It’s been a while since I shared any of my work with you. I’m particularly proud of this story. I wrote “Lost Sheep” for a competition with a theme of nursery rhyme crimes last year. I won 2nd Place in the competition and began the search for a publication home for my little mystery.
I’m thrilled to have “Lost Sheep” published in Anthology 2019 Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers, which is available for order on Amazon or from me at future events such as book signings. I’m having one of those in October. More on that later.
“Where are they? Where could they be?” Little Bo Peep wailed.
“When did you last see your sheep, Miss Peep?” Officer Wolfe asked.
“They were here in the meadow this morning. I left them alone for an hour while I had lunch with Little Red Riding Hood at Muffin Man’s Café. Honestly, it was only an hour.”
“Ah. I know the Muffin Man. He only serves the best food over on Drury Lane.” Officer Wolfe adjusted his hat to shade more of his face. “Do your sheep have any distinguishing marks?”
“Yes, they all have pink ear tags.”
He nodded and made some notes. “They most likely just wandered off. I’m sure if you leave them alone, they’ll come home.”
“You don’t understand. They’ve never wandered off before. I think someone stole my sheep!” She tugged on her bonnet strings with trembling fingers.
“Well, I’ll file a report, but I’m betting they’ll be back by nightfall. In the meantime, we’ll keep our eyes open for them.” He slid his notebook into his front shirt pocket and tipped his hat to her. “Good day to you, Miss Peep.”
“Good day to you, Officer Wolfe.” Little Bo Peep inclined her head.
She stood watching his taillights fade into the distance with narrowed eyes. She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed.
“Hello, Red. I need your help. My sheep are gone.” Little Bo Peep clutched her phone.
“I’ll be right there,” Little Red Riding Hood’s voice echoed through the bad connection.
Little Bo Peep was searching the meadow for clues when Little Red Riding Hood arrived in her bright red Jeep.
“Oh, Bo, I’m so sorry you lost your sheep! When did they disappear? Any idea where to find them?” Little Red Riding Hood ran up to Little Bo Peep and hugged her.
“No. I can’t tell where to find them. They disappeared while we were having lunch. I found some tire tracks over here. They lead into the hills. Do you think we could follow them in your Jeep?”
Little Red Riding Hood laughed. “My Jeep can go anywhere! Let’s go find your missing sheep.”
They climbed into the car and picked their way through the hills until the path turned to paving stone.
“Let’s go talk to some people and see if anyone saw my sheep,” Little Bo Peep suggested.
“That’s a good idea. The old woman who lives in a shoe with all her kids isn’t far from here. Let’s start with her.”
They drove down the paved lane to the giant shoe that had been converted into a house. They managed to get into the driveway without running over any children, but they were overwhelmed by little voices as soon as they stepped out of the Jeep.
“Can you tell me where to find your mommy?” Little Bo Peep asked one of the boys.
“In the back yard,” he replied before skipping off.
They ventured into the back yard and found the old mother washing windows with a child wrapped around each of her legs.
“Excuse us,” Little Bo Peep said, “I’ve lost my sheep and can’t tell where to find them. Have you seen a dozen sheep with pink ear tags?”
The old woman brushed her gray hair out of her eyes and regarded her two visitors. “No. If they’d come this way, my kids would be riding around on them right now. You might check with the little boy who lives down the lane, though. He has a sheep. Maybe yours went to visit his.” She shrugged and resumed cleaning her windows.
Little Red Riding Hood and Little Bo Peep climbed back in the Jeep and went in search of the little boy who lives down the lane. They found him pacing up and down the road.
“Baa Baa! Baa Baa Black Sheep, where are you?” he cried.
“Have you lost your sheep, too?” Little Bo Peep asked.
“Yes. Baa Baa Black Sheep left with two bags of wool this morning. He left one bag of wool at my house, and he was supposed to take the other two to the master and the dame, but he never arrived. Where could he have gone?”
“My sheep went missing this morning, too. I had lunch with Little Red Riding Hood, and they were gone when I returned to the meadow. I suspect they were sheepnapped!”
