“I wrote the handbook on that,” Tim smiled.
Lindsey rubbed the purple bump on her forehead.
“The key is to know it’s possible,” Tim continued.
Lindsey nodded yes. She lifted the small, golden trophy cup to her lips and sipped her red wine. “Did you pick these up at the dollar store?” Lindsey teased. The brown base stood firmly on the table as she set it down. The platform read ‘#1 Trophy Winner, 2013’.
Tim grumbled. He took his trophies seriously. The crew down at the station had given it to him as a retirement gift. Every time his co-workers would come over they would tease Tim about his cupboards full of those golden cups.
“Kris Nelson!” Lindsey squealed and pointed. The black cat was drinking wine out of Tim’s trophy. The brown base of his trophy read, “#1 Mind Reader, 1986’.
Tim chuckled. “It’s okay, Kris Nelson likes red wine.” As he petted the slender, black cat, her back curved up, taking in the massage. She finished drinking and then climbed onto Tim’s massive shoulder. Her soft purrs buzzed in his ear as she licked her paws. Tim was fit for his age as his wide shoulders narrowed to the point of a V-shape at his waist. His six pack abs were the envy of the crew at the station. Tim’s bulging arms stretched the sleeves of his black LOL cat t-shirt. The cat’s bright eyes stared out of the photo and kindly asked, ‘please pass the ketchup’ as a tiny mouse scurried away.
Even though Tim had a big, tough exterior, he had the heart of a koala bear. For a charity event, he had once laid nearly naked on a dining table and let a room full of petite women eat sushi off his fit body. It was in Tim’s nature to help those in need, no matter what the request.
“I need your help,” Lindsey paused. She smoothed the top of her shaved head, her arm muscles stretched the seams her pink t-shirt that read ‘Save the Baby Tees’. A graphic of a tiny, capped sleeve t-shirt was printed under the words.
“I knew there was more to your visit,” Tim nodded and smoothed the top of his shaved head. No problem was too big.
“It’s big,” Lindsey commented.
“Yeah, yeah,” Tim yawned.
“Ryan’s lost his mind and needs help finding it.” Lindsey sputtered the words out quickly.
“Oh dear gawd!” Tim gasped. Kris Nelson sat up on his shoulder and stared at Lindsey.
Lindsey’s eyes popped wide open. Her hand went to her mouth. “I know, I know,” she whispered through her fingers.
“I thought you were going to ask me for the recipe for my double kick ass barbeque sauce,” Tim whispered. “I’m off on my game.” That was the reading he got when Lindsey arrived. It wasn’t like he tried to read minds. The thoughts randomly popped into his head and he paid attention to them.
“No, you aren’t . . .I’d like that, too,” Lindsey replied.
Tim paused. “Not again,” he muttered. “I told him . . .”
“Carrot sticks and hummus?” Cory sashayed into the room carrying a platter of food. Her flowered skirt danced at her thighs as her long blonde hair flowed to the middle of her back. She kissed Kris Nelson on the head and then sat at the table. “Uh uh,” she reached for the cream puff that Tim was about to bite into. His eyes were glazed over and she recognized the look of mindless, stress eating. She had been his housekeeper for years. “These,” she pushed the carrot tray in front of him. He furrowed his brow. “Don’t get mad at me, you don’t want your chin to get any bigger, do you?” Cory commented. Tim’s elongated chin with a perfect dimple in the center, matched his chiseled face. A minute on the grin, a lifetime on the chin, Cory would tease him when he ate too much.
Tim stared through the framed photos of him and Kris Nelson hanging on the wall in front of him. “Oh dear, what did you ask him to do?” Cory raised an eyebrow at Lindsey.
“I’m retired,” Tim responded.
Lindsey took a deep breath. “It’s not like last time.”
“Isn’t there a pill for that?” Tim asked.
“It’s not in his house . . . he lost it somewhere around Omaha,” Lindsey continued.
“You know, a pill you can take if you lose your mind?” Tim muttered.
Cory nodded yes. Her blue eye shadow glittered under the large disco ball above the table. Tim hosted disco night every third Thursday of the month.
“He really needs you,” Lindsey argued.
“Good luck with that . . . let me know how it turns out.” Tim chugged his wine. Lindsey put her elbows on the table and then leaned her face into her hands. She farted real loud. Cory giggled into the palm of her delicate hand.
“It won’t stink,” Lindsey commented. It was common for Lindsey to let out scentless farts when stressed.
“Tim,” Cory purred, “you turn down a challenge?” She winked at Lindsey.
“Ryan’s lost his mind and needs help finding it,” Lindsey whispered to Cory.
Oh, Cory cleared her throat. She dabbed her red lipstick with a napkin and paused. “You turn down a challenge?” She repeated herself, a little softer now.
“Kris Nelson and I leave for Mexico tomorrow . . .maybe when I get back, if he still hasn’t found it.”
“Remember, I had to re-book your flight for next week . . . you have a speaking engagement, uniting the Hula Hoop Society with the Lutheran Choral Group . . .then you can go. You have time.” Cory raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know if anyone has ever found their mind in a week.” She eyed Lindsey.
