Yes, mystery lovers, read on! Our mystery concludes with this, the final episode…
In February we introduced our mystery. You met our narrator, young Brooklyn-based “Quilt Detective,” Mitzi McDruben, along with her faithful receptionist Ruthie, and able assistant, Raoul.
Mitzi took on her first quilt case: The Mystery of the Missing Quilt. Her mission? To find a missing quilt. Her time frame? Exactly eleven days. Her problem? No one knows what the missing quilt looks like!
In this final episode, Mitzi, Raoul and Ruthie pull the case together and recover the quilt.
Following this episode, take the Secret Passage to receive your instructions for putting your blocks together in EQ5 or EQ6 to form a secret “Sky Lights” mystery quilt.
Our “Sky Lights” quilt was designed especially for EQ learning fun by Fran Iverson Gonzalez from Edmond, Oklahoma.
Our mystery series was written by Megan McMorris, a Free-lance author from Portland, Oregon.
And now, grab your gumshoes. Tilt back your chair. But keep one eye on the door as you get ready to solve…The Mystery of the Missing Quilt!
Episode Twelve: Nabbing the Quilt Snatcher
“Hellooooo, can you hear me? Testing, one, two.”
“Loud and clear, Mitzi!” Raoul shouted from his office to mine.
I was testing out a new wiring device for Raoul to wear for today’s mission. I wanted as many people as possible with me today, because I had a feeling something was going down. This was the last of the suspects, and we’d just been told that Suspect Number 11, Gertie Greenbaum, was holding a business meeting at her “cabin.”
After much persuasion on my part (and a few white lies about important business I needed to conduct pronto with Ms. Greenbaum), I managed to extract the location of the aforementioned “cabin” from her daughter.
When you’ve been in the business as long as I have, you learn to go by instinct. Today my instinct was telling me to get to Ms. Greenbaum ASAP.
Something big was happening, and we needed to be there.
Of course, my instinct wasn’t always so precise: I’d flubbed a few cases in my time by being too overeager. But I’d also learned that the price you pay for ignoring your instinct can be much higher. Which is how we found ourselves barreling over the Williamsburg Bridge in Raoul’s car en route to Ms. Greenbaum’s “cabin.”
In order to qualify as a cabin, I think a structure must have the requisite lake or at least a few tall trees nearby, but since Greenbaum’s daughter insisted on calling it a cabin, a cabin it would be. All I knew about Gertie was that she worked in the Wall Street area, and that’s all I needed to know, since the trader/broker/dealer/buyer/exchanger lingo all sounded the same to me.
One thing was clear: The woman dealt with money.
She also chose a strange location for a meeting area. We stopped to park a few blocks away from our destination, cautiously looking around us as we stepped out into the deserted street. We hadn’t said much to each other on the way over. Instead of joking around like I usually did in order to calm my nerves, I was concentrating on the task ahead. The case was coming to a close, and I was all business.
Even in daylight, there’s something about a desolate warehouse district that makes your senses work overtime, looking for sudden movements and sounds. It was an appropriate location for the way I was feeling, I thought as we started down the street to Greenbaum’s “cabin.”
I gave Raoul and Ruthie final instructions as we neared our destination: Ruthie would stand guard outside for backup, and Raoul would come in with me. In case we split up, both Raoul and I were wired for sound so Ruthie could hear what was going on with both of us. The thing that was trying my nerves the most was that we didn’t have a solid reason for visiting Ms. Greenbaum.
Instead of going under the guise of potential tenant, restaurant patron, bike store customer, or dog walker trainee like we had with some other suspects, I’d decided to use the direct approach with the last suspect, going on my hunch that we’d get something that way. We were going to have to wing it, I thought, as I tried the door.
It was locked — but not for long.
One of Raoul’s many talents was lock-picking, and this one was a cinch for him. (I didn’t ask how he learned it, as long as it came in handy for such occasions.) With a final nod to Ruthie, Raoul and I entered the premises.
Getting busted for trespassing was a small price to pay for catching the quilt thief, I thought.
The dark hallway led to a long (hopefully not creaky) staircase. As we started towards it, I could hear voices. We stopped to listen before heading up the stairs, but we couldn’t make out what they were saying. As we got to the top of the stairs, I heard a familiar voice.
“Oy gewalt, do you think we’ll really get away with this?”
It was the unmistakable voice of Rozzie Rothberg… the zany realtor. What was she doing there?
We crouched at the top of the stairs, listening to the now-distinct voices that were right around the corner. If anyone were to join or leave the meeting, they would run right into us. There was no room to hide.
“Calm down, Roz,” another voice said. “What you need to realize is that this is the perfect time to move. Don’t you see? The publicity has blown over from the quilt’s disappearance, and no one is going to suspect us. We’re the concerned board members, remember? Meanwhile, we’re getting rich on this scheme. You know what quilt collectors are willing to pay for quilts these days?”
The voice was unmistakably Eli Endberg – Suspect Number 10. The plot was thickening.
“He’s right, you know. All we have to do is keep pretending we’re oh-so serious about our quilting and oh, isn’t it such a shame that this precious quilt is gone. Honestly, you act like we’ve never done this before or something. Need I remind you that quilt-snatching is nothing new for us?”
My hand gripped Raoul’s shoulder. It was the voice of the Bob Balducci, the bike-shop owner and Suspect Number 3.
Were they all in on this?
It was time to move. I pulled my gun out of my handbag — it was filled with blanks, but it was always good for effect. I’m not a big fan of guns, but I must admit they do come in handy for speedy confessions.
“Good afternoon, board members. I do hope I’m not disturbing you.”
I walked around the corner to see the entire board sitting around a table. Spread out on the table in front of them was none other than the mystery quilt.
