Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam
Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?
Chapter 4: Tradam’s Warning
Chapter 5: The Yellow House Again
Chapter 6: Treffellem Tagge
Chapter 7: Ambushed
Chapter 8: The EPA Chase
Chapter 9: The Ghostly Chapter
Chapter 10: The Frigid Urchin
After a brief search, Johnnie was found holding out her Egyptian cutlass with her back pressed against the gilt wall and feet dug deep into the floor.
AV pushed the refrigerator out of the way and confronted her solidly, pulling out a Tac-Force gun shaped knife that reminded Johnnie startlingly of her own Apache Revolver and flicking it open with astonishing rapidity.
Observing this new development in the situation, Johnnie dropped her sword and pulled out both her pistols. “Don’t come any nearer,” she began sternly, “or I shoot. … You watch it,” she added, as AV advanced steadily, “You’re one against four, buddy, I wouldn’t do it if I was you.” Johnnie pulled a cowboy hat from the top of the fridge (which was where AV kept his 1865 collection of cowboy hats) and dramatically flipped her pistols in the air as she put it on in the intervening sweep, catching her pistols again and pointing them straight at AV’s breast.
AV, his own hat off, stopped walking forward and, looking about him, considered the situation thoughtfully.
“Nevermind, I guess it’s just three against two,” Johnnie corrected herself dryly, as Rosy slipped her hand into AV’s.
“Don’t look at me so trippy pat, Johnnie,” interjected Rosy during the pause that ensued. “AV’s a nice top, so there! And I’m pretty sure he’s not a Trefelump, so – there! There, there, there, there and there!”
“Do you know what there means, Rosy?” asked Pumpkin doubtfully.
Rosy sniffed. “It doesn’t matter about me knowing or not,” she replied, disdainfully. “I’m the one who said it, and AV’s the one who knew what I meant.”
AV smiled and put his hat on again confidently with another stride in Johnnie’s direction.
“Rosy, you are a defector!” Pumpkin cried, stepping in between AV and Johnnie who were about to close in combat, with his hands dramatically stretched out. “Johnnie Devonshire, I forbid you to murder AV yet,” he cried, lowering her pistols. “He’s less ready for death than a twelve-year-old poodle.”
“A What??” said AV, indignantly.
Pumpkin turned around and threw himself on AV’s neck.
“Don’t you kill her either,” he said menacingly.
“Get off of me, you overgrown, radiating little hempseed,” growled AV, smacking Pumpkin across the face and sending him sprawling on the ground with a kick. “And let me deal with this frigid urchin like she deserves.”
“I’m not a frigid urchin,” remonstrated Johnnie with dignity, holding her guns up again, “and I have never been refrigerated in my life – so you take those words back, AV, or I’ll challenge you to a duel for them. And for knocking Pumpkin down and kicking him afterwards,” she added a second later, as an afterthought. “That was kind of offensive. Well, that… that should have been offensive…” she added, taking a laugh back as Pumpkin got up and wiped his pants off sourly.
“Yeah, well, you two can go ahead and do your old duelo for all I care,” remarked that hero, sniffing disdainfully and walking out of the room to intimate to the spectators his indifference as to the results of the fray. “Goodbye,” he added spitefully, sticking his head back into the room for a moment. “I’ll see one of you at the other’s funeral,” he ended on a note of sweet maliciousness, rolling the words under his tongue. “Or both of you maybe, I don’t know,” he added thoughtfully, as he left the room and closed the door with mock softness behind him.
Rosy looked shocked and heaved a sigh of relief when he had left. “What happened to him?” she asked, with so much emphasis that Sam held his ears.
“I suppose being in the trashcan didn’t agree with him,” said Johnnie, slipping behind the fridge again. “Solve things without me. I need a snack.” She opened a secret receptacle at the back of the fridge and made herself a quick sandwich while she spoke, slapping the mustard and relish on her bread like she was ramming gunpowder down a barrel.
Sam went to find Pumpkin and conciliate him, and as soon as he disappeared out the door Pumpkin came swaggering downstairs, and closed the door as if surprised to find it open again after he had so recently shut it.
AV, Pumpkin and Rosy now formed a triumvirate, and proceeded to confide in each other without further adieus.
Pumpkin began by trying to wrest information from AV, but AV seemed so willing to confide in them that he was thrown off his guard, and forgot to be cautious.
