The Case Of The Missing Car

Story written by pirate60 on Friday 24, April 2015

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Another Jack Vine case

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From The Files Of Jack Vine A Jack And The Giant P I Case File The Case Of The Missing Car Eventually everything settled down in Mary and my lives and the normal routine of daily life reestablished itself. "Jack", Mary called out to me from the comfort of the couch. "Could you get me something with blue berries in it please; and maybe some chocolate? Oh and pickles would be nice too". Did I mention her cravings? "Sure thing toots", I said and grabbed my hat and keys to the old jalopy. "You think I should get a can of whipped cream too?" I was kidding her of course and expected her to roll her eyes at me. "Only if you want to save it for bedtime", she smirked wickedly. Now I wont tell you the idea wasn"t thrown out right off; that would be lying, I am after all a man. I did nix it though, at least for now, keeping it in memory. Nine months wasn"t that long. That wasn"t to say there wouldn"t be some cuddling going on. In fact, Mary seemed to want to more and more as time past. Must be a hormone thing. I did my best to please her. "I"ll be back in a flash", I told her. "Hold that thought though sugar." She giggled at my playful banter. So it was that I headed down to our towns grocery store and snagged a couple of blueberry yogurts, a squeeze container of chocolate syrup and a jar of kosher pickles. As an after thought, I grabbed another bottle of that pink stuff. As it turns out it does help her stomach, a fact that she won"t admit. That paid for I headed back out to the car. "Hey Mr. Vine!" I heard a mail voice call out to me; it was followed by the honking of a cars horn. I turned just as Tiny Tim and Christina"s pulled up in their red Dodge Charger. Tina, I noticed was the one in the drivers seat. "Hey guys", I replied with a grin. Tina, I saw was beaming with pride as she held onto the steering wheel. "How are the driving lesson"s going?" She honked the horn once again and giggled in response. "Tina"s probably a better driver than I am", Tim said placing his hand affectionately on hers. By the way", he added, "how"s the little momma?" His eyes were very bright as he asked that. I knew the two lovebirds were thinking along the same line, probably shortly after the wedding. I pointed at the bag in answer. "Blueberry yogurt, chocolate syrup and pickles." "Oh yuck!" Christina responded, scrunching her eyebrows. "She probably wont keep it down", I informed them. "That"s why I bought something to sooth her tummy after." I smiled, then looked the car over, admiring how close it was to the original. "You two going to do some shopping too?" I asked. "No", Tina said. "I just pulled in after seeing you and wanted to show off." She grinned sheepishly and chuckled. "Actually we"re heading over to see a movie and maybe a bite to eat after." "Oh. Is there some special reason?" I kind of knew what the answer was going to be having connections in the towns grapevine. "Timmy got a job!" Tina exclaimed proudly. Timmy had been looking for a career change you see, having left the circus sideshow to be with Christina. With their combined savings as well as the reward money forced on them by the jewelry storeowner, had given Tim time to interview for a job he actually liked instead of grabbing the first thing offered. "So what are you going to be doing?" I asked curiously. "I"m going to learn how to fix clocks and watches", He said proudly. "Hickory, Dickory and Doc are opening up a new shop here and they offered me a job to help run it. They said that my size, like Otis, would be a big plus." "That"s quite a career move", I said by way of congratulations. He nodded, happy to have been given the chance. It was hard being little and even harder being very little. "I said you"d make it in a big way, and here you go doing it in style." I turned to Tina. "What about you sweet cheeks? Any aspirations in the job racket?" "Didn"t you hear?" Tim said smiling. "Jill Wellington wants to use Tina to promote her lemonade drink. "Says, and I quote, "˜She"s plum adorable the way she can sing"n all." He laughed at his attempt to imitate Jill"s folksy speech. "Wants Tina to do commercials and stuff." I looked over at Christina, her golden face taking on a pinkish blush. "Sounds like fun", I kidded her good-naturedly. This too, I had heard through the same grapevine, this one from the horses mouth-so-to-speak. "Jill and Jack are good people." I pointed out. "Sure couldn"t fine two better bosses." "Yes sir, Mr. Vine", Tina responded respectfully. "I told her I needed to think on it and would get back with her in a day or so." Timmy rolled his eyes at me and whispered theatrically. "She thinks I might be hurt if she makes more than I do", he grinned. "All I want is for her to be as happy as I am with her." I hadn"t known Tim all that long but I did know his kind; he was as true-blue Boy Scout, and honest as the day is long. "Well you two enjoy your night out", I said warmly. "I"ve got a package to deliver to my own queen of tarts." Tina blushed at my little reference to Timmy"s nickname for her. I always love to see a dame blush, and Tina could blush with the best of them. "Have a good day Mr. Vine", Timmy said as Christina drove off honking the horn a couple of times. I pondered how different my life had become sense that fateful day, the