The sharp knock on the front door roused M from his newspaper. He shuffled to the hall and opened. Three diminutive figures were on his doorstep: the neighbours’ kids dressed as detectives. Two sported overlong trench coats and trilbies, and the third a deerstalker and a cape. The lens of a magnifying glass made his eye inordinately large.
“We have reason to believe there is eggs on your property,” said one of the trench coats.
“That’s not against the law, is it?” M clutched at his cardigan in mock horror.
“That’s for the judge to decide,” said Deerstalker.
“May we?” said the other. M stood aside as the three bundled into his hallway. “Through here, is it?”
Bemused, M followed the trio through to his kitchen. The back door was bolted. M obliged by reaching up and unlocking the door.
The back garden was scrupulously neat. It was difficult to imagine there being anything hidden among its tonsured grasses and ordered flowerbeds.
Deerstalker apportioned sections of the garden to the other two. The detectives split up and, eyes down, set about their intensive search.
M remained on the doorstep, keeping out of the way and trying not to mind as they moved some things and disturbed others. One of the trench coats gave a squeal of disgust. M held his breath.
“A slug!” the child cried. The others laughed and told him not to be such a baby.
M couldn’t relax. Just hurry up and find the painted eggs and go back to your parents, he urged. And yet, if pressed, M would admit to enjoying the thrill of near-discovery, of almost being found out.
How different the neighbours would treat him if they knew what else was concealed in his garden!