I made myself as flat as a pancake. By spreading my arms and legs out, I dispersed my weight wide and evenly, giving me stability. Like a snowshoe. I learned that from The Hardy Boys. I think that Lizzy needs to read more books, as she kept swatting at my hands and pushing my feet away from her as I spread out and went into her space.
The truck slowed down and stopped at a light so instead of having to explain the dynamics of what I was doing, I had the time to sit up. Lizzy did the same and we both found something to hold onto before the truck started moving again.
She gripped the side of the truck bed with one hand and she had her other hand in her pocket. It looked once more like she was texting.
“Why don’t you hold on with both hands?” I asked her, being sneaky about how I approached the subject. “It’s safer. Unless, you know, you were protecting something important. You know, in your pocket.” I smiled a knowing smile at her.
A moment later she pulled her hand out of her pocket and grabbed the side of the truck with both hands. She tried to shrug but it looked awkward as her arms were already over her head. “My panda is important.”
“Yes but it’s stuffed,” I told her. “It should be fine if there was an accident. Not you though, you’re a person. Even worse, a girl. So you’d better be careful. I’m just looking out for you.”
She said ‘thanks’ and nothing else. Suspicious. “And what other stuff did you say you had in your pockets?” I asked her, setting a subtle trap. “It might be important for the case, I can MacGyver something. So it’s really important that you give me a full inventory of your stuff.”
She studied me a little and then said, “Just a couple quarters for the arcade, remember? Not much you can make out of those, except for a blackjack, or change for a dollar bill.”
We held eye contact for a moment, neither of us relenting. The game of cat and mouse continued. I trusted Lizzy, mostly. She was a great ally during my incredible work in the animal shelter case. She also showed a lot of courage by jumping into this truck bed with me. I knew that she was lying about what she had though, and I didn’t know why. Was I possibly in bed with the enemy? A truck bed, that is.
She broke off contact first and looked behind me, going wide-eyed for a second. I turned to see what she was looking at, but saw nothing. When I turned around again, she said, “Thought I saw a suspicious bird. Guess it was nothing.”
I frowned and looked around, trying to come up with two plans at once. One to get us out of this truck with the stolen pants, and one to get what was in her pocket out into the open. I remembered the words of a great detective, one who had written an entire chapter and a half about this very thing. In my book, Optimus Crime: How to become an unstoppable robot for justice!, I wisely say that, “If you need to make more than one plan at the same time, make one of them simple, so you can get it done and out of the way.” I smiled, choosing to take my own advice.
I made a single prong plan and I stuck to it. Prong One: Sneak Attack!
I immediately put my plan into action, springing across the truck bed on the next turn, giving me a little extra speed. Lizzy, to her credit, had pretty decent reflexes. Unlike JB, she must have been doing my suggested training routines.
She let loose her grip on the trucks side and she tried to roll away, but it was no use. I was quick, too quick, and when I caught her halfway through her roll, the very pocket I wanted was right where I wanted it. I plunged my hand in and grabbed the thing that she was hiding.
It was her panda.
In my shock and confusion, Lizzy kicked my shin and used the momentum to complete her roll, landing herself on the other side of the truck, the one I had just abandoned. She grabbed the side for stability and looked at me, pride on her face. “Find what you were looking for?”
I looked down at the panda. It couldn’t be! I knew that I had the right pocket. Unless!!
She met my wide-eyed gaze and nodded. “The classic Pocket Flip Flop, day one detective stuff.” I was right! She was following my training after all, that move was covered in my email blast two weeks back. All you need is a distraction and -
“The suspicious bird!” I looked over and she nodded. So the bird had been BS, she made me look away so she could switch the contents of her pockets. Dang it! I would have seen it coming if I wasn’t trying to do so much at once. I may be a lead detective, but this detective double header was spreading me thin. I supposed that maybe it would help to have a partner I could trust on this one. If she told me the truth about what she was hiding, I would let her be more than just a lookout on this mission.
“Lizzy, I don’t know how much time we have before this truck will stop and we have to use my plan. So please, can you just tell me what you have in your pocket? It’s important. It’s for trust.”
She nodded and she pulled out a cellphone. “JB’s mom and dad were worried about us taking on a new case. They didn’t want us to get into trouble without a way to reach them so they gave me and JB their phones. I’ve just been keeping him updated on the case, that’s all.” After a pause, she added, “I didn’t want you to think that we were doubting your lead, so I just didn’t tell you. I figured it would have been a bad distraction. I’m sorry.”
She was right. It would have been a distraction. Thankfully we had avoided that. “Okay,” I told her, mentally promoting her from lookout to research. I scanned the contents of the truck bed once more and asked her, “Can you ask JB how poisonous antifreeze is? One of my three ideas depends on that answer.”