Kate was a peculiar child, although her mother preferred the term ‘eccentric’. Kate often sat with her head in the palms of her hands staring out the living room window for hours, never moving a muscle.
“Something is the matter with her’ her father Ronald Henderson was concerned. He was a good father and he watched the local news every evening.
“Nothing is wrong with our daughter.’ Kate’s mother Verla, explained. “She’s just using her imagination, like my brother Billy.” Billy was 39 and single and the author of 11 bestselling thrillers, like: “Prom Night Espionage” and “Undercover Walrus”. Billy sat in their recliner for hours gazing at china hutch or up at the ceiling fan. During these quiet times he was working, thinking up characters and far away places. Verla understood that it was something that all writers did. Still, Ron was concerned because Kate didn’t just sit by the living room window, sometimes she used her father’s binoculars to look out her bedroom window. Verla assured him that this was also a part of the creative process.
“Just leave her be.” Verla patted her husband’s shoulder.
“But they’re my best binoculars. What if she breaks them?”
If seven year old Kathleen Henderson was truly looking for inspiration, she was right in looking no further than her own neighborhood. In recent weeks there had been three robberies and the police had no leads.
The local news had reported that the Raymond family who lived across the street from the Hendersons were out when someone broke in and took their microwave. “A microwave for God’s sake!” Ron exclaimed. “Somebody must have seen someone leaving with it.”
The Parsons stereo system had been taken as well. “Now, Verla, wouldn’t that have been obvious?” Ron asked her and flipped on the evening news. He shook his head at the flat screen and sighed. Bad things were always happening .
Another week passed and still no arrests although the police had interviewed everyone on the block.
Sgt Foster took a break from his usual round and paid Ron and Verla a visit. Verla pulled out a chair at the kitchen table and offered him a cup of coffee.
“Where are my binoculars, now?” Ron asked as he came into the kitchen.
Sgt. Foster looked up, “Don’t tell me they were stolen as well?”
“No. I’m sure they’re around here somewhere.”
“Check Kate’s room.” His wife suggested.
Ron left, then came back a moment later holding the pair of binoculars. “Found. They were in her room on the window sill.”
“My daughter the birdwatcher.” Verla smiled.
“I’m not so sure about that, Ver. I believe our Katie may be a ‘Peeping Tom’.”
“What’s this?” Sgt. Foster noticed the worn compostion book on the table.
“Oh, that’s just Katie’s stories. Our daughter is a budding writer.” Verla picked it up. “ Oh, the cover is all sticky. I told her not to leave it on the table.”
“Do you mind if I take a look?”
Verla Shrugged. “It’s just stories she’s made up. Kate has a good imagination, just like my brother Billy…”
“Enough about your brother, Verla.”
“He’s an exceptional writer. His last book is gonna become a movie. Isn’t that wonderful, Sgt.”
“Hmm. Cute drawings. Pretty script.’ Sgt. Foster leafed through the book with interest. “ Hey, this looks like a diary. See the dates at the top of the pages. Wait. This is interesting.”
“Didn’t I say she was talented.”
”These look like Kate’s accounts of goings on in the neighborhood. Like this one, 'July llth Mr. Raymond mowed the lawn in his bath robe. Mrs. Raymond hollered at him for it.' And this, it was just last Sunday when the Raymond’s reported a burglary. ' Mr. Dawson came out of Mr. Raymond’s house with a microwave.”
“That really happened.” Ron and his wife exchanged surprised glances.
“Yea. Do you mind if I borrow the book?”
“But it belongs to Katie.”
“I’ll return it later. I better get back to the station. I’ll be in touch.”
“Thank you, Sgt’ She walked him out.
“Now what do you make of that?” Ron raised an eyebrow.
Kate came bounding into the kitchen after school and froze when she saw Sgt. Foster seated at the kitchen table, her mouth dropped when he held up her notebook.
“Is this your book, Kate?”
Kate slowly nodded.
“I’ve been having a good look at it, I hope you don’t mind’
“Kate shook her head and looked at her parents. “Daddy. Mommy. Is everything okay? Sgt. am I in trouble?”
“No, Katie you’re not in any trouble. Actually, I believe you’ve help me and the department solve a mystery. With this.’ He held up her book. “You’ve been keeping a journal of the goings on in your neighborhood.”
“Just for stories. Uncle billy says to write what you know.”
“That’s good advice. Did you really see Mr. Dawson come out of the Raymond’s house carrying a microwave.”
“And did you also see Mr. Dawson with a stereo and later a bike?”
“Yes.” Kate began to fidget with the string on her jumper.
“Why didn’t you tell us, dear?”
“Because Daddy said to not tell stories anymore and to not take his binoculars.”
“But Mr. Dawson did a bad thing. He’s a crook.” Ron exclaimed.
“Now, Ron. Mr. Dawson has been our neighbor a good long time, he’s never taken anything before.”
“That we know of.”
“Katie, your folks are right, you should have told them as soon as you saw anything suspicious.”
“But it was poor old Mr. Dawson. He’s always been nice to me and he’s seemed so sad since Mrs. Dawson left him.”
“Well, I’m going to need to borrow your book again. Is that alright? I’ve got to pay a visit to the people that were robbed and then to Mr. Dawson.”
“You won’t send him to prison will you, Sgt. Foster?”
“Let the nice officer do his job, Kate.”
“Well, you’ve been a big help. You know you’d make a terrific flat foot, kid!” Sgt. Foster patted her head.
“Good luck, officer.” Ron walked him to the door.
As it turns no one wanted to see poor old Mr. Dawson behind bars. He’d lived on Green Street for so long and never bothered anyone. It seems he’d had a sort of mid-life crisis after his wife left him.
“Now kate if you ever see anything suspicious again, please tell us.” Verla told her daughter the next time the binoculars were missing.
“I will. I promise. And I think from now on I’ll just stick to using my imagination.”