However, as I mentioned last week, I have begun to lose the element of surprise now that my fellow reporters are familiar with this weekly ritual. So, to switch things up, I am going to cut the lights seconds before announcing the release of “Skippy,” our wild, blindfolded and slightly rabid squirrel.
Given that our newsroom has no windows, it will be pitch black once I flip the switch.
Here it goes….
Voice one: “What the… HEY! Something’s on my leg!”
Voice across room: “Mine too! And it’s furry!”
Voice one: “Wait… Ned?!? Is that you?!”
Voice across room: “The squirrel’s over HERE! I can hear it breathing!”
Voice one: “Ned! What are you doing to my leg?!?”
Me: “Um… I’m over here.”
Voice one: “Thennnn what’s hugging my LEG?!? AAAHHEEEEEEE!”
Me: “Ah-HA! We have a winner!”
My thanks to “Bill,” our vending machine guy, for assisting this morning, although I never said anything about hugging “Amy’s” leg.
In fact, you can let go now, “Bill.”
For those who might be joining us for the first time, this is probably a bit confusing. Possibly overwhelming. Maybe even terrifying. However, after I explain, I promise it will all make perfect sense. At least in relative terms. And by that I mean relative to anything involving a wild, blindfolded squirrel.
In our newsroom we have The Box, which is a collection of unidentified photos that were submitted back in the 1980s and never claimed. Each week, I randomly choose a photo to investigate by dumping The Box onto the floor, then releasing “Skippy.” The photo closest to the first reporter who screams is chosen!
See? I told you it would make perfect sense!
With that said, I will now reveal this week’s photo and once again, utilizing my years of investigative reporting experience, identify its origin and circumstances…
To the untrained eye, this appears to be an ordinary photo of an elderly woman standing in her garage. But thanks to my many years of training and experience, I’ve picked up on some subtle clues you probably missed. For example: if you look closely, you will notice, immediately to her right, there are hundreds — if not thousands — of stuffed animals (I counted). If you missed that don’t be hard on yourself! As a journalist, I am trained to recognize subtle clues like that. Now that I’ve pointed them out, I bet it’s almost impossible NOT to see them, right?!? Bonus points: Did you notice she is actually holding two stuffed animals? If you did, give yourself a gold star; you might have what it takes to be an investigative journalist! If you didn’t, that’s ok! You might be more suited for a rewarding career officiating in the NFL.
As with any investigation, it is critical to establish a timeline to work from in order to narrow down when the photo was taken. In this case my keen eye made it easy. Thanks to a clock mounted to the wall between the window and doorway, I can say with absolute certainty this photo was taken somewhere between 1980 and 1990, exactly at noon.
With my timeline established and knowing there was an unusual amount of stuffed animals involved, I went into our “morgue,” where we keep bound editions of Siuslaw News dating back to the late 1800s, and began looking for any news stories involving those elements…
My dogged pursuit eventually led me to the truth, which is that our “morgue” is ridiculously out of chronological order. I also discovered another ugly truth, which is that the elderly woman, known by the FBI as “Teddy Bear Betty,” was arrested for smuggling bathtub gin across state lines inside stuffed animals, which were then distributed to retirement homes across the U.S. between 1980 and 1990. According to the report, when informed that Prohibition ended in 1933, “Betty” shrugged her shoulders and said, “Well, no one told me.”
Join us again next week for another exciting edition of The Box!
Assuming we can get “Bill” to stop hugging “Amy’s” leg.
(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, will be released this December from Port Hole Publications. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore. 97439)