“Oh no! I bet whoever took your sheep took Baa Baa, too. We have to find them! Baa Baa was just shorn, and he’ll be so cold tonight.” He shuffled his feet.
“Come with us. We’re questioning everyone. We’re sure to find them,” Little Red Riding Hood said.
They all climbed in the Jeep and took off down the lane. They pulled into Old Mother Hubbard’s driveway where they were met by her skinny dog.
“The poor thing looks hungry,” Little Red Riding Hood said.
She walked to the back of her Jeep and opened the rear door. She reached into her basket of goodies and removed a peanut butter sandwich. She held it out to the poor pooch who gobbled it up. She hooked the basket over her arm and marched up to the door.
Old Mother Hubbard answered the door with a sad smile. “Oh my, I wasn’t expecting visitors. I’m afraid my cupboards are bare, so I have no refreshments to share.”
Little Red Riding Hood held out her basket of goodies. “We’ve brought the refreshments today. We’d like to ask you some questions while we enjoy them if we may.”
“Oh, how delightful! Yes, please come in,” she said stepping aside.
After everyone was seated comfortably at the kitchen table and had eaten sandwiches and cookies, Little Bo Peep regarded the old woman.
“Have you seen any sheep around here? We’re missing a dozen white sheep with pink ear tags and one freshly shorn black sheep.”
“I haven’t seen them, but I heard a commotion late this morning. I was searching for berries in the woods when I heard some sheep bleating. The noise was coming from the direction of Little Boy Blue’s place.” She helped herself to another cookie.
“Thank you, Old Mother Hubbard. We appreciate your help. Please keep the basket of goodies to share with your dog,” Little Red Riding Hood said standing.
The three sheep searchers hurried to the Jeep and made their way to Little Boy Blue’s farm. He was nowhere to be found, but his cows were in the corn patch having a heyday.
“What in the world?” Little Bo Peep cried. She clapped and hollered at the cows, but they wouldn’t budge. “We need to find Little Boy Blue. Those cows only respond to his horn.”
They searched the house and the barn. “Little Boy Blue, where are you?” they hollered.
Little Red Riding Hood made her way to the meadow and froze in her tracks. “Come quick!” She motioned them forward. “I’ve found them!”
They ran to the meadow and found their sheep grazing with several others.
“There are my sheep and Baa Baa Black Sheep.” Little Bo Peep sagged in the relief. She pointed to a tiny lamb. “Is that Mary’s little lamb that followed her to school one day?”
“Yes, I think it is. She’s still in school, so she wouldn’t know her little lamb is missing. We need to find Little Boy Blue and get to the bottom of this,” Little Red Riding Hood said. “I’m calling the police.”
Little Bo Peep found him sleeping under a hay cart. She stomped over to him and yanked on his ear. “Little Boy Blue, wake up! You have sheep that don’t belong to you in the meadow, and your cows are in the corn. Wake up!”
Little Boy Blue sat up and rubbed his eyes. He glared up at Little Bo Peep. “I know where my cows are. I don’t have to pick the corn this way.”
Officer Wolfe arrived and joined them just as Little Red Riding Hood confronted the sheep thief.
“Explain why you have rustled sheep in your meadow,” she demanded.
Officer Wolfe folded his arms across his chest. “Yes, please explain that to us.”
Little Boy Blue looked at him with big blue puppy dog eyes “I owe the Farmer in the Dell some money. He agreed to accept sheep instead of cash, but I didn’t have enough. I had to get more. But now everyone can have their sheep back. No harm done. Right?”
“I’m afraid not. You’re under arrest for sheep rustling.” Officer Wolfe handcuffed Little Boy Blue and led him to his car.
“Now that’s solved, but how are we going to get all of these sheep back to their homes?” Little Bo Peep asked.
“No problem,” Little Red Riding Hood said. “We’ll hook Little Boy Blue’s trailer up to my Jeep and have them home in no time.”
The sheep were all home by nightfall, wagging their tails behind them.
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