Knit One, Furl Two

I write. I've gotten better at it.

Image of Short Story
Darlene Brash retired early from education. Winning a lottery mega jackpot made that possible. Her friend Marcie Kilpatrick remained in the classroom. Wednesday evenings they met with the Closely Knit Club at the Skeins on Lane shop near the high school.
True to form, Marcie ran late. She arrived to find not only Darlene at the shop but the Oakland Woods police as well.
“Dar!” Marcie exclaimed. “What happened?”
“Millie Foster was robbed. The thief tied her and Gladys DiCesare back to back using bulky weight yarn. The knot was so tight the police had to use shears to free them.”
“Do they have any suspects?”
“Gladys said a man in a black ski mask came up behind her at the back door. He shoved her inside then tied them together with the bulky yarn.”
“No one else in the shop?”
“No. Brian Thatch—”
“The stock clerk who used to work on an Alaskan crab boat?”
“Right. He was on that show Dangerous Nets. Anyhow, he was at lunch.”
“How did he go from fishing for crab on TV to putting skeins of yarn on shelves?”
“Tabloids said the producers loved him but the boat’s captain said he was a lazy greenhorn.”
“Why come back here?”
“Washed up reality star has to land somewhere. He worked here after graduating from high school before he went to Alaska.”
“What about Jeanine? Wasn’t she at the register?”
Darlene put an invisible cigarette to her lips. “Out in her car.”
Marcie wrinkled her nose. “She didn’t see anything?”
“She was parked around the corner and playing a game on her phone.”
“Phones,” Marcie said solemnly. “As soon as they became ‘smart’ we lost the kids.”
“The struggle is real.”
“How much did the thief get?”
“The money in the register plus Gladys DiCesare’s jewelry.”
“She always wears too many rings to knit effectively.”
“Marse! That’s not like you.”
“This is supposed to be my downtime and like always, we stumble into a mystery.”
“Keeps our friendship afloat, hon.”
“Let’s see. A man forces his way into the store, binds Millie and Gladys with a yarn that might as well be rope, ties a knot so elaborate the police have to use shears to cut them free, robs the place, all while Jeanine sits in her car indulging in multiple vices. Maybe she alerted the robber when Thatch left.”
A distraught Jeanine came out of the backroom. “If you think I had anything to do with this you’re wrong.”
“You just happened to be out of the store.”
“Well, I can’t smoke in here, can I?”
Marcie sighed. “Dar. You’re so much better at solving these crimes than I am. How do you always know who done it?”
“Power of observation. Refined listening skills.”
“Classroom techniques, you mean.”
Brian Thatch returned carrying a bag of takeout food. “Ms. Brash. Ms. Kilpatrick. What’s with all the cops? Someone drop a stitch?”
“We were robbed!”
The others turned. A still somewhat shaken Millie Foster approached the group in the front of the store. Gladys DiCesare followed her.
“Robbed?” Thatch asked.
“Yes! A man came in shortly after you left for lunch and Jeanine went out for a smoke break. He accosted Gladys DiCesare and took her jewelry before tying us together with bulky yarn.”
“Stuff’s like rope,” Thatch said. “Could’ve used it on the King Crabber.”
Gladys nodded. “I thought the police might have to use the jaws-of-life to free us from the knot he tied.”
Brian spoke around a mouthful of hamburger. “A Lark’s Head knot is a strong knot. We tied them all the time.”
“Yeah,” Dar said. “We’ve seen the show, hon.”
A policeman approached the group. “We’ve downloaded your security footage, Ms. Foster. If you think of anything else, let us know.”
Marcie took a breath. “I’ve got this, Dar. Officer, you might want to speak to Mr. Thatch here.”
Brian Thatch stared at Marcie. “Me? I wasn’t even here when it happened.”
“I think you were.”
Brash smiled. “Why, Marcie. How did you know?”
Solution: Thatch used the name of a specific knot no one else mentioned. His experience as a commercial fisherman not only taught him the names of knots but how to tie them.