The adult ponies were sitting in the living room chatting when Hood finally finished the
dishes. Laser had run off to find his sister
Hood held up his hooves reminiscent of Laser the day before. "See? Wrinkly. That
means I did a good job."
"Or that you're getting old," shot back Stardrift.
"Which reminds me," Hood settled into a comfortable chair, "I had an accidental run-in
with Dreamy early this morning.
"Were you able to talk some sense into her?" bitterly asked Moonglow.
"No, that meeting occurred this afternoon and was a total failure." He accepted a cup
of coffee from Kaleidoscope. "The encounter
I'm referring to happened before I'd heard about the headline story."
"So what did you think of Dreamy Dalton after all these years?" asked Checker.
"Moonglow tells me you two were... acquainted...
in high school."
"She was a pest," Hood grimaced. "But this morning, my first impression was that she'd
changed for the better."
"She's unscrupulous," hissed Moonglow. "And I used to think it was cute the way she
followed you around all the time."
"Do tell!" perked up Kaleidoscope.
"There's nothing to tell," Hood grinned and sipped his coffee. "Except maybe the time
she put mistletoe on the bus over my seat,"
he added in afterthought.
"Yeah! And after she kissed you, you threw the mistletoe out the window," added
"Too bad you didn't throw..." began Moonglow.
"Moonglow!" admonished Checker.
"Just kidding," Moonglow meekly recanted.
"Well, anyway. Back to this morning. I was actually setting up a dinner date with
Dreamy when Buttercup, whom I'd promised to
help with her groceries, came along with her foal in her forelegs and yelled, ‘Hood, come hold the
Moonglow and Stardrift sat upright with wide eyes. "What did Dreamy say?"
"She said ‘Some things never change' and left in a huff."
The mares broke-up in gleeful laughter. Checker and Kaleidoscope looked on in
wonder at their wives' ability to see so much
humor in another mare's mistake.
When Stardrift was able to talk again, she sputtered, "So Dreamy thinks you're a family
"And with Buttercup, no less!" giggled Moonglow, and she and her sister collapsed in
another wave of laugher.
Checker shook his head. "I don't see what they find so funny."
"It must be a mare thing," Kaleidoscope concurred.
Hood, however, was pleased to see that his embarrassing situation had relieved the
tension of the day for his sisters. It almost made
the predicament worth it.
The slamming door announced the arrival of the foals, hot and sweaty from a hard game
Kaleidoscope rumpled Blush's mane as she crawled into his lap. "Ready for cake and
"Yes, Daddy," came the reply, repeated as well by her twin brother Crush and their
cousins. Puzzle, however, was too exhausted
after the rough play to be hungry. He curled up on the couch with the kitten, and was soon fast
Everyone else moved on to the kitchen where Stardrift's chocolate cake and Hood's
chocolate chip ice cream awaited devouring. A
pleasant atmosphere hung over the gathering, and only light-hearted topics came up for
It was dark outside by the time the colts and fillies began yawning and nodding off.
After deciding that Laser and Lacewing would
spend the night, Moonglow and Stardrift took them all upstairs to wash them up and put them to
When only the stallions were left in the room, Kaleidoscope poured them each a fresh
cup of coffee. "Once the kids are in bed, your
sisters will spend the next hour looking through old baby pictures," he predicted to Hood.
"Either that or sorting layette items," Checker chuckled. But then his face grew serious,
and he rubbed his eyes as if the weight of
the world had again just settled on his shoulders. "Well, guys, give me some help here. This
robbery case has got me stumped."
"Why did the culprit strike in broad daylight?" asked Kaleidoscope. "And why does he
only take garden produce? He's obviously
not out to get rich quickly."
"The pattern up to now has shown us a criminal who has a grudge against the town--
someone who wants to pay back for some real
or imagined injustice inflicted upon him."
"Like someone who didn't receive justice in the legal system?" asked Hood.
"That, or even something less serious like having his phone disconnected. However, the
offender normally wants his victims to
know who he is so he can enjoy his revenge."
"Like leaving clues that point in his direction without incriminating him?"
"Yes. But in this case, the malefactor doesn't seem to want any public notoriety, which
is making it very difficult for us."
The three stallions sat silently for some time, each mulling over the information in their
Suddenly, Hood remembered the idiosyncracy that Laser had noticed with the
lawnmower. "What do you make out of the fact that
the lawnmower was left out front over in Rosy Bells' front lawn?"
Checker sat up, his eyes bright. "Who told you that?"
"Why didn't he tell me?"
"It's one of those things that didn't become apparent until after he though about it
awhile. He assumed the stallion was there
because the machine was there."
"That brings up some interesting questions. Was this just a chance occurrence
completely unrelated to the other jobs-- someone saw
an opportunity and took it-- or could this be a switch in pattern for our resident wrongdoer?"
Checker thought out loud.
"Maybe he's tired of being an unknown and wants to hand you some leads," suggested
"That makes the department look really bad," said Checker, scowling. "The crook tries
to leave a trail on purpose, and we still
don't have anything!"
"Who interviewed the stallion that was at Rosy Bells' place?" queried Hood.
"Hmm... that would have been Sparky."
"Sparky, huh... not to meddle, but maybe you should talk to him again."
"You can be sure I will!"
Moonglow and Stardrift were heard coming down the stairs, so the stallions switched to
a discussion of the local baseball
Clutching several infant outfits in her hooves, Moonglow was beaming. "Look at these
darling outfits that Stardrift got for our little
foal," she cooed, holding up some tiny sleepers trimmed in neutral-colored ribbons and
"Adorable," chimed the stallions, exchanging "I told you so" glances.
Hood took the opportunity to say goodnight. He was anxious to stop by the shop on
his way home. Rosy Bells wouldn't be closing
until eleven o'clock, and he had a question he wanted to ask her.