“You could be the first!” Lindsey exclaimed.
Tim pursed his lips, curious about the challenge. He paused. “No, no, no . . . no way, never, not again.”
“I don’t know . . . did you know that feather boas are back in style?” Ryan whipped the teal feather boa around his neck.
“Any clue . . . anything will help,” Tim pressed. “Give him the chalk.” He was standing in Ryan’s living room, trying to get to the bottom of where Ryan was when he lost his mind. Pinpointing the day and time was proving a challenge.
“Which color?” Cory teased.
“Black?” Ryan scratched his head.
Tim rolled his eyes. How would black chalk show up on a chalkboard? The situation was worse than last time.
“It’s not a time to be cute,” Lindsey furrowed her brow at Cory. “Don’t ask him questions like that right now,” she whispered. Cory and Lindsey sat in the colorful, plastic ball pit in Ryan’s living room. It wasn’t unusual to catch Ryan sitting in the ball pit because he made his millions off the game. His invention of animal patterned, plant-based eco balls allowed him to quit his job down at the station. They knew they were in deep trouble when Ryan came to the door wearing leopard print, plastic balls and a feather boa.
Tim stood next to a chalkboard wall in front of the ball pit. Kris Nelson rested on his shoulder as he tapped the chalkboard. She licked and cleaned her black paws. Omaha street maps of Ryan’s favorite places were scrawled in chalk on the blackboard. “Ryan, can you mark the places where you’ve been?” Tim handed Ryan white chalk.
“Please pass the salt,” Ryan commented as he almost put the chalk into his mouth.
“No!” Lindsey squealed. Ryan dropped the chalk and put his hands up.
“I have no weapons, officer!” Ryan shouted.
“I know . . . sorry Ryan,” Lindsey whispered as she handed him another piece of chalk. “Now where were you?” She smiled warmly at Ryan. Ryan smiled back. His gold front tooth glistened in the sunshine filtering through the floor to ceiling windows. He had the gold installed into his mouth the last time he lost his mind.
Ryan walked up to the chalkboard and then started outlining the elaborate henna tattoo on his arm. “Oh dear,” Cory muttered as she nibbled on carrot sticks. “We might have gotten here too late.”
Lindsey farted. Cory giggled.
Tim’s mind was clouded as he was trying to decide which swim trunks to pack for his trip to Mexico. This was unlike his usual focused, competitive self. He really thought he could coast through retirement, that he would slowly dissipate away from the life he once led and into a life of leisure. But he found that people had come to rely on him. He was busier than ever with client’s leaning on his wisdom.
“I have to go, it’s tee time,” Tim tapped the face of his watch.
“What?!” Lindsey scowled.
“No,” Cory muttered.
“But the guys are at the golf course waiting for me,” Tim explained. His phone buzzed with text messages. “What?” He scrolled through the messages. “Why is everyone canceling?” Tim narrowed his eyes on Lindsey and Cory. He felt trapped.
“It’s snowing,” Cory commented and pointed at the window. Giant, fluffy snowflakes fell from the sky.
“Jeez, only in Omaha . . .eighty degrees one day and snowing the next.” Tim rubbed his head.
“What’s wrong? You used to be driven by challenges,” Cory responded.
“I don’t know,” Tim whispered. “Maybe I’m too old.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Lindsey huffed.
Kris Nelson jumped off Tim’s shoulder and meandered towards the wall as her tail floated and flitted in the air. Her little kitty butt swayed back and forth. She walked right through the wall and into Ryan’s bedroom. Tim scratched his long chin. She had taught him how to walk through walls years ago. What was Kris Nelson up to? They all sat there silently for a few moments.
“What’s my name?” Ryan asked. He sat on the floor with a laptop computer.
“What are you doing?” Lindsey leaned over from the ball pit to look at the computer screen. Her mouth dropped open in horror. “We’ve got to find Ryan’s mind!” She grabbed the computer. “He almost donated two million dollars to the Feathered Hair Foundation.” They all watched as Ryan worked a comb through his bleached blonde hair, brushing it back in a winged fashion.
“I think he’s fallen back into the 1980s,” Cory commented.
“That’s it!” Tim shouted. Just then Kris Nelson rounded the corner with a ticket stub in her mouth. She dropped it in Tim’s burly hand. “Confirmed!” He held the ticket high in the air.
Lindsey and Cory stared at Tim.
“He was in the warehouse district on the day he lost his mind . . .for the Utterly Rad Ravin’ Rock Show. He loves vintage rocks.” Tim pointed around the room at the white pedestals with glass covers holding individual rocks. Lights from the ceiling shined down on each case. “No wonder he missed disco night . . . Ryan would have to be out of his mind to miss disco night.“
Ryan stood up and removed one of the glass covers. He picked up the stone. “This one is hematite from a vacation in 1986,” Ryan commented as he tried to chew on the stone. Tim grimaced as Ryan licked it. “Tastes like chicken!”
