Chapter Eleven

The Clover Street News
“Give me that flashlight,” I said through gritted teeth, taking it from Harvey.  I gave the rear garage window an upward nudge.  It moved easily, and so I slid it on up.

Then I threw a leg over the sill and started to duck inside.  “Is this the way you two went in?” I asked the boys as they stood off somewhere in the dark.

Harvey stopped me short: “Naw, we just walked in through the front.”

“In the daylight,” Brocc added.

I straddled the window sill and asked them: “You just walked in through the front in broad daylight?”

“Sure,” my brother said.  “Mister Reuhausen was there and so we just went up to him and said ‘Hi-how-ya-doin?’ and came on inside.  We wore disk-eyes sometimes, too, but they knew we were kids.”

“We looked around a lot of people’s garages that way,” said Harvey.

Disk-eyes?  I gave it a moment’s thought — (disguises?) — and then eased on into the garage anyway.  “You guys wait right here,” I warned.  My foot had to find a patch of floor between hard metal handles and things, but I slipped in quietly.  I was inside only a couple of minutes.  But it was enough time to be sure of Mister Reuhausen’s guilt.  And the more tools I saw and the more I thought about his stealing from my father the more furious I became.

There were probably twenty things in there that I know I’d seen at my father’s shop.  Some were freshly painted in different colors, but by turning them over I could find traces of the silver-and-green that my dad was fond of.  Even the cement mixer had been ours.

Back at the window I tossed the flashlight toward a figure standing back in the dark and practically dove out onto the grassy lawn.  I reached back and gently slid the window back down.

Heidi came forward and hissed: “Let’s go!”  And we did, fast!  It was all right, though.  Heidi was sure that Missus Reuhausen had been looking out the kitchen window right at them while I was inside, but it was plain that she couldn’t have seen far enough in the twilight to actually spot anybody.

“Now, listen, you guys,” I said to the boys when we were back on the street, “You’re going to keep very quiet about this, aren’t you!”

“We want to tell the police!” Brocc protested.

“You guys will be heroes, if you just listen to me!” I whispered hoarsely as I escorted them home, Heidi following in silent confusion.  “I have a plan.  We’ve caught this guy red-handed.  First we’ll make him squirm.  Then the police can take over and Dad can get his stuff back tomorrow night!”

The Sleuth Brothers, as I’d begun to refer to them to their faces, looked up at me with profound trust.  “Okay,” they said together.

“Now, go get to bed.  Meet back at our house tomorrow after school,” I ordered.  Heidi and I watched them dash the rest of the way to Harvey’s house and disappear up the front steps.

“We have to go, Sue!” Heidi urged.  “My mom wanted us back twenty minutes ago!”  So we hurried, but we weren’t in any trouble.

Later that night, in Heidi’s room, I explained what I wanted us to do.  After school on Friday, then, we put my plan into action.  Heidi and I and the two boys met at my house.  April showed up, too, but we sent her away.  She was mad, of course.  But we couldn’t risk letting her in on the case at this late moment.  I felt badly, because she was clearly hurt by our secrecy.

First, we set aside the issue of The Clover Street News that we had finished the night before.  This could serve as our next issue.  Then, with the boys banished to the back yard, I typed a whole new one-page issue while Heidi coached me in the use of the most dramatic wording we could think of.

It was done in an hour.  “Neighborhood Thief Exposed!” the headline read.  In the scathing article I told the whole story, as I knew it, of Dad’s missing tools.

Heidi was afraid to go through with it.  Then again, it wasn’t her family that had been robbed.  I eased her anxiety by promising to take all the “credit” for breaking the story.  I gave the Sleuth Brothers Detective Agency credit in the article.  That way the boys could be heroes without having their names exposed.

I wanted to get the thing printed before supper, so we sent the boys away again and told them to be back in another hour, but later, when we headed past Heidi’s house on our way to Dad’s store Heidi’s mom caught us and made us go in for supper.  It was almost dark by the time we could get going again.

The Clover Street News – Chapter 1 – Chapter 2 – Chapter 3 – Chapter 4 – Chapter 5 – Chapter 6 – Chapter 7 – Chapter 8 – Chapter 9 – Chapter 10 – Chapter 11 – Chapter 12 – Chapter 13 – Chapter 14 – Chapter 15 – Chapter 16 – Chapter 17

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