Pigtails flew in the wind as the child skipped down the sidewalk. She didn’t realize how far she’d strayed from home. She was busy taking in the beauty around her while singing her favorite Taylor Swift song.
She was, however, aware of the black sedan that pulled up beside her. A man rolled down his window and spoke. “Can you tell me where the carnival is?” The man’s grin was lost on Bonnie. She wasn’t paying attention.
Sadly, he kept asking the question over and over. At last the child she stopped to answer: “It is downtown at the end of this street. Now go away. I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.” With that she began skipping once again.
The man tried to look harmless. “If you’re headed that way, I’ll be happy to give you a ride.”
Bonnie’s stranger danger training kicked in. She turned quickly and began running the opposite direction. She ran fast and hard without hesitation. When she reached a house she knew, she ran into the yard and pounded on the door.
“Mrs. Wilson, help. A man is after me.” Bonnie kept pounding until her old babysitter pulled her inside.
“Where is this person?” The old woman scanned the street and caught the tail end of a black vehicle as it roared away. The only numbers she saw from the license plate were 24. Going to the phone, she contacted the police, advising them to meet her and Bonnie at the child’s home.
“What are you doing out this far, Bonnie?” Mrs. Wilson bent down to meet the child’s eyes.
“My new sitter doesn’t watch and I got distracted,” the child mumbled. “I didn’t realize I’d gone so far.”
“Well, your mother will be home any minute. Let’s get you there before she panics.” With that, Mrs. Wilson took the child’s hand and began walking in the direction of the Turner home.
“What did the man say?” She was curious what method the stranger used to capture Bonnie’s attention.
“He asked for directions to the carnival. I told him and kept moving. That’s when he offered me a ride. I remembered that people said that when they wanted to kidnap someone so I ran. Your house was the first one I saw that I knew.”
“You did the right thing, Bonnie. I’m so proud of you. I’m not, however, very proud of your new sitter. She should have been watching you. Maybe it’s time I took my old job back now that I’m healthy again.”
“I would like that,” Bonnie smiled. “I’d like that a lot. Carol never plays with me. She just talks on the phone or texts. That’s why she doesn’t notice when I’m gone.”
“That doesn’t mean you should break the rules, Mrs. Wilson scolded. “You should have stayed home.”
“I know. I’m sorry,” the little girl pouted. “I just get so lonely sometimes.”
“We’ll see about fixing that,” the old woman grinned. The duo turned into Bonnie’s yard and went up the steps. Mrs. Wilson rang the doorbell.
“You don’t have to do that. I have a key,” Bonnie reminded as she pulled it from her pocket.
“I want to make a point,” the old woman said, her face stern. As the door opened, she observed the young woman behind it. The girl’s face grew pale as she noted Bonnie’s hand in the woman’s.
“Did you lose something?” Mrs. Wilson glared. She wanted the girl to feel her anger. She did.
“I didn’t know she was gone,” the girl offered lamely.
“That’s the point isn’t it?” Mrs. Wilson said as the police drove into the driveway. “It is your job to know such things.”
“You’re having me arrested for being careless?” The girl watched as the officers moved toward the porch. “Isn’t that a bit extreme?”
Mrs. Wilson let out a snicker. “Not really, but don’t worry, they aren’t here for you. “Someone tried to kidnap Bonnie.” The old woman took pleasure as the blood drained out of the girl’s face once again.
A tall, thin policeman walked toward Bonnie. “You must be the little heroine,” he said with a smile on his face. “You are very courageous. I’m glad that you are safe.”
“I ran as soon as he offered me a ride,” Bonnie said proudly. “I can run fast.”
“I bet you can,” the officer grinned. “Maybe you can help me catch the man so he won’t hurt anyone?”
“How can I do that?” Bonnie looked confused. “I can run but I’m not very strong.”
“I just need you to tell me what he looked like, about his car and the clothes he was wearing. Anything you can remember will help.”
“His car was black; one of those long ones with those silly fins on the back. My dad has an old car like that he’s rebuilding.”
“Very good, Bonnie,” the officer cooed. “What else can you tell me?”
“He was white. He didn’t look very tall. His head just came above the seat. He had dark curly hair. I didn’t see his eyes so I can’t tell you the color. He was wearing sunglasses.”
“Did you see what he was wearing?” The officer pulled the child toward him so she could see the support in his face. It worked. She relaxed. He could almost see the wheels turning in her head.
“Jeans and a red hoodie,” Bonnie said with a big smile. “It said Sooners on it.”
“Excellent, Bonnie,” the officer smiled. “You’ll make a great detective someday.”
“Really?” The little girl grinned from ear to ear. The thought pleased her.
Turning toward Mrs. Wilson, the officer continued. “When her mother gets home tell her we’ll need Bonnie to make an official statement at the station tomorrow morning. We’ll call if we catch the guy.”
“24,” the old lady blurted out. “I almost forgot. The last two numbers on his license plate were 2 and 4.”
“That will help too.” The policeman tipped his hat and hurried to his car. His silent partner followed.
“Do you think they’ll catch the guy?” The babysitter looked hopeful.
“Perhaps, but that won’t save your job. I’ll see to that,” Mrs. Wilson said through gritted teeth. “You can go now. I don’t think you’ll want to be here when Mrs. Turner gets home.”
“But my money,” the girl started. Looking into the old woman’s eyes, she shut her mouth, grabbed her things and left without saying another word.
Bonnie’s mother arrived home shortly and was filled in on the events. “I’m so glad you are willing to sit Bonnie again,” she said with relief. “That girl was a nightmare but she was the best I could afford.”
“No worries now,” Mrs. Wilson smiled. “Bonnie and I love one another. We’ll be fine together until summer is over.”
A knock at the door interrupted the tea party the three girls had decided to have. Chase Turner wasn’t surprised to see the police at the door.
“Did you catch him?” Her voice was hopeful.
“We did,” the officer said. “Thanks to Bonnie. It was just in time too. He’d lured a little boy into his car.”
“Oh no,” Mrs. Turner gasped.
“I helped?” Bonnie bounced up and down with glee.
“You did indeed,” the policeman smiled. “Thanks to you, a little boy is safely back in his mother’s arms. Like I said, you’ll make a great detective someday. Every clue you gave me was correct. That doesn’t always happen.”
Placing his hand on the child’s shoulder, he pulled what looked like a duplicate of his badge from his pocket. “The police chief said I could make you an honorary detective right now,” he smiled. Bending down, he pinned the badge on the child’s sweater. “This is for bravery beyond that which is called for and for service to your community.”
Bonnie grinned widely. She suddenly knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. She wanted to help others the way she had that day. Her heart felt warm and tingly inside.