I realized that it was powerful enough to destroy us, which is why at approximately 11:54 a.m. yesterday I decided it was time. Dave had been walking around for most of the week as if someone had peed in his cornflakes. And he doesn’t even eat cornflakes.  Noah had acquired an edge which caused him to yell responses to innocent questions asked of him.  Chase, being the sensitive boy, was beginning to cower from both of them.  And years from now, I could see them all on the shrinky dink’s couch talking about that week in mid-December 2010 when so much was lost … besides, um, Noah’s cell phone… which happened to be the root of the palpable tension.

It seems Noah’s phone went missing over a week ago. Rather than tell us when he first discovered it gone, he just kept hoping it would show up – which is kind of how I react when I lose things so that made me a little proud.  His father who pays the cell phone bill? Not so much.  He and Dave had checked the usual places – drawers, pockets, backpacks, computer tables and washing machines – but to no avail. The more they looked, the more uptight they both became. Despite purchasing the insurance program for this phone specifically for occasions such as this, Dave was completely twisted, mostly because he felt Noah was not showing enough remorse for losing the phone. I reminded Dave about the insurance and the fact that a remorseful Noah is not only useless to us (because he sucks at finding things) but also a royal pain in the ass. These good intentioned reminders didn’t seem to help Dave’s mood for some reason.  Go figure.

So I had no choice. I didn’t want to do it but after several days of fruitless search and recovery missions, I had to bring her out of retirement. I had to become Mommy P.I. It really is a persona of last resort because her presence, while usually 100 percent effective, results in the rest of the Mystery Machine shutting down completely. Once Mommy P.I. engages, my family tends to sit on their butts and watch me do my work, as if to say, “It’s okay, Mom will find it. Let’s try to stay out of her way by sitting here playing video games.”

As the victim, Noah tried to play Watson for a while by following me around the house reminding me how much he “sucks at finding things.” To which I tried to comfort him by saying, “That’s okay, love. You’re really great at losing things!” This also didn’t seem to help.   Go figure.  And unfortunately his recollection of events leading up to the moment the cell phone went missing would make any organized crime syndicate proud. The kid couldn’t remember anything except that the last time he saw his phone was a week from last Wednesday evening when he went to move it from the family room to his bedroom…. or the playroom…. or the living room… or his back pack… or maybe he accidently ate it for dessert one night.  He could not recall.

I didn’t have much to work with and after my first round of interviews and dusting for prints, the phone was still nowhere to be found. The case was about to go as cold as wife who received steak knives for her birthday, when suddenly there was a critical break in the case.

Dave, who had assumed all along that the phone was lost somewhere outside the house, checked the call records online. The last call that came from Noah’s phone was on Saturday, three days AFTER Noah has seen it last. This information seemed to confirm Dave’s theory that an imposter had Noah’s phone. But not so fast, Sherlock!  There was one additional piece of information that blew the case wide open.

The phone number that was called on the Saturday in question: 999-999-9999

To the amateur sleuth, these digits meant very little. But NOT to Mommy P.I. I knew this number all too well. In fact, I dial it myself a few times each month. I phantom dial it, that is. All too often, I fail to lock my phone keypad and it dials whatever number is pressing up against my handbag or briefcase.

Noah’s phone was being phantom dialed from somewhere. But where?

We had already checked all of his pockets, backpacks, and jackets. Where else could it be wedged were it would be pressed again and again? And just then, I knew.

I walked slowly and deliberately to the last place where Noah had seen the phone – the family room – and moved towards the one place he sits himself down each day as he aspires to a sedentary life style – the sofa. There, under the seat cushions my friends, was his phone.

And once again, I was revered.  I got an enthusiastic hug from Noah and earned the respect (yet again) from my husband.  Chase was just glad it was all over.  It may have sounded easy but truthfully, this was my hardest case yet.  And that sofa would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling Mommy P.I.!

Jinkies. I’m good.

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