It was the start of February when she walked back into my life. Sitting behind my Fisher-Price Private Dick playset, I was interrupted from my math homework as Mrs. Conway made her way into the office. She used to be my baby sitter but had recently gone pro, babysitting the President of the United States.
“Your mother let me in.” she said, playing it cool.
“Mrs. Conway, what can do for ya?”
“Please, call me Kellyanne.” She crooned in a way that I believe was meant to be seductive, but as an eight year old detective, it didn’t really do much for me. Perhaps this would work on an older detective, but the odds of catching her cooties were too high for my taste.
“Alright, Kellyanne, what brings you back to this ‘upper middle class dump?’”
“You know I didn’t mean it like that, Bobby.” She paused for a moment. “I need your help. The President of the United States needs your help.”
“I get the feeling he could use a lot of help,” I quipped.
“Oh Bobby, don’t talk about him like that. You know it hurts his feelings.”
“Sorry, how may I be of service to the President?” I’ll admit- this may have been a sarcastic remark.
“Bobby, you probably don’t remember September 11th, but sometimes ‘bad’ people do ‘bad’ things, and these ‘bad’ things are what military intelligence calls ‘terrorist attacks’. We believe that there may be more terrorist attacks occurring daily; attacks that the dishonest media is ignoring. The people need to know about these atrocities but even the State Department insists that these attacks are an invention of the president’s paranoia. Of course, they have their reasons. Every day, terrorist attacks go unaccounted for and your country is calling on you to snuff them out.”
“Sounds like some high profile stuff, Kellyanne. What’s in it for me?”
“A brand new box of Legos-”
I wasn’t impressed.
“-and fifty cents.”
Fifty cents. This was a first: cold hard cash. Usually, I worked for gummy worms or an extra go on the swings come playtime. Who was I to turn down loose change from presidential pockets? I took the case, bid Kellyanne adieu, and returned to my homework. A kid’s gotta have priorities, and frankly, there was a lot on my list at that time: Dinner, a 200 word book report, Mr. Cotton’s Cartoon Dance Hour and of course, a good night’s sleep. Mom says I’ve got to be in bed by 8:30 and that was non-negotiable. I’d start investigating in the morning.
I began the investigation at breakfast, asking my mom if she knew anything about terrorism. She told me that it was “very bad” and not an appropriate topic for an eight year old. Then she made me scarf down my soggy mini wheats so I wouldn’t miss the bus. Things were not off to a good start. To make matters worse, Mom just had to remind me that Steve Larson’s birthday party was that night. How on earth was I supposed to focus on these lesser-known terrorist attacks when there was a party just on the horizon?
By the time I found myself celebrating Steve’s birthday, the whole day seemed like a loss. None of my friends even knew what 9/11 was, and when I asked Mrs. Jackie about it she said that would have to wait until the fifth grade. I sure wasn’t going to make much progress at the party, but for the most part I was too busy bowling to care.
Suddenly, I heard a loud boom from across the alley- women and children were screaming their heads off, going absolutely nuts. I turned to see the Green brothers. A crowd had gathered around them. BOOM! CRASH! These kids were hitting strike after strike. I had to admit, I was jealous of their skills. The Green brothers were good bowlers but bad kids, always cutting in line at the water fountain and conveniently “forgetting” to do their homework. That’s when it hit me, like a remote controlled car speeding right into traffic – the Green brothers were “bad” guys who did “bad” things almost daily, but no one ever ratted them out.
Abandoning the party, I rushed to the front counter to return my rental shoes and borrow the phone. Slippery Jim, the owner of the bowling establishment, was skeptical at first; but when I told him how my mother was deathly ill and that this might be our last chance to talk, he eagerly handed me the phone and started to cry for some reason. That’s when I called Mrs. Conway and filled her in on the whole shebang! The bowling, the Green brothers, and the way they had “massacred” the other kids at the party. I had heard some Fifth Graders use the word “massacre” the other day so it seemed like an appropriate word to describe terrorism.
Next thing I knew, she was on TV, telling the media about my story, “The Bowling Green Massacre.” The media tried to discredit her, but they weren’t there. I know what I saw and I was a good fifty cents richer for it. Soon, the President would call out the media for trying to hide acts of terror like those committed daily by the Green brothers. Everyone was happy. The President got to yell at the media and subtly got vengeance on those no good Green brothers for besting me at bowling. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of another case closed by Bobby Fink: Kid Detective.