#27: The Case of the Dudes Next Door
Status: Solved

Dear Shut-In Detectives,

Recently, our neighbors (three college-aged men) had a barbecue in our communal backyard. Although my fiancée and I were not invited to the event, we watched from our window through binoculars. The next morning, we noticed a small jar of thick, bubbly black liquid sitting on the picnic table. Several weeks have passed, and the tiny vial persists. We don’t want to touch it, and we’re uncomfortable asking the “dudes” downstairs what it is.

On an unrelated note, our neighbors have begun to hang their bicycle racing singlets, inside-out, in our shared laundry room. Although this has nothing to do with the barbecue goo situation, it is very disturbing. Did you know that racing singlets have special “nut sack protectors”?

Please help us shame these men.

C. & C.

Several years ago the Shut-Ins were faced with a similar mystery themselves. The liquid in this case was yellow, and it didn’t take a shut-in detective to solve that one. But black goo—that was a mystery indeed.

The cousins debated the possibilities. Peter felt it was chemical; Jenny, organic. But they both agreed that the racing singlets were a vital clue. How might the mysterious goo be related? Could it be an athletic ointment? An anti-chafing cream? A performance-enhancing gel?

At this point the Shut-Ins got too creeped out to continue musing over the possibilities, and Peter wandered off to play with his hair. A minute later he came running out of the bathroom, the mystery solved. “If these men are vain enough to wear silly racing outfits, they are vain enough to use fancy imported hair product,” he announced triumphantly. “The black goo in question is Japanese deep-shine pomade, the kind I use myself.” Peter added that it softens your hair like you wouldn¹t believe, and advises C. & C. to try it.

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#28: The Case of the Dashed Expectations
Status: Deferred

Dear Shut-In Detectives:

Help—I seem to have misplaced my prosperity. I was born the middle child of a reasonably well-off family in the region known as the “Midwest.” After a suitably pleasant childhood, during which I gathered accolades and accomplishments at the rate you might expect of the average exceptional teen, I graduated from a well-known state university and set off to Chicago to seek my fortune.

Well, I woke up this morning and it seems that my life is nowhere near as satisfying as it once was. Not only have my retirement savings mysteriously shriveled, but it turns out I’m working a dead-end job at a soon-to-be-bankrupt company in a soon-to-be-obsolete business.

So whatever happened to the promising child I was in my youth? Did somebody move my cheese and not tell me?


The Shut-Ins sympathized with the unfortunate G. There was a time when Jenny thought she was going to be a senator, while Peter had his heart set on a career as a nightclub impresario. They both know what it feels like to wake up one day in a nest of candy wrappers and realize you’ve squandered your life on bad choices and online gambling. Where does youthful promise go? In the case of the Shut-Ins, to shady offshore blackjack operators.

They seem to be doing pretty well, those rotten Cayman Island bastards. Which brings the Shut-Ins to their point. Instead of looking for his youthful promise in his past, the cousins suggest G. look for it in his future. They recommend G. take whatever cheese he has left and invest it in establishing an offtrack betting website. It’s a sure moneymaker. And this time, the Shut-Ins are betting on G.