~A Little Hardys Adventure by Lily~
The Mystery at the Beach
We’ve Solved a Mystery at the Beach!
“I went for a quick swim…wasn’t gone for more than ten minutes…I come back here and dig into the sand where I’d buried my wallet…and it’s gone!” The irate hotel guest continued his tirade as he stomped around, clueless to the fact that he was destroying any footprints a thief would have left. His angry moving about would also be burying any evidence such as clothing fibers, a strand of hair, or some other small bit of potentially identifying matter.
“Are you sure you looked in the right spot?” a helpful neighbor asked.
“Yes, I’m sure!” he nearly shouted back in their face.
“There’s no need to get nasty about it,” the neighbor replied. “I’ve done the same kind of thing before…the sand does look the same.”
“Yeah, well I’m not that simple…I specifically made note that I buried it to the right of my beach towel. And it’s not there…I dug up the whole area before I got vocal about it.”
While this sort of conversation continued, Frank and Joe had coaxed their mother into taking them up closer to the ‘scene of the crime’. Frank tugged on her hand and she looked down to see what he wanted.
“Ask him which way he was facin’ when he buried it, Mommy.”
“I don’t know if we should get involved with this, Frank. The man is very upset. I think we should go rejoin your father.”
Joe nearly panicked when their mother spoke of leaving…they couldn’t give up on the case! The bad guy was probably long gone, but his big brother seemed to have an idea about something. Joe decided he’d better take matters into his own hands. “HEY MISTER!”
The man stopped mid-sentence and looked over to see who was interrupting him while he was trying to make a point. He saw Joe’s expectant little face, cute little kid…loud though! “What?”
“Which way was you facin’?”
“Which way was you facin’ when you buried your wallet?”
“Ummm, toward the hotel…why?”
Joe had asked the one question he knew his brother wanted answered, so he looked over at Frank for the follow-up.
“Might be ‘portant. Which way were you facin’ when you noted where you buried it?” Frank asked.
“Well I…that is I was…umm…well, I was probably in the same spot! Don’t bother me with silly questions, kid…this is an adult level matter…serious stuff you wouldn’t understand.”
“That’s no reason to be rude to a child,” Laura told the man with a mama bear tone to her voice as she lifted her head and looked him squarely in the face.
“That’s right! Especially when the kid is just trying to help you, you slob!” a teenage boy spoke up nearby.
“Look, I’m sorry,” the angry man looked down at Frank and Joe. “I’m just really upset right now. I don’t mean to be rude or ungrateful, but losing your wallet is a major headache!”
“I forgive you,” Frank replied and pulled on his mom’s hand as if to go. When other members of the crowd started sympathizing with the man, thus drawing his attention away from the Hardys, Frank changed direction. Instead of leaving, he went over to the opposite side of the man’s beach blanket. He bent down and started digging one-handed in the sand. His mom quickly let go of his other hand so he could dig with both hands. Together, the three Hardys dug through the sand along the upper area of the towel…and guess what they found?
Joe, who couldn’t resist an encore, yelled about as loud as his little lungs could manage, “HEY! MISTER!”
“What now?” he asked with an exasperated tone as he turned around. He stopped suddenly and clamped his mouth shut when he saw the icy glare Laura was beaming into him. Changing his tone and looking a little nervous for his health’s sake he rephrased his answer, “Um, I mean, what can I do for you, nice little boy?”
“Nothin’,” Joe said and crossed his arms. He decided he was going to let the rude man figure it out for himself. After all, Frank was standing right there holding the guy’s wallet!
The man’s eyes flitted over to the familiar object that the dark haired boy was now waving around to catch his attention. And then he made the profound announcement, “My wallet!”
Frank and Joe both rolled their eyes as if on cue.
The man took the wallet, knocked some of the sand off, opened it, and withdrew two one-dollar bills from it. He handed one to each of the brothers as a reward while thanking them profusely for finding it for him.
Joe thanked him, but Frank just stared at him.
Finally the man asked in utter confusion, “What? Did I do something wrong again?!”
Frank glanced up at his mom and then back over at the man, “She helped search for your wallet, too, ya know!”
The man’s mouth fell open as the crowd tittered. He reached into the wallet and withdrew another dollar bill, looked sheepishly at the red-faced Laura and handed it to her while thanking her for her help, too.
Frank nodded in satisfaction and thanked the man politely for his reward.
Laura took her sons each by the hand and made her way back to Fenton as quickly as possible. It’s a good thing she wasn’t banking on much sympathy for the awkward situation well-meaning Frank had put her in. Fenton laughed heartily for several minutes after he heard about it!
Frank glanced over at their dad, I guess Joe and I shouldn’t have come back over to our sandcastle so soon…Mommy must have told Daddy a really funny joke just now!
