocket razor

“Curses!” I grumbled. Sometimes the AA rechargeable batteries I use, get cold in the car, but usually they have some life in them — enough at least to power the blades so that they grip onto my little chin hairs and yank them painfully instead of cutting them. I cast my memory back — no, the last time I had shaved, the batteries were fine.

Something felt wrong about the shaver — I shook it hopefully and turned it on and off a couple of times, still nothing. I swiveled open the base of the shaver to look at the batteries, thinking perhaps some dust was obstructing the battery terminals, but found instead an empty hole: the batteries were gone.

Shaver sans batteries
A shaver without batteries is a sad, lonely sight.

This was very strange. I mostly use my little silver car to commute, and Kathy rarely drives it. There’s nobody else of driving age in the house, and nobody else shaves (at least not with my little shaver). Even if Kathy had driven my car to church or some other event, what could possibly have happened to my batteries?

Miss Innocence
Sarah looks innocent, but could she be the culprit?

At work, I shared my puzzlement. Soon, intrigued by this mystery, the hypotheses began to fly, as my cow-orkers tried their hands as amateur sleuths.

“OK, here’s how it played out,” suggested my boss. “Some local car thief was looking for valuables or planning to steal a car from the parking lot where you leave your car. He broke into your car, but just then, his Walkman™ ran out of batteries. As everyone knows, car thieves need heavy metal music to encourage them to steal, so he took your batteries as replacement for his own. He didn’t leave his dead batteries in your car for fear that there would be fingerprints on them. Just as he was getting ready to steal your car, something scared him off, and he left.”

Not an actual head-banging car thief.

I tactfully suggested that my boss not quit his day job to become a detective. Another cow-orker piped up with a competing theory:

“With gas prices what they are, these days, your car’s gas tank was targeted for theft. As a professional gas thief, the guy who chose your car has a battery-powered siphon, which chose that moment to run out of power. He noticed the shaver in your console (he’d already broken into your car to open the gas cap cover) and so he took your batteries to run his siphon.”

It does seem as though I fill up my car a lot more often than I would like, and with gas prices at an all-time high, it doesn’t seem unlikely that gas thieves (even savvy ones with battery-powered siphons) would abound. Still, I’ve never actually seen a battery-powered siphon — the one I have in my garage (still in its original packaging, for private use only, of course) is powered by a little bulb that you squeeze (or so I’ve been told). I cast about for another theory. Fortunately, my cow-orkers are an imaginative lot, and work was dull that day:

Battery-powered gas siphon
Turns out there is a battery-powered gas siphon.

“One of your neighbors has a daughter who lost her kitten. Out at night searching for it, he ran out of batteries in the flashlight he was using. Noticing your car was unlocked, he helped himself to your shaver batteries, intending to return them the next day, with an explanation. A few minutes later, he found the kitten in the tree in front of your house, and in the excitement and tearful reunion, forgot to return your batteries. Now that several days have passed, he is too embarrassed to give them back.”

Cute kitten
Not my neighbor’s actual kitten.

Sometimes I wonder about my colleagues. Kittens, gas and car thieves, what will they think of next? I shouldn’t have wondered, as another team member chimed in:

“You people have got it all wrong. What happened, is that special operatives were conducting a sweep for terrorists in Tim’s neighborhood, when suddenly they spotted a ‘person of interest’ to their investigation. As luck would have it, the agent responsible to direct the operation experienced an equipment malfunction (his night-vision goggles ran out of batteries). Assessing the situation and keeping a level head in this emergency, he cannibalized Tim’s shaver for batteries in pursuit of this vital mission, as National Security hung in the balance. Neutralizing the suspect, the operative determined that Tim would rather lose two AA rechargeable batteries than be detained indefinitely as a result of knowing too much about this covert operation.”

Night Vision Goggles
Not an actual covert operative.

Some of my peers watch a little too much TV, I think.

When I got home, I rounded up the usual suspects, and opened a Court of Inquiry.

Crafty David
This boy looks guilty, don’t you think?

“OK, come clean. Which of you stole the batteries in the shaver I keep in my little silver car?”

“Not me,” chimed several voices, even as my wife and oldest daughter exchanged meaningful glances. The focus of my investigation narrowed.

