One Small Child
By P.J.
    Crime might take a holiday of sorts on Christmas Day, but the kooks, creeps, et al sure as hell got in one good last round before they turned in on Christmas Eve night.
    Detective Mike Logan, dead on his feet from a two twelve-hour shifts, had been ready for home, shower, beer, and unconsciousness until the next evening when he was due at his sister's place for the family fling. He dreaded the event because of so much shared past, but he got a kick from it because his nieces and nephews were a part of the few things he understood. He had pulled on his worn leather coat when the desk sergeant from downstairs had called for him. A kid had lost his star.
    "Yes, Mam. Iíll tell him." Logan hung up the phone. Five-year-old Dustin, sitting in the middle of his desk, was munching on a sucker that Profaci had dug up from somewhere. He reminded the detective of a chipmunk, with his chubby freckled cheeks. Loganís rough-edged features relaxed into a smile. ďYour Mom says she loves you, but youíre still grounded from Scooby-Doo for another week."
    The kid held up his free hand and counted on his fingers. "I got six weeks to go," he said. "Itís been a rough month."
    Logan laughed. "My life's like that, too, buddy. What's in the bag?"
    "Gifts for Baby Jesus. You can look at 'em, if you want."
    The detective opened up the Snoopy pillowcase. There was a Cal Ripken Jr. baseball card, a drawing of a family standing in front of a house, and a flashlight.
    "I was gonna giv 'em to him when I got to where he was, but I lost my star -- the one I was following."
    Logan's eyes began stinging and he cleared his throat. "I thought it was supposed to be gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
    "Nah. He just wants the best thing you have to give to him -- that's what Miss Gina, my Sunday school teacher, said last Sunday. These are my three favorite things. Mommy and Daddy gave me the flashlight. My sister drew the picture for me. And Uncle Craig gave me the baseball card. They're the best things I got."
    He grinned and the detective didn't feel quite so tired anymore; quite so disheartened. Hell, he might even show up at Midnight Mass and give Max a heart attack.


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