It was a quarter past seven and all was dark in the house. Outside, something was scraping at the front door, making scratch-scratch sounds against the brass knob.
Finally the door slowly creaked opened. A man stood in the entryway, holding a screwdriver. He was tall and lean, and his shirt sleeves were too short for his arms. He wore a black knit cap. "Works every time," he said, pocketing the screwdriver. He picked up a duffel bag.
Buster sped down the stairs, crashing down the landing on his face. Jumping up, he barked wildly, snapping and growling at the stranger.
"Ooh what a cute widdle doggy," said the man mockingly. As Buster continued to snarl, baring his teeth, the man lifted the dog around the middle. Placing him under his arm like a log of salami, the stranger walked up the three steps that led to the first landing.
"This must be the garage," he said, taking note of the door. Wrenching open the door, he tossed Buster inside. "Goodnight doggy." He shut the door. "I love the small breeds."
It was time to check out the goodies. In the living room, he didn't see as many electronics as he would've liked, but it was only his first stop. Maybe the lady of the house'll have a computer upstairs…Bending over, he began to unplug the stereo.
"I wouldn't do that."
He jumped nearly a foot. "Who's there?" Grabbing his duffel bag, he began to fish inside for a light.
"Left speaker goes in and out all the time. You won't get much for it," continued the voice. The stranger finally reached his mini Maglite and switched it on. He flashed the light around the room. Empty.
"Ya know, the family that lives here," said the voice. "They're good people. Single Mom, two great kids. It'd really break their hearts to know that some lickspittle varmint stole their stuff while they were at the movies."
"So I'm tellin' ya to leave. Right now. Vamoose. Git on outta here."
He sneered. "What are you, some kind of cowboy?"
"Do I sound like a boy? I'm tellin' ya to hit the road, Jack."
The intruder continued to move his light from place to place but there was no sign of anyone. "Come on out! Show yourself!" he demanded.
"Over here," said the voice. "The recliner, you ugly pig slop." He pointed the beam at the seat. It was empty. "Not down there." Moving the light up, he could see something sitting on the top. He froze.
It was a toy. A Cowgirl doll to be precise. No, it had to be a trick. A recording from somewhere else. Because there was no way…
"Howdy," she said.
He screamed. Throwing the flashlight in the air he raced for the living room door, skidded out into the hall, and tore out of the house into the night.
"Hasta luego!" she yelled after him. "Don't come back now, ya hear?"
Jessie was brushing her hands off when she met Woody and Buzz at the bottom of the stairs. "I can't believe you did that!"
"You can't?" Buzz muttered.
"What was I supposed to do," said Jessie. "Let him clean out the whole house?"
Woody looked cross. "What if he tells someone?"
"Oh sure!" Jessie jutted out her front teeth mockingly as she spoke in a dopey tone. "Help, Police! This cowgirl dolly told me to stop stealing from the house I broke into!"
Buzz snickered. Woody sighed. "All right, all right. You took a big risk…but you did run him off." He placed a hand on her shoulder. "So thank you."
There was a high pitched whine from the garage and the three turned. "Oh no, Buster!" Racing to the door, the three could hear his cries from the other side as he scratched against the grain. "Don't worry, Boy! We'll get you out!" Woody called. "Come on, Buzz! Let's get a chair!"
Five minutes later, Buster was free and giving Woody sloppy wet dog kisses. "Peh! Okay, okay!" He rubbed the drool off his face.
"He doesn't seem worse for the wear," observed Buzz.
"Good." Woody looked to the front door. The handle was badly scratched from where the stranger had used the screwdriver to jimmy the lock. "Well the dog's fine and nothing was taken, but I suppose there's nothing we can do about the door."
"The main thing is we're all okay," said Buzz. "Thanks to Jessie."
A hint of red colored her cheeks as she waved him off. "Pshaw."
As the three toys and one dog began the climb upstairs, Woody said, "I just hope there aren't any consequences from this."
"Aw what harm could it have done?" Jessie replied with a grin. "Just screwed him up for the rest of his life, that's all."
Buzz raised an eyebrow. "Hey Woody, didn't you once say the same thing after you scared…"
"No!" Woody quickly snapped. "Time for bed!"
"Bed? It ain't even nine o'clock!"
"Yes and I'm tired! Time for bed!" Squaring his shoulders, the cowboy stomped up the stairs. Jessie looked confused, but Buzz just smiled knowingly.
TWO HOURS LATER:
The Police Officer looked around the Davis room. In her right hand she held a notepad. Using a ballpoint pen in her left she scratched her temple. "You're sure your house was broken into?"
Andy's Mom stood by her. "The door was open and the wood is destroyed. Someone was in here."
Andy was curled up on the couch nearby watching, Molly leaning against him asleep. "Do you have a billy club like in the cartoons?"
The Officer continued. "And you're sure nothing is taken?"
"Nothing that we've seen."
The Officer looked puzzled. "Strange…Maybe it was just teenagers playing a prank…" As she wrote in her pad, Buster pushed in the door and wandered in. He plopped his behind down and scratched behind his ear. "Or maybe something scared them off, though I don't know what…"
Mom and the Officer looked at Andy. "What?"
He pointed to Buster. "I bet it was Buster! I bet when that nasty burglar saw Buster he took off running!"
Mom looked skeptical. "Honey, I don't know…"
"Actually…" The Officer knelt down and pulled a biscuit out of her pocket. She handed it to Buster who happily scarfed it. "It's entirely possible that they took one look at this fierce fellah and thought twice about messing with your things. After all," she smiled over her shoulder. "Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot."
Mom looked confused but Andy squealed.
Up on the top of the stairs, Jessie scoffed. "Oh right! Buster scared them off! Buster's the hero!"
Woody sat next to her on the steps. "Well what did you think was going to happen?" She shrugged.
Buzz smiled gently. "You know some heroes work in the dark."
Jessie brightened. "Hey! Hey yeah!" She jumped up with an enthusiastic grin. "You know what that means?"
"No but I bet you're going to tell us anyway."
Jessie dropped her tone. "I am vengeance…"
"I am the night…I am…BATMAN!" And with that she sped off into Andy's room, cackling manically.
The two toys left on the steps stared after her. "I suppose that makes you Catwoman," said Woody dryly.
"Is that a good thing?"
"You in skintight leather? Heck no."