Daniel stood at the bottom of the basement stairs with his mom's favorite camera in his hands. He was told not to touch it but the desire was overwhelming. The sound of his mother calling his name startled him and caused the camera to fly from his hand. As it landed on the concrete floor, the cover to the memory card broke free from the body of the camera and went scooting across the basement floor and, without taking time to see if there was any other damage to the camera, he quickly picked it up and shoved it in between two boxes on a shelf across from the basement stairs, in the hope of checking it later for damage.
Daniel Moore was a boy twelve years old with a curiosity that inevitably got him into trouble quite a lot. He had developed a fascination of how his toys worked from the time he was five years old and would take them apart only to have to ask help getting them put back together. Some would wind up in the trash from lack of being able to repair them. His parents tried being patient with him but things cost money and were sometimes hard to replace.
Daniel raced up the stairs in hope of catching his mother before she reached the basement door. "I'm coming Mom." he yelled, as he shut the basement door.
"Daniel, you forgot to lock the door to the garage again. You know how I feel about that. Even if I'm five minutes away from getting home, I want that door locked."
"Yes, Mom. I'll try not to forget. " not knowing for the life of him why she was so crazy about locking that door.
There had been a number of break-ins in the west end of town and Daniel's mother Clara was nervous about leaving him alone in the home. The thieves had not left behind a trace of a fingerprint or a footprint to offer a possible suspect. The only evidence of an illegal entry was a small tear in the basement window screens of each home that had been broken into. Large enough items had been stolen that there had to be a human entering the home some way but yet the thief or thieves had not been caught.
"Daniel, we have to hurry. Your sister will be waiting for us to pick her up after practice and I 'm not leaving you here alone." Clara rushed Daniel along out the door, making certain that it locked behind her. All the while, Daniel had his mom's camera on the shelf in the basement in the back of his mind. Noticing the look of worry on her son's face, Clara asked "What's wrong?"
Avoiding the issue, Daniel assured her that he was fine but they needed to hurry and get Shelly before it gets dark. Daniel breathed a sigh of relief with his mother's acceptance of his explanation but feeling guilty with every second away from the possibility of checking that camera for inevitable damage.
On the drive to the school, Daniel would usually scan the store windows for certain displays of new toys or electronic gadgets the individual shop was featuring but today his mind was a blur of worry. Not even the pet store, where his family would stop and visit with the animals to see what new exotic bird or fish had been added to the store, could even pull Daniel's eyes from the road. All he wanted now was to get back home to check that camera.
Shelly stood outside the main doors to the school gym with Miss Jewels, the cheer leading instructor, and a few other teammates by her side. The cool autumn air was causing the girls to shift from one foot to the other in an attempt to stay warm in their short cheer skirts, even though their coats were as long as the cheer outfits, the air inevitably hit their legs. Shelly approached the car with a look of exasperation and opened the rear passenger door to hurry inside. "Mom, I told you we would be done by 5:30. You're late again."
"Apparently I'm not the only one that's late. You had three other girls waiting also, Shelly." Miss Jewels had promised the parents of the girls that she would stay right with them until the last one was safely picked up by their families. This eased the parent's minds considerably, knowing that the girls would be safe.
The warmth of the vehicle's interior was a calming affect to Shelly and she settled back into the rear seat and made no more complaints. "Kids, I need to stop by the grocery for a few things and then we can make our way home." Clara heard a groan from both of her children but kept on traveling toward Benton's Grocery.
As they pulled into the grocery parking lot, the spots were seemingly all taken on both sides. Clara traveled up and down the lot in hopes of a vehicle backing out to leave but after three attempts she gave up and pulled back out of the lot and headed home. "I think we'll have to make do with what we have till tomorrow." Clara heard no protests from either of her children. The grocery stop was for things that they seem to want for breakfast but what reaction from them would there be when those things aren't there. She would just have to wait and see.
The short drive home was quiet with Daniel looking serious and deep in thought sitting in the front passenger seat and Shelly on her iPad in the back seat. It seemed no time at all to Clara when they pulled into their driveway. Using the garage door opener to raise the door, she pulled the car into the garage and quickly lowered the door. Both children scrambled out of the vehicle and headed toward the door to the house. Clara was still gathering her book bag and purse from the car while they protested for her to hurry. She finally got the door opened and they quickly entered the kitchen to go off in their own direction. "Mom!" came the shout from Shelly in the family room. "Mom, come here!" Clara rushed to where she heard Shelly's voice. "It's gone..........everything's gone, Mom!" Clara entered the room and at once noticed the empty space where their big screen television had been sitting and the music system that her husband was so proud to have been able to buy just the year before. He had worked overtime for two weeks to be able to get that system. But a thief does not take that into consideration when they decide to steal.
