Artwork by Levi Joy
Monster Catch was originally printed in the Ashland Beacon newspaper (October 2016) as a part of my twice monthly Read Me A Bedtime Story column for kids. A new Kid Detectives Halloween story will debut in the pages of that paper this month…very soon.
A ‘Za Crime Fighters Mystery
By Jonathan Joy
Jen, Ben, and Red made up the ‘Za Crime Fighters Mystery Team. Once notorious pizza thieves, they had since learned the error of their ways. After helping police catch The Ice Cream Bandit, the three went into business for themselves as crime fighters. Jen was their leader. Ben and Red followed close behind her every move.
Recently, things had been quiet in the sleepy town of Ashland, though that would soon change. The cool autumn evenings brought a new mystery their way.
Dudley was a young boy with an impressive stuffed animal collection. Over one hundred stuffed snakes, lions, bears, pigs, bugs, and more were stacked high on his bed and overflowed onto the floor.
Dudley loved these stuffed friends, so you can imagine how he felt when a monster started stealing them. He knew exactly where to go for help.
“How do you know it’s a monster?” asked Jen.
“I just know.” replied Dudley.
“A monster? Are you…sure?” Ben and Red said this simultaneously, both sounding scared.
Jen excitedly bellowed, “Well, boys, I think we’ve got a case to solve.”
Ben and Red weren’t very excited about the prospect of looking for monsters. Their fears were made worse when they saw Dudley’s house, a large black structure with bright yellow windows that looked a bit like a haunted house in the foggy October evening. A pretty, multicolored sky almost drew their attention away from a tree out front that closely resembled a hand reaching up through the dirt. It was eerie. Dudley assured them it was safe.
“Safe?” Ben stuttured.
“Yeah, right.” said Red. “We’re here looking for monsters, aren’t we?”
“Shhh.” Jen hushed. She was not scared. She was a detective, and wanted to solve the mystery.
Once in his room, ‘Za Crime Fighters marveled at Dudley’s many stuffed animals and began to look for clues.
“You got a baby brother?” asked Ben, picking up a pacifier off the floor of Dudley’s room.
“Sister.” Dudley replied.
“Could be the sis,” interrupted Red, “but look at this.” Red held some gray hair he picked up off the ground. “You have a dog?”
“Yes.” answered Dudley.
“Good guesses, guys, but I don’t think it’s the baby or the dog.” Jen whispered. “I’ve found evidence…of a monster. We’re going to need a monster catch.”
A monster catch is a cardboard box with hand drawn pictures of monsters all over it. It is meant to attract the beast and trap it once he or she hops in to play with his or her peers. Jen, Ben, Red, and Dudley spent almost an hour drawing, preparing the monster catch.
Night one passed. No monster.
Night two. No monster. Another stuffed animal was stolen.
The third night…Trick or Treat night…was the charm. The Monster Catch caught…something.
Dudley heard it catch its prey. He hadn’t even been to sleep yet, for he had eaten far too much Trick or Treat candy and the sugar (and an upset tummy) kept him awake.
The next day the ‘Za Crime Fighters were summoned to that creepy house once more, for Dudley would not look in the monster catch without them all being there. Jen bravely looked inside.
“How many stuffed animals did you say were taken?” Jen asked Dudley.
“They’re all here. Your toys are back.”
Dudley was so happy. He looked through the monster catch. “Wait, my octopus is missing.”
“I think I know who the guilty party is.” Red said suddenly. “What made you think it was a monster anyway, Jen?”
“The drool.” Jen responded. “It was everywhere. Only a monster can drool that much.”
Red continued, “Except…”
“A baby.” They all said in unison. At that moment, their heads turned toward Gigi, Dudley’s little sister. She stood in the doorway, barely able to stand, laughing and drooling everywhere and grasping onto a stuffed octopus.
The case was solved. Dudley couldn’t be upset with his sister, for what little one wouldn’t want those cute little furry creatures. And, to be honest, he was a bit relieved to learn it was not a monster after all.
‘Za Crime Fighters had solved the case. They celebrated with S’mores, seated around a fire pit in Jen’s backyard and wondering what future mysteries await.