The hollow plastic tube echoed loudly as I tapped my foot rapidly and repeatedly against the wall of our clubhouse. I scoffed, huffed, then scoffed again. I’d never seen JB act so weird, so lazy, so stupid, so, so, so different before. What has gotten into him this summer?
First no cases? Then some random girl shows up and suddenly he wants to take on a dumb case like this one? I don’t get it, I just don’t get it. In my head, I think that JB might officially be a moron. Out loud, I say “JB, I think you might officially be a moron.”
He turns his big oafish face to me. I think he was shocked, but it was hard to read emotion on a face that was so hideous, so grotesquely formed that it would make even Picasso himself turn and run and puke his guts up.
“I think you’re just mad. You always turn into a jerk, well, a bigger jerk when you’re mad about something. Which is most of the time. I think you need to calm down.”
Ha! Me?! Calm down? How can I calm down when I’m already as cool as a cucumber? I’m always master of my emotions. To prove it, I kicked the wall of the tunnel really hard and then pounded my fist against the other one before I muttered out that I think he should calm down. And that he smells and has no friends.
After a short silence filled with me taking some calming breaths, I was ready to be more to the point with him. “I wasn’t just faking it earlier you know. I really wasn’t feeling good. I can’t believe you said that you didn’t want to solve mysteries this summer, it’s our favorite thing to do. It’s always been our favorite thing to do. And the community needs us. Then you said—“
“I know what I said,” JB interrupted me, quite rudely. “You’ve reminded me about a hundred times already. But you said just now that the community needs us. Fine! You win. You convinced me, okay? And Lizzy, she’s part of the community now. And so’s her cat.”
I smiled. He just walked right into my next point. “And her cat’s name is what again, JB?”
He paused. “Velcro. Who cares?”
“I care. That’s proof!”
“Proof of what?”
“That she’s insane! No sane person would name a cat that.” Game, set, match. As usual, I knew that I had bested JB. He can do his little Hi-yah! Eeee-yah! nonsense in karate but my verbal judo would win each time.
To his credit, he didn’t give up yet. “That doesn’t prove that she’s insane, just…creative.”
I decided he needed some more reasons, of which I had plenty. “Alright JB, how about this: her name is Lizzy. Like Lizzy Borden. Who was, wait for it, crazy!”
JB opened his mouth to interject, which I cut off with a lifted hand just like Mr. Krause, and then finished my point, “Also, her cat is an orange tabby. Which, if you pay attention, is literally the worst cat.” I counted off the points on my fingers as I went. “They are gingers so they have no souls. They are known thieves like Heathcliff, and liars like Garfield, and gang members like Oliver and Company. The company was a gang, JB. A gang! How do you not know all this? It’s called background, it’s detective 101 stuff.”
“Winston Churchill had an orange tabby,” JB added.
“And a drinking problem; and he killed a lot of people. Just like Lizzy Borden, just like maybe this girl. We just don’t know. She’s new in town, we don’t know anything about her. This could all be a huge trap to lure handsome boys and their dummy friends into the woods to be fondled and stabbed. Is that what you want JB? To be fondled and stabbed? Because I’ll do one of those for you right now if you really needed, both since we’re best friends and that’s how serious I am about your friendship and your safety.”
JB sat in silence for a moment, looking at me while I crossed my arms satisfactorily, catching my breath from letting loose my barrage of amazing points. Suddenly his eyes cast quickly downward, coming up again a moment later to meet my gaze once again. “You know, you’re pretty smug for a guy whose fly is open.”
I looked down quickly. My fly didn’t appear to be open. Just to be safe, I felt around to see if it was true. When I looked back up, JB said “You’re wearing athletic shorts Jimmy, you don’t even have a fly. But you still looked and didn’t stop until you could confirm one hundred percent. That’s your problem man, you need to investigate everything and you never stop.”
I scoffed. He was wrong again, although I was impressed that this ogre of a person could string together a cohesive sentence. I could stop, I could stop anytime I wanted to. And I’ll prove it too, right after I outlast him on this argument and win. “I knew I didn’t have a fly buddy, I was just checking to make sure I wasn’t standing at attention because I love winning so much. If you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.”
“I mean an erection,” I told him, just in case he didn’t. “Anyway, if you really think that the best use of our time is to assist an insane, murderous alcoholic on a wild goose chase for a cat who is probably a gangbanger dog-bullying thief, then sure. Let’s do that.”
It was JB who smiled this time. “Great! Let’s get going.” He jumped and rolled down the slide before I could reach out and grab him.
“JB! JB, you stupid idiot! I was being sarcastic. Wait!” But it was too late. By the time the slide took me the two full rotations around and dumped me onto the wood chips, we were officially on the case.