The Case of the Lunchtime Abduction--Part One
"I'd never thought I'd actually see it," Bo Sawchuk said as he carried his lunch tray.
"See what?" Shirley Holmes asked.
"A peaceful day," Bo said with relief.
Shirley smiled. It had been a quiet day so far. She did not find any reports of unsolved local crimes in the newspaper. For once, there were no mysteries in Redington to solve. Unfortunately for Shirley, the great-grandniece of Sherlock Holmes, that meant she has nothing to do.
Shirley and Bo saw Blake Hewitt waving them over from a table. Like Bo, Blake was wearing the Sussex Academy school uniform: white shirt with striped tie, gray slacks, and a dark green blazer with the school's crest on the pockets. Shirley was wearing a similar outfit except she had a plaid skirt on.
They joined Blake at the table. "So, how are you guys doing?" Blake asked.
"Great," Bo said, beaming.
"Just fine," Shirley said dully.
Blake looked at Bo, then at Shirley. "Did I miss something here?"
"I believe our friend the junior detective is bored to death," Bo pointed out, grinning.
"Let's not exaggerate," Shirley said. "While it's true that nothing interesting has happened in Redington recently, it's not true that I am that bored."
"Well, what were your plans for today, Shirley?" Blake asked curiously.
"Uh..." Shirley thought harder. "Um..."
"I rest my case," Bo said. "Without any mysteries to solve, Shirley gets bored."
"There's still homework..." Shirley began.
Bo just shook his head and smiled. He felt that he had made his point.
Blake cleared his throat. He seemed nervous. "Well, since you aren't that busy today, Shirley, I was wondering if you and I could go to the Redington Museum later. There's a new group of Mayan artifacts on display. My mom can get us in for free."
Shirley looked at Blake and grinned. "You know, Blake, I'd like that. Thank you."
Upon hearing that, Bo's smile faded. He looked at his lunch and realized he was not so hungry anymore.
Blake noticed how Bo was staring at his food. "You can come too, Bo, if you like."
"Can't," Bo said, not even looking up from his tray. "Football practice after school."
Shirley and Blake talked about their museum date while Bo picked at his food. Their attention was suddenly diverted by an argument nearby.
"You can't do that," Bart James pleaded. "You can't just shut us down."
Molly Hardy stood before Bart, listening to him. "Bart, the school budget needs trimming and I just don't see the importance of the Science Club," she said.
"We do a lot of things!" Bart said, nearly losing his temper. "For example, our current project is exploring the possibilities of putting cybernetic implants into locusts, making it easier to control them."
Molly rolled her eyes. "What's your point, Bart?"
"Well, if we can control locusts, we can prevent them from attacking crops," Bart explained excitedly. "Farmers would be grateful."
Molly was unmoved. "And how is that project progressing?"
Bart gulped. "Well, we haven't really started it. We've just been looking into similar research being conducted in Japan..."
"That just supports my point," Molly interrupted. "The Science Club comes up with these big ideas and fails to deliver. It's a burden on the school budget, and it must go."
"But..." Bart started to protest.
Molly waved dismissively. "Bart, the club's previous projects included developing improved ghost detectors and examining alleged UFO landing sites. These things don't produce benefits for the school, yet they cost a lot."
"No more buts, Bart," Molly said seriously, putting her hands on her hips. "When the Teacher and Student Advisory Council meets in three days, I'll recommend that the Science Club be disbanded. That's the end of that." Molly turned around and walked away.
"Hey, Bart!" Blake called out. "Come and join us."
Glumly, Bart joined Shirley, Bo, and Blake at their table. "This is the worst day of my life," he sighed.
"Molly's planning to get rid of the Science Club?" Bo asked.
"Yeah, and it's not even fair," Bart said. "She's not even looking at the other clubs. She's targeted us only. You know she's got clout on the TSAC."
"There's Molly for you," Shirley commented. "I take it the Music Club is unaffected?"
"Exactly," Bart answered. "See what I mean?"
"Bart, some of the stuff you guys do are pretty much out there," Bo pointed out. "Ghost detectors?"
