This is my attempt to participate (late) in the January blog chain for Absolute Write. I participated in last month’s blog chain which was only 25 words long. This month? It’s a whole lot longer: over 1000 words. And they all have to be spelled right! The challenge was to write in a genre you normally don’t play with. I mostly write weird stuff, and so this time I was challenged to write a mystery. In the interests of over-achieving, I wrote three, all starring the boy detective, Almanac Jones.
Almanac Jones and The Case of the Personal Space
New York City was a normal American city, except for two odd details which made it different from every other American city. First, it had an ethnically diverse population of 8.3 million people spread across five boroughs, making it the most densely populated city in America. Second, it boasted among its colorful citizenry The Greatest Boy Detective in the United States, Almanac Jones.
After school and on weekends, Almanac ran a detective agency out of his dad’s garage where he solved some of the trickiest mysteries the city had ever known, for a dollar. One Wednesday afternoon, the junior sleuth was reading back issues of US News & World Reports when he heard a knock. After only a few moments, he opened the door to reveal an old man in a navy blue suit.
“Are you Almanac Jones?” the old man asked. “I need you to solve The Case of the Personal Space.”
“I can solve your case,” Almanac Jones said. “But first you must pay my fee of one dollar. No refunds. Then you can come inside and tell me your name and all about The Case of the Personal Space.”
“I am Mr. Louis,” the old man said, giving Almanac Jones a dollar and coming inside.
He sat down and Almanac Jones sat on the other side of his desk. Mr. Louis was silent for a moment and then he began to cry.
“I love Janice so much,” he sobbed. “I know I can be domineering and I know I suffocate her, but it’s only because I love her. After 16 years of marriage she’s moving out because she needs ‘personal space’! What does that mean? Why does she hate me? I don’t understand.”
Almanac Jones shifted uncomfortably in his seat while Mr. Louis cried and cried and cried.
“Um,” Almanac Jones said. “Can I get you a Kleenex?”
SOLUTION: Love is cruel. There is no solution.
Almanac Jones in The Case of the Lost Time
It was a warm Saturday in September, and Almanac Jones was sitting in his father’s garage, which doubled as the offices of Almanac Jones Private Investigations after school and on weekends. There had been no clients with mysteries to solve that day, and so Almanac was passing the time by doing old crossword puzzles from a book he had found in the nursing home day room. Suddenly, a figure burst through the door.
“Almanac Jones,” the figure cried. “Do you remember me?”
It only took Almanac Jones a split second to recognize the voice and form of Buddy Knuckles, the cruelest bully from PS 85 in Astoria, Queens. He had encountered Buddy many times on the opposite side of the law in The Case of the Purloined Stamp, The Trail of the Missing Map and The Encounter at the Civil Court House all of which had ended in triumph for Almanac and defeat for Buddy.
“What can I do for you, Buddy?” Almanac Jones said, coolly.
“I came to tell you that even though you always thought you were better than me in high school, just look at me now. Susan, my oldest daughter, is going to be the youngest graduate from Harvard Medical School. My boy, Jimmy, has invented a web based application that was just acquired by venture capitalists for $16 million. I’m happily married and I own my own company leasing billboards. I even have a summer house in the Adirondacks.”
“You may think you’re happier than me,” Alamanc Jones said. “But I know you’re not.”
“How do you know that?” Buddy Knuckles demanded. “You’re a grown man who works as a bagger at Key Foods and you live in your father’s garage!”
But Almanac Jones refused to tell his old adversary anything more and eventually Buddy stormed out of the garage. After he was gone, Almanac calmly went back to his crossword puzzle.
How did Almanac Jones know that Buddy was not happy?
SOLUTION: Almanac’s first clue was when Buddy said he was married. Almanac knows good and well that women are trouble and if you let one into your house they will change everything and soon you won’t be the person that you were. Everything will be different. There is no way that Buddy could be happy if he was married to a woman. Also, Buddy claims that Almanac cannot be happy because of his job and yet he misidentifies Almanac’s job. Almanac is not just a bagger at Key Foods. On weekends he also works as an orderly at a local nursing home.
Almanac Jones and The Case of the Missing $5 Million
It was a rainy December afternoon and Almanac Jones, boy genius, was sitting in his father’s garage, which was also the offices of his very own detective agency. Today he was clipping coupons from the local supermarket circular. A gust of cold wind blew across the room and scattered his coupons, as his mother came into the garage. Almanac Jones sighed. He had spent hours organizing these coupons by color and product type and now he would have to start all over.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do!” Almanac’s mother said as she sat down across from him. “Your father is dead.”
Almanac Jones picked up his coupons from the floor and began to stack them into equally sized bundles.
“He killed himself, Almanac,” his mother said. “The police just called me. They say…they say…they say that the company discovered $5 million missing from the accounts. Mr. Hupper called your father into his office this morning and questioned him for several hours.”
His mother appeared numb. Her face was gray and her hands lay limply in her lap. Almanac wondered if instant coffee should be stacked with the other dry goods or with beverages.
“Then he went back into his office, locked the door and shot himself,” Almanac’s mother said. Her voice dropped so low that it was barely a whisper. “Did you even know he had a gun?”
The coupon for orange juice seemed to be missing. Almanac hunted on the floor for it.
“They say he stole all that money,” his mother said in disbelief. “But I just found out he had taken a second mortgage on our house, and he cleaned out our bank account. We have nothing. Nothing. We’re going to lose our house, we’re going to lose everything. Where did all this money go? What was he doing? I don’t understand.”
“Mother,” Almanac said. “I can solve your case and find the money. But first you must pay my fee of one dollar. No refunds. Otherwise I can’t talk to you.”
Almanac’s mother stared at her son for the longest time. And then, for the first time in 15 years, she began to cry.
Thanks for reading. Here’s a link to everyone else participating in this month’s chain:
Week One (January 7th)
Hillary – http://www.hillaryjacques.blogspot.com/
Grady Hendrix – http://www.gradyhendrix.com/
Week Two (January 14th)
Cole – http://www.colealpaugh.com/blog/
Week Three (January 21st)
IdiotsRUs – http://juliazknight.wordpress.com/
Week Four (January 28th)
Ralph Pines- http://ralfast.wordpress.com