“Jeezy Pete’s! There enough ice on these steps or what? ‘Bout broke my neck.”

“Can I help you, kid?”

“Upstate Fire and Flood Restoration and Carpet Cleaning. Sorry about knocking over that jockey statue. This the McCallister place?”

“What, the firetrucks and squad cars didn’t tip you off? I’m Agent Carnegie with forensics. I’ll be walking you through this mess. Let’s start in the main entry. Oh, and try not to touch the doorknob.”

“Whatever you say, mac.”

“Alright. We got some deep surface scratches in the floorboards from about three dozen Matchbox cars. We’ve got some carpet tears on the steps here from what we think may have been a sled. Don’t know if that changes anything, but that’ll need replacing. We also got some blood and paint stains up and down the main staircase wall. The paint cans are still hanging up so you can check the labels and see if there’s a particular way you wanna tackle that.”

“Umm. Okay. Hey, is that a gold tooth on the ground?”

“Oh yeah, leave that alone. That’s evidence. Moving along, we’ve got tub ‘n tile sealant and Saran wrap all over the the living room. Luckily, most of it’s covered in feathers, but it’s also plastered a life-size cutout of Michael Jordan to the wall. Keep clear of that Christmas tree in the corner, too. There’re fifty broken glass ornaments by the window so you’ll have to sweep ’em up before you can get to the blood stains underneath. Now the basement’s a bit of an adventure. Blood, tar paper, nails. We also found a bag of hammers rigged up to the back door so watch out for that. Oh, and there are some action figures and BB gun pellets stuck in the heater’s air intake, so you’ll have to…”

“Wait a minute. What kind of furnace they got down there?”

“An old cast iron Capitol model, I think. Why?”

“I don’t go near those things, pal. They give me the creeps.”

“What, are you serious? Okay. I guess I’ll just get the Scapelli Brothers on the job. Plenty of billable hours around here for them.”

“Alright, fine! I’ll do the basement. Is it flooded like all the others?”

“Naw. It’s weird—every house on this block got their faucets plugged but this one. Anyway, the real problem area is the oldest kid’s bedroom upstairs. Good luck getting the door open. There’s about six shelves full of stuff that got torn down. Broken glass, nudey magazines everywhere. And the police photographer said he spotted a tarantula running around up there.”

“Man, I hate spiders almost as much as I hate old furnaces.”

“You think that’s bad? Take a look at this.”

“Whoa! What in God’s name is that?”

“Picture of the kid’s girlfriend. Found it upstairs. Quite the looker, ain’t she?”

“Whew! I think I have a statement to make for your report.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”


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