Bart was hurt. "Hey. People can benefit from improved ghost detectors."
Blake drank some apple juice. "Maybe if you stick to reasonable projects, Molly won't shut you down."
"I doubt that'll change Molly's mind." Bart shook his head and sighed deeply. "Nobody appreciates geniuses."
Shirley thought for a moment.
* * * * *
Molly put away her books from her previous class. She was about to get the things she needed for her next class when she spotted Shirley behind her from the corner of her eye. "What do you want, Holmes?" she asked disdainfully, still looking into her locker.
"I want to protest an injustice being done to the Science Club," Shirley said as Molly turned around to face her.
"So Bart came whining to you, eh?" Molly said.
"You are aware of alternatives to shutting down the Science Club, like cutting funding for some of the other clubs?" Shirley asked.
"True, but the Science Club is a waste of time and money," Molly replied. "Sussex Academy should support the arts..."
"Like music?" Shirley interjected.
Molly glared at Shirley. "Give it up, Holmes. Nothing you say or do will change my mind." She got what she needed and slammed her locker. "Now, if you excuse me, I have a class to go to." Turning her nose up in the air, she left Shirley at the lockers.
* * * * *
"So she's not budging?" Blake asked Shirley as they looked at the Mayan artifacts at the Redington Museum.
"Yep," Shirley replied. "Molly absolutely refuses to spare the Science Club."
They looked at the rest of the artifacts. "So, do you want Sherlock's help?" Blake asked with a grin, referring to his computer alter ego.
"Not yet, Blake," Shirley said while admiring a Mayan feather headdress. "I'll look into the budget problem first." She studied the headdress's colorful feathers.
"Beautiful," Blake remarked.
"It is," Shirley said. "This headdress is indeed a work of art."
"I...wasn't talking about the headdress," Blake said nervously. He looked downward because his face was starting to turn red.
Shirley smiled at Blake and started blushing as well.
* * * * *
The next day during lunch, Shirley found Bart and showed him her findings. "Well, Bart, according to my calculations, the Science Club can be spared." She pointed out some items on a piece of paper. "These expenses are quite wasteful. Cutting them will solve your problem."
Bart looked doubtful. "I don't think Molly would be willing to favor those cuts. She supports some of those expenses."
"Figures," Bo said.
"Maybe if we show Ms. Stratmann..." Blake started to suggest.
"Won't work." Shirley shook her head. "Molly's got Ms. Stratmann wrapped around her finger."
"Well, looks like the Science Club's done for." Bart got up. "Thanks for trying, Shirley," he said before he left.
"Poor Bart," Blake said as Bart left the table. "I haven't seen him this depressed since somebody told him The Blair Witch Project wasn't real."
Bo looked genuinely shocked. "You mean it isn't?"
Molly walked up to Shirley's table. "Well, well, well, Holmes," she said with a smile. "Still supporting a lost cause?"
Shirley looked at Molly. "You know that there are alternatives to shutting down the Science Club."
Molly seemed bored, like she had heard this argument before. "I find it easier to eliminate the Science Club. Its outrageous projects are a burden on the school budget."
Shirley looked at an item on her list. "This cost for a new piano looks more outrageous to me."
Molly clinched her teeth. "That piano is of the finest craftsmanship. It was built in Italy." She was tired of talking about the Science Club. "Look, Holmes, the subject is closed. At the TSAC meeting on Friday, on behalf of the student body, I'll recommend that funding for the Science Club be eliminated. I'm pretty sure that the others will agree with me." She turned around and left.
Blake waited until Molly was out of hearing range, then spoke. "Are you sure you don't need Sherlock now?"
Shirley watched as Molly was about to go back inside. A girl suddenly ran up to Molly. Out of breath, she told Molly something that seemed important while Molly listened to every word. Shirley noted the shocked look on Molly' face. Molly and the girl ran off inside.
"I wonder what that was all about?" Bo said.
Shirley's interest was aroused. "Why don't we find out."
END OF PART ONE