"Where's Daniel?" Clara asked, looking around for other items that might be missing down stairs.
"I saw him go off toward the basement when we came in." Shelly answered.
"Stay here and wait until I call the police. Don't touch anything, Shelly. I'll try to find Daniel." Clara went off toward the basement door calling Daniel's name as she went. Opening the basement door, she spotted him sitting on the bottom step with a camera in his lap trying to reattach something to it's back. "Daniel, come back upstairs we've had a break in and I need to call the police. I want you up here with me and Shelly."
Daniel turned in shock at what his mother told him and with the camera put back together he rose from the bottom step and rushed up the stairs to his mother's side. Clara put her hand on his shoulder in a protective manner and led him to the kitchen where she had left Shelly.
The police arrived and processed the house for evidence of the break in. Items upstairs and down had been stolen. Clara's jewelry, though not expensive but sentimental to her, had been taken plus the electronics that had been bought for the kid's Christmas gifts last year. The older televisions in the bedrooms were not taken just the big new one in the family room.
Once again, no evidence of a forced entry was there other than a small tear in the basement rear window screen. No fingerprints or footprints other than the occupants.
After all the hubbub of police detectives had done their processing the house, Clara and the kids tried to settle down and sleep. Clara moved them all into her room for fear the thieves might return. Clara had called her husband and told him what had happened and he promised to come home as soon as possible. His job had sent him on a refresher training course in the company's main factory that was upstate about eight hours away.
Clara lay awake listening to the sound of her children sleeping lying next to her in the king sized bed. She kept her cordless phone in her hand ready to push redial to the police office number. Her neighbor Rob's number was also on speed dial. Rob had seen the police lights and all that was going on at the house and came down the hill to see what was going on. He and his wife Tina had been good friends and neighbors for the fifteen years since Clara and her husband bought the house. They, along with their children, had made quick friendships and often spent vacations together down south at the ocean side and many times at the zoos and amusement parks. So, now it felt only natural for her to lean on the confidence that Rob would do what could be done to help Clara and the children feel safe.
Before the light of day began to flow through the bedroom windows, Clara rose from the bed, leaving the children to sleep the few hours left. She made her way to the kitchen to prepare coffee and clear her mind as to what she needed to do today. The police promised to keep her informed but she would still give them a follow up call on her own. She had no idea whether or not any of their things would ever turn up but the insurance would have to be informed of the break in.
While all those thoughts were going over in her mind, Clara observed her husband's yard boots in the kitchen by the double doors leading out to the back deck. The spot where they usually were kept was the garage in the space next to the garage door with all the yard tools and lawn equipment. Clara knew they weren't there before because she had always observed her husband taking them off in the garage. That's where he always removed them and wiped them off after each time he used them and he had been gone for over a week now. This would have to be a clue of some kind. The police wouldn't know to look for it and Clara was too upset to notice the boots there last night. She would check with the kids to see if one of them used the boots for something before telling the police. But for now, she will leave them where they are and not touch them just in case the thief did move them there. It's Saturday so the kids can sleep in and have the day to recover from the chaos of the night before then she would wake them and find out what they know of the boots being moved.
About an hour after daybreak Daniel awoke to the sound of his sister softly snoring and felt a temporary moment of confusion as to where he was. As his eyes became more focused and the sleep was wearing off, he remembered where he was and the events of the night before. He lowered himself off the massive bed and his nose picked up the smell of bacon frying downstairs in the kitchen. "Mom must be up." he thought to himself. "Now would be a good time to check her camera to see if it still works." He slowly and quietly moved barefoot down the hallway to his room where he had quickly stuffed the camera in his nightstand before going to his mother's room last night. He quietly pulled the drawer open and reached inside and felt for the camera. It wasn't there. Searching deep into the drawer and finding nothing there, he felt a wave of dread come over him." Did Shelly see me stash it away and in her mean way try to torment me with it?" He asked himself. "Surely not after all we went through even she wouldn't be that cruel to me." he tried to reassure himself but where was it and who took it from his drawer? Now he would have to confess to his mother and tell her what he had done to her camera and that now it was gone.
Clara had begun preparing breakfast mostly to occupy her mind until she could call the police station again and report to the insurance company. She thought a good breakfast would calm their nerves a little. Shelly came down the stairs yawning and looking dazed. The closer she got to the family room the reality hit her and Clara could see an expression of remembrance on her face.
"For a while I thought last night was a dream." she said to her mother, as she looked over at the bare spot where the big screen television and music system once sat.
Clara assured her as long as they were safe the things lost could be replaced. Her fear was that someone or something was able to enter their home and do so seemingly undetected.
Clara set about dishing food on a plate for Shelly to eat and proceeded to ask about her father's boots. Shelly told her no she had not moved them anywhere but that maybe Daniel had moved them for some reason.
