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johnson wilson and the case of the broken baby is a short photo-story in six parts, written and staged by pamela klaffke and her daughter, emma.

©pamela klaffke, all rights reserved


johnson wilson is eight, she is a private investigator. her arch-enemy is the trickster. she goes to discos. she has a dog called trent. she drinks white wine. she has no parents.


The trickster is a very bad clown. He bugs people by imitating them, he doesn’t return his library books on time and he broke the baby.

The library was quiet and dark when I arrived. I stopped at the front desk and slipped the trickster’s overdue books through the return slot. Then I took all the baby parts I’d collected and put them together. As soon as I popped that last leg onto her body she started squirming like crazy and jumped off the desk and started crawling around. But of course she could see because she didn’t have a face or eyes so she kept bumping into things and making little angry fists. But she couldn’t cry and I was happy about that.

I picked up the baby’s headless body and this time she didn’t squirm or complain. We walked into the library’s main room. There were stacks of books on the floor and book arranged in no particular order on shelves. For a library, it was very disorganized and they probably didn’t even know the trickster’s books were overdue. I set the baby’s body down for not a millionth of a second to make a quick note to come back and investigate this library later to find out why it’s so messy and who works there and why they probably don’t care about overdue books when they should. It wasn’t a trillionth of a second, but it was long enough for the trickster to come darting out of nowhere and swipe that baby right back up and run away yelling, “hee, hee, hee,” like he always does.

I chased him behind piles of books and down cluttered aisles. I was faster than him, but he was a tricky one. He was nearly in reach when he started pulling books off the shelves as he ran and letting them drop to the floor and making me trip on them. He was gone and I was almost ready to give up and go home or maybe back to school. But then I thought about the baby, taken hostage by the trickster again and that he might break her into pieces and the case would never be over and the baby would have to go to a special hospital when she was rescued.

I rounded a corner came to the door of an unlit room. I tiptoed in using my best investigator walk, and then – there she was! The trickster had propped the baby’s body up on a stack of books and made her hold a book with his face right on it. I was about to pick her up when I heard a familiar sound: the cry of the broken baby. I swung around and there was her head, wobbling on top of a golden stick. I grabbed the head and placed it on the baby’s body. She smiled at me and some drool got on my scarf and she started crying again which was extra irritating since I just saved her life. I took a quick look around for the trickster, but he was surely long-gone. The case of the broken baby was closed, but I’d get him next time. Ciao!