Encyclopedia Brown Does It Again!
by Andrew Solberg
It was raining again, and from the safety of his garage
Encyclopedia Brown frowned at the precipitation. "Who's going to visit
our detective business in this weather?" he fumed.
Sally had to agree. She was the prettiest girl in their grade,
and was also the toughest. Many was the time that Bugs Meany
regretted ever having crossed Sally in one of her cases. Encyclopedia
was the brains behind their operation, possessing the keen memory and
sharp mental skills that his nickname implied, but Sally was the
muscle; bullies had learned to steer clear of the pair when they were
on a job.
Suddenly, Pee-Wee Weatherby ran up the driveway. Soaked to the skin, the pudgy second-grader approached the overturned wooden crate that served as the agency's desk and plunked down a scratched-up quarter. "I've got a job for you," he declared firmly.
Encyclopedia pocketed the quarter. "No case too small," he
announced. "What's the scoop, Pee-Wee?"
"That bad old Bugs Meany has sold a bunch of us on a plan to
recycle newspapers. We were all to contribute a dollar to get the
business started. Bugs said that we could earn $2.50 a week once the
plan got underway. Well, it's been two weeks now, and we haven't seen
any of our money! We asked Bugs to give us our stakes back, but he
said he couldn't do that. I want my dollar back!"
Sally patted Pee-Wee across the desk. "Don't worry, Pee-Wee. The Encyclopedia Brown Detective Agency is on the job!"
"That's right, Sally," said Encyclopedia. "Now, Pee-Wee, can you
tell us where Bugs is hanging out?"
Soon the rain stopped, and the trio biked over to the abandoned
lot on Jefferson Street. A pile of scrap metal and boards formed a
ramshackle club-house. Hanging on the door was a crudely-lettered
NEWSPRINT, CARDBOARD, SCRAP
Below it was another sign reading:
Lounging in front of the clubhouse was a very bored-looking Bugs Meany. He was an older boy with a Jughead crown hat and a nasty sneer. He hated Encyclopedia Brown for his interference in his previous schemes, but he feared Sally and her terrible fists. As the three kids approached, Bugs looked a little nervous. However, he soon relaxed and looked down his nose at the younger children.
"Welcome to my place of business, ladies and gentlemen!" Bugs
announced in a sarcastic voice. "Would you like to trade in your
newspapers for cash? Gee, I'm really sorry, but our business folded,
and I don't know when we'll be back on our feet." He regarded the
trio with a saucy smile.
"You dirty rat!" shouted Sally. "You're robbing kids of their
money for your business and not giving them anything in return! I'll
bet you never did one minute of work at recycling!" Sally menaced
Bugs with her fists; Bugs quickly recoiled.
Encyclopedia Brown surveyed the yard. The grass had grown very
tall and green. Next to the clubhouse was a wheelbarrow, partially
filled with old newspapers. There were several ruts cutting across
the abandoned lot. They were all of uniform depth.
Bugs was shouting back at Sally: "That's not true! I had a
legitimate business going! I would bring newspapers, cardboard boxes,
and other paper scrap to the recycling center! They paid me cash; I
was going to distribute it to my shareholders as soon as I showed a
profit! I invested their stake in that wheelbarrow, but then the
recycling center closed! Now I can't repay the stake; otherwise I
would - honest!" He favored Sally with a smug smile.
Encyclopedia Brown stepped up to Bugs and picked something off
his shirt. He held it up for all to see. It looked like a scrap of
greenish ribbon. Encyclopedia Brown smiled.
Bugs Meany frowned. "So what? What does that prove? It doesn't mean anything. I'm innocent, and you can't prove otherwise."
"You're wrong," said Encyclopedia quietly. "You're guilty, and
you're going to return that money right now. You see, Bugs, you made
one small mistake."
Bugs' mistake was meeting the Brown Detective Agency alone.
Sally held Bugs down and sodomized him with a power drill. By the time she had worked her way up to the three-eighths-inch bit, Bugs was in a talkative mood. Encyclopedia Brown elicited the appropriate confession and obtained a full refund for the other kids. Sometimes, not having a shred of evidence is no obstacle for a real sleuth.
Encyclopedia Brown does it again!