Working in the backyard on Sunday morning, Jen came to me and asked if I’d seen the instrument case hidden behind the neighbor’s garage that abuts our yard. I went to investigate and found a full-size cello case laying on its side in a pile of brush behind our mulch piles, not a place I’d prefer to see a stringed wooden instrument stored. Fearing someone had stashed it there for nefarious reasons, I placed it upright and we left it there for the day to see if someone came to claim it.
At dusk, I went back out and swapped it for a small note taped to the wall of the garage: “We didn’t want your friend getting wet. Ring the bell at the blue house.” (It was threatening to rain last night). Inside the case is a full-size student cello, made last year, in great shape save a cracked neck arch.
Something about this is very wrong; the house behind us is occupied by a single woman with no children. The garage itself is locked, but there’s a canvas awning to the side where the cello could have been stored out of the weather and eyesight. And why not the back porch of the house? If a child was locked out of the house, only to come back later, why not just leave it up there? This smells fishy to me, like someone stole it and stashed it.
So what should I do if someone actually does come to claim it? My respect for stringed instruments (I played upright bass for eight years) says I shouldn’t on easy on the punk who left it outside; it’s going to depend on who rings the bell, I suppose. If it’s a concerned parent, it’s a no-brainer. If it’s a nervous kid, do I call their folks? If it’s a tweaker, I ask them to describe it and see how they do, but what then? Ideas?