Are You Missy Barrett?

From time to time, I’m asked by fans if I’m the grown-up Missy Barrett.  I won’t say I am, but I also won’t say I’m not and the reason is simple.  Good authors write what they know.  They craft their characters to be realistic, three-dimensional fictional beings that ring true with readers.  They draw on real life whether it’s something they’ve researched at the local library or something they’ve read in a news article that was printed in the local newspaper or it’s based on a humorous personal story someone shared with them.

As fans of the Missy Barrett stories and blog entries know, Missy hopes to grow up to become a private eye detective.  She learns as much as she can about what other people do for a living, and hopes to be able to work undercover to break tough cases thanks to what she learns as a child.  Even now, she has a clue stick (her magnifying glass) and her clue hat (which is reminiscent of the Sherlock Holmes cap from Victorian England) and her clue coat (which is more of a cape than a coat), and she’s always open to adventure and mystery.

But am I Missy Barrett?

Recently, while driving past Cassie’s hair salon (Cassie from the Missy Barrett Adventure stories “Foiled Again” and “Nailed It“) a little after eight o’clock at night, I noticed the lights were on in the shop.  This was odd because Cassie’s shop always closes at five o’clock, give or take a few minutes either way.  But here it was, three hours after closing, and the lights at Shear Madness were on — every last one.

“There’s something strange going on at Cassie’s,” I said, turning to Thomas who was driving.  “There’s lights on in her shop.”

“Probably the cleaners,” Thomas replied.

“She doesn’t have cleaners,” I told him.  “They do all the clean up themselves.”

“Well, then, it’s probably the landlord or property owner doing some repairs after hours,” Thomas suggested to resolve the mystery.

“Maybe somebody broke in,” I said breathlessly, my heart beating faster.  “Maybe they’re stealing Cassie’s stuff.”

Thomas chuckled.  “I doubt that Cassie leaves money at the shop overnight,” he reasoned.

While it was true that Cassie doesn’t leave money at the shop overnight, I also knew that there were other things that could be stolen and sold to unscrupulous people looking to get equipment at dirt cheap prices without asking questions.  I also knew that sometimes people break into places and do stupid things just because they can — like the news story about the twenty-something man who broke into someone’s home just so he could eat cereal, watch some television, and fall asleep on the homeowner’s couch.

“What if something’s not right?” I pleaded, hoping to convince Thomas the situation warranted investigation.

“You want me to turn the car around and go back, don’t you?” he asked. I nodded.

At the next entrance, Thomas pulled in, turned around, and we made our way back to Cassie’s shop.  Pulling in a few parking spots over from the front door, he killed the engine.

“What’s the plan, Sherlock?” he asked.

“I’m going to just go in there and find out what’s going on.”

“And what if it’s a gang of thieves ripping porcelain sinks out of walls and tossing product out the back door into a waiting truck?  What then?” he demanded to know.  “Aren’t you worried something’ll go wrong when you walk in on them?”

I shook my head.  “No.”

“No?”

“No, because I’ll just say that I was driving past and noticed the lights on in their shop, and I stopped because I was wondering if they had time to fix my hair,” I said confidently.

“Elyse, I’m not sure that’s going to work,” Thomas confided, highly suspicious that the plan wouldn’t backfire.

“It’ll work.  If it’s thieves, they’ll say they’re closed for the day, and I’ll leave.  Then we can hurry across the street to the fast food joint and ask them to call the police to report a robbery in progress,” I advised my travel buddy.

He smiled slightly.  “Why not just walk to the shop next door and use their phone?”

“Because you never know if they’re hitting the entire strip all at one time,” I pointed out.  “It could be a coordinated caper, and each shop gets hit by two or three people each.”

Thomas rolled his eyes.

“I’m going in, with or without you,” I said.

“Elyse, what if it’s just a bunch of kids?”

“Then I’ll just ask if there’s an adult with them, and if they say no, then I’ll ask them if one of their moms owns the shop,” I answered.  “One of them for sure is going to lie and say yes, but she’s not here right now.  Then I’ll just say I can’t wait because I need an emergency trim and leave.”

“An emergency trim?”  Thomas’s eyebrows shot up, and his voice threatened to break into raucous laughter.

“Yeah, an emergency trim.  Teens always think adults are weird.  They’ll probably just roll their eyes at me, and not think anything of it,” I insisted.

Stepping out of the car, Thomas pulled a cigarette pack out of his pocket, tapped one out, and held it between his fingers as if he wasn’t sure he had time to smoke it without having to throw it to the ground if a quick get-away was warranted.  I opened the passenger door as quietly as possible, got out, and shut the door just as quietly as I had opened it.

Making my way to the front door, I turned to him and warned him, “If I’m not back out in three minutes, you come in and get me, okay?  They won’t mess with a husband and wife.”  I wasn’t certain of that fact, but I was fairly sure that’s the way thieves thought.  I was more certain that this was the way juvenile delinquents thought.

I opened the door and disappeared inside.

Now it’s easy to see how a little bit of Missy Barrett’s character might have sneaked into the evening.  After all, this was a mystery and an adventure all wrapped into one.  It was exciting as all get-out regardless of the outcome.  And the best part was that if there was any criminal activity going on, Thomas and I were going to save Cassie a boatload of shock and dismay upon opening the shop the next business day.

As it was, the shop was open for legitimate reasons.  Cassie was there.  Christin was there.  They were busy in the shop doing shop things that need to get done in hair and nail salons.

The upside to all this is that any crime that might have been going on would have been nipped in the bud.  The downside to all this is that there wasn’t any crime going on at all.

So, readers, fans, and visitors, you tell me:  Am I Missy Barrett?

Elyse Bruce

UPDATE (10 April 2016 at 4:30 PM EST):  ABC News published a news report on a man in Washington (DC) who broke into a Five Guys restaurant after hours early Friday and made himself a cheeseburger.  He also partook of a fountain drink, and on his way out, he made off with bottled water.  This proves that my concerns about the goings-on at Shear Madness last night were warranted.  😉

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