Joe was still beaming from their parents’ congratulations for solving the mystery of the missing wallet. Mommy and Daddy sure are proud of us! We did a good job!
As both brothers silently worked on their sandcastle, busy with their own thoughts, Frank tried to figure out who the thief was. He was sure that the adults must be overlooking the suspect somehow, or else they would have caught him by now! It was possible that the thief wasn’t an adult at all…maybe one of the bigger kids there on the beach was the thief. Maybe someone pretended to be real friendly just to throw off any suspicion, like their dad had told them a pickpocket had done successfully…until their dad caught him, that is! Frank’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted as his three-year-old brother jumped up and began to shout!
“That’s him! That’s him! That’s him!” Joe cried excitedly as he pointed up the beach.
“Who’s him? What are you talking about, son?” Fenton asked as he got up from his beach chair and came over to Joe.
“Him! He’s the guy!” Joe shouted, sounding like a miniature Adrian Monk.
“What guy?” Laura asked.
“The thief!” Frank supplied as he picked up on what his brother was saying.
“The one Detective Timmons was telling us about?” Fenton guessed with surprise in his voice. The boys had been watching their cartoons so intently that he hadn’t known they had even heard the knock on the door! It’s amazing what children can pick up on! My two little detectives!
“Yes!” Joe replied earnestly as he took his dad’s hand and tried to pull him toward the suspect. Tall, lean Fenton was a lot bigger than the little blond tyke, though, and he wasn’t budging.
“The blind man with the walking stick?” Fenton questioned dubiously.
“Son, are you sure? What makes you think he’s the guy?”
“He moves his head wrong!” Joe stated as if that explained everything.
“He moves his head wrong? What do you mean?”
“He doesn’t move it right! He moves it like this-” Joe moved his head swiftly as he looked from side to side. “But he should move it like this.” Here Joe moved his head carefully, slightly, a little at a time. “If you move your head too fast when you’re tryin’ to ‘see’ with your ears, all you hear is rushin’ wind an’ you don’t have time to ‘sting’gish each sound to gather clues like a ‘tective! Seth taught me that.”
Fenton stared at his younger son for a second and then quickly moved into action. He raced up the beach and placed himself in the path of the alleged blind man.
The man continued to walk, though Fenton had detected a slight hesitation on the man’s part when he, Fenton, had first planted himself in the way. The man had quickly regained control of himself and continued to walk forward, using his walking stick to make sure his path was clear. When his stick tapped against the detective’s ankle, he altered his path slightly to go around the obstacle. Fenton, however, countered his move, standing in his way again. By the fourth time this happened, the supposed blind man was gritting his teeth.
A-ha! Now I’ve got you! Fenton thought to himself. If you were blind for real, you wouldn’t know you’ve been bumping into the same person! And you wouldn’t find it to be an unusual or unexpected irritation to come across repeated obstacles when you know you’re on a crowded beach!
The man finally realized he wasn’t fooling the determined gentleman in front of him, so he made a quick decision. Swinging the walking stick toward Fenton, he released it and took off running!
Fenton couldn’t dodge the stick, so he reached out a hand to ward it off. It hit his forearm and fell to the sand. Fenton took off after the suspect, agilely dashing around people, leaping over sandcastles, toys, and tots, yelling for people to watch out for the dangerous character.
The thief had knocked various beachgoers out of the way as he desperately tried to outrun his pursuer. That guy must be a cop! How else would he have guessed I was faking?! I’ve got it down to an art.
Deciding it was high time to stop this guy before he hurt somebody, and seeing the means with which to do so, Fenton went for it. Without missing a beat, he reached out and snagged someone’s Frisbee out of midair. And then, using his momentum to greatest advantage, Fenton flicked his wrist with one quick snap and sent the Frisbee flying straight at the suspect! Seconds later, said Frisbee hit its target right in the neck, effectively knocking him to the ground.
“Hold it right there, mister! You aren’t going anywhere!” the head of hotel security commanded in his best stern and authoritative voice as he stood over the crumpled form. Looking over at Fenton with a grin he remarked, “I’ve always wanted to say that!”
Fenton smiled and nodded as he paused to catch his breath. Laura and the boys were soon at his side. She put her arm around his waist and the boys hugged his legs. They were all proud of him.
“Oh boy! This is great! After getting by everybody, the thief finally gets caught the first time he dares to show his face on my beach!” Detective Timmons chortled. “Wait until the detectives at the other hotels hear about this!“
The Hardys decided to have a celebratory lunch over at the café. They let Joe invite his buddy, Seth, to join them. After all, he had indirectly helped them solve the case! They were going to invite Detective Timmons to join them, too, but he was anxious to go telephone a few fellow house detectives in the area and tell them about his apprehending the sneak thief on his beach…’on the thief’s first visit to it, no less!’
