Sometimes my cases aren’t really cases at all, they are just using my skills to help out friends. I am a big believer in karma, doing good has a good return. You throw out a kindly boomerang, you get a kindly boomerang back.
At least that is the way I was raised.
My friend Daniel is a trusting soul, and I worry about him sometimes. He recently started dating at really nice girl named Daphne. Daphne is very down to earth, which is a good contrast to Daniel who is more of head in the clouds type of guy, I really like her.
Millie and I were walking up to Daphne’s house with a stack of pies and in swim gear. We had been over to Daphne’s a couple times before, once for a super bowl party and twice for game night, but this time it was different. This time she was having her family over for a barbeque. We were there to give Daniel back up as he would be under the scrutiny of her family who was going to be there en mass. Daniel had already met her parents, and that went well, but this time her brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins would be there as well, meeting Daniel for the first time.
We were early and greeted at the door by Daniel who was looking nervous. We had arrived early to help them set up things. Daniel and I paired up setting up with the chairs and corn hole in the backyard, while Millie helped Daphne in the kitchen with spoons and spatulas.
I was sitting in the backyard drinking a beer when the guests started to arrive. Daniel introduced and I made small talk. Luckily Daphne had hired a caterer to cook hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill so Daniel was relieved of that duty and could concentrate on impressing the relatives.
Everything was going fine, except for Daphne’s nephews. The decided that Daniel was a fun-loving guy who liked to joke around. As his oldest friend I knew this was not him, he was a quiet guy who was uncomfortable in large groups, and today was no exception but he was putting on great act. But I could see the three nephews, Larry, Darry, and Harry were trying to push his buttons; splashing him from the pool, surrounding him and pestering him with questions, shooting him with nerf guns that they pulled out of somewhere.
I was running interference for my bud as best I could, but someone arrived that changed the dynamic. Daphne’s youngest brother arrived with his new fiancé. I was in the house when they came in. Millie and I were introduced to both Peter and Wendy. Peter was a bright young guy, with a warm smile and a friendly honest disposition but with a slight geek flavor. Wendy, Peter’s fiancé was small and pretty, just past the line of being cute with long blonde hair that reminded me of something, something familiar that I couldn’t put my finger on.
Once the couple found their way outside to the rest of the family, I saw Daphne give a quick angry look towards the pair. I was not going to ask what the problem was as I firgured it was none of my business, but my gal Millie felt no restraint.
“Problem with him or her?”
Daphne turned away from the door and looked around to make sure none of her relatives were around. “A little of both, Peter is a good guy but never really dated a lot, he has always been a bit geeky. Smart, funny, but geeky, he played D and D all through high school, but he is a great lawyer now, a legal genius makes money hand over fist setting up mergers and partnerships and all.”
“So, what is the problem?” Millie asked. I just leaned back and listened while nibbling at the fruit tray. Millie without even looking pulled the tray away from me while keeping her eyes fixed on Daphne.
“Wendy.” She looked around the kitchen again for listening ears. “He was dating another girl, real nice, had been with her since college, then blondie shows up three months ago, he breaks it off with Lily, which the family liked, and then last week he asked me about engagement rings.”
Millie summed it up quickly. “Gold digger?”
Daphne gave the slightest nod.
Millie nodded, then looked at me and simply directed me with a phrase. “Go do your thing honey.”
I looked back and forth between the two women who were looking at me. Daphne in a pleading manner. Millie in an encouraging by direct way. I shrugged, grabbed another strawberry from the tray which Millie allowed as a reward for acquiescing to her direction.
I went into the backyard and joined the group of cousins, aunts and uncles. I got into the group that Peter and Wendy had joined. Luckily, I did not intrude on the conversation as it progressed without me disrupting the flow. Peter was finishing up a story about some sort of business deal and the group turned their attention to Wendy, so I simply listened in.
“So, what do you do Wendy?”
“Oh, I work at Walt Disney World.”
Peter spoke up proudly. “She works for Disney Entertainment.”
Someone else asked what she did, and she promptly answered. “Oh, I am Tinkerbell, you know I talk to little kids and ride on floats.”
There were ohs and ahhs around the group, including a little girl who just looked at her with new fascination.
One of the female relatives spoke up. “I thought your hair looked familiar.”
Wendy smiled. “Yes, all I do is put my natural hair up.” With that she used her hand and pulled up her long hair and put it into a bunch that formed the iconic bun of the Peter Pan’s best friend. “And I am ready to go meet customers in my little green dress.”
The little girl who had been listening to this was in awe, and whispered something to her mother, the mother nodded. “Sorry Wendy, I know you are not working. But Abbie wants to know if she can have your autograph.
“Sure.” Wendy said smiling at the mother but not the little girl.
A pen and paper was produced and Abbie handed it to her. I watched from nearby as Wendy signed the paper. It was a big piece of paper and I could see she signed it ‘Tink to my friend Abbie.’
