In the fall of 2018 I joined three friends in living off-campus. We spent much of our first year as room­mates fig­uring out what it meant to live together with other people in an envi­ronment that should require con­stant care and upkeep. Back then we got along without any major con­flict, and we still do today. Any lin­gering problems are just those that all houses share: seldom-cleaned toilets, unvac­uumed floors, and a sink that’s full of dishes that “someone else must’ve used.” But in November of that year we faced a mystery that threatened to divide us. 

One of our first pur­chases for the house was a set of dinky $0.99 trash cans for our bathroom and laundry area. As the com­monly accepted and praised parent of our house, I usually emptied (and still empty) most of the trash that accu­mu­lates in each room. This habit proved dis­as­trous, however, when, on the night of November 28th, I emptied the bathroom trash-can.

I ini­tially tipped the con­tainer into a larger bag, and several expected items— kleenex, TP tubes, and an empty deodorant stick— crashed into the bottom of the bag. But as the small can reached its apex, several clumps of dark, short, and curly hairs cas­caded into the air. Had we put a plastic grocery bag into the can, I would’ve simply taken the whole bag out at once. But there was no plastic grocery bag to save me. Instead the hairs coated and the bathroom floor. 

After the initial shock, my mind raced with several ques­tions. Whose hair was this? Where, dare I ask, did this hair orig­i­nally grow? What kind of monster shaves any kind of hair into a lin­erless trash can? How will the offender be pun­ished? 

Once I calmed down, I fin­ished emp­tying the trash and washed my hands. Then I launched an inqui­sition, texting our house group message to con­front the per­pe­trator and plan my inves­ti­gation. Over the sub­se­quent days, debates raged and accu­sa­tions flew. Coali­tions formed and pro­posed pun­ish­ments were levied. Sus­pi­cions developed as we indi­vid­ually and pub­licly inspected each other for evi­dence of a recent trim. Out of the four of us, only one appeared to be the pos­sible culprit, but this one offered and today still main­tains a shaky, albeit plau­sible, alibi. Our inves­ti­gation also con­sidered a friend who fre­quented our home and another friend’s sibling, who had stayed with us the weekend before. 

To this day, the mystery remains unsolved. The case has gone cold. Barring a con­fession, the male­factor respon­sible will evade justice, hope­fully never to strike again.