The Strange Detective

On the way back from seeing his grandfather at the Toby Jones nursing home, Lars Larson Jr. took a detour into Point Defiance Park, his elbow out the window of the new VW Beetle he sometimes drove, so the rain would mat the hair on his forearm. It was dead winter, but since childhood he’d liked the cold, could run in it in a T-shirt and shorts back then, or go to Owen Beach and trudge among the driftwood. Winter and driftwood and crashing waves, rain and low cloud cover—this was what Lars loved most.

Once inside the park he intended to loop around the Five Mile Drive then head back to work at Lars Larson Motors but changed his mind when he saw a sign for the very Owen Beach he’d just thought of. He called Ruth to tell her he’d be late, then turned on the radio. Beechwood 4-5789, you can call me up and have a date, any old time, came out of the speakers, which were as good as he told his customers they were—surround sound in a Beetle really was something else. The car was a Lars Larson Motors loaner, the station set by whomever they lent it to last, but Lars left it alone. Beach wood was what he would soon be walking among—the detritus of his life in Tacoma.

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