Space Spuds

“What’s in the safe?” said Dimpy (Dimples) to Mrs. Roseman. “I’ve meant to ask you for ages but never got around to it.”

“Oh, nothing much,” said Mrs. Roseman, her white curls bobbing as she shook her head. “You’ve got enough on your plate with the little baby. Don’t you worry about it.”

It annoyed Dimpy when people told her not to worry about stuff that she wasn’t worried about. It was the same when people said “You’ll be ok” or “You’ll think of something.” Yes she would! She was a single mother fending for herself. Dimpy would always think of something and be ok, and had no time to worry, and even less time to listen to people who told her not to!

This Director’s job was the worst-paid job she’d ever had, but beggars can’t be choosers. She’d needed a job, and this was the only provincial museum recruiting. The local potato industry was booming, driven by their patented Space Spuds: blue Saturn Spuds and golden Solar Spuds. Great product differentiation had saved this otherwise struggling industry, this town, and importantly, this museum. She said, “I’m not worried Mrs. Roseman, just curious.”

“Oh, it’s just some old potatoes,” said Mrs. Roseman. She became rigid, but her white curls continued to bounce. “I mean some old machinery from Peru, where potatoes come from.”

“Really, that’s fascinating. From Peru? May I see it?”

Mrs. Roseman was still rigid, but her eyes were moving rapidly, and her white curls ending their motions. “Or maybe it’s from Pakistan, where you come from. So you already know what it looks like.”

“Really, from Pakistan?” said Dimpy. “I had no idea.” Mrs. Roseman seemed very nervous. Dimpy wondered why. “Look I’m Museum Director, and should know the resources we have available. This could make a great exhibit, even anchor a show. We could get a feature in the City Sun.” Mrs. Roseman had moved between Dimpy and the safe. “Do you have the keys?”

“I’m not sure where they are right now,” said Mrs. Roseman.

“Well who would know where they are – another trustee?”

“Yes, yes, another trustee. I will ask them at the monthly meeting.”

The monthly meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, but nobody was there when Dimpy arrived. She called Mrs. Roseman. “Where is everybody? The meeting was planned for 7pm.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. We moved the meeting to Monday. Didn’t Mr. Roseman call you?”

“No, your husband did not call me. Why did you move the meeting?”

“Oh, it was unavoidable. The trustees had clashes.” Dimpy wondered what clashes these dinosaurs had. Their average age must be a hundred. Maybe their hip-replacements were double-booked with prize bingo, or polishing their walking frames impacted a retelling of the Great Flood of ‘45. “But I asked about the safe for you. I was mistaken. It’s not machinery from Peru or Pakistan. Its private items held for the Old Families. It’s not things to show or feature.”

“Private items like what?” said Dimpy. “Do you mean valuable items?”

“Yes, very valuable things. That’s why we keep them locked up.”

“Well, I need to see those things, Mrs. Roseman.” The line went quiet. “Mrs. Roseman, are you there?”

“Yes, I’m here. Sorry, my hearing’s not what it was. They are private things. Why do you need to see them?”

“I’m legally responsible for their safety,” said Dimpy. “I must ensure that insurance documents are in order. If anything were to happen to those items, we would not be covered for their loss.” So irresponsible, thought Dimpy. This wasn’t the Guggenheim, she knew, but come on! Keeping personal stuff in the museum safe!

“Nothing will happen to them here,” said Mrs. Roseman. “Don’t you worry about it.”

“Mrs. Roseman, I am worried about it! We need to discuss this matter further. Will you be in tomorrow as usual? Ok, good. Please come and see me at 10 am.”

Mrs. Roseman did not appear the next morning. She also didn’t answer her phone. She appeared the day after, looking unsettled. She couldn’t look Dimpy in the eye when speaking with her. “I spoke with the Old Families about the situation,” she said. “It seems the private items were returned by the previous trustees, for the reasons you mentioned.”

“But haven’t you been a trustee for twenty years?”

Mrs. Roseman looked down. “Oh, I was in hospital last summer. It must have been then.”

“But I was here,” said Dimpy. “Nobody told me.”

“I think you were on holiday. Anyway, there’s only museum cash in there now. The Treasurer accounts for it. So don’t worry about it!”

Mrs. Roseman!” shouted Dimpy. “Please stop telling me what not to worry about! You have made me very worried indeed! I am the Museum Director – top of the food chain – and the buck stops with me. Please ensure that keys to this safe are on my desk tomorrow morning at ten.”

Dimpy had a rare date that night. Single mothers with young children had their work cut out. He was pretty hot, and said he’d like to see her again. She smiled as she drove home… Hang on! There were lights on at the museum. Who was in there at this time?

She quietly entered the back office. Mr and Mrs Roseman had the safe door open. Mr Roseman walked towards her with a hammer but Mrs Roseman called him back. She said, “No love, it’s time she knew.” Then she said to Dimpy, “A hundred years ago we had some very special visitors. Only the Old Families know. They sought permission to extract pumice – vital for their wellbeing – from Mt. Negra. In return they gave us their seed potatoes. The old timers were not trained marketers like you. They simply named the Space Spuds by their provenance – Saturn Spuds and Solar Spuds. The original seeds are kept in this safe. The Old Families take cuttings from them yearly, using each scraping to create a new culture. This is Lucerne Museum’s secret, and now it is also yours. Assuming of course that you love your daughter. Who’s her babysitter tonight? Joanne Millman? That sounds like an Old Family name to me.”

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