The Littlest Magpie

Just another UMW Blogs weblog

Musings of M.H.Horton, Richmond PI

April 26th, 2011

The night before the digital art final, and Maggie Tanner had vanished. Now, normally this wouldn’t be in my jurisdiction. I’m just a small-stuff detective; I stick to paperwork. Nice, safe paperwork. But apparently before her disappearance Tanner had left some paperwork that needed to be filled: namely, the second half of her digital project, logging her 15 hours of work time.

Again, normally, this wouldn’t have much to do with me. But I don’t like unfinished things and, technically, as her mother’s sister’s cousin’s grandmother’s sister-in-law’s daughter’s husband, if Tanner didn’t get this assignment logged in her name, it’d reflect badly on me. And that was messy, very messy. I couldn’t very well let my wife’s mother’s sister-in-law’s granddaughter’s cousin’s sister’s daughter get a bad grade.

So first, of course, I just tried to find the girl. But you think it’s easy finding a student when that student doesn’t want to be found? You think it’s easy bringing one down during exam week, when three-forths of them are ramped up on caffeine and sleep deprivation just like little stress bombs about to go off? Trust me, it’s no day in the park. So instead of tracking Tanner down, I just used the old detective skills to get an idea of her timeline. Had to polish ’em up a bit first, of course. Skills get a bit rusty.

I started with her class record. Attendance showed she was there both classes the week of the 12th and the 15th. Both times she signed in, and then left – “to draw,” I heard, or “to research.” Fortunately I found evidence of both things on her camera – handy of her to leave evidence lying around like that – so that’s 3 1/2 hours right there. Some more drawing followed the next Tuesday and Thursday, again backed up by photos. 7 hours.

The evidence:
1st drawing – Looks like she ended up nixing this one, but it kept her busy the first week.

Last week she moved onto a new drawing – Sleeping Beauty. The class time pics:

Then things got screwy. Looks like Tanner forgot to document some of her process – Miss Sleeping Beauty went straight from bare bones to swirly hair the next time I saw her again. Most people wouldn’t have noticed, but nothing gets past this eye. Of course, I suspected she was hiding something. I tracked down her Friday-night study partner for the interim, a friend and ex-roommate who swore she’d seen the 30 minutes worth of extra drawing. Call me crazy, but I believe her. She has a trustworthy hat.


Next time the picture showed up, it was Sunday morning.

She finished it. But Tanner and Easter apparently equal gutsy – or foolhardy – and instead of working on her previously drawn Little Red, she started another.

Now I had to follow the trail to the digital lab, where Tanner had hunkered down and claimed a computer for the majority of Sunday and Monday. By now we’re at 11 hours and counting, and I’m feeling like I got this case in the bag.

Tanner signs in at 2 o’clock Easter Sunday. She leaves at 9. There were plenty of witnesses if I needed it; but again, she makes it easy for me.

At 18 hours, and halfway through her first drawing, there the trail ends. Oh, there were some more pictures – she came back that night, and then the next, but all I’m paid to do is find those 15 hours, and by God, I found them. It doesn’t help that right as I was rifling through her desk this morning for more evidence or spare change she comes prancing in with two dozen donuts and not a single offer to share, spouting some excuse about long lines at Krispy Kreme and midnight showings of RHPS in D.C.

Not that I believe her for an instant, mind you. I know what’s going on. Got me to do her work for her, AND no donuts. Selfish trollop.

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