Lilah leaned against the railing at the bottom of the front steps of the largest house in town. George stood on the porch waiting for someone to answer the doorbell’s call. The two were silent as Lilah stared at the back of George’s head trying to figure him out. He wouldn’t give her any hints as to what his theory was about the mysterious man and woman who supposedly stole one of cars that belonged to this household.
All she knew was that George was suspecting the two children, but she couldn’t think of any reason as to why that would be.
The front door opened breaking Lilah out of her thoughts. She walked up the few steps to the porch and placed herself next to George as he greeted the woman on the other side of the door.
“Good morning, sorry to bother you at this house.” He said.
“It’s no trouble, Detective Florence.” The woman stepped to the said holding the door open wide. “Please come in. Have you figured it out?”
“Not quite,” George stepped to the side allowing Lilah to enter the house first. When she crossed through the threshold, George followed. “We want to ask a few more questions.”
Lilah turned around and watched the woman, the owner’s wife, and George lock eyes. The lady, Lilah was having a hard time remembering her name—there were so many people who they had talked to in that house—closed the door and absentmindedly shrugged her shoulders.
“Of course. I’ll try to answer anything new you’ve thought of. But I’m not sure how much help I’ll be.” She answered.
George smiled politely. “Thank you, but no. We’d like to talk to your children, if you don’t mind.”
Lilah noticed the woman stiffen, but her face remained unchanged. After a moment, she cracked a smile, awkward smile, and pointed to the couches on their left.
“Sit down and I’ll get them. Would you like me to have the cook make you some coffee or anything?” she asked as she walked away into the other room.
Lilah began to raise her hand, but George pushed it back down to her side.
“We’re all set, thank you.” He answered. The woman nodded disappearing into the other room while Lilah glared at George.
Lilah snorted watching George sit down on one of the couches. “Why can’t I have a coffee?”
“You just had one.” He replied calmly.
“Yeah, like an hour ago.”
“You drink too much caffeine.”
“Lilah, sit down and be quiet.” George said harshly, but he had a smile on his face.
Rolling her eyes, Lilah obeyed. She sat down in an armchair next to the couch. But as soon as she did, George stood up straightening his dress shirt as the kids entered the room. Lilah too stood up and smiled to greet them.
“Here they are.” Their mother walked them a hand on each of their shoulder.
Lilah looked down at the kids, a boy and a girl. She recalled their mother mentioning that they were twins, but she couldn’t remember how old they were. They looked to be about six or seven years.
“I’d like to stay while you chat with them.”
“Of course, Nadine,” George nodded.
Lilah snapped her fingers. Nadine, that was her name! When she brought herself back to reality, she noticed everyone was staring at her. She cleared her throat. “Sorry, I had just remembered something, but… Don’t worry about it.”
George ignored her and he squatted down to be eye level with the kids. “Hi Tom, hello Angie. How are you both today?”
Neither one of them said a word. Nadine nudged them both after a minute or two and then they both monotonously said in unison, “Hi.”
“Kids, go sit,” Nadine brought them over to one couch and sat down on the other end of it. Lilah and George sat down on the couch opposite of them.
“I’ll get right to the point so you kids can go back and play, okay?” George said. He cleared his throat and then began. “You guys were playing with the butler the other day, right?”
Both kids nodded.
They nodded again.
Lilah kept a steady gaze on both kids though she was wondering what George was trying to get at.
“Do you play with the butler a lot?” George asked.
They shook their heads.
George nodded leaning back a bit. “I thought so… What made you guys decide to play with the butler that day?”
“Excuse me, but are you suggesting Jerry had something to do with my husband’s car going missing?” Nadine interrupted.
George held up a finger, keeping his eyes on the kids. “Please, let them talk.”
Nadine nudged her kids again.
Tom and Angie looked at each other as though they were deciding what exactly they should say. Finally, Angie recoiled back against the couch and Tom sighed.
“They told us to.” He said.
Lilah widened her eyes. She opened her notebook and started jotting down some notes.
“The butler told you to?” Nadine asked shocked.
Tom shook his head. “The other guy.”
“What other guy, Honey?” Nadine continued as though George and Lilah weren’t even there.
Tom shrugged and looked at Angie. “I don’t know. She talked to him first.”
Angie sat straight up glaring at her brother. “Only because you wouldn’t play with me!”
Nadine snapped her neck to look at George, her expression fraught with worry. She stared at him as though he knew exactly what the kids were talking about.
“I believe,” George began, “the man the kids are referring to is the man who stole your husband’s car.”
“But we don’t know that man.” Nadine protested.
“And they’re two young children who apparently haven’t learned not to talk to strangers.” George countered.
Lilah bit her lower lip, her grip on her pen tightening.
Nadine looked back at her kids, her brows furrowed, demanding an explanation.
“I was playing outside when a man came up to the back fence.” Angie said. “He said he wanted to play with me and Tom wouldn’t, so I told him he could.”
Nadine closed her eyes and turned the other way exasperated. Angie put a hand on her mother’s knee.
“Are you mad…?” she asked.
“Keep talking, Angie.” George pressed. Nadine still couldn’t look at anyone.
“He told me he wanted to play hide-and-seek, but no one else could know. He told me to hide first, in the garage.” Angie explained.
Tom rolled his eyes. “You’re supposed to hide in a spot he doesn’t know about and then he has to find you. He can’t tell you where to hide. Don’t know how to play games right?”
Angie shrugged, seemingly unfazed by her brother mocking her.
“Angie, please keep going.” George pressed further.
“He told me to ask the butler to play with us, but not to tell him he was playing. So I asked the butler and Tom, they both said yes. Then I hid in the garage.”
“And did the butler find you?”
“Did he find you through the garage door or through the door to the house?”
“He opened the garage door.”
George nodded. “Did he remember to close it?”
Nadine covered her mouth with her hand and gasped.
“So you think the strange man knew that would happen and wanted to steal the car.” Lilah stated.
“Yes, and he succeeded.” George said.
“But why bring the car back?” Nadine asked.
“And what about the unknown woman?” Lilah whispered.
“I have suspicions…” George smiled. He looked at Nadine. “May we speak to the maid, please?”