Private Detective Sam Diamond was playing computer solitaire when a young woman entered his gloomy Forest Park office.

“Oh, Mr. Diamond, I don’t know where to begin.”

“Let me guess, you’re a newlywed, and you think your husband’s cheating on you.”

“How did you know?” she sniffled.

“Your wedding ring – it still has the price tag on it.”

“It’s just so unlike Kurt. He always came home straight from work. Now, he stops in Forest Park for a quick one and doesn’t come home for hours.”

“Do you have a recent picture?”

“Here, I found this on his phone, it’s from last night.” Diamond looked at the image – a man carousing with a bevy of females wearing knit sweaters.

“I can’t tell his hair color with that lampshade he’s wearing,” Diamond grumbled.

“Kurt is completely bald. He said that the picture was taken at his office Christmas party but none of those women work there. I also found this,” she said, handing Diamond a long blond strand.

Diamond placed it in his otherwise empty wallet. “I’ll need an advance to get started.” He calculated how many $3 drafts the investigation would require and she handed him $50.

Diamond went to all the watering holes in Forest Park, where he received the same hearty greeting, “Hey Diamond, no more credit until you settle up.” He flashed the phone photo in front of dozens of bartenders but they didn’t recognize the face or the lampshade.

Diamond suddenly remembered that Forest Park also had shops. He ruled out the hair salons and concentrated on retail. They didn’t recognize the picture at Schauer’s Hardware, or Paulson’s Paints.

Diamond took a closer look at the blond strand with his magnifying glass. It wasn’t a hair after all – it was a piece of yarn. Diamond walked down to Chix with Stix and peered through the window.

There was Kurt, surrounded by women in knit sweaters, handing out presents from a large bag. Diamond burst through the door, commanding Kurt to put down the waffle iron, now!

Searching through the bag, Diamond found jewelry from Team Blonde, a book called The History of Knitting: A Colorful Yarn from Centuries and Sleuths and an art glass reading lamp from Two Fish. The waffle iron was from Flavour.

Kurt insisted that they were all for his wife. “I’m just showing them to my knitting group,” he said, pulling an unfinished sweater from his knitting bag.

The evidence floored Diamond but he was even more astounded when Kurt told him that for every $100 spent in independently-owned local stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures.

Diamond vowed to visit Web site to verify Kurt’s story about the virtues of shopping locally. But first he needed to learn the proper way to hold the knitting sticks.