We all went back where we belonged for the night.
As an unplanned precaution we didn’t give a paper to Heidi’s mom or dad, and they didn’t ask for one. I just wanted to go to bed and fall asleep. If we had given Heidi’s parents one of the newspapers we’d have had to stay up answering questions, and somehow, even though earlier that day I would have relished the limelight, I wanted to avoid it. Luckily, Heidi was worried enough not to argue with me.
We just walked through Heidi’s kitchen, mumbled “Good night,” and headed upstairs. Maybe an hour later — I don’t really know, because I’d been dozing already — I heard the phone ring and a lot of animated conversation. Then there were rapid footsteps on the stairs, and Heidi’s door popped open, splashing us with hundreds of watts of bare light. Whoever it was, (her mother or father), just stood there for the longest time staring in. Then the door closed. In what seemed like a minute later a new avalanche of light tumbled through the window.
I sat bolt upright and gazed outside in disbelief.
Eleven o’clock at night and the morning sun was up! My sleep-shrouded mind instantly sensed that Broccoli had something to do with this. I found Heidi in bed beside me and wondered what she was doing in my room, and wondered, also, when did I get a double bed.
At last I came to my senses. The clock said 7:02. It was Saturday morning. Remembering her parents’ near-intrusion of the night before, I eased out of bed, put on a hodgepodge of Heidi’s clothes and my own, grabbed one of her sneakers and one of mine, and, holding the shoes in my hands, slithered out of the room and down the stairs. I peered into the kitchen. Heidi’s dad, wearing only his under shorts, was fumbling with the coffee pot. I had to get out that way, because their front door was far too noisy — hung with sleigh bells year-‘round. As I was looking around for a living room window to jump out of, Mister Glueck shuffled into the bathroom just off the kitchen and closed the door.
I ran in my stockinged feet and skated a full body length to the back door and slipped out into the morning. I wanted to get Broccoli out of Harvey’s house before he could be grilled about the escapade but realized that that would be a job for Supergirl.
Instead, following back routes and shortcuts, I raced home.
I let myself into the house, where the curtains were already closed, checked that the doors were locked, and charged into my room. Once inside I propped a chair against the door for good measure and climbed under my own covers. Five minutes later the house phone rang. I ignored it. I just hid. Half an hour later it rang again. Then again. For about an hour that morning the phone just kept ringing.
I only wanted to hide and to figure some of this out. First of all, between phone calls that went unanswered, I assured myself that I was right. I had done the right thing. The Reuhausens had my dad’s stuff and I had caught them with it. I knew enough about police forces from television to know that ours would certainly take too long to complete an important investigation, so I’d undertaken that myself, and in spite of having been caught, I’d succeeded.
Since I’d been caught, I wondered whether I could wait for Dad’s return before pressing charges. Maybe I myself had to let the police know the facts so that they could make the arrest. It had just never dawned on me that from Friday night to Saturday noon could be too long to wait all alone.
Eventually I stole to the kitchen and found some breakfast. I think the phone kept ringing occasionally, but I finally had tuned it out so well that I can’t tell you how long it kept up.
I wanted to watch television, but didn’t dare risk having someone from outside see a flickering glow through the curtains or hear the muffled trauma music from all the super-heroes cartoons that I despise anyway.
Just as I was shoveling in the last of the milk-sogged flakes and reading the ingredients on the cereal box for the sixth time, a tap on my shoulder sent me halfway to the ceiling, my loosened lips spraying my last bite of breakfast as I spun around in mid-air. I followed the milk fountain trick with the kind of scream I would have made only if I’d seen a seventy-pound rat — because that’s exactly what I was staring at.
Actually, there were two.
While I was choking, Broccoli flipped up his mask and in his best gangster voice said: “Pipe down, Sister. Ya wanna wake the whole neighborhood?”
“Yeah!” Harvey echoed, still hidden behind pink-rimmed eyes and yellow incisors. I swore in front of little boys for the first time in my life.
“You’re hiding out. We understand,” Brocc consoled me. “Ya wanna be alone.”
I swore again. I didn’t know what to say. In a way I was glad to see them.
“Look,” I said — then I paused to ask: “You guys didn’t run into any trouble, did you?”
“Naw, not much,” Harvey answered. I lifted his mask so I could see him talk, but the sight of his sweaty face made me prefer the rat, so I pulled it back down. He went on: “My mom wanted to know what the stuff in the paper was all about, but we said ‘We don’t know. We didn’t write it. We just delivered it.’”
“Yeah,” my brother added. “We told them we hadn’t even read it. It was true, too.”
“When was this?” I asked.
“Last night,” they said in unison.
“Then my mom called Mister Glueck to talk to you,” said Harvey. “He said he’d instivate — indivase…”
“Infesticate,” Broccoli corrected.
Harvey continued: “…he’d infesticave it himself.”
“Yeah,” Brocc continued, “but then this morning Mister Glueck called Harvey’s house back and said you were gone. Everybody figured you were here, so they’ve all been calling. I told them this would be the last place you’d come, if I knew my sister.”
“Has anyone told the Reuhausens?” I asked them.
“Doe-no,” they agreed.
“Look,” I said to them, getting back to my original thought, “you guys be my eyes and ears today, okay?”
They nodded eagerly. I explained all my logic and reasoning to them, everything I had already thought of and more that came to mind, to assure them that we were in the right and that everything would be settled when Dad and Mom came home. I gave them a message for Heidi to stay away from our house no matter what, but that I would call her at 11:30 sharp.
The Sleuth Brothers left by the same rat hole through which they’d entered, (the recently-oiled back door).
I locked it behind them and added a chair beneath the doorknob.
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