The Vandal of Pipersville

The Vandal of Pipersville Part 6

Read part 5 here!

~*~

“That’s tiny,” Marcie agreed. “You’re right; it does look like a kid’s shoe.” Marcie knelt down for a closer look. She traced her fingers over the dirt. “You know, it looks like whoever did this grabbed a handful of dirt. They knocked over the watering cans, and I bet that’s where they got the mud to throw at Dave’s car.”

“That’s insane,” Louisa said. “Who destroys a garden just to throw mud at a car? There’s no reason behind it. I never heard a sound last night, either.”

The siblings said goodbye to Louisa and rode their bikes to Jim’s house.     “It’s a good thing Dad’s such a bigwig in the city,” Marcie mused. “Sure makes it easy for us to investigate when we know just about everyone.”

Brian chuckled in agreement.

After they explained to Jim the reason for their visit, he led them through the house and out the sliding glass door. There was a large deck overlooking the backyard. To the right of the deck was the pond, which was trimmed with flagstone and flanked by flowerbeds. There were goldfish everywhere—not in the pond, but on the flagstone and in the woodchips.

“I haven’t taken the time to pick them up yet,” Jim explained almost sheepishly. “The lock on my gate is still in place, so whoever took the fish out of my pond must have jumped the privacy fence. But why?”

“That’s everyone’s question,” Brian said.

Marcie noticed something in the water. It couldn’t be a rock, because it sparkled when the light hit it just right. Another clue?

Jim fished out the object in the pond with the skimmer he used for leaves and debris that landed on the water. It was a yellow button pin with the words “Big Top Circus” printed underneath the cartoon face of a monkey.

“Mrs. Ghinerich told Dad she thought members of the circus were the troublemakers,” Marcie said, weighing the pin in her hand. “This might be evidence that she’s right.”

“It could’ve come from someone who only attended the circus,” Jim suggested.

“But if I remember right, I saw a few people who worked there wearing these, or at least ones similar. They were the people who ran concessions or took tickets.”  Marcie’s eyes widened as she had another thought. “And wasn’t one of the men very, very short? Short person, small shoes.”

“Maybe…I don’t remember. That’s all circumstantial,” Brian said.

“There’s footprints!” Marcie exclaimed suddenly, pointing to the flowerbeds. “Look, in the woodchips! And they look like they’re the same size as the ones in Louisa’s garden.”

Brian ran his hand along the back of his neck. “This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. We’ve got a bunch of problems, a couple clues, and a few guesses. Now what?”

Marcie held the circus pin up. “This is our next bread crumb, and it’s pointing to the circus.”

“You saw how upset the ringmaster got with Dad last night,” Brian said. “We can’t just accuse them of vandalism.”

“No, but we can poke around and listen. This is what detectives do; they investigate. C’mon, let’s go.”

Part 7 coming soon!

The Vandal of Pipersville

The Vandal of Pipersville Part 5

Read Part 4 here!

~*~

Hopping on their bikes, Brian and Marcie started out in the direction of Louisa Bentley’s house to have a look at her trampled garden. They were almost there when they spotted something unusual: sitting in their neighbor’s driveway was a polka dotted car. The dots were far from round and some of them were smeared. As they pedaled closer, Marcie realized it wasn’t a bad paint job—those polka dots were made of mud.

She scanned the front yard and saw Dave, the owner of the house and car, stooping to turn on the water spigot. He looked none too happy as he went about filling his bucket.

“Hey, Dave!” The siblings parked their bikes in the driveway next to the car. “What happened?”

“That’s what I’d like to know,” Dave grunted as he lugged the pail of water to the driveway. “It was like that when I woke up this morning.” He squirted soap into the bucket and dropped a sponge in. “Somebody threw mud at my car.”

“Didn’t you hear anything?” Brian asked.

“Some high-pitched laughing or squealing or something. They were probably having the time of their life. Yeah, terrific. Glad you had a good time. Now I have to clean it all up before the sun bakes it on.” Dave slapped the sponge against a mud splotch and began scrubbing. “I’m not the only one who had stuff happen last night, either. Go check out Jim Lawson’s pond.”