“What do you think happened to them?” my wife sweetly countered, innocence personified. Sometimes I think she would make a good defense attorney.

Rachel, trying to sell tomatoes
Or could it possibly be … Rachel?

I shared a few of the wilder hypotheses that my cow-orkers had invented, while my wife and daughter giggled maniacally.

If you have a theory as to why my batteries were missing, please leave a comment, outlining your theory. I’ll send a valuable prize, worth hundreds of Colombian Pesos (COP), to the person who submits the best guess (either closest to reality or most imaginative, whichever seems right to me).


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10 thoughts on “Mystery Shave”

  1. Kathy sounds just a bit TOO innocent. Maybe the red van was almost out of gas but your car had a full tank (the whole gas theory) so she did borrow your car for some errands. Then her little portable coffee maker (surely there is such a thing?) died so she took the batteries to get that much needed java jolt while out from under household scrutiny. Or maybe she and oldest daughter think it’s dangerous for you to shave while driving and wanted to teach you a lesson the subtle way. (Don’t worry; I won’t quit my day job to try to become a detective either.)

  2. Tim, was cow-orkers intentional or just a typo? After a few times I started to think, that Tim, he was being mischeivous and making a pun on how his co-workers are sometimes like cows.

  3. Just the first two lines told me I was in for one of my favorite Tim posts. My favorite line, “Curses!” I grumbled.

    A circus came to town and one of the “clowns” was trying to steal batteries anywhere he could find them to have a stock for his light-up nose. He would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for some meddling kids and a dog in a 70′s van.

  4. I would bet money on Elves. Little Battery Elves stole your batteries. It happens to me on numerous occasions. I flick the switch of my trusty camera/flashlight/MP3-player (insert piece of cool gadgetry here), and nothing happens. I inspect the situation further, and I discover, to my chagrin, that the Battery Elves have struck again. Their fingerprints are too small to detect, and they are able to get into or onto any drawer or shelf you care to name. Masters of stealth and cunning, these Battery Elves prefer to use the cover of darkness or a disregarded moving bush to sneak up to their prey and quietly make off with the batteries. They chuckle gleefully to themselves, too, I have no doubt.

    So there’s my theory. Battery Elves.

  5. Clearly, the digital camera that your lovely and talented wife adores so much (and which provides so much added interest to the Duckabush blog) ran out of juice.

    Kitchen drawer? empty of new batteries.

    Top shelf in the pantry? just a bunch of paper plates and slightly used birthday cake candles.

    Tim’s sock drawer? Lot’s of Home Depot receipts and other miscellaneous scraps of paper (plus socks), but no batteries.

    Let’s raid the little silver car!!! It will surely provide at least two batteries that we can use to replenish the critical energy supply required to snap pictures of Joshua, Rachel, Daniel, Sarah, (who am I missing?).

    That’s my guess, and I’m sticking to it!!!

  6. Oooh, sounds like Chris is onto something, and sounds like Chris knows this family well! I’ll vote with Chris. (Those Home Depot receipts ARE all within the budget, of course, right, Tim?)

  7. Okay, Here’s my theory, their is a new kind of termite going around and they like to steal useful things, such as batteries. (They are quite a Mischievous little bunch) They are very skilled at opening up things and getting away without leaving evidence of their being there. So if you loose any more batteries you will know that “Chief Termite and his gang” have struck again!

  8. I know what really happened!! Some hit men were sent (by jealous blog writers) to take out your computer; unfortunately the hit men weren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, so when they found your car unlocked and the house locked they decided to just take the batteries instead!! I can tell you one thing, those were some pretty unhappy blog writers! Lol!!!

  9. ha! It was Kathy, in the silver car with the batteries!!! She was a little too sweet and innocent in her line of questioning…. I do know when I am desperate for batteries (they never seem to last in our house) I will take them from ANYTHING!! I’ve been know to go in Greg’s briefcase looking for batteries. Oops! he didn’t need those batteries for his work camera – his darling little son needed them more – for his electronic boxing man! ha! And he couldn’t wait til mom went to the store so mom scoured the house for all available batteries – and found some in dad’s briefcase!

    Thus, it WAS Kathy, in the car, with the batteries!

