It was several hours later when Hood was approached by his brother-in-law,
"What's up?" queried Hood as he peered around Checker, expecting to see Laser and
Lacewing following close on his hooves. "Am
I under arrest for abusing the child labor laws?"
Checker was the Chief of Police in Woodlawn, and he was well-respected by all the
citizens for his bravery and his fairness. He slid
onto a stool at the counter, and rubbed a hoof across his eyes as if it had been a bad day.
Hood became anxious. "What's wrong? Is Moonglow okay?"
"Oh, yes. She's fine. Thanks for taking the kids off her hooves this afternoon. She
needed the rest."
"But that's not why you're here... to thank me."
"No. I wish that's all it was." He paused a moment before going on. "Hood, while
Moonglow was asleep and Laser and Lacewing
were here with you, someone snuck into our garden and took every blasted tomato that we had
on the vine."
Hood stared at Checker unbelievingly. "You mean the scoundrel who hit Bugle and
Bellflower sometime before morning was
brazen enough to strike again in broad daylight?"
"I'm afraid so. And the darndest thing, Hood, is he leaves no evidence, no clues, no
prints. This whole affair is getting downright
Hood didn't respond. Since spring, these freak thefts of nature's produce had been
occurring in and around Woodlawn, yet no one
ever saw or heard a thing to point a hoof at the culprit.
Finally, Hood asked, "Where do you go from here?"
"I'm stumped," admitted Checker. "This whole affair is uncanny, the way the
perpetrator seems to be watching everyone all the
time, waiting until the time is right for a strike."
"I took the kids for a walk today, just to see if there was anything out of the
Hood felt a shiver run through his body. "I didn't see anything tangible. Yet,
something's out there." He looked tensely at
Checker. "I'm sure we were being watched."
Checker attempted to lighten their somber mood. "You sure Sparky wasn't following
Sparky was the new recruit on the force and he had a newcomer's never ending
commitment to duty, sometimes to the point of
becoming a complete nuisance.
"I think he learned his lesson when he tried to arrest me for breaking and entering,"
Hood grinned. "It was my own house; I'd just
forgotten my key."
For the first time since arriving, Checker smiled, too.
"How about the new flavor in a double-decker cone?" enticed Hood. "I'll even give you
a relative's discount."
"Thanks, but not tonight. I'm going to head home and check things out again before
dark. I just wanted you to know what
happened before you heard a blown-up version of the truth."
"I appreciate that," Hood replied, a frown returning to his face. "Give everyone a hug
"Will do, Hood," Checker waved and walked away.
Hood stared after him, mulling events over in his mind, until Patchwork Petal tapped
him on the shoulder. "Hood? Hood?" she
called, her perky disposition clouded with worry. "Did you get some bad news?"
Hood nodded his head. "Bad enough. Our town thief has struck again, and in broad
"My sister's place," Hood informed her. "Patchwork, why can't we catch this
"My brother says it's aliens," Patchwork Petal snickered. "But that's not possible... is it,
"What's not possible?" asked Drumstick as he joined them behind the counter. "That
I'm caught up on all the dirty dishes?"
Patchwork Petal punched him in the foreleg. "Who do you think is stealing all our
food? You don't haunt gardens during the night,
"And soon to be fired if you don't get back to work," reminded Hood jokingly. "Hop to
"Yes, sir!" Drumstick responded and went off to wait on the pony pair who had just
Patchwork Petal returned to clearing tables while Hood scanned the faces of the ponies
in the shop. Was it possible that one of these
friends and neighbors was behind the unexplained happenings plaguing Woodlawn? Hood shook
his head. "I'd rather it were aliens," he
whispered to himself.