Seeing the Crime
Mommy went into the fruit store, and I stayed outside.
There was a lot of different boxes of fruit and vegetables, and I was looking at the oranges when the old lady walked by. She was wearing the same dark blue coat my grandmother had.
I only saw her back, and the arm nearest the fruit boxes was bent holding a purse.
A boy about eleven stopped by the fruit and was looking at the oranges, went to touch one, and the man who worked there was watching him.
The strangest thing happened.
I saw a hand come out of the old lady's pocket and take up some grapes and disappear back into the pocket.
Then it came out again and took up a cucumber, and went back the same way, as she walked on.
The man who worked there was asking the boy if he wanted anything. The boy stared at the man then walked away, passing the old lady who was now moving past the supermarket.
My mommy came out and as we walked away I told her about the old lady with three hands.
"I want you to draw that for me when we get home," she said, carrying the bags, giving me a small one to help.
When we got home I put down the bag and went to my room. I began to draw the old lady in grandma's coat, with the bag over her arm and her other arm coming out of the pocket.
That night, when Daddy came home, Mommy told him about the lady with three hands and after dinner I showed him my picture.
He asked questions and then, as Daddy draws very well, he drew my picture, and then other pictures.
These other pictures had the sleeve of the coat with a bent hanger in it, making it look like there was an arm, and the pocket cut so that a hand could come out of it instead of going in.
He asked if I ever saw the woman before and I didn't think so. He told me I probably wouldn't see her again for a time as she would go to other stores to steal.
The Second Crime
I looked for the old lady and the boy, for it seemed that he was her 'decoy'.
I learned about decoy and investigation from television and thought about being a detective.
Days and days went by and I never saw them, until one day, at the supermarket I saw the boy run by and told Mommy.
In a minute I saw the old lady in a different coat. Both sleeves were in the pockets. But I was watching.
Mommy was behind me and leaned over as if she was going to pick up something from the back of the freezer and we both saw the old lady's hands come out and from the front of the coat and take up two things.
The old lady was staring at the back of the freezer but the hands were taking up from the front.
Mommy said, 'wait with the cart...' and went walking to the front of the store.
I waited and waited and then she came back, put a finger on her lips.
We finished shopping and came out and Mommy walked towards Glenwood, which was opposite our crossing. As we came towards 3201 Nostrand, she said, "That's where she went," very softly, then turned around and we went in our direction.
Beginning the Investigation
We told Daddy when he came home. We considered what to do.
The old lady could be poor and have to steal to eat. She could also just be a common thief.
I told daddy about the boy and that I think he went to my school and was in 6th grade. I told him I would investigate.
He asked how.
I told him that the classes line up in the playground. The 6th grade classes were the last to the right. I'd come a little late and walk around to see if he was there.
Daddy said 'don't let him know' and I said I wouldn't.
It wasn't as easy as I thought because I had to pass behind the lined up kids.
I could only walk on one side when the grades were lined up two on the school side, two facing them.
I chose to walk on the school side and look along the rows, but the kids were bigger than me and I couldn't see so good.
At lunch break I stood outside to see if he passed, but there were so many kids.
At the end of the school day I couldn't stand around, so went home, having failed my first mission.
My mother said; "Tomorrow I'll come to collect you. I'll be by the supermarket and see if any of the boys from the school go into the building."
But a lot of kids don't go straight home. They hang in the park or stand around talking, so after I stood here and Mommy across the street for about ten minutes, it wasn't worth it.
Mommy shrugged and we went home, discussing other strategies.
Daddy said I should try to draw the boy, to give us an idea.
"Draw you standing next to the boy," he said, "so we'll get a sense of the height."
I nodded, ran for my colored pencils, loving being a detective.