After that was done the conversation turned towards other topics and I drifted towards Millie and leaned in and kissed her on the cheek then whispered in her ear. “Take off your shoes and go stand next to Wendy.”
Millie trusted me enough to not ask questions she just casually covertly took off her shoes and shuffled through the crowd and stood next to Wendy as they were both next to the grill getting a burger.
She came back with a burger which she had no intention of eating and handed it to me and whispered. “Did that help?”
“Immensely.” I said kissing her quickly on the lips. I sat down next to Daniel who was eating a burger as well and trying to explain what he did for a living to Daphne’s grandfather. Selling information about Disney to people on the internet is a vague and nebulous job at best and explaining it to someone who retired before the internet became essential to business is next to impossible, but he was trying. Peter and Wendy sat down at the same table and I firgured I would ask one direct question of Wendy before I ended my investigation and reported my findings to Daphne.
“So, you work in Disney Entertainment, as Tinker Bell, did you do any other characters before that.
Peter answered for her. “Actually, my favorite character, she played Tigger.”
“Is that right?”
“Yes, I just loved bouncing around.” She winked and leered at Peter. “I love bouncing around don’t I sweetums?”
Peter blushed a bit at her statement, and I turned away a bit embarrassed at her crassness in front of a total stranger. I finished my burger and excused myself from the table and helped Millie and Daphne cover up some of the food. When they went to move some food inside before it melted, I followed along. No one else was in the house and I motioned for Daphne and Millie so we should talk.
I explained to them what I had discovered, and Daphne said she would have to think about what to do.
We were interrupted by howling coming from outside. In the yard we saw Daniel chasing the nephews with a pair of nerf swords yelling unintelligibly in anger. We learned the nephews had spiked Daniels burger with ghost peppers, Daniel had coated his tongue with hummus and sour cream and began chasing the little tricksters.
Daphne made her nephews apologize to Daniel and they were punished by their parents. Daniel was cured with a tub of ice cream and a plunge in the pool. The rest of the day went smoothly, and things began winding down. The evening came and most everyone had left. Only Daphne, Daniel, Millie, and I remained along with Peter and Wendy. Everyone was relaxed when Daphne decided to lower the boom.
“So, Wendy, you work at Walt Disney World, that must be some commute to see Peter in Tampa.”
“Oh, it’s not that bad.”
“How lucky for you that your hair is just like Tinkerbells.”
As an outside observer I could hear the trap being set for her but Wendy was currently unaware of the danger.
“Just lucky I guess.”
“So how long have you been playing this part?”
Wendy looked at her. “What do you mean?”
Daphne looked at her sternly. “How long have you been pulling this Tinkerbell crap off?”
“I do not know what you mean.”
Daphne decided to direct her conversation towards her brother. “Did you know that all Disney face characters are required to wear wigs, not a single one of them shows their natural hair in costume, no matter how perfect it matches the character they are playing.”
“What are you saying?” Peter asked.
Wendy spoke up quickly. “I do not know where you are getting your information, but you are wrong.” Wendy said. “You are just wrong.”
I shrugged again but Daphne nodded for me to disclose what I knew, and I did dispassionately. “Disney Cast Member never refer to Disney visitors as customers they are always guests.” I could see Wendy getting angry, so I stayed calm. “That ‘autograph’ you gave was all wrong. All character autographs are basically the same, any friend of a character is trained to do it the exact same way every time.” I decided to reveal my source for this. “My mother had to do a sewing project where she had to embroider all kinds of Disney Signatures and yours does not match any Tinkerbells that I have ever seen.”
“Well, I was a little off today, that is all.” Wendy sputtered as a desperate defense.
I looked over at Peter who had a bit of suspicion in his face, I gave a little shake of my head. Daphne nodded for me to continue so I did. “And I have known, plenty of Disney Entertainment people, they are always, ‘friends’ with a character, especially around kids. It keeps the magic of the characters being real. They never claim they are the character.
Wendy just sat there staring daggers at me.
Daphne spoke again. “Also ‘Wendy’ if that is your real name, you are too tall to play Tinkerbell, isn’t that true Miles?”
I shrugged and stated the facts I knew, and the facts I had observed. “Tinkerbell can’t be portrayed by anyone over five foot two inches. You are about five foot seven, Millie is five foot eight. Even if you were slouching you are at least five foot six.”
Wendy looked shocked so I continued. “And there is no way you could have ever been in the Tigger costume, because you have to be a minimum of five foot ten. Too tall for Tinker Bell, too short for Tigger.”
Daphne spoke up. “I think you are some sort of blood sucker trying to get my rich brother to marry you so you can get his money. Tomorrow morning, I am going to hire Miles here to do a further background check on you, to see if you are just an opportunist or if you have a criminal record.”
Wendy stood up and turned toward Peter. “Peter take me home right now.”
We all sat there as Peter got up and followed the angry woman into the house and out the front door.
Daphne gave us a forced smile. “More wine anyone?” She raised her own empty glass. “I could really use another glass,” she sighed “or maybe a box.”