Over at the café, the staff had already heard about the Hardys’ success in not only spotting the thief, but also in stopping him. His criminal activities had been causing a slight downturn in patronage for every business along that stretch of beach and so the café manager offered free desserts in thanks for the Hardys’ good deed. He even granted Frank and Joe’s request that their favorite waiter, Pete, be allowed to join them for their little party.
The meal was excellent – as they had come to expect at this establishment. The special ice cream cake that Pete brought out with him turned out to be the best they had ever tasted!
“Boy, this sure is good!” Joe declared with the evidence smeared all over the lower portion of his face. It’s not that he’s a messy eater. He had tried time and again to get the cake to his mouth, but the heat worked against him…the cake would slide off of his spoon before it reached its destination. And, truth be told, his face was pretty neat until his parents started feeding him! This calls for an explanation, though, don’t you think? Well, Joe ran out of patience while trying to use the spoon, so he finally set it down and started to use his hand instead. Laura stopped him, cleaned off his hand, and then she and Fenton took turns spooning the dessert into Joe’s eager mouth. Both parents were experts at feeding little boys, so it wasn’t clumsiness on their part, either. The trouble was that with his mom and dad taking care of it, Joe was once again carefree…perhaps a little too carefree! They would reach the spoon of cake over, but by the time it got there, Joe would turn his head to look at a butterfly…or a bird…or a person going by… And that’s how he ended up with little chocolate cheeks, chocolate lips, and a chocolate-tipped nose!
While Laura began cleaning Joe up, Fenton looked over at their friend from the beach and said, “Seth, I always appreciate gaining knowledge…and I’m curious about something.”
“About what?” he encouraged.
“If someone cannot see with their eyes…and they never had sight…how can they understand colors?”
“Well, I have my own code for how to ‘see’ colors. I match connotations to colors so that they mean something to me personally. For example, blue skies above makes for a pleasant weather day, so blue equals pleasant. The sun is orange, so orange equals warm. Green grass is healthy, so green means good health. My grandmother’s garden has always been filled with yellow tulips, so yellow equals beauty…beauty that you can touch and smell.”
“How ’bout red?” Joe asked before stuffing another French fry into his mouth. (He loved them so much he had wanted some as part of his dessert!)
“Ferrari,” Seth answered without hesitation.
“So red equals cool ride?” Pete guessed with a smile.
“Yeah…have you ever driven one?” Seth asked.
“No, I haven’t ever even been near one!” Pete said with a tone that made it clear he would love to be able to.
“You’re kidding me!” Pete gasped.
“Nope. It was just a short drive on the owner’s property…with her in the passenger seat. Know what’s even more surprising than my driving such a hot car?”
“What?” Frank leaned forward with fascination. Wow, I have a toy car like that…an’ he’s been in a real one!
“I got to touch the Ferrari!”
This surprised everyone, because no one likes for their car’s paint job to be smudged up by fingerprints…regardless of the price tag! To be allowed to touch such an expensive car was downright incredible!
“You’re serious?” Fenton questioned. “I believe the driving it…but she let you touch it?”
“She must like you very much,” Laura smiled.
“Yes, she’s told me as much.” Seth grinned proudly. “One of the advantages of not being a sighted person is that one of the ways we ‘see’ things is through touch. So she let me look at her car.”
“Wow…now that’s cool!” Pete let out a low whistle before he reluctantly stood to his feet. “Thanks for inviting me to join your little lunch party, folks, but I’ve got to get back to work now. Congratulations again on bustin’ the crook!”
After lunch, the Hardys and Seth went back to the beach. They walked along the ocean’s brim together…the adults enjoying pleasant conversation as Frank and Joe looked for more seashells and had fun chasing the ebbing tide.
Frank went up onto the dry sand and looked out over the water. A smile lit up his handsome little face when he saw what he had been looking for. He pointed out to sea as he called to his brother, who was splashing in the foam-edged water, “Joe! Dolphins!!!!“
Joe heard his brother and ran up to stand beside him. “Oooh! I see them! I see the dolphins!”
Together, Frank and Joe shouted happily, “DOLPHINS!!!!!”
Fenton and Laura smiled at their sons’ delight, watching them for a moment before looking out to see the dolphins, too.
Seth smiled and turned his face toward the sea, dolphins are experts at ‘seeing’ without totally relying on vision alone. Fascinating, graceful creatures…
Back at their hotel room, before going to bed that night, Frank and Joe cradled the telephone receiver between them as they waited for their Aunt Gertrude Hardy to answer. When she answered, Fenton and Laura beamed with pride as their two little men announced in unison, “We’ve solved a mystery at the beach!”
KEEP HAVIN’ FUN!