Yes, mystery lovers, read on! Our mystery unfolds all during the year in a continuing series posted monthly here on our Home Page…
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 month’s episode, Mitzi gets her foot into the offices of Contra Nash executive, and museum board member, Rita Rowland.
Read a new mystery episode each month as Mitzi searches for clues leading to the missing quilt.
Following each episode, take the Secret Passage to receive your instructions for making or finding eleven different quilt blocks in EQ5 or EQ6.
During the final episode, Mitzi solves the mystery, and YOU discover how to put 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 who lives in 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 Nine: Running with the Dogs
I was so absorbed in my book (a mystery, if you must know) that I almost didn’t see the suspect walk by. Instead, I felt a nose sniffing my knee as I sat on a bench on 5th Avenue on the Upper East Side, and looked up to find Dave Dunbar, Suspect Number Eight, smiling down at me.
“Okay, let’s get going, Mattie,” he pulled gently on the Dalmatian puppy as it strained against its leash to get more sniffing in. “Sorry about that, she’s young.” He laughed as Mattie put her head on my outstretched hand.
“No problem, she’s a cutie,” I patted Mattie’s head. I’m not one for dogs myself. (Between you and me, a dog requires more responsibility than I can handle. I’m a cat kind of person.) But Mattie was definitely a charmer, so I couldn’t resist giving her a scratch.
“Yeah, I’ve only had her for a month,” he affectionately pulled on her leash again. “I’m a dog walker, and I bring her along on my walks because I don’t want to leave her alone. She loves it because she gets to hang out with friends all day.”
“Say, you didn’t see a guy hanging out across the street, did you?,” he continued. “I’m afraid I’m running a little late — I’m training for the marathon, you see, and I wanted to get a long run in before it got too hot this afternoon — and I was supposed to train him. Now I can’t remember if I told the guy to meet me at this apartment or the next one. I guess I’m a little out of sorts today. Must be the heat!”
I nodded and said why no, I hadn’t seen anyone hanging out in front of the building across the street, even though I knew it was Raoul he was talking about. Raoul had gone inside the building to question the doorman about any suspicious behavior on the part of our newfound friend, Dave Dunbar.
I’d put Raoul on the case because, let’s be honest, you can’t fake a love for dogs. Raoul is crazy about his boxer Sam, so I knew he could pull off a “dog walker trainee” a lot better than I could. The plan was that I’d follow behind them, hopefully catching some key phrases here and there.
At this point, I was merely providing backup and it wasn’t necessary for me to be within earshot since Raoul knew many quilt blocks by heart by now. (The kid took his job seriously. He’d even made up notecards on the blocks and took them home with him! Not without a healthy dose of teasing on my part, of course.)
Dunbar disappeared into the building across the street, and I got reacquainted with my mystery novel. (Those detectives in paperbacks sure spend a lot more time chasing and shooting suspects than any real detective I know. The average mystery reader would really be bored to spend a day with the real thing.)
After a few minutes, Dunbar emerged with Mattie and another dog, with Raoul and two more dogs following behind. Since I don’t know much about dogs, I tend to classify them as “big” and “little” rather than by their breed, and I could see that Raoul was put in charge of the two big ones. There’s training on the job for you!)
They disappeared around the corner, and I waited, knowing that they’d probably be going to Central Park, which I was sitting right next to.
Sure enough, they came back a couple minutes later. And sure enough, Raoul had three more dogs in his care, while Dunbar still just had Mattie and another puppy.
Before they crossed the street, I started walking north up 5th Avenue, hoping that they would be following me. I was right, and I was just within earshot as they walked (to the dog run, I could only imagine and hope, seeing as that’s where I was going, and it would help matters if they were going to the same place).
Dunbar was discussing the clientele. “You wouldn’t believe how much money these Upper East Siders spend on their pets. The worst are the owners of the ribboned, yippy poodly types. Me, I prefer a dog’s dog, but you won’t catch me complaining. They pay me good money, that’s for sure, and it lets me have flexibility for my true loves: running and art.
“I run about five marathons a year,” he continued. “I also paint and –don’t laugh — I just got into quilting.” Raoul sure wasn’t laughing. For one, he had five dogs entangled around his legs that he was trying to keep in order. For another, he was shutting up to let Dunbar ramble on. I’ve taught him well.
Dunbar continued. “As with most other hobbies and careers, there is a small quilting world actually. I wouldn’t say I’m in it so much as observing from the sidelines and learning as I go along. There’s just something very satisfying about the whole process of working with fabric and making it into a finished quilt.”
Maybe I should start up quilting, I thought.
These suspects make it sound so fun!
“Yeah, my mom quilts, so I know a little bit about quilting myself,” I heard Raoul say, and I was tempted to look back at him in surprise. Raoul’s mom lives in Puerto Rico, so I’d never met her, but I could safely say that a quilter she was not.
His plan worked, though, because Dunbar practically thought they were soulmates with that revelation. “You don’t say!” Dunbar exclaimed.
I took a left turn down a path toward the dog run, and they followed.