  10. At first this mystery seemed baffling to me, however that was BEFORE my recent 100mg dose of prednisone kicked in. In my current drug induced state of sleep deprivation, the answer has suddenly become clear to me. Here’s how it happened…

    In the gray, pluvious light of a Washington dawn, a stealthy figure emerges. His hunched form is barely visible through the mizzled morning air, but it is clear he clutches something tightly to his chest — a canister of some kind. And something more menacing… The smooth edge of a blade glints ominously in the caliginous shadows as he crosses beneath the solitary street light with Machiavellian purposefulness.

    He pauses, straightening slightly, and casts a cagey glance toward the house. All is still dark. The family still slumbering, blissfully nescient of the sinister shadow lurking near the little silver car.

    The vapor-laden air mutes the tinny jangle of something metallic. Then the pop of a lock and the muffled creak of a door shatters the quiescent dawn. The figure glides with calculated stealth into the driver’s seat of the tiny car, still grasping the mysterious canister. He eases back into the seat, the lamplight momentarily illuminating his features and merging with the anticipatory light in his eyes.

    He twists the canister open and with a menacing laugh, plunges the blade deep, then pulls it swiftly up into the light, stained with something thick, dark. His lips twist into a grin and then he slurps the blade clean, while rapturously muttering, “Oh-ho-ho! Nutella… Yummmmmmmmm!”

    His euphoria is fleeting though, as a dripping gob of the insidious goo lands with a decided plop on his terry-cloth ensconced lap. “Curses!” He mumbles, and he swipes wildly at the evidence with a terry-cloth clad sleeve. Then he sees all his meticulously laid plans begin to crumble as the canister hurdles through the chill morning air, bouncing along the car floorboards, leaving an all-too-conspicuous trail of brown goo across his beloved pink bunny slippers. “Curses!” He grumbles yet again, and leans forward to retrieve the jar now rolling crazily across the floor, smashing his elbow with a horrific thunk into the cramped little car’s console.

    The console obligingly pops open and out tumbles something small and black. It lands with a crack and a jolting “BZZZZZZZT!!!!” The shady intruder yelps in terror, smacking his noggin on the steering wheel as more brown goo slides down an absently clutched butter knife onto unsuspecting fingers. “Curses! Curses! Curses!” the mystery man howls in stultified fury.

    He scrabbles maddeningly through the brown gook, finding and replacing the canister’s sticky lid. Then he cautiously picks up the little black box between sticky thumb and sticky forefinger by its shiny silver loop. With a look of horror, he discovers the cover to the battery compartment to be missing. He has to find it! The consequences of discovery are unthinkable! This is NOT in the budget! NOT IN THE BUDGET FOR THE LOVE OF PETE!! He leans his weary head back, eyelids fluttering in panic as he takes a long shaky breath.

    He shifts himself cautiously forward once more and begins methodically searching the floorboards for the battery cover. Aha! Success at last! But then he sees them — the dim glimmer of double A’s, hopelessly slathered in the sludgy brown glop beyond any hope of redemption. Panic once again coils cold in his heart and shoots painfully through his veins. “Curses!” He yelps. Those aren’t in the budget either!!

    He tries vainly to wipe them free, but the stuff is hopeless! He shakes his head in anguished despair — then freezes in thought. The glimmer of a plan flickers slowly to life. A smile curls faintly at the edges of his lips…

    The small silver car is suddenly filled with a flurry of fluttering terry-cloth as a horde of viscid, umber-hued blobs are frantically mopped out of evidence. The little black box is painstakingly wiped down, the battery cover clicked securely back in place (sans double A’s) and returned to the console with precision. However, the wily intruder fails to notice a tell-tale smudge of brown inside the black box’s silver loop — smelling faintly of hazelnuts.

    A soft click of the door is heard as the dark, shadowy figure darts swiftly across the sodden lawn once more, and into the still-dark house. And moments later, the sound of a washing machine can be heard as it begins its solitary, clandestine task of destroying the last of the evidence. The last of the evidence, save the solitary, undetected smudgy brown fingerprint, waiting patiently in the console of the little silver car — with a tale to tell.

    So. What happened to those missing batteries? I think we know, Tim. Oh, I think we know!

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