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The Matthewses even started a blog (whereintheworldismattie.blogspot.com).
So devoted are Tom and Alice, they return to St. Louis almost monthly to work their own shoe leather in areas where Mattie sightings have been reported. The search has taken them way down South Broadway and up to Bellefontaine Cemetery, through the back alleys around O'Fallon Park and across every inch surrounding a Jennings strip mall.
"We stayed out all night in the alley of Harney Avenue," Tom writes in an e-mail. "We visited drug houses looking for 'Henry.' Rumor has been that James Butler killed Mattie with a sledge hammer."
"Henry" is a purported friend of James Butler, the St. Louis city resident whom Cape Girardeau officials busted with the Matthewses' car. The Matthewses believe Henry is key to their mission. "Everybody kind of pointed to this one guy," Tom says. "But nobody will give his last name. Basically everybody's a little scared of him."
He adds: "We've had two ransom calls, but we hadn't set anything up and they quit calling. They're scary. I didn't want to meet them in a warehouse and they didn't want to come out in public. Then we had another mystery caller, who I took very seriously. He spurred the $25,000 reward. He said a family with criminal connections they're all wanted has had him for a long time, but they think we're setting a trap for them, so they will not give him up."
The couple has had no shortage of bad luck in St. Louis. On Christmas Eve they got a flat tire. On New Year's Eve their parked rental car got smashed up.
"We still think St. Louis is a great city," writes Tom, who's an accountant. (His wife, Alice, is a surgical technician.) "Big, bold, with lots of beautiful and interesting places. It's a real shame that it has such a strong criminal element that makes everything seem so dangerous."
If you run into Tom and you might; he says he has committed to a three-year search help him see another side of St. Louis. Better yet, call 616-706-6026 if you get to Mattie before he does.
This week's Commontary(tm) comes to us from Michael Broughton of Green Park, who's ticked about a lousy mattress:
If you're thinking about purchasing one of those "memory foam" mattresses, forget about it! Jeff, the "Sleep Expert" from whom I purchased the last mattress I'll ever need to buy, assured my that the space-age memory foam would never, ever lose its original shape; that the memory foam is a product developed and thoroughly tested by NASA. Would NASA provide an inferior product for our astronauts?
Apparently they did! The super-duper, space-age, holds-its-shape-forever memory foam mattress I purchased less than three years ago apparently suffers from a severe case of Alzheimer's and atrophy. It's lost its memory and its original shape!
Around the two-year mark, the memory foam began to develop depressions. A few months later, the depressions were deeper nearly two inches in depth. The warranty stated that three-quarter-inch depressions were normal; a caveat Jeff the Sleep Expert didn't bother to mention.
When I contacted the manufacturer (a California company), I was referred to the local retailer from whom I bought the mattress. The retailer, who operates six stores to better screw the buying public, treated me as though I was a thief trying to steal his last dollar.
Silly me! I thought that spending $1,500 for a space-age mattress that I would never have to replace was a prudent investment. After all, a good night's sleep is a valuable commodity. But the big-ticket purchase price and a twenty-year warranty meant nothing. Manufacturing defects! Product failure! Surely it is all the consumer's fault.
So watch out for shyster retailers selling memory-foam mattresses. Caveat emptor!
Ever get the urge to jump up and ____ this damn town?
Tell Unreal about it! email@example.com.
Correction published 3/8/07: The original version of this column erroneously stated that Mike Stasny (a.k.a. Giorgio) produced the video for "What What (In the Butt)." Stasny produced the song; the video was produced by Milwaukee-based Brownmark Films. The above version reflects this correction.