“An art show opening?” Cory asked the lady at the door. She turned to Lindsey. “Ryan’s mind could be here?” They had made the trek down to the warehouse district right after figuring out where Ryan had been when he lost his mind. It seemed that overnight the warehouse district had changed from empty buildings to a bustling part of the city. Temporary shops, shows and events popped up into the unused spaces.
“This is where the vintage rock show was,” Lindsey shrugged her shoulders. She wore an orange plastic bracelet around her wrist that read, ‘nose hairs’. It was a cause dear to her heart.
“I’m not dressed for this,” Cory commented. Cory had dug out her old jeans and tennies, thinking that they would have to crawl around a dirty warehouse. Her greasy hair was pulled up in a ponytail but she was more embarrassed about her Barbie Doll tattoo at the base of her neck. It was done on a dare in college that won her a meal at an all-you-can Chinese buffet. Although, it wasn’t much of a dare because she loved Barbie at the time. Cory uncomfortably rubbed the back of her neck.
“It’s the Found Object Art Show,” the lady responded. “Take a look around, there’s wine and cheese over there.” The lady pointed to a table with food and drink on it. They filed in one by one with Tim entering last. “Cats are not allowed here,” the lady snapped.
“This is not cat,” Tim snorted. “This is Kris Nelson.” Kris Nelson looked bewildered as she gazed at the lady. The lady nodded okay and let them in. Kris Nelson crawled down Tim’s husky arm and jumped to the wooden floor. She walked proudly with her tail wagging back and forth.
The first art piece that Tim saw was a set of keys on a silver poodle key ring. The little plaque beside the shelf read, ‘Keys’. Tim rubbed his chin. A lone sock sat on the next display. It was called, ‘Sock’. He wandered along the wall and saw a gold ring, a glove, a contact lens, a television remote control, and a piece of paper with a to-do list scribbled on it. All of a sudden a dog started barking. The whole room went silent and watched as Kris Nelson sat just out of reach of the leashed mutt. She licked one paw and then the other. He kept barking which bored her, so she glided away.
“Bernie!” A woman squealed and ran up to the dog. “You found my dog!” The artist approached the lady and was thrilled that owner and dog were reunited. Plus she made a sale. The dog was listed for five hundred dollars, which was the exact amount of the reward.
Tim, Lindsey and Cory wandered throughout the small gallery. They were getting frustrated because it didn’t appear that Ryan’s lost mind was at the Found Object Art Show. Ryan stood by the wine and cheese table, talking to a colorful floral arrangement. He was in the middle of a debate with a red rose when Kris Nelson came up and rubbed against his leg. Ryan followed her with Lindsey right behind. Tim eyed them from across the room as they approached. He stood in front of a shelf with a single, brown pebble. The sign next to it read, Road Trip ’89.
“Ryan, remember last time you lost your mind?” Tim asked as he smoothed his freshly shaven baldhead.
“Are you wearing a toupee?” Ryan innocently asked.
Tim paused. “I think I found it.”
“What?” Lindsey whispered. Ryan, Kris Nelson and Lindsay stared at Tim.
“That’s Ryan’s mind,” he pointed to the pebble. “Not literally . . .”
“How can that be?” Lindsey squinted at the shelf. The last time they found Ryan’s mind, it was in the words of a magazine that sat in his bathroom. Tim had rattled off the marketing copy of a luxury automobile advertisement and voila, Ryan was back. Something had clicked in his mind. When he asked if the steering wheel in the car cost extra, the crew knew he was back to his old, joking self. But just because it was in words the last time he lost his mind, didn’t mean that the case could be solved the same way. That was what was refreshing about Tim’s approach. Each case was unique and he made no judgments based on the past. Plus he was open to all possibilities.
“Hey, what’s going on?” Cory asked as she glided up to the group on one roller skate. “Look what I bought.” Her skate hit something slick on the floor and she wasn’t able to stop. Cory slammed into the ‘Road Trip ‘89’ art display. The shelf went flying and bounced off Ryan’s head. Tim caught the pebble.
“Ouch!” Ryan screeched. “What the heck is going on?”
“Knocked some sense into him, huh?” Cory snickered as she picked herself off the floor.
“I wasn’t thinking about going at it that way, but I guess it worked. Good job Cory,” Tim smiled.
“My stone . . . you found it! I was going out of my mind trying to find it.” Ryan plucked the stone out of Tim’s hand. “I brought it to the Utterly Rad Ravin’ Rock Show to show it off and lost it there.”
“We know,” Lindsey snickered.
“It’s one-of-a-kind,” Ryan commented.
“Aren’t all stones one-of-a-kind?” Tim asked as he scratched his head. Kris Nelson jumped into Tim’s arms and then up to his shoulder.
“Let me see it . . .where’s it from?” Cory asked. She held it up to the light.
“From a vacation I took. It’s a kidney stone . . . the pain was something awful!” Ryan nodded.
“What!?” Cory flung the stone in the air. Ryan caught it.
“Just kidding,” he winked.