Favourite Dress

“No sign of it in here, kid. These are all men’s clothes.”

“But I was certain it would be here!”

“It’s not. Look, we’re running out of rooms. Why don’t you just tell me where your dress is hidden?”

“Because I <i>don’t know</i>. I just know it’s in a closet!”

“It’s only a dress, Carlotta.”

“It’s not only a dress! It’s my favourite dress. And it’s really really important that we find it soon.”

“Why is it so important, girl? Why are you paying me two hundred bucks an hour to search your own house?”

“It just is. If you don’t want the money I can find somebody else…”

“With your deadline half an hour away? Come on, you hired me as a last resort and we both know it. I only took the job because I haven’t had any work since August.”

“I’m sorry. Please, we have to find the dress before midnight or something very bad will happen.”

“Sigh. Let’s check the next closet, then.”


“Clothes, clothes, … nothing. Wait! What’s this? A duffel bag?”

“What’s a duffel bag?”

“It’s like a big sack that soldiers used to put clothes and stuff in. Man, this one is heavy. Let me reach in… yeah, there’s cloth in there.”

“Check it! Check it!”’

“I am! This knot is just… got it! Now we open the top and…”

“That’s it! That’s my dress!”

“Oh shit. That’s blood!”

“Uh huh.”

“And there’s a body! Why is there a corpse in your… wait! She’s alive! What in hell is going on here kid? Kid?”


“911? This is Patricia Sansom, private investigator license number 22158437. I’m out at the old Gordon house, 224 Merivale drive. There’s a girl here, about seven years old, covered in blood, mostly from a… a wound… in the lower abdomen. She’s still breathing, but it’s shallow. I’ve slowed the bleeding but we need an ambulance. And the police.”


“Miss Sansom?”

“You can call me Pat.”

“Miss Pat? Thank you for saving me.”

“No problem. I had help, though. Do you know a girl named Carlotta? About your age, wears frilly dresses, black hair in pigtails?”

“She’s my friend. When Mum and Dad are away she plays with me.”

“Well, she called me in and had me search for you, but she didn’t know which closet you were in.”


“She saved your life.”

“Miss Pat, it can’t be Carlotta. Nobody else can see her; she’s my pretend friend.”