“There, we’ve told you everything that’s happened to us,” concluded Rosy, patting her hands on her crossed legs. “Or we’ve told your cocked hat, anyway,” she added, as AV yawned and jerked his hat back up from where it had fallen over his eyes.
“I was listening,” he said groggily. “But I’ll admit I didn’t listen too closely, cause I knew most of the stuff you were going to say. You see, fellows, (Rosy glowed and looked conscious) I contacted the EPA at the very beginning; and when I figured out that Mr. Semmes had gone mad I hired the EPA to stay with him and gave him strict injunctions not to give up the custody to any unauthorized person – making it possible only for someone with WAS credentials to remove him, as I was thinking I might to do myself, to place Semmes in a safer place.”
“That makes sense,” said Pumpkin. “Or does it?” he added, poking a finger in his cheek thoughtfully.
“Of course it does,” replied AV, hastily. “Now listen; this part will surprise you, but after the WAS – Tradam and I, to be exact – hired you to ferret out this case, I planted that diary you found, in order to…”
“Wait a minute,” interrupted Pumpkin suddenly, “I don’t remember any plants being in that room at all, and I have an impeccable memory. You’ve got mixed up in the shambles of your own memory about that plant business.”
“Great Scott, Pumpkin, sometimes when I think about it I’m actually in pain in what you call the shambles of my memory when they cause me to recollect that you’re a detective!” interrupted AV severely. “Rosy, tell him what I mean,” he added, sticking the hat over his eyes again and going to sleep with his back against the side of the couch.
Pumpkin turned expectantly to Rosy, but all he could see was a pair of feet trundling off in the distance.
“Why, where are you going Rosy?” he cried.
“I’m going to take a nap,” said Rosy groggily, rubbing her eyes and turning the corner both literally and metaphorically. A loud explosion sounded a second later, and they heard Rosy’s voice saying, “Oh bother, I forgot to turn it fast enough.” She raised her voice and shouted “I’m fine, I’m fine! Nothing’s happened! The stairs just exploded, that’s all. I’ll go up by the elevator.”
AV heard her shouting and moved his hat up with his forefinger, sighing as he sat up. “I’ll have to get them fixed tomorrow,” he remarked to Pumpkin, abruptly. “It’s a holiday today. Why do things always break on holidays?”
“Your house is just perfect for a holiday,” said Pumpkin, looking around at the wreaths of green and golden bells with angels dangling from them in satisfaction.
“It looks like a walking candy cane,” grumbled AV. “Well, where were we?” he asked, looking up at Pumpkin.
“You had planted that diary – I see now what you meant by it. You meant to deceive us, didn’t you?” Pumpkin tried to keep any alarming suspicion out of his voice, but he couldn’t keep it out of his head. He heard Johnnie breathing hard behind the fridge and knew instinctively she was listening – and that she had been the whole time.
“I did. You see, I wanted you to work on a deeper case than just the disappearance of Mr. Semmes. I wanted you to work on finding out why the WAS hasn’t been catching the bad guys. I’ve tried investigating on my own; but I’m compromised in the WAS and previous to the occurrences of the last few days, I felt that both Tradam and Semmes viewed my attempts to scan the criminal files – along with other data – with suspicion. I returned their suspicion fully – and now it seems clear. Tradam is the highest ranking official in the WAS next to myself, and the only one who knew of Semmes’ disappearance-”
“So he must have been the one to take him from the Yellow House? I always said it was a criminal looking place!” interrupted Johnnie, popping out suddenly from behind the fridge and coming forward eagerly, her guns ostentatiously stowed away in her pockets.
“Yes, Miss Devonshire,” replied AV, making room for her on the floor. “Your analysis is correct, though your name for the house seems judgmental. There is nothing particularly criminal about the color yellow.”
“Yes there is,” blazed Pumpkin. “Bees are yellow, and so are school buses!”
“You have a point,” agreed AV – “though between ourselves there’s nothing wrong with the bees,” he added, a moment later. “But to go on – Tradam has long wanted to be in command of the WAS, and Semmes had probably found him out in some compromising situation. Possibly Semmes is not even mad – that was no doctor you saw coming down the stairs; that was Tradam, and Tradam may have paid even our friend the EPA to tell me he was mad. You begin to see how deep it is?” he added, as Johnnie and Pumpkin each took in a breath of air.
Continue to Chapter 11
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