day, when a seemingly daffy blonde bombshell stumbled into my life. Sure, I had found out later that, that Mary"s whole lost little lamb stunt had been a ruse, to get me to notice her of all things. I had to crack a smile at her logic; I mean who wouldn"t have fallen for those baby blue eyes of hers. I couldn"t even say how long ago that had been; a couple of years maybe. Now I was married and going to be a father. Lady luck was like that sometimes. I had decided on the ride home that I wanted to show Mary just how much she did mean to me or as much as a man can on a PI"s budget. "Say blue-eyes", I greeted her with a kiss and a squeeze. "I feel like doing something crazy. What do you say we skip the chocolate, blueberry, pickle time bomb and head out for a picnic lunch? I"ll even make the vittles." Mary"s face lit up at the idea and in no time we were off. We drove out to a secluded little meadow she knew of near a babbling brook and big oat trees. "This was one of my favorite places as a child", She said as she sat down into the grass. "I use to bring the sheep here to graze and sit her wondering what my life would be like." She turned my way and grinned wickedly. "Who would have thought I"d catch you." I wasn"t sure how to take that compliment and figured she wasn"t going to tell me any more than that anyways. Dames after all, like to keep us men wondering on a few things. Our little picnic went well I thought, and with Mary snuggling up on my shoulder, headed back, hopefully to a quiet evening of cuddling. As I pulled up to our apartment I saw a familiar pair sitting on the doorstep. It was Christina and Tiny Tim. Something told me it wasn"t a social call. "Oh Mr. Vine!" Christina cried running over to us as we got out of the car. Her eyes were red and her nose running, a sure sign she"d been crying for some time. Mary quickly picked her up cradling her in her arms as only Mary could. Timmy, I noted was also showing signs of distress. Then I realized another odd fact. "What happened to you two and where"s your car?" With that question, Tina burst into another fit of tears. I looked down at Timmy hoping to get a better line on what was up. "It"s gone", he said with a grim face. "Our car, it"s gone." I looked over to Christina who was only able to nod her head; I then looked back to Tim hoping for more details. "We went to that new chicken restaurant after the movie"; he began to explain, "the one over by the park. We weren"t in there but maybe an hour and when we came out our car was gone. "Anybody see anything?" I asked figuring on the worst. "One of the waitresses thought she saw something red flash by the window but couldn"t be sure. The car"s not really that heavy but if someone grabbed it, it would have been noticed." He was right of course; running with a three foot long red convertible wasn"t something you wouldn"t notice. "There must have been some other witnesses around those shops", I said. "Tell you what", me and Tiny will go scope the area out and talk with all the shop owners and workers in the area. Maybe we can track down a witness." I looked back at Timmy. "Did you report the theft yet?" He shook his head in the negative. "We haven"t had a chance to, Mr. Vine", he replied. "We had to walk just to get here, you being the closest one we figured could help." "Best come inside and I"ll call the cops. Who knows they may be able to come up with a lead." I didn"t really believe that one but figured it was worth a shot. I picked up the phone and dialed a number from memory. The voice I heard on the other end of the line was none-other than "˜Old Charlie". "I need to report a stolen car", I stated professionally giving my name. "That you Jack?" Charlie said with his thick Irish twang. "Why sure it tis. You would"na be saying so if"n ya weren"t. And what can I be doin" f"r ya t"day?" I repeated the fact that it was a stolen car crime. "Stolen car Tis it? Now who"d be foolish enough ta steal that jalopy of yours", he asked? I smiled and rolled my eyes. "Not mine Charlie. It"s Tim and Christina"s red Dodge Charger. You remember the one?" "Why sure I do", he replied getting more serious now. "Heard all about how the lad and lass stopped that jewel robber now didn"t I. Even wrote up the report me self. Tell ya what Jack; I"ll get an APB put out right off." I thanked Charlie, hung up and then dialed Tiny. "Hey, Tiny", I greeted him; "It"s Jack." I filled him in on the theft and all the facts I knew so far, that is to say, not much. "I"ll pick you up in about ten Ok; better bring your tennis shoes while your at it, we"ll be hoofing it on this case." Down at the scene of the crime, I interviewed the staff at the establishment in question; it was called "˜The Chicken Koop" using a K instead of a C in the word coop. While I did that I had Tiny walking up and down the strip asking anyone around if they had seen anyone with a small red car. He didn"t have much luck. Inside the restaurant, I drilled the gal that thought she saw something. "It was a flash of red", she explained skittishly. "It went past the window as I was taking an order over by the front window. Seems to me", she added, "that it went by awfully fast; and low too, as if it was on the ground. But as I said, I didn"t really get a good look having been taking that order and all." She paused and looked at me with a worried face. "I"m not in trouble for not noticing more, am I?" I grinned and shook my head. "No toots", I told. "I"m just looking to get a lead