|Photo / Creative Commons / feministjulie|
“You write a lot of stuff down, kid,” Berg sighed as he turned yet another page. “It’s a gift and a curse, isn’t it?”
Randolph didn’t understand. “These notebooks were a gift from my dad. Though he said next time I have to use school notebooks because the fancy ones are costing his arm and leg.”
Berg chuckled. “I like you, kid. You got something.” He turned another page and stopped, pointing with his stubby hand. “You saw a white-haired bearded man coming out of the post office twice this week at nine AM?”
“Four times, actually,” Randolph said, pulling a few more notebooks off his shelf.
“And he never has any mail. Did you ever see him enter the post office?”
Berg snapped the notebook closed. “That’s our guy. Let’s see if he shows up tomorrow.” Berg smiled, as much as trolls can smile. “Ever been on a stakeout, kid?”
|Photo / Creative Commons / Kenneth Allen|
Berg shrugged. “No one ever notices us. Humans miss everything.” He looked over at Randolph’s eager face. “Except you, I guess.”
Ten minutes later, the white-haired bearded man emerged from the post office. Berg tapped his walkie. “That’s him. Move in.” The pair watched as three trolls suddenly appeared in a flash of light, surrounding the man, who barely had time to register his surprise before all four of them disappeared.
Randolph stood quickly. “Where’d he go?”
Berg pocketed his walkie, satisfied. “Down to the office for questioning. If he’s not our guy, we’ll erase his memory. But he fits the profile, so...”
Berg stopped when he noticed Randolph had lowered his eyes. “Are you going to erase my memory too?” the boy sniffed.
“Yeah. Policy. Sorry, kid.”
“Oh. Okay. Well, thanks for letting me help.”
“Help? You cracked the case.” But Randolph didn’t seem cheered by this. He kicked at a gum wrapper on the ground, then took out his notebook to write it down.
Berg touched his arm. “Keep observing. You’re going to make a great detective someday. You won’t remember me, but you will know that your work is important. That you are important.”
Randolph looked up, tears welling in his eyes. He reached down and hugged the troll, who squirmed uncomfortably.
“You’re wrinkling my jacket, kid.”
Randolph released him, wiping at his face. “Okay, I’m ready.”
Randolph P. Higgins was an excessively perceptive child. His father shook his head at the notebooks piling up around the house. But Randolph kept at it, knowing for some reason that it would pay off one day.