Brian and Marcie exchanged curious glances. Just by looking at each other, they knew that they were both intrigued and confused about the sudden string of events in Pipersville.

Their next stop now was Louisa Bentley’s house, and after that they would go check out Jim’s pond as Dave had suggested. Luckily for them, Louisa lived right next door. They left their bikes where they were parked on the sidewalk and cut across the side yard. Marcie was almost to the front door when she realized that Brian was no longer with her. She turned around and saw him standing in the side yard between Dave and Louisa’s houses, studying the ground.

“What are you doing?” Marcie retraced her steps and joined her brother and as she got closer, she saw it too. Glops of mud trailed from Louisa’s backyard to Dave’s driveway.

“Let’s follow it,” Brian said, already heading for Louisa’s unfenced backyard. They followed the mud trail to the garden—or rather, what was left of it. There, kneeling at the edge was Louisa, trying to coax a sagging Gerbera daisy to stand again.

“Louisa?” Brian called.

The middle-aged woman turned and waved them over as she stood up. “Hi kids.” She smiled, but there was sadness in her eyes. “Did you hear about my garden?” She shook her head. “My flowers and vegetables are trampled and broken. I don’t know if I’ll be able to save anything. They tipped my watering cans into the garden and there’s mud everywhere.”

Brian walked the perimeter of the garden and looked for clues while Marcie talked with Louisa. When he came back he said, “It’s funny that the footprints are so small. Almost like a kid’s.” He placed his foot next to the print for a size comparison.

Read Part 6 here!

The Vandal of Pipersville

The Vandal of Pipersville Part 4

Read part 3 here!

~*~

Loud knocking interrupted Brian and Marcie’s breakfast early the next morning. There was only one person in Pipersville who would be up and visiting friends at seven-thirty—Mrs. Ghinewich.

“Is your father at home?” Mrs. Ghinewich demanded to know, peering around Marcie into the house. “I must speak with him immediately.” She pushed past Marcie and shuffled into the house in her slippers.

At the sight of Mrs. G, who was still dressed in her bathrobe with her hair in curlers, investigator Alton choked on his coffee. He set his cup down with a thud before rising from the table.

“There you are! I couldn’t wait any longer. I didn’t sleep a wink last night. There were young hooligans—at least five of them—walking up and down the road making all sorts of noise.” Mrs. Ghinewich’s hands sliced through the air, gesturing wildly as she talked.

“Hooligans?” the investigator asked. “I didn’t hear anything last night.”

“Hooligans,” Mrs. Ghinewich said with a nod. “It was dark so I didn’t get a good look at them, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it was those folks from the circus. In fact, I’m sure it was. As I was closing my windows, I heard one of them say that if they were caught, they’d be in trouble with both the police and the circus.”

Brian and Marcie exchanged worried glances. First the loose chimpanzee and now rogue circus performers? What was going on?

The door wasn’t even fully closed behind Mrs. G before the phone rang.  “Brian, get that!” his dad called. “I’ve barely touched my coffee,” he muttered.

Brian answered, listened for a moment, and held the phone out to his dad. “Might want to take this one. Sounds important.” His dad took the phone from him, looking none too happy about it.

“What’s that about?” Marcie asked as Brian returned to his seat at the table.

“Vandalism. If Mrs. Ghinewich thought loiterers were bad, she can just be thankful her garden wasn’t destroyed. All of Louisa Bentley’s plants are either trampled or uprooted, and there are footprints everywhere.”

“What?” Marcie shook her head in disbelief. “Who would do that?”

“The same people who were hanging around outside last night?” Brian mused. “I don’t know. It’s weird. None of this began happening before the circus came to town….”

“They wouldn’t do that, would they?”

“I don’t know…why would they want to destroy a garden? It doesn’t make sense.”

Their dad slammed the phone into its cradle—only to have it ring again. “Ignore it,” he ordered as he grabbed his coat, leaving his half-full coffee cup on the table. “I might as well go into work early. It’s going to be a long day.” The door banged shut behind him.

“Hey Marcie,” Brian said with a smirk, “how ‘bout we be detectives for the day?”

Read Part 5 here!

