This entry is part 5 of 17 in the series Doing Laundry

    Eli backed away from the counter, his eyes still fixed on the registry.
    “Can I help you?” The gray bun asked again, clearly annoyed.
    “Huh…wha…oh. No. No. I uh, thought my wife left her keys here, but…actually, can I see that registry!?” He demanded, abandoning his lie and startling the elderly woman into a very off-put expression.
    “Well, I suppo…,” she began. Eli grabbed the journal, spun it around, and re-read Sadie’s name.
    “Sir, if you tell me what it is you’re after, I might…,” she tried again.
    The clerk gasped putting her hands to her mouth. She reached under the counter. Intellectually, Eli knew she rang for security. Emotionally, he didn’t care.
    “I’m sorry sir if I’ve offended you in some way. If who’s on the registry?”
    “Sadie. Sommers. Can you tell me when she registered?”
    “By the date I have it looks like it was last Monday, and it says here that her fiancee was present.”
    “Excuse me?”
    “Sir, I’m just…” but the old woman’s voice was drowned by a younger one.
    “Leave her alone Eli. Hank and I were here last week.” It was Sadie. He turned around.
    Hank? We’ve been dating for six months, and this whole time you’ve been engaged to a Hank? Wait a minute. How on earth did you find me?”
    “Eli, don’t…this is way more complicated than that,” she pursed her lips and fought tears.
Eli felt like a family dog about to be put down.
    “Sadie…what is going on?”
    The reflection of an older man with a balding head caught his attention. He was walking fast.
    “I have to go. We’ll talk later.”
    “Eli…no. I’m alone. Look, whoever that lady called. I can explain,” Sadie pleaded.
    “Tell me what to believe Sadie. The truth,” Eli said knowing his window for escape had closed. The balding man had his right hand behind his back.
    That’s not a mall cop…
    He had to run.
    He ducked behind a sweater display and stayed in a low crouch weaving in and out of the clothing racks.
    How could she do this?
    He moved slow near a rack of floral printed dresses trying to get a bead on his pursuer.
    “Freeze, put your hands in the air.” Eli turned to find himself face to face with a stocky frame in jeans and a black button down shirt. He obeyed.
    “I got him detective,” the man spoke into his collar.
    “Eli Walters?” The balding man asked, moments later and slightly out of breath.
    “That’s me,” Eli sighed.
    “You’re under arrest for fraud,” the detective began.
Eli caught sight of Sadie trailing him. He looked at her puzzled until she interjected.
    “No he’s not.”
    Both men turned and looked at her, stunned.
    “Ma’am. I’m sorry, there’s nothing you can do for your friend here…”
    “No. I mean, he’s not, because you don’t have a warrant,” she stated cooly.
    The black button down looked at the balding man with a confused look. Eli shook his head slow. His synapses failed to arrive anywhere that made sense.
    “I’m so sorry Eli,” Sadie preambled before stating “Haley Garret, F.B.I. Thank you gentlemen. I’ll take it from here.”



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