This entry is part 4 of 17 in the series Doing Laundry

       Detective Osprey burst through the revolving doors of the Forestbrook Mall. Lieutenant Ramsey came after at a near jog just to keep up.
       “Any idea how we’re going to find him?” Ramsey asked, scanning the horizon of clothing racks for anything out of place.
       “We need a map,” Detective Osprey said directing his feet out of the Macy’s and into the common area. Foot traffic increased around them as they huddled around the “You are Here” sign showing the three floor layout.
       “Patrick, he could be any…”
       “Mark. I need you to shut up, mmk?” Patrick studied the map for several seconds.                “Where did you say that card popped?” He asked as his fingers traced along the paths.
       “Bergdorf Goodman, here,” Mark pointed to a spot on the north end of the mall.
       “Okay…for the sake of speed, let’s rule out anything with high traffic,” Patrick sighed.
       “So that throws out anything in the main thoroughfare.”
       “Right. He’s gotta go somewhere where he has time to work. He’s a social engineer. They need time. You can’t convince someone to hand you a couple grand just like that.”
       “And he needs a place with a good payout. The most expensive thing at a place like  Abercrombie or Express is going to be south of five hundred bucks.”
       “Even then, that kind of money is going to raise eyebrows. He knows to work someplace where a couple grand has become small. You drop a day shift worker at Abercrombie into a place like Saks and she’d freak out being handed a stack of hundreds.”
       “Okay. So we start with a place like Nordstroms or Dillards, but not the tie department, I mean, what’s expensive?”
       “Uh…” Lieutenant Ramsey stared blankly at his superior.
       “Can you call Daisy?” Patrick asked, visibly annoyed at the loss of time.
       “No. She’ll think I’m going to buy her something. Why don’t we just ask someone that works there?”
       “Fine, Nordstroms, then Dillards. This is a long shot.”


       Eli checked his watch. 3:44.
       Sixteen minutes until the shift change.
       He found his way to bridal and did his best to stay out of sight. When the sales associates were busy he quietly thumbed through the returns rack, scanning each bar code with his smart phone.
       Adrianna Pappell? $150.
       Shellani Segal? $249.
       Terani Couture? $814.
       Twenty seconds later he scanned a pair of Badgley Mischka heels for $275, headed down the escalator, and was off to the men’s department. No one gave him so much as a suspicious glance. He smiled to himself.
       “Excuse me? Yeah…so my girlfriend kinda sprung this thing on me. I need something nice. Like, a suit? Or tux? I don’t think she wanted me to get a tux. I don’t need a tux,” Eli spoke fast and flustered trying to sound like he didn’t know the difference.
       “Absolutely. I can show you some of our suit options, and we can go from there,” the sales representative said politely as he took Eli to rows of men’s suits. $500 later, he had a Ralph Lauren on his personal card.
       Just gotta look nicer than everyone else, he thought as he ascended back up the escalator.
       He ran the numbers as he changed into the suit. $1,089 with 8 cents tax came out to
$1,172.90. He added another cent for good measure. Sloppy criminals never add the cent.
       He approached the bridal counter, sized up the elderly woman who had taken the place of whomever was working earlier. His hand casually slid across the counter. He felt good. His suit fit. This would be wrapped up before 4:30. The gray bun stopped typing. A bridal registry lay open on the counter. His eyes locked on it.
       “Can I help you?” she asked.
       He needed to stop reading. To look away. To say something, but something was wrong. His eyes tried to tell him. Lead him. Break it to him the way that only the words on the ledger could: Sadie Sommers had registered.

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