"Well, it's like this," Billy explained. "Somebody's
been taking stuff from our lunch boxes and we want to find out who it is
and get him arrested."
John looked interested. "Stuff's been disappearing from your lunch
boxes, eh? Sounds like a lunch box phantom at work."
Billy went over the details of the case while John and the other detectives
listened. The lunch box phantom had been ripping things off for some time.
All the kids in grades one and two were really getting hit hard but they
couldn't do anything about it. They had to leave their lunch boxes in the
basement every morning when they came to school, and by the time lunch came
around many of the best things were missing. Complaints to the lunchroom
supervisor didn't seem to help at all. They'd even tried to get permission
to keep their lunch boxes in their classrooms, but the teachers were dead
against it. They said that everybody would sneak things to eat during the
lessons. The only person left to talk to was the principal, and nobody wanted
to go to him.
"So we decided to ask you guys to look into it," Billy finished
up. "We figured what we need is real detectives. Will you help?"
The detectives voted on it right away. The final vote was five to zero
in favour. The grade twos cheered.
"We'll need a retainer though," John told them.
"What's a retainer?" asked Billy.
"You have to pay us something in advance," Sally explained.
Billy looked embarrassed. He licked his lips. "We haven't exactly
got any money," he said.
"Who's talking about money?" said John. "Have you got
Billy looked relieved-they had gum all right. Pretty soon all the detectives
were chewing and the final terms of the agreement were straightened away:
five bubble gums up front, and when the lunch box phantom was caught and
brought to justice, each of the detectives would get two more.
"Meet us here on Friday after lunch and we'll give you a preliminary
report," said John. The grade twos agreed to be there.
On Tuesday and Wednesday the Barton Avenue Detectives staked out the
lunch boxes, but they didn't have much luck. None of them could ask to be
excused from class to do it of course, so they had to keep getting permission
from their teachers to go to the washroom. And even when they did that the
caretaker kept chasing them back to their classrooms. But by Thursday the
detectives had a pretty good idea who the lunch box phantom was, or rather,
were. There were two of them.
"It's Shane and Eddie from grade six," John announced.
"I saw them hanging around the lunch boxes on Wednesday,"
"I saw them on Tuesday and today," said Mike. "I didn't
actually see them take anything, but they looked suspicious."
"We saw them all three days," Jessica said.
Sally nodded. "I talked to some of the girls in their class and
they said everybody knows they're doing it," she reported.
"But nobody's actually seen them take anything, right?" asked
John, and all the detectives agreed. "That's going to make it tough,"
he continued. "We need some hard evidence. Maybe we can set a trap
for them or something."
On Friday John explained the situation to Billy. "We know who it
is but we can't turn them in to the office yet," he told him. "If
we don't have any proof they could sue us for false arrest."
"But we have to stop them somehow," Billy said.
"We're going to try to scare them off," said Sally. "Meet
us here on Monday morning before school and bring five guys you can trust.
Be sure to bring your lunch boxes too."