The Vandal of Pipersville

The Vandal of Pipersville Part 3

Read Part 2 here!

~*~

With everyone in an uproar, Marcie decided it was time to hop down from the car before someone noticed and yelled at them. Brian jumped down beside her.

“The circus can’t keep their animals under control!”

“What if the lion had escaped instead?”

“Who’s going to pay for these damages?”

The investigator—their father—allowed the crowd to rant for a couple of minutes before he held up his hand for silence. If someone asked Marcie to describe her father in three words, she would have said not easily frazzled. He took everything in stride, and it took a lot to ruffle his feathers. Today was no exception.

“I understand that all of this can be quite unsettling,” Investigator Alton began. “You arrived tonight expecting an enjoyable evening, and got more than you bargained for.

Heads nodded in agreement.

“Now, I’m not denying that there are a lot of what-ifs to the situation,” the investigator continued, “but the fact remains that no one was hurt, no one was killed, and nothing was damaged beyond a few hundred dollars’ worth of repairs. I’d say all’s well that ends well.” He nodded once with finality and crossed his arms over his chest as if challenging anyone to contradict him. When no one responded, the investigator said, “I’d advise you folks to get on home now.”

The people in the crowd seemed hesitant to leave, as if reluctant to admit that everything had turned out all right after all. One by one they began to trickle away and soon it was only Brian, Marcie, their father, and the ringmaster left standing in the parking lot.

Investigator Alton’s lips parted in surprise as he seemed to spot his kids for the first time. “Kids—I forgot you were coming to the show tonight. Did you have fun?” Without waiting for an answer he turned to address the ringmaster. “Do you know how the chimp got loose?”

The ringmaster lifted the top hat from his head and swiped a handkerchief across his forehead. “Some dumbbell didn’t lock her cage properly and she took advantage of his mistake to go exploring.” He shrugged as if it weren’t a big deal.

Investigator Alton nodded. “I see. Well, it’s like I said before: all’s well that ends well, but I only have so much influence. As much as Pipersville is glad to have a circus show in town, you better watch yourself to make sure incidents like this one don’t become a regular happening.”

“You don’t think we take precautions? Accidents happen to everyone, investigator.” The ringmaster scowled, anger seeping into his words. “And despite what you or your town may think, not all circus folk are bad people.” He planted his top hat on his head, swiveled on his heel, and stalked away.

Read Part 4 here!

The Vandal of Pipersville

The Vandal of Pipersville Part 2

Read Part 1 here!

~*~

“Do you see it?” Marcie asked Brian as they both tried to catch a glimpse of the chimp. “They said it was standing on a car.”

Brian, even though he was only fifteen and a year older than Marcie, was almost a foot taller than her. He stood on tiptoes to peer over people’s heads. “No, but I have an idea.” He pointed to the sedan they were standing beside. “Climb up.”

Marcie smirked and scrambled up onto the hood of the car, which was easy enough in her jeans and tennis shoes. She straightened and when she saw it, she nearly burst out laughing. “Look, Brian!” she laughed as he climbed up onto the hood of the car.

Rosie the Chimpanzee was no longer on top of the car; now she was in it. Rosie was seated in the driver’s seat, one hand on the steering wheel, her other arm hanging out the window.

A man, Rosie’s trainer, Marcie supposed, broke away from the crowd and approached Rosie with an outstretched hand. He might’ve been speaking to her, but everyone was making so much noise that it was impossible to hear anything. Rosie seemed to be feeding off the crowd’s energy. She planted one of her hands on the horn and blasted it. Her trainer covered his ears but continued to walk to her.

The moment the trainer placed his hand on Rosie’s arm, the horn quieted and Rosie seemed to calm down. He slowly opened the driver’s door and took Rosie’s hand in his, gently leading her from the car.

The chimp was indeed wearing a dress, and now that she was out of the car Marcie saw that the outfit was completed with a hat. The crowd quieted, as they watched the trainer lead Rosie back to the circus tent. The moment they disappeared into the tent, another eruption of voices ensued.

From their position on top of the car, Brian and Marcie were in the perfect spot to watch and observe. People were angry—angry and scared. One woman, as soon as the chimp was out of sight, rushed over to the car and began inspecting it.

