Enough. I’m taking a break from politics today since I have uncovered a monstrous crime taking place right beneath my nose. It’s not at all because I’ve been reading the papers every day for a week and this morning I reached critical mass, and couldn’t bear another word of the endless dreck we are subjected to. We’ll go back to politics again tomorrow. You haven’t heard about the open toilets yet.
Those of you who have been following this blog for a very long time may remember that, towards the end of last year, I fell victim to a spate of robberies in my own home. My wallet was stolen. Twice. On both occasions, I was able to apprehend the criminal and retrieve my property. I learned my lesson (mostly), and am now far more careful with my possessions (mostly). And it’s worked. My home has been largely crime free ever since. The occasional chocolate gets stolen, but I don’t like chocolate, so it’s no business of mine.
But a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a mystery. And in the beginning, that’s all it was. I found a stone on the coffee table. It wasn’t a particularly special stone, but it was a fairly distinctive one. It was one of these.
I’m not even sure what they are called. What I do know is that they are not the sort of stone you find lying around your garden. It’s a quarried stone. It’s used as gravel in driveways and mixed with tar to pave our roads. No big deal. Kids are weird. They carry stuff around. My son used to bring home every piece of quartz he ever found, informing us that they were “stones of power”. Weirdo. If he builds a pyramid in our garden and feng shui’s the TV room we’re going to have to have a little chat.
I went to the door and threw the stone out into the street. And thought no more of it. Until later that afternoon. When I found two stones on the coffee table. They were the same sort of stones as the first one. We don’t have a gravelled driveway, and our kids are not allowed to play in the street. Odd. But I’ve seen stranger things round here. I threw the stones out into the street and went about my business. All went back to what passes for normal round here.
Until the next evening. I was loading up the washing machine. We have to check all the pockets very carefully when we do this because someone around here (I won’t mention any names) is constantly leaving things like tissues in their pockets (It’s my wife. Tracyloveshistory is the tissue fiend!). I picked up my daughter’s pants (My wife sometimes hides tissues in my kid’s clothes to try and keep me on my toes) and felt something hard. I emptied out the pockets. Another stone. Same kind.
I couldn’t question her at the time, since she was asleep already, and it slipped my mind. Until the next day, when I fetched her from playschool. I picked up her bag for her. And I felt an odd shape in the side pocket. I reached in to fetch out the two stones that were sitting there, and simultaneously heard an unearthly shriek and felt a sharp blow in my knee.
How dare I!
How dare I try to take away her mom’s present!?!?
What the hell was wrong with me?
I know the game by now. This is the second time round for us, and we’ve learned a thing or two. We are not as smart as our children, and I am not equipped to fathom the workings of the mind of a psychopath, but we can just about keep up some of the time.
Misdirection. I know it when I see it. It’s an old conjuror’s trick. The stones were no present. That story was plucked from the ether in response to my discovery. But I’ll give it to her, she followed through to the bitter end. When we got home she made a big show of wrapping one of the stones in purple, sticking some googly eyes and a pipe-cleaner on it, and presenting it to her mother like a Faberge egg.
The next day she smuggled home two more stones. No wrapping. No presents. They were simply tucked away in a corner of her room. I know what’s going on now. My four-year-old daughter is stealing the driveway from her school. Stone by stone. Two or three a day.
It’s quite a big driveway. At this rate it’s going to take her years. But she is committed to the task. Slowly but surely, the driveway is going to end up in our home, tucked away in corners, forgotten in pockets, left lying around on coffee tables.
I wish I could say that the crime has been solved. But it hasn’t. There is something missing. Motive. Why? What does she want with a school driveway? Can’t she find some money to steal instead? Why is an enormous pile of gravel being smuggled into my home? I know the suspect well enough to know these questions will never be answered. And so the case will never come to court.
But I’ve come up with a solution. Like Batman, I’m going to have to work outside official channels. Justice and the law are not always the same thing. I’ve started gathering her ill-gotten gains together. I’m going to present her with the proceeds of her crime this afternoon. And ask her what they are for. She will not tell me the truth. She will stick to her story.
But maybe, as she wraps the part of the driveway she has stolen already, stone by stone, she will see the error of her ways. Maybe, as she sticks on the hundredth googly eye, the hundredth twisted pipe-cleaner, she will come to realise that crime doesn’t pay. Maybe as she presents her mother with yet another glue-covered gravel-monster, she will realise that the game is up, that she has been rumbled.
And then, as one does when dealing with a master criminal, we will sit back and wait for the next nefarious scheme to reveal itself. If only she would start stealing her mother’s tissues.