is all. So far you"re my only witness so if you can think of anything else;" I left the line hanging hoping to spear her along. Sometimes that works; this time it didn"t. "No, that"s about all I can recall", she ended. "It just happened so fast and I wasn"t really paying any attention. Sorry." "That"s Ok. If you do recall anything else later just give me a call." I handed her one of our cards and headed out to find Tiny. "Hey Jack", he said as I caught up with him. "Nothing much to tell you", he told me. "The best I could get was that someone remembers a bunch of kids playing over in that park." He pointed across the street at a wide-open area dotted with the usual playthings, swings, monkey bars and a few baseball and soccer fields. "They were supposedly flying one of those radio controlled plane"s", he added. "They said it was a nifty one of the Red Barron"s biplane." As we looked I noticed that there was no one flying a plane now, only some kids kicking a ball around. "I wonder if those kids", I pointed over to the tots with the ball, "knows who the kid with the plain is." He agreed that it was worth a shot and so we headed over to the group. As we got closer one of the boys kicked the soccer ball over the head of the kid closest to us; Tiny snagged it out of the air with only one hand. "Wow!" The boy gasped all wide-eyed. "You"re pretty good mister; and big too. Are you a giant?" "You got it squirt," he said with a grin, handing the ball over. "Says kid", I asked getting right to the point, "have you seen anyone flying a one of those model planes?" The boy eyed me suspiciously. "You ain"t a cop are you?" He asked evasively. "P I", I replied, "no cop." The boy"s eyes lit up at that. "Cool! A private investigator; that"s so keen." I noticed that the rest of the kids had slowly closed in to see what was up. "What about it kid", I asked returning to the matter at hand. "You see anyone? Don"t worry; we"re not here to get anyone in trouble or anything. We just heard a kid was flying a little plane and may have seen something that happened across the street. A stolen car", I added. "You mean a small red car?" That question took us completely by surprise and it showed. "Uh! Yeah. You seen who took it?" ""Well, not really", he answered, "you see no one really took it mister. It just sort of showed up all by itself." I cocked my head and looked over at my partner. He shrugged his shoulders not understanding any more than I did. "Maybe you can fill us in", I said. "You say the car just showed up all by itself? No one carrying it?" "Yeah, that"s right. It drove up to us as we were watching Pete flying his model plane." The kid pointed out into an area of low cut grass. "Over there", he continued. "This red car comes speeding over to us like one of those hot-rodders. Nearly ran into my leg before it stopped too." "The car drove up to you?" I asked confusion clearly on my face. "Then who has the car now?" "Why Pete of course", The kid supplied. I looked at the gathered crowd of kids hoping someone would step forward. No one did and I guessed he wasn"t around now. "This Pete kid, could you tell us where he lives?" I asked. "We know the owner of the car; he"ll be happy to give you and your friends some kind of reward for its return." The teen, along with the rest of the kid"s, eyes lit up with the word "˜reward". "Well, I guess I could", the young boy said thinking things over some. "What kind of reward are we talking about?" I noticed that he said "˜reward" loud enough to be heard by everyone that had gathered around him. I figured he was getting in to being the "˜Big Cheese". I had to grin. "Couple of Lincolns at least", I said. "And maybe some ice cream for you friends too. Same goes for this Pete kid, but only if we score the car. So what do you say chief?" The kids surrounding us, hearing the part about free ice cream, looked back at the lad I was negotiating with, excitement clearly in their eyes. "Sounds like a deal", he answered proudly; but there"s no need to give you his address. He doesn"t live very far from here." He pointed over on a side street a block away. "That one on the corner", he said. "I can even take you over to meet him." Our boy sure was sure playing his roll to the hilt, I thought, once again grinned. "You"re in charge Mac." I told him importantly. "Lead the way." The kid beamed with importance strutting his plumage like a rooster around a cluster of hens. I even heard one little tart comment to her friend how cute the leader was. It was obvious to me it was meant to be heard too. Robert, that was the boys name by the way, might be getting more than he bargained for, maybe even a kiss or two. When we got to the house in question, I noticed an older man watering his grass. "That"s Pete"s dad." Robert pointed out and called out to get the mans attention. "Mr. Thompson!" the boy called out. The gent looked our way, then turned off the water and came over to our little group of munchkins. "What"s all this?" He asked. I let the lad continue to play out his roll as boss man. "These guys are private investigators", he explained. "They"re looking for that red little car that Pete has. They thought someone had stolen it but I told them that wasn"t true." The man was looking me over, so I stepped forward and offered him my card for identification. "The names Jack", I informed him, "Jack Vine." "Jack Vine!" He repeated my name in surprise. "You the Jack that married little Mary Sawyer?" It was my turn to look