"It's still crisp," the old man said, squinting at a $100 bill. "Will you take cash for your retainer?"
"Sure," I said. I sat down gingerly, avoiding a pan of water near my feet.
"I'm not involved in some kind of criminal enterprise." He retied the string around the neck of the muddy plastic bag. "I just don't like lumpy mattresses."
I got out my pen and notepad. "So about these people who stole your yard gnome. Did you recognize any of them?"
"That cabal. My neighbor Strauss and his kids." He thumped his knee and knocked his cane on the floor. "Moral pygmie! He tried to dragoon me into letting him fix my roof. He wants my money. You question him really hard, you hear," he said, waggling a bony finger at me.
"That's what you're paying me for, sir."
He looked mollified. "Off with you, then. I want a report every day."
"Yes, sir." I handed him his cane.
Outside, I pulled my coat over my head and ran for my car. I read my notes by the light of my cell phone.
"You were right, Mr. Strauss. Your father's burying his money."
A hard sigh. "Damn."
"Mostly twenties, some hundreds," I said. "In a trash bag."
"Thanks." He paused. "Come by tomorrow. I'll give you the yard gnome. You return it to him."
I looked back at the house. A curtain moved in the front window as I started my car and drove off.
I'm not sure if it's a good sign, or a bad one that I actually want to read on.