Tracer Bullet and the Case Missing Apples

It was Monday. It was Maths. And Calvin was BORED. Why couldn't school be something that happened to other people? Was the world so cruel as to place him in yet another term of never-ending grief and misery, when he could be at home, playing with Hobbes and generally goofing off?

"Class?" The voice of Miss Wormwood, his wrinkly arch-nemesis of education snapped in that drawling way that set Calvin's teeth on edge. "Would you please tell me this…if I had seven apples, and a man came and took two, how many would I have left…?"

She was going to turn to Calvin for the answer, but was none too surprised to find his head drooped on his desk.

She sighed. "Somebody else, then?"

~***~

Psst! Hey, psst! Over here! Yeah, that's right, I want to talk to you, not him, not that old man over the road, and definitely not that girl by the street corner.

The name's Bullet – Tracer Bullet – I'm a Private Eye. I work alone, unless you count my two buddies Colt and Malt. I've been lying easy, but recently this real grouchy dame (you know the kind, face like a constipated bulldog?) well, she's come to me with a case that I really should've turned down. Petty Theft. About as petty as they come, if you ask me…

You see, this crank was walking home with seven apples in her hand – yeah, that's right, I said hand. Not both, just one. Big hands, huh?

Anyway, I'm straying…this lady was walking home, when she's mugged. In broad daylight…

But here lies the puzzler. This dope only took two of the apples. I don't suppose you know why…?

~***~

You couldn't really blame Miss Wormwood for sending Calvin to the Principal (for the umpteenth hundred time, need I add?). She had tried to be reasonable, but Calvin had slept through the remainder of the entire Maths lesson, totally missing the answer (which was five).

Grumpily, face red with a mix of anger and humiliation, Calvin stomped off to the Office he was all too familiar with.

After waiting a moment of two, he summoned up his courage and knocked…

~***~

It seemed the man I questioned did know why the crook just two apples…the reason mostly resting on the fact that it was he that had committed the crime. With a growl of animal rage suitable for a rabid kangaroo, he leapt on me, pinning my arms behind my back, and tap-danced on my head with brass knuckles…

I woke up later grumpy and confused. Why all this violence over two measly apples? Then I opened my eyes. Maybe this cigar-puffing Suit would cast some light on this whole blitz?

~***~

The Principal eyed Calvin with a mix of disdain and ever-lasting patience. "We seem to be meeting you a lot, Calvin," he murmured, using a peaceful manner.

"Look, all I want to know is this," Calvin stated, as if it were the most obvious thing on earth. "Why take two apples?!"

Whatever the Principal had been expecting from Calvin this time, it was most definitely not this little out burst. "I-I – what?"

"Why two apples?" Calvin asked flatly. "Was one apple too easy, and three too hard? Why?"

"I-I – I have no idea whatsoever…are you saying Miss Wormwood sent you up here to ask me about a Maths question?" The Principal was perplexed, was he losing it, or was Miss Wormwood?

"Listen, what goes on within your ranks is your own business," Calvin told him manner-of-factly. "I just do what I'm told to do, OK?"

"O-O – yes, well, if that is all, then I see no further reason to postpone you…you-you may return to your work…"

~***~

After I chewed him out a bit, the Boss realised the error of his ways, handed over the two apples, and gave safe passage from his territory, with a sincere apology to the dame.

I handed the dame back her apples, making her miserable-looking five into a bounteous-looking seven. In return, she handed me a greenback, and retreated out of my door, and out of my life.

~***~

Calvin picked up his green Maths test paper with awful dismay. "An 'F?!'" He exclaimed at Miss Wormwood. "Why, after all I've done for you! I told you there were five apples left over, didn't I?"

"After a visit to the Principal, yes," Miss Wormwood agreed dryly. "In which time it was too late… And now, children, to Science! Today, we are studying the planets…"

But it was too late, for fearless Spaceman Spiff was already off, adventuring through the cosmos, to boundaries unknown…

THE END