The telephone rang. Andy lifted the earpiece off the cradle with one hand as he picked up the mouthpiece with the other.
"CSI: Mayberry," he drawled. "What's that, Mr. Mayor? A drive-by, out in the county? We'll get right on it."
He turned to his assistant.
"It's the mayor, Barn. He's got a job for us."
Bernard P. Fife of Crime Scene Investigation leapt to his feet.
"Roger! Do you think I need my bullet, Anj?" Barney asked, patting his shirt pocket.
"No, just get the crime scene kit we got from Capital City."
As the patrol car sped down the dusty back road, Andy's cell phone rang. He turned down the radio, which was playing the latest hit by the Darlings - a banjo-and-fiddle remake of How Can You Believe Me When I Say I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life. He pulled out his cell phone, unhooked the tiny earpiece and put it to his ear while he spoke into the main body of the phone.
"Howdy. No, Agent Jones, we don't need to fly over there. Tell the investigators to look on the west end of Howland Island, in a grove of palm trees next to the bay. They should find the wreckage of the plane in the undergrowth. Don't mention it. Bye."
Barney turned to Andy.
"You didn't stay up all night with that Amelia Earhart case, did you?"
"Naw, I just flipped through the file after supper. Those big-city investigators overlook the obvious sometimes."
"I know what you mean," Barney said. "It was the same way with the Jimmy Hoffa case. It took us the good part of a day to fly up North and find his body. Yankees, labor unions - I don't mind telling you, I was glad to be back home."
"I won't argue with you there, Barn. Remember how nice the people were last month in Dallas? After you lifted those 41-year-old fingerprints off the grassy knoll and told the FBI who helped Oswald, those Feds were so grateful I thought they were going to shake our hands off."
"Just good police work, Anj. Now that we're a CSI, they give us better crimefighting equipment than when we were a sheriff's office. If a bank robber leaves behind a glass eye, all we have to do is drop it into the Glass Eye Analyzer, press a couple of buttons, and we instantly have the complete history of that eye - where it was manufactured, whether it's right or left, who bought it."
"I remember helping out the Mount Pilot police with that case, Barney. It would have taken us another day or two without the equipment. I'm just glad we never have crime like that in Mayberry."
"Maybe that's why they send us out to other places, Andy. It seems like we've been on cases just about everywhere in the country except Las Vegas and Miami, doesn't it?"
"And don't forget New York City."
The patrol car stopped at the crime scene, where a car with a broken windshield sat by the side of the road.
"Gunshot?" Barney asked.
"I don't think so." Andy held up a rock in his gloved hand.
"Igneous?" Barney said. "But this area is made up of sedimentary rocks. Let me run that through the Rock Analyzer. Ha! Just as I thought. It's covered with the fingerprints of - "
"Ernest T. Bass?" asked Andy.
"You know it."
"Case closed. Let's bring him in. Then let's go get some of Aunt Bee's iced tea. These cases wear me out."
Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.