“The circus better pay for these repairs,” the woman shouted. “My rearview mirror is completely broken off, and there are dents on the hood from where it was jumping!”

“Ma’am, please—” the ringmaster began, but was cut off by a third person entering the conversation.

“What’s going on here?” It was a deep voice that demanded authority, and the man who belonged to it was police investigator Alton Rockford—otherwise known as Brian and Marcie’s father.

Everyone stood silent before investigator Alton Rockford for several moments, until suddenly it was as if the dam holding back their words broke loose, and everyone began to talk at once.

Read Part 3 here!

The Vandal of Pipersville

The Vandal of Pipersville Part 1 | A Short Story

Hello my friends! It has been ages upon ages since I have posted, but voila, it is time again! 🙂 My brother and I co-authored a short story that I will post in parts. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂 Emma

~*~

There is a vandal in the town of Pipersville. The circus coming to town has already caused quite a stir after an incident during its first show, so is it only a coincidence that the vandal begins striking the night after its arrival? That’s what Brian and Marcie are going to find out.

~*~

 “Aaaand now, ladies and gentlemen,” the ringmaster said into the microphone, “may we present you with the final act of our show tonight.”

Before name of it could be announced, someone rushed out onto the floor to speak with the ringmaster. The ringmaster covered the microphone with his hand as the two spoke. Only a minute later, as quickly as the man had rushed out, he hurried away.

Marcie leaned to the side and bumped shoulders with her brother to get his attention. “What’s going on, Brian?” Despite the fact that their seats were one of the farthest away, Marcie could see that the ringmaster looked worried. Whatever was going on, it wasn’t good.

Brian shook his head. “I don’t know…”

“Excuse me, everyone,” the ringmaster said. His handlebar mustache twitched as he cleared his throat. “I would like to apologize on behalf of the circus tonight. It would seem that our chimpanzees, Rosie and Spacer, will be unable to perform.”

“What?” Marcie breathed. Gasps of disappointment rippled through the crowd. After a sideways glance she saw Brian frown as he waited for the ringmaster to explain.

Suddenly a loud collection of noises burst through the air: a loud thumping, yelling, and the stomping of feet as circus performers rushed to the exit into the parking lot.

People in the crowd began to stand, one man shouting, “What’s going on here?”

“Please, stay calm.” The ringmaster gestured with his hands for people to remain seated, but it was useless. “Everything is all right—”

Suddenly a woman’s shrill voice rang through the tent: “There’s a chimp wearing a dress standing on a car in the parking lot!”

Marcie snapped her head around to look at Brian, who was grinning ear to ear. “Shall we?” Brian invited. His smile and taste for adventure was contagious. Marcie didn’t need to be asked twice. She followed her brother out of the aisle and toward the nearest exit.

Marcie and Brian rushed out of the tent into a mass of chaos and confusion. Nighttime had fallen, bringing with it a chill to the air. Was it from the excitement or cold that Marcie started to shiver? Circus workers and performers shouted orders to each other in their attempt to corral the chimpanzee without frightening it.

The ringmaster was wrong: the final act was just beginning. A chimp was on the loose in the town of Pipersville, and she and Brian weren’t going to miss a minute of it.

Read Part 2 here! 

Nature · Poems

My Home in Autumn – Poem

In my corner of the world,

The place I call my own

Leaves and breezes ‘round me swirled,

The sun in gold hue shone

~

Pumpkins on the porch step rest,

Fall wreath hung on the door

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed,

Reads the doormat on the floor

~

Warmth is scarce and whisked away,

Frost gathers on the ground

With flowers as a fall bouquet,

My table has been crowned

~

Candles lit are everywhere,

All pumpkins, apples, spice

Scents of fall float through the air,

To make my home smell nice

~

Stars twinkle in the midnight,

And wink upon the earth

Friends gather ‘round a fire’s light

With mugs of cider served

~

When the sun has gone to bed,

I soon shall do the same

Before I lay and rest my head,

I quietly proclaim:

~

“The beauty of today,

Has been bountiful and much

And everything I’ve seen this day,

Has God’s majestic touch.”