“Whew! ” Dunbar continued. “Hey, let me show you something.”
They stopped. I kept walking. I couldn’t look back in even the most casual way without being obvious, so I just tried to walk slowly to catch their conversation.
“I had my favorite block engraved on Mattie’s dog tag — isn’t it cool?”
Raoul answered excitedly. “Yeah, that’s great. I’ve always loved that block, too. What’s it called again?”
You go, Raoul! Bring it home for us.
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Yes, I once made a quilt with just this block in it, I just think it has such a sense of history to it because it shows Garfield’s tomb — makes you think of his assassination and everything. And our family is somehow related to Garfield way back — my great-great grandmother and Garfield were second cousins or something…
I kept walking towards the dog run, and was soon out of earshot.
I had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing, though,
because would Dunbar really believe Raoul was interested in quilting?
But these days, you never know who will turn out to be a quilter….
I hadn’t realized Raoul was going to pretend to like quilt blocks, and it seemed like a stretch. But then again, many of the quilt board members had surprised me so far.
I was looking for a good cover, because I thought Dunbar might recognize me. I hadn’t expected to talk to him, and I was worried he might think it was strange that I was at the dog run when he’d seen me earlier. I thought it was strange that I was at a dog run, too, but I wasn’t going to spread it around.
Instead, I situated myself on a bench, watching two dogs (the big kind) fight over a frisbee. In our profile that Ruthie had given us (she’s started to do background investigations for us, because it lets her get involved in a case and she has a surprising number of resources. She’ll make a great detective some day), we found out that Dave Dunbar was from Ann Arbor, Michigan and had moved to New York five years ago on a whim because his roommate was moving here. He’s worked odd jobs ever since to supplement his true love: art. And quilting, so it appears.
I couldn’t help but be charmed by him, with his combination of laid-back midwestern attitude, lean runner’s look and apparent disinterest in moving up the corporate ladder. I heard them coming up behind me.
“Yeah, I’m going to run the Chicago and New York this fall, we’ll see how that goes,” Dunbar was saying. I assumed he was talking about marathons, although that was hardly my area of expertise. The furthest I’d ever run was two miles.
“I usually don’t do them so close together, but I feel strong. You should see some of these guys at the Road Runners Club, though. This one guy is trying to run a marathon in each of the 50 states, and another one has run 86 marathons. It’s like a fever!”
They busied themselves unleashing the dogs, which Raoul needed a little help with.
“You’re going to be a good dog walker, I can see you have it in you,” Dunbar said. “You just need to show them who’s in charge. If you’re nervous about walking a bunch of dogs at a time, it’ll show. Just be natural.”
Easy for him to say. Natural was the last thing I’d be if I had 20 furry feet I was trying not to step on.
Dunbar stood up after unleashing and he looked straight at me.
I was looking at two of his clients who started to chase the two still struggling with the frisbee, but I could feel his eyes on me. I knew I shouldn’t have shown up at the dog run, because it was too suspicious. But how did I know that Mattie would start sniffing my leg?
Luckily, he didn’t say anything, although I could feel my face grow hot as he kept looking. Should I turn and pretend to see him for the first time?
Raoul spoke instead, most likely to divert his attention. “So how long have you been a dog walker?”
“Oh, about a year now. I’m the king of the odd job. You name it, I’ve done it. I even had a paper route last year!”
I took the opportunity to get out of there. We already had our clue, so I thought the best thing was not to make Dunbar any more suspicious than he probably already was. Without a glance in their direction, I walked to Central Park West and found a phone booth, where I beeped Raoul. I didn’t like leaving him alone, but I was close enough where I could still see them in the park.
After a while, I saw them gather the dogs and make their way back across the park toward 5th Avenue. I hailed a cab back to the office, where Raoul was supposed to meet me. It took a good 45 minutes for him to show up.
Raoul was keyed up. “Well we got our clue, but after you left the dog run he wouldn’t stop asking me questions. It was making me nervous! I just told him I was a student at NYU, and was looking for part-time work. Do you think he was on to us?”
“Well, I wouldn’t worry about it now since we got our clue. He might have just been curious about his trainee.”
“I don’t know. My palms were getting all sweaty, I could barely hold onto the leashes! That dog walking is hard work, I kept tripping over them.”
“But you’re a natural, I hear,” I teased him. He barely smiled. “Come on, let’s order a pizza. I’m starving. I sincerely doubt that Dunbar was on to us. He seemed much too spacey to figure it out.”
“Maybe, but you weren’t there getting grilled with questions,” Raoul sat down, putting his feet up on his desk. “So, what are you getting on your pizza?”
“Jalapenos, red peppers and mushrooms, of course. Is there anything else?”
Raoul laughed. “You’ve got to get out more, Mitzi.”
I intercomed Ruthie with our pizza order, and we cracked open a few sodas and chatted. I was trying to put his mind at ease, but I knew that we’d really barely scraped by with this one.
Next time, we’d be more careful…
We were getting too comfortable with finding our clues,
but the real Quilt Snatcher was still out there somewhere.
Maybe we’d just talked to him.
To be continued…