“You may know me as Maggie, the exterminator customer,” I nodded to Donnie Delgado.
“Or as Maggie, the potential tenant,” I nodded to Eli Endberg .
“And you must be Gertie Greenbaum,” I nodded to the shocked woman at the head of the table. “But I must admit, I’ve been less than honest with you.
My real name is Mitzi McDruben, private investigator.
And I believe you have something of interest to my client, the Trade Winds Museum.”
“Oh vey! I knew it was too good to be true,” said Rozzie Rothberg. “We’re doomed now — what a pickle we’re in!”
“SHUT UP!” Eli exploded as Rozzie started mumbling to herself. “Get a grip on yourself! A private investigator, huh? Well, what are you going to do now? You can’t prove anything, you know!!”
I was rather enjoying myself, to be honest. There’s something refreshing about confessing that you’ve tricked your suspects into giving you information.
After a moment of shock, Rita Rowland, the magazine human resources director who’d snubbed me on my “interview,” stood up and grabbed the quilt, pulling a gun out of her bag at the same time. “Don’t move, or the quilt gets it!” she screamed, pointing her gun at the quilt, sidling across the room toward the stairs.
A murmuring among the group erupted. “Where do you think you’re going with that?” demanded Ellie Englewood, the owner of Quilter’s Korner store and Suspect Number 5, who had sat during jury duty with me.
Rowland pointed the gun at Englewood then. “Don’t YOU worry about it!” she yelled.
The group was clearly falling apart before my eyes, which can be a bonus or a disaster, depending on what happens.
“What are you doing carrying a gun around?” asked Balducci.
“Well if you go with it, I’m going too,” piped up Margaret McDougal.
My heart sank — I’d thought Margaret and I really bonded at her granddaughter’s bridal shower. I couldn’t believe she was in on this too!
“No one is going anywhere!!!” Rowland yelled.
“This was my idea, so I will decide what we’ll do!” Rita Rowland looked up at me then, realizing that she’d just pegged herself as the head of the operation. She kept the gun pointed at the quilt. “Now, I’m going to move slowly out of the building and I don’t want any trouble. That way no one, or nothing, gets hurt.”
The group watched, stunned, as Rowland started backing out of the room and down the stairs, dragging the quilt along with her. Little did she know that Raoul was right behind her, though. He tripped her, stepping on her wrist so she had to release the gun, as he gently scooped up the quilt, cradling it with his left arm.
The door burst open and we heard footsteps. “Police!” Two officers started up the stairs with Ruthie close behind. She’d followed our plan by calling for the police once we had solid evidence that we had the quilt-snatchers.
It was over before I knew it. The officers ended up having to call for backup to accommodate all 11 of the suspects, and they were all cuffed and taken to the station.
I later learned that the board members were also being charged with the disappearance of several other quilts which had slipped through the cracks in the past few years. Apparently, the board had made a tidy sum in their snatch-and-sell operation. They’d never been suspected before because of their status at the Trade Winds Museum. After all — who would suspect a member of the board?
When we received the hefty check for our services later that week, Raoul, Ruthie and I celebrated. I knew just the right place to go: Top of the Sixes, the restaurant high up in the New York skyline where the case had started with waiter Garret Green. Mr. Green wasn’t working that evening — instead, he was probably spending the evening meeting with his lawyer.
I didn’t know what the fate of the board members would be, except that they obviously weren’t members of the board anymore. But that was all behind me, and the Mystery Quilt was now safely displayed at the TRADE WINDS TREASURES SHOW.
I had more important concerns on my mind. Namely, what to put in my ad for a new receptionist.
I announced to Ruthie that night that I was promoting her to Investigator-in-Training, to serve as Raoul’s shadow and assistant as she learned the ropes. The kid had worked hard, and I saw potential in her.
“Really?” Ruthie beamed as I made my announcement.
“Sure kid, you’re a good egg,” I raised my champagne glass to her.
“Oh boy, this means that she’ll think she can call you kid from now on,” Raoul rolled his eyes, laughing as he reached for his glass.
“As for you, kid, what do you think about Junior Investigator?” I said to Raoul.
What was it about good news that made people not want to believe it?
“Yeah, I’m thinking of expanding the business. You know, hire a new receptionist to take Ruthie’s job, and we could both take our own cases. On one condition, though: I still get to call you kid. What do you think?”
“I’m there!!!” He raised his glass to me, grinning. “I’m so pysched — thanks!”
“So what’s our next case, Mitzi?” asked Ruthie.
“That’s the beauty of it, kid. You never know in this business. Your next suspect may be right around the corner.”
As if on cue, Garret Green’s coworker came up to take our order, oblivious to the reason for our celebration.
“By the way, Mitzi, what was the last clue, anyway? Did we ever find out?”
“Yeah, turns out Ms. Greenbaum has such a love for her ‘cabin,’ which is where the board members have been meeting secretly, that she chose her block as Windows in the Cabin.”
“This is another thing you’ll find, Ruthie,” I continued. “Sometimes cases start and end in the same place. This case started and ended with windows,” I gestured to the huge windows that Garret Green had gazed out of so lovingly when I visited him.
“Hey, you became quite the quilt expert, Raoul,” I teased him. “You know, I have to admit, I wasn’t so hot on the whole quilt thing before this case, but it’s not so bad.”
“Yeah, they’re pretty cool. I got kinda into those blocks. I’m gonna miss ‘em, you know?”
“You can always start your own quilt!” I suggested.
“Let’s not push it!” he held out his hands.
“Yeah, I guess you’re not the quilting type. But then again, you never know who might be a quilter, do you now? This whole city is crawling with closet quilters!”
As the waiter came around to refill our champagne glasses, we looked out onto the city below, three proud investigators recapping our case and wondering where our next case would lead us.