Dear Blake,

Is there a polite way to ask my neighbor where his wife is? I’ve lived in a neighborhood for four years where most people keep to themselves. During COVID, I noticed this female neighbor taking multiple walks each day. I introduced myself and sometimes came across her on my walk. She was pleasant but didn’t seem interested in being “friendly.” She was ALWAYS on her phone every time she left the house. They have a young, teenage daughter who sometimes walked with her mom.

I haven’t seen the woman in more than a year. The daughter and dad sometimes walk together with the dog. My reason for wanting to know is to understand their circumstance — did she pass away, did she leave her husband? It’s like she simply vanished.

Signed, Richard
From Oakland, California

*                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

Dear Richard,

His wife vanishing without a trace looks real suspicious. Before you contact the cops, be an amateur detective to determine if there is a logical explanation, or you’re living next door to a bloodthirsty monster. Here are a few suggestions… Sherlock. Do a background check on him, and find out if he has a history of his wives disappearing. If he does, contact the police, Dateline, and 20/20. Or, check his backyard to see if there is a shallow grave and/or a cheap headstone. Or this idea. If you have a dog, don’t feed him for a couple days, put it in his backyard to see if it’s hunger causes it to dig up some old bones. And lastly, try to remember back when you saw his wife last, and try to recall shortly after she disappeared if he bought a new sports car, driving around town with a much younger woman. If all of this is true and he confesses, tell him you’ll keep your mouth shut if he gives you half of the insurance money. If he gives it you, after you spent it, turn him in alleging that you felt guilty while you were on an around the world cruise… and don’t forget to send me a postcard. I hope this helps.