Crawling With Baby
4247 Maplewood Dr
Saturday, October 28, 1989
“Jenna?” Lee knelt on the floor, looking into his daughter’s eyes.
Jenna smiled at him, rocking back and forth on her hands and knees. “Dada.”
“Yes—Dada. Can you tell Daddy where you put it, munchkin? When you pulled yourself up on the sofa? Just tell me—tell Daddy where you put the microdot.”
Jenna squealed in response —followed by a stream of random syllables. Lee glanced at his watch. Half-past twelve—he needed to find it— needed to find it fast—so far he’d checked under the sofa, beside the sofa—under the cushions—apart from about a dollar seventy-five he’d found nada. Zilch.
And his only clue, possibly the key to the whole mystery—was crawling away from him—making a quick circuit through the now-gated family room.
“Oh, munchkin.” Lee sighed—drawing in a deep breath—he let his breath out in a single satisfying whoosh. What could he do now? That microdot was vital—it contained the blueprints of the Navy’s newest attack submarine—to go through all the trouble of stealing it from the Russian Embassy—replacing it with one containing fake blueprints—only to lose the original plans because—looking at his baby daughter making her usual trek, Lee was struck with a sudden inspiration.
Maybe he needed to see things from her point of view.
Still on his hands and knees Lee began to follow Jenna—scanning the floor as he moved along. Jenna knew he was there—every so often she’d look back with this little grin—dark eyes lit up in her small face—Amanda’s eyes—he couldn’t help but smile back.
“I’m gonna get you, munchkin,” Lee teased. “ I’ll get you—I’ll get you—” As Lee came closer Jenna let out another squeal—going faster—he grabbed her from behind—she laughed delightedly as he nuzzled and growled into her neck.
No microdot—Lee realized—they had been around the family room twice. His heart sank. Lifting his daughter he placed her on the sofa. Jenna grabbed a large stuffed block—putting it to her mouth. At this age everything went into her mouth—Amanda had told him that it was a baby’s way of exploring their world. Since Jenna had become mobile they all had to be very careful about what was left on the floor—they didn’t want her to ingest anything bad or choke.
Everything goes into her mouth—a terrible suspicion began to form in Lee’s mind.
If Jenna had swallowed it—
Francine’s voice startled him. Lee looked up to see her standing in the doorway.
“Mind if I come in?” she asked. “Or is this a bad time?”
“No, it’s fine.” Lee said. “It’s—um—would you like something to drink?”
“Thank you, Lee but no thank you—I’m just here to pick it up and then I have to get back.”
“Pick it up?” he repeated.
“Yes—pick it up—the microdot, remember?”
He had to stall her—until he could think of what else to do. “Yes, I remember it.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Francine replied. “Do you know where it is?”
“It’s in this room.”
He could hear the annoyance in her voice. “Where in this room?”
“Ahh—well, you see— the last place I saw it was on the sofa—” Lee told her. “And Jenna pulled herself up on the sofa and then—”
For a few moments Francine just stared at him. “Are you actually telling me that Jenna has the microdot?”
“It’s possible—that’s the last time I saw it. “
Francine raised her eyebrows. “Oh, I see—so where is it now?”
“Well, that’s the thing. You know how Jenna –the ways she puts everything in her mouth?”
“You’re not telling me that you think the baby ate your microdot, Scarecrow.”
“Can you think of any other explanation? I’m telling you, I’ve looked everywhere.”
“Maybe so, but still—”
“Lee!” Amanda and Dotty rushed inside, carrying two shopping bags each—Amanda placed hers on the coffee table.
“Mother and I found the most adorable Halloween costume for Jenna.” Amanda said. “It’s a fuzzy little rabbit costume—oh, hello Francine.” She bent over Jenna, lifting her as she spoke. “I just can’t wait for her to try it on— now that’s funny—”
“What’s funny?” Lee asked. “What is it?”
“You’re probably looking for this, I bet.”
Holding Jenna’s foot, Amanda carefully peeled the object off the top, handing it to Lee, who stared at the object in the palm of his hand.
The microdot—and she’d had it all along.
“Men.” Amanda told Jenna—who laughed in response.