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Law and Odor: Special Refrigerator Unit

By Jennifer Cramer-Miller

Like Law and Order detectives, my husband and I arrive at the scene to work the case. The perp is right under our nose, lurking in the refrigerator. We will apprehend him.

The painstaking search for the odorous offender begins. The investigation starts in the veggie drawer. Many suspects live there, so an evacuation ensues. I question spinach number one. Her story checks out. Then the second spinach interrogation begins. “Why are there two of these yahoos?” my husband prods.

“My fault,” I say. “Inventory management failure.” We place the older of the two in a holding cell. But with the aggressor still at large, the hunt continues. I question the bag of carrots, but her expiration-date alibi is sound. The cabbage and cauliflower? Not guilty. The blackened, crumbling mint, however? Unfortunately, no pulse. It’s a goner. RIP old, crusty mint. Sorry we didn’t spend more time with you when you were alive. Nevertheless — an innocent victim.

We’ve tackled investigations of this nature before. So we understand that no investigation solves itself without exhaustive effort. But our styles differ. I show more empathy. “Leave that sauerkraut alone,” I say, channeling the compassion of Mariska Hargitay’s Law and Order character, Olivia Benson. “He’s not breaking any laws!”

My husband shows no mercy. If there’s any doubt, he’s done. “I’m throwing him in the slammer.”

We forge ahead. There are cheeses to interview, various milks (cow and otherwise), to interrogate. Is Mr. Soy in cahoots with his faux milk friend, Flax? Questioned. Sniffed. Cleared of wrongdoing.

Next, the leftovers need to go. That Thai food? It was so good the first time; I was sure I’d return to it again and again. To be practical. The portions were so generous, it could feed us for days! My husband holds it up and offers a smug nod to say, I knew you wouldn’t eat this. I grab the Tupperware in defeat and snarl. This is a brief distraction. The assault of odor continues, and the case has yet to be solved.

We expel fuzzy fruits and examine salad dressings, but the fugitive remains at large. Hiding in plain sight! We will not stop. We double down. And then, cowering back in the corner, hidden behind the bread and butter pickles and an innocent tub of hummus, I spot him. He’s not supposed to be here. He’s fled his usual spot on the side door panel with the others.

“Freeze!” I say.

My husband moves in and grabs the offender. “Well, if it isn’t Mr. Blue Cheese. You scum,” he says. We’ve had incidents with this troublemaker before, so the husband makes it clear who’s the boss. Like Ice-T, he puts the suspect in his place. “Your reign of terror is over, bit**.” God, I love it when he’s a bada** to blue cheese. We apprehend the perp, proving once again, the good guys prevail.

“Thai sound good for dinner tonight?” I ask as I wedge Tupperware into the dishwasher.

“Perfect,” the husband says.

We high-five with satisfaction. Until next week, another case closed.

— Jennifer Cramer-Miller

Jennifer Cramer-Miller is a freelance writer and custom home consultant in the Twin Cities. She is the author of the forthcoming memoir, Find the Bright SideDammit! and her published pieces are found in Brevity, The Sunlight Press, Grown & Flown, The Kindness Blog, The NKF Kidney Stories MN, Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop blog and Mamalode.

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