I ‘d already searched our closet, looking for my hiking boots. It didn’t take long on my side, because I only own two pairs of boots, one pair of sneakers, and a pair of flip flops. Just to be sure, I spent an hour searching through the War Department’s shoes, just in case my own had gotten mixed-up in the knee-high pyramid.
She was exercising in our bedroom when I came out. “Have you seen my hiking boots?” I queried.
She bent and touched her toes in a way I haven’t been able to do since the age of ten. “I don’t keep up with your stuff.”
“Yes you do. You put my hat on the rack the other day, you put my boots away, and you hung up my coat the last time I wore it.”
She bent the other way. “Your hat was in my way on the counter, your boots were in the middle of the floor where Riley drug them, and come to think of it, your coat was on the island, and it was in my way, too.”
I thought for a moment. “So were my hiking boots in your way lately?”
“No. Where’d you see them last.”
“I took them with us in January when we went camping.”
“Did you check the garage?”
I’d already been through the garage. I found our missing float tubes, some fishing rods that belonged to my brother that I thought I’d returned, and the Dutch oven lid lifter (yep that’s what they’re called) that I’d misplaced two years earlier.
I also found a bag of shotgun shells and ear plugs I’d forgotten about. Probably because the bag said DeWALT on the outside and I thought it was still full of drills. It also contained a box of .243 rounds and my misplaced folding knife.
I watched her do a few leg lifts. My right calf cramped in sympathy. “Of course I did.”
“Well, I bet you left them in the trailer.”
“Good idea. I’ll be back in a little while.”
I drove to the trailer and searched the storage compartments. I found my good hand ax, three cans of WD-40, a box of lures I’d misplaced so long ago I didn’t remember owning them, and a Ryobi bag full of shotgun shells.
The problem came when I needed to look in the bedroom closet. Space is at a premium, and our fifth-wheel was squeezed in between a ski boat and an Airstream trailer. The bedroom slide could only extend six inches, due to the storage area’s roof support posts.
It gave me enough room to check the drawers at the foot of the bed. Nothing. The closet was empty, and the remaining storage area contained nothing but a top hat.
I closed the trailer up and drove back, running down a mental list of places where my boots could be. The War Department was putting the grandkid’s puzzle pieces in Ziploc bags when I came in. She frowned at the pieces in her hand. “Everyone just throws these puzzles into the ottoman without trying to keep them separate, and then we can’t find the pieces.”
Our ottoman serves as the kid’s toy box. “Are my boots in there?”
“No. Did you look in those hidden compartments in your truck?”
“That’s it!” I jogged back outside to find the compartments contained paperback books, fishing line, and a forgotten bottle of scotch. I returned with the scotch and checked the cabinets in the bar, just in case the boots were in there.
The next hour went by pretty fast while I searched the garage shelves a second time. They weren’t in the freezer, either. The smell of supper wafted into the garage while I lowered the attic ladder and checked the coolers stored up there. My missing roadie cooler was in the biggest drybox, along with our snorkel gear in a large bag that previously held Milwaukee power tools.
The Bride was taking supper off the stove when I came through and dropped onto a stool at the island. She raised an eyebrow.
“They’re just gone.”
“They can’t be. You put them somewhere.”
I got up and checked the pantry. Nope.
“When did you have them last?”
I studied the ceiling, as if the answer was there. “We were planning to do some hiking when we went to Natchitoches, but then it rained…”
“Where’s your backpack?”
“Hanging with the daypacks in the garage.”
“Yes ma’am.” I left and came back inside with the boots. “You were right.”
“I bet you put them in there to save space, keeping everything together.”
I looked at the ceiling again, wondering if she’d found the answer there after all.
I decided to wait a day or so to see if the ceiling manufactured the answer to my next question about where I put all the 9mm ammo I collected to go shoot at the range. It’s driving me nuts, because I was out of power tool bags.
Email Reavis Wortham at
Email Reavis Wortham at [email protected]