She made her way down the hall visiting each room and then moving to the next. She was quiet and made sure she wasn’t seen or heard. She made her way the length of the hall. The only sign that she had been there were some droplets of liquid she left behind trailing from room to room. She knocked waiting for a response and when there was none she would make her way to the bedside table to complete her mission and move on. She did this every morning like clockwork.
Around 7:45 a.m. the chaos had erupted at the nurse’s station once again. There gathered around leaning on canes, propelled by walkers and wheeled by chairs stood the angry mob. They put forth their complaints and demanded restitution. They wanted the culprit caught and punished. They were an angry mob they didn’t just want punishment they wanted the guilty party hanged. They cried out in indignation that the person who had committed this heinous crime didn’t deserve to live.
There in the center of the riotous ruckus yelling as loud as the rest was Mrs. Winston. She was outraged, she was infuriated and she wanted this problem solved. She stood there with her false teeth in her soaking cup holding it up so the nurse could see. “These are not my teeth” she asserted in her toothless mumble. The other residents all raised their cups in the same protest.
Over in the corner in her wheel chair sat Mrs. Ollie Roberts. Mrs. Roberts was in the ravages of dementia. She would sit in her chair all day and repeat “Take me home, take me home, take me home. I’ll give you a dollar and a half and a cow and a calf. Take me home, take me home, take me home.” Then she would cackle wildly and start her offer all over again. Except for today. Today Ollie sat in her chair and watched the spectacle unfolding in front of her with keen interest. Today she made no offers of bovine bartering today she smiled a knowing smile and mumbled “I know who did it. I know who did it.” Only no one was listening to Ollie, they had tuned her out.
Finally Gladys asked them all to quiet down and to tell her exactly what had happened. That is when Mr. Green said that for the third morning in a row he had gone to put in his dentures only they weren’t his. He described a protruding palate and two pointed canines that were on his dentures and not on the ones in his cup. Mr. Self yelled from the back of the crowd “Bingo! I got a pair with a protruding palate and pointed canines. Now who has my dentures with the yellow incisor and the broken molar?” Then from the other side of the crowd came “I’ve got your broken molar who has my partial plate?” This went on until Gladys was able to assemble the crowd in the dining room. With denture cups in hand each resident would bring forth a pair of dentures. The group would inspect the prosthesis and determine whether they belonged to them or not. All the time in the hallway sat Ollie saying “I know who did it. I know who did it.”
When some semblance of order had been restored and the residents felt comfortable with the prosthetics that had been returned Gladys started her investigation. This was before the advent of CSI so it was more of a Colombo type investigation. Well without the smoke billowing junker car and the dirty trench coat and cigar. Gladys went from resident to resident and took a statement. She also inspected each room. She noted the trail of Efferdent laced water that looped through the facility. Gladys wrote down her findings and sat with the chief of security and explained the situation. “I am at a loss as to who could have done this” she stated. “I’m sure it was one of the residents and not one of the employees” she reported and continued on in her findings. Fred, the security chief replied “well don’t worry too much about it you got it worked out.” Fred dismissed the situation as to just another episode in the Elderly Mysteries and went about his rounds.
Gladys got up to return to her office when she spotted her sitting in the hallway. She noted that something was different today and it wasn’t just the mix up in the dentures. Mrs. Roberts wasn’t chanting her normal mantra. She was instead giggling to herself and mumbling something. Gladys approached Mrs. Roberts and inquired “What is that you’re saying?” To which Mrs. Roberts cataract laden eyes turned up to her and said “I know who did it.” Gladys took a chance and said “Who did what Mrs. Roberts?” “Who took the teeth” was Ollie’s reply. Gladys had seen Mrs. Roberts of moments of lucidity and thought she had solved the mystery. “Mrs. Roberts who took the dentures” Gladys asked hoping that this was one of Ollie’s rare moments. Ollie cackled that crazy cackle and then pulled her gnarled and crooked finger out of her pocket and pointed at Mrs. Winston. Then she cackled again and said “The Tooth Fairy took them!”
Gladys was aghast. Mrs. Winston looked astounded and started to shuffle away as fast as she could. “Mrs. Roberts are you saying Mrs. Winston took them?” Ollie smiled a knowing smile and grabbed Gladys' hand and said “Take me home, take me home, take me home. I’ll give you a dollar and a half and a cow and calf. Take me home, take me home, take me home.” Gladys looked at Mrs. Roberts and then at the retreating Mrs. Winston and she knew who the tooth fairy was.