Imaginary Friends – Chapter 3
Ten-year-old Paige Holley has made a new imaginary friend. A talking cricket named Chuck.
Chapter Three – Crime Scene Investigation
“A talking cricket,” Det. Harry Schette queries incredulously. “Like in Pinocchio.”
Ten-year-0ld Paige Holley shrugs and sulks in the back of the police cruiser. Outside, the woods are crawling with police and squad cars, their lights flashing off birch trunks in the early morning sunrise. The crime scene has been roped off and multiple medical examiners are kneeling over the body of the late Mrs. Miller.
“Is this cricket here with us now?” Det. Schette presses. “Can I speak to…it?”
“It doesn’t work like that.”
“Look kid, I’m just trying to–“
The detective is cut off by Mrs. Holley rushing to the squad car, throwing open the door and embracing her daughter. “Oh Paige, we were worried sick.”
Det. Schette gets out, holding up his hands. “Ma’am, I’ve just got a few more questions for your dau–“
“No, you’re done.” Mr. Holley steps in.
“Sir, your child was found alone in the middle of nowhere at a murder scene with no real explanation as to how she–“
“I wasn’t alone.”
Det. Schette rolls his eyes. “Right, silly me. She was found here along with–“
“Her imaginary friend,” Mrs. Holley interjects. “Dorothy. We know.”
Det. Schette frowns. “No–“
Mr. Holley presses a hand against the detective’s chest. “Officer, if you believe my ten-year-old child murdered this…whoever this is, arrest her. If not, we’re taking our daughter home. Now.”
The Holleys turn to leave, Paige slumped against her mother’s side trudging and kicking the fallen autumn leaves as Det. Schette looks on helplessly before being joined by his partner.
“Did you just let the sole witness to this murder go?” Det. Harry Faulk barks.
“Witness? I thought we were going with suspect.”
“What? No, man. She’s ten. But she’s the only one who might know how this happened. Otherwise, our guys are stumped. There are no tire marks. No drag marks. It’s like she just dropped outta the sky.”
Det. Schette nods with concern. “Hey, here’s a weird question. Could a cricket kill a person? Like if it was really poisonous or something.”
The next afternoon, Mr. & Mrs. Holley are sitting at the dining room table, Mr. Holley having taken a half day at work.
“Do you think it was wise to send Paige back to school so soon after seeing that dead body?”
Mr. Holley shrugs and sips his coffee. “She’s gotta go back at some point. She’s missed too many days already.”
Mrs Holley shakes her head. “Poor Mrs. Miller. How could something so terrible happen in a town like this.”
The phone rings and Mrs. Holley picks it up. “Hello?…Oh hello, Ms. Osborne. Is Paige alr–…Oh, dear…We’ll be right there.”
Mr. Holley stares at his wife expectantly as she hangs up.
“Paige got into a fight with one of the older girls at recess. Ms. Osborne found her at the far end of the soccer field talking to an imaginary friend.”
Mrs. Holley shakes her head worriedly. “Someone named ‘Chuck’.”
Send all hate mail to ethanrbooker@