Submerged stethoscope

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I’m no fan of two-stroke engines, because if you don’t use them regularly they simply don’t start. Sometimes it works to empty the fuel-oil mixture, start and run for a few seconds with straight gasoline. Sometimes, and inevitably messy. “Start chainsaw” has been on my to-do list for weeks now – maybe months – while the thing sat on a big piece of cardboard, oil slowly leaking and soaking through to the baldosa tile floor below. Rather than actually try to start it, yesterday I put it back in its case, and took the oily cardboard to the trash container on the corner.

At the end of our driveway, I noticed trash – what looked like a plastic plate – at the entrance to the culvert under our driveway. I’d seen it a few days before, and decided it should go in the trash too. Can’t put off everything forever.

Removing it and a plastic bag, I saw there was more, and pulled out a mucky shoulder bag, spilling its contents: hypodermic needles, veterinary supplies, and a stethoscope. Then I realized there was a second bag, containing a sodden laptop computer.

My neighbor Álvaro was mowing the lawn, so I showed him all. I figured the vet supplies were useless, except perhaps for the stethoscope. I had no idea what to do with the computer until Álvaro pointed out a sticker on the back. I hosed mud off, let it drain, then headed to Electroshop, our local computer repair store.

The owner quickly spotted a number on their sticker, and identified it as one they had reformatted in 2010 for a Mario Fernández. I was hoping he’d offer to call the owner, but with that offer obviously not forthcoming, asked for details. He thought maybe it was the vet whose shop was a block and a half away.

Indeed it was! His car window had been broken, home gate opened remotely, dogs let loose – and when he heard where I’d left the other bag, was out the door in a flash. By the time I got home, he already had the bag fished out and inventoried, and was talking with Álvaro.

Between pedestrians and passing vehicles, a small crowd gathered, and Mario explained how the vet bag contained controlled substances, including those to sacrificar – put down – animals. Someone asked, and no, he wasn’t worried about data loss; all client data was en la nube – in the cloud.

His wife appeared on foot. They live two blocks away, and I’ve walked past their house many times. She was amazed thieves would discard a computer, as was I. The robbery had occurred a week before, and they had been diligently searching. Sounds like their son was in and out of every garbage container in a five-block radius. Yuck.

After the recent heavy rain, I had wondered why the upstream neighbor’s ditch was overflowing, while ours was flowing normally. So: two mysteries solved.

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