Deputy Cletus and The Great Cheese Heist Essay
The Crime Scene
Sometimes a crime happens so brilliant, so audacious that it boggles the mind. This isn’t one of those times. This is one where someone gets taken in by their own schemes. Maybe it was the prospect of illicit gain that clouds the judgment? In any case, this is the Case Of The Incompetent Thief.
The crime to which I refer takes place while we’re home alone, me and Cletus! Cletus is our neurotic Great Dane …and otherwise free-loading canine co-habitant. Categorically speaking, Cletus is a ‘dog’ and not ‘human’, not that you might ever convince him of that. Most of the time he is the resident couch-hog but on occasion, he demonstrates his impressive protective skills. Lunging up off the couch, he can go from a barely comatose lethargic stupor to vicious, snarling brute. He springs in a instant, ears cocked, hair of his back bristling, barking fiercely… and once again the world is safe from the mail man and meter-readers. Go back to sleep, Cletus. It’s the garbage collector!
It’s 1 A.M. In the dark of the night, silhouetted by the glare of the street light, a nefarious profile can be seen tip-toeing past the sleeping dog and into the kitchen.
A Crime in Progress
Back to the impending crime. Some time after we’ve gone to bed, as Cletus is dreaming sweet doggie-dreams, the perpetrator strikes. It’s 1 A.M. In the dark of the night, silhouetted by the glare of the street light, a nefarious profile can be seen tip-toeing past the sleeping dog. The lurking figure? It’s me.
Into the kitchen I slink. A cheese heist is in progress! I carefully pry open the refrigerator door without a creak or a squeak while sneaking a peek behind me. Cletus hasn’t budged, still sprawled across the couch. Keeping one eye open I ever so carefully peel that crinkly plastic wrapper off the sliced cheese without a sound.
Mmm! There it is! One glorious thin slice of homogenized, pasteurized, hydrogenated genuine imitation cheese & Yellow No. 6 food coloring.
Success! I breathe a self-congratulatory sigh of silent relief, carefully close the door to the fridge with my delicate prize in hand …and there he stands! Face to face with Cletus and his patented accusing look! We stare at each other silently. Stupid cellophane wrapper! Silent perhaps to the untrained ear but to Cletus, it may as well have been a clanging bell! He doesn’t say a thing. He doesn’t have to. But he may as well say in his best Joe Friday monotone, “Put down that slice of cheese, and step away from the fridge!”
Suddenly an ear cocks, an eyelid springs open, and a large nose begins to search the olfactory sensory network for detectable smells. “Sniff, sniff?!! I smell …cheese!
The Cost of Business
Two minutes prior…
Listen closely. In case you could hear the sound I cannot, it is the barely perceptible sound of a refrigerator door opening. The breaking of the seal of the gasket, the resultant sigh of air rushing in to fill the vacuum… to the untrained ear it is almost subliminal but to Cletus it may as well be a siren. Suddenly an ear cocks, an eyelid springs open, and a large nose begins to search the olfactory sensory network for detectable smells. “Sniff, sniff?!! I smell …cheese!”
I only thought myself stealthy. I look up …and there he is. Busted!
50/50. That’s the time-honored traditional split between crooks & thieves …or in my case, a not-so-good thief and the one that promises not to tell. We split the take before momma catches us raiding the fridge. That’s the cost of business. I may as well be trying to pilfer to gold bars from Fort Knox!