Daniel came down the stairs slowly and tried to push his shoulders back to gather up courage to do what he knew he had to do. As they all sat at the breakfast table eating, Daniel confessed what he had done to her camera and that he couldn't find it where he stashed it away last night. His eyes opened wide as his mother pulled the camera from her housecoat pocket. The cover to the memory card was back in it's right place but the question was did it still work.
"We'll deal with whether it works later and also with the fact that you took it when you were told not to." Clara understood her son's curiosity but he needed to understand that when he was told not to do something it was for a good reason and ,despite his curiosity, he needed to obey his parents requests.
Putting the thoughts of the camera aside, Clara asked Daniel about the boots. Daniel had not moved them to the double doors either so the only explanation was that the intruders had put them there or used them some way. She decided to tell the police that they might be a piece of evidence of some sort.
Daniel had plans to some how retrieve the camera from his mother's pocket and see if it still worked. The worry over it being broken was bothering him more than all that had gone on with the burglars. Trying to fix a mistake was pressure to him since he openly disobeyed his mother's orders to not touch the camera. Daniel knew his curiosity would get him into trouble one day and maybe sooner than he expected.
With breakfast over and the kitchen put back together, Clara headed upstairs to take a quick shower before calling the police about the boots. Daniel slowly crept up the stairs and lightly walking in his mother's steps, far enough away that she wouldn't hear him behind her, and waited to hear the water from the shower. Hearing the water run long enough that he knew she was occupied with that task, Daniel quickly moved into the master bedroom and made a beehive for the housecoat where the camera had been stowed by his mother. Reaching in he grabbed the camera from the pocket and hurried out the door and headed straight to the basement, hoping she would not notice it was gone at least to give him time to check it's damage.
Opening the door to the basement quietly so Shelley would not hear, Daniel moved gently down the stairs. Sitting down on the bottom steps, he opened the camera's view finder and to his amazement the power light came on. A sigh of relief came over him as a smile broke through his frown. Looking to see if footage of anything would come up in the memory card, Daniel looked in amazement at what was on the screen. A monkey. Footage of a monkey! "Is this our camera?" Daniel questioned to himself. "It looks like our basement," he thought. "A monkey in our basement!" As he watched more of the footage, Daniel was sure it was their camera and their basement.
The fear of his mother's wrath went out the door when the excitement to show her what had been captured on this camera outweighed all the fear. As before, when he dropped the camera and thought it had broken, Daniel ran up the basement stairs to show his mother the film of the monkey in their basement.
"Mom" Daniel yelled in his twelve year old fashion. "Mom, come and see what I found!.... Mom, come and see! Hurry!"
"Daniel, what are you yelling about? You know the rules. No yelling, please, unless the house is on fire." his mother said as she came to see what was wrong.
"Mom, look!" holding the forewarned "not to touch" camera out to his mother, who had an exasperated look on her face, but not disbelieving that her son could not help his curiosity.
Clara took the camera from Daniel's hand and proceeded to watch the film that had been captured unknowingly to them. Shelley crowded her way in between Daniel and their mother trying to see what was all the excitement. "A monkey" she said. "Mom, it's a monkey! And that's our basement." Shelley said, while their mother went from frowning to an enlightened look on her face.
"The monkey might be our thief or,at least, a part of the party of thieves." said Clara, as she headed toward the phone to call the police station. She couldn't keep from smiling as she dialed the number. "Wait till they see this one"
The police took the footage and checked with all the pet stores near by to see if anyone had purchased a monkey that had been previously owned by a trainer. To their amazement, the pet shop on the way to Shelley's school had recently sold a circus monkey to a man from out west who said it was for his paraplegic father.
With the police having the description of the thief or thieves, they assured Clara that they would be found and caught and possibly the return of their stolen items.
They explained the possible scenario with her husband's boots. The thief would put the monkey through the basement window, which did have a broken screen that the police had missed during their walk through search of the house, and tell it to bring a pair of shoes to them to wear through the house to make you non the wiser of a theft till they could get far away. It probably was her husbands boots that the monkey came to first. It's former owner more than likely wore boots, seeing they worked for the circus.
With all the drama solved and the police working on catching up to the thief, Daniel thought his actions with the camera would be forgotten and forgiven but to his surprise, Clara let him know this was not over. "Wait till your father gets home." she said with a grimace on her face. Looking at her son that stood there with a frown on his face and shuffling his feet as though he wanted to run from where he stood, Clara caved and took him in her arms and squeezed him tightly. "I guess your curiosity has saved us all a lot of trouble. It's fine, Daniel. Your dad doesn't have to know what you did to the camera. But remember this the next time your curiosity gets the better of you. Everything might not always turn out as well as this."
Meanwhile, in the basement, Daniel knew where his father had hid a new drill kit from him...................