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    Let’s Play Make-Believe

    New Jersey, near Princeton; March 1932

    The Charles Lindbergh farmhouse glowed with bright, orangish lights. It looked like a fiery castle, especially in that gloomy, fir-wooded region of Jersey. Shreds of misty fog touched the boy as he moved closer and closer to his first moment of real glory, his first kill. It was pitch-dark and the grounds were soggy and muddy and thick with puddles. He had anticipated as much. He’d planned for everything, including the weather. He wore a size nine man’s work boot. The toe and heel of the boots were stuffed with torn cloth and strips of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    He wanted to leave footprints, plenty of footprints. A man’s footprints. Not the prints of a twelve-year-old boy. They would lead from the county highway called the Stoutsburg-Wertsville Road, up to, then back from, the farmhouse.

    He began to shiver as he reached a stand of pines, not thirty yards from the sprawling house. The mansion was just as grand as he’d imagined: seven bedrooms and 4 baths on the second floor alone. Lucky Lindy and Anne Morrow’s place in the country. Cool beans, he thought.

    The boy inched closer and closer toward the diningroom window. He was fascinated by this condition known as fame. He thought a lot about it. Almost all the time. What was fame really like? How did it smell) How did it taste? What did fame look like close up? "The most popular and glamorous man in the world” was right there sitting at the table. Charles Lindbergh was tall, elegant, and fabulously golden haired, with a fair complexion. "Lucky Lindy” truly seemed above everyone else.

    So did his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Anne had short hair. It was curly and black, and it made her skin look chalky white. The light from the candles on the table appeared to be dancing around her.

    Both of them sat very straight in their chairs. Yes " they certainly looked superior, as if they were God’s special gifts to the world. They kept their heads high, delicately eating their food. He strained to see what was on the table. It looked like lamb chops on their perfect china.

     

    "I’ll be more famous than either of you pitiful stiffs," the boy finally whispered. He promised that to himself. Every detail had been thought through a thousand times, at least that often. He very methodically went to work.

    The boy retrieved a wooden ladder left near the garage by working-men. Holding the ladder tightly against his side, he moved toward a spot just beyond the library window. He climbed silently up to the nursery. His pulse was racing, and his heart was pounding so loud he could hear it.

    Light cast from a hallway lamp illuminated the baby’s room. He could see the crib and the snoozing little prince in it. Charles Jr., "the most famous child on earth. " On one side, to keep away drafts, was a colorful screen with illustrations of barnyard animals.

    He felt sly and cunning. "Here comes Mr. Fox," the boy whispered as he quietly slid open the window.

    Then he took another step up the ladder and was inside the nursery at last. Standing over the crib, he stared at the princeling. Curls of golden hair like his father’s, but fat. Charles Jr. was gone to fat at only twenty months.

    The boy could no longer control himself. Hot tears streamed from his eyes. His whole body began to shake, from frustration and rage-only mixed with the most incredible joy of his life.

    " "Well, daddy’s little man. It’s our time now," he muttered to himself He took a tiny rubber, ball with an attached elastic band from his pocket. He quickly slipped the odd-looking looped device over Charles Jr.’s head, just as the small blue eyes opened.

    As the baby started to cry, the boy plopped the rubber ball right into the little drooly mouth. He reached down into the crib and took Baby Lindbergh into his arms and went swiftly back down the ladder. All according to plan.

    The boy ran back across the muddy fields with the precious, struggling bundle in his arms and disappeared into the darkness. Less than two miles from the farmhouse, he buried the spoiled-rotten Lindbergh baby-buried him alive.

    That was only the start of things to come. After all, he was only a boy himself.

    He, not Bruno Richard Hauptmann, was the Lindbergh baby kidnapper. He had done it all by himself. Coot beans.

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