surprised. "Uh, Yeah, that"s me. Do I know you?" "Well, not really. At least I don"t think you do." He said. "I only know of you through Gladice." " You mean Mary"s great grandmother?" I asked him. "Great, great, grandmother", he corrected me. "I"m her superintendent," he went on. "That"s just a fancy word for the guy that fixes stuff around the orphanage. Been with her going on fifteen years now; nicest boss I ever worked for." "I"m sorry", I said, "but I don"t remember seeing you at the wedding." "Would have been surprised had you did", he grinned and smiled. "The missus was terrible sick that week you see; did send a gift though, a toaster I believe. Me and my son watched over all the kids while she and her husband went on their honeymoon." "You mean Pete?" I put in, seeing the chance to get back to the issue at hand. "Do you know my son?" He asked. "Only through this lad here." I pointing to our group"s bright-eyed leader; he smiled and took his queue. "Is Pete around?" He asked. "Mr. Vine here, like I said, is looking for that little car." The gentleman nodded and stepped over to the front door. Opening it he stuck his head inside. "Peter!" He bellowed. "Could you come out here for a moment." He paused for a sec then added. "And bring that red car you found too." He turned back to me with a big grin. "Boys a real model plane nut." I returned his grin. "I"m sorry!" I said, putting out my hand to shake his. " I just realized I didn"t catch your first name." "Jake", he said. "Jack Thompson. Pleasure to meet you." Another Jack, I thought to myself; must have been a popular name back then. Just then a boy of about ten or so came out carrying Tim"s red Dodge Charger convertible. I explained to the lad who I was, telling him of the deal his friend Robert had negotiated with the reward. I added that it was only fair that he got in on the ice cream also and so handed each`` kid their ten greenbacks. I turned back to Robert. "Now there"s the matter the bonus", I added for the benefit of the group, "of scoring the ice cream you negotiated for you and your friends. I never welsh on a deal chief." The lad, grinning, looked quickly over his shoulder at the tart that had spoken up earlier; yes I do believe he was going to get that kiss. I turned back to the dad, still wondering on one part of the mystery; that"s when Pete filled us in. "It"s tuned in to the same frequency as my controller", he informed us. "Come again?" I said, still in the shadows. It"s got the same radio frequency that my planes control unit uses. Wait here and I"ll show you." He took off back into the house and in no time at all, returned carrying his Red Barron model and controller. "Put the car on the ground Mister", he said. I complied and stepped back to watch. The lad set his model right beside it, also stepping back. "Now watch this." He took his remote unit, extending the antenna, turned on the power switch then hit the ignition switch. To our stunned amazement both engines fired over. He then moved the left lever forward. Both plane and car rolled straight ahead for about ten feet. The Pete moved the right lever to side and both turned in that direction. "Well I"ll be a monkey"s uncle!" I exclaimed. Timmy"s car is actually a remote controlled toy." I turned to Tiny and noticed his face with a sheepish look on it. It was apparent he realized the same thing I had. Did that car come with one of those?" I asked, pointing at Pete"s controller. "Uh! I"m not sure", he replied. "I was so excited that all I took out was the car. Never looked to see if there was anything else covered in those Styrofoam peanuts." He scratched the back of his head in further thought. "We still have the box; it"s in the closet at the office though." We thanked Mr. Thompson and his son, giving the boy an extra Lincoln for solving the mystery, and made good on the ice cream" all that done we headed back to the office. Now at the office, I grabbed the phone, calling Mary at our apartment. Tim and Christina as you should remember were still there. "Hey blue-eyes", I said. "Could you, Tim and Christina head over here at the office." I asked. Mary asked what was up and if I had found the car. I left that issue vague, not saying yes but not saying no either. I quickly hung up so as not to spill the beans. Turning I watched as Tiny rummaged through the closet, retrieved the box and placed it on his desk. He eyed me with a grin and opened up the box. All I could see was the Styrofoam. He stuck his huge hand down deep in the box, making half of those peanuts fall out onto the floor. When he brought his hand back out it was with an exact looking radio unit; complete with batteries and charger. "Would you look at that", he said grinning. His eyes took on a sparkle. Like the kind you see on the faces of every kid at Christmas. Lets try it out he said. I must say I felt somewhat like a kid to and quickly agreed. After all I mused, we did want to be sure the unit worked, right? Come on you guys, you know very well you"d be doing the same thing. Tiny popped the batteries into the controller and with a five year olds step grabbed up the car and headed for the door. "Come on Jack", he cried. Lets run it out in the parking lot." I complied with the idea and followed. We were two five year olds at that moment. Out in the lot Tiny placed the car gently down and stood back. He then mimicked what he saw Pete do with antenna and power switch. Eyeing me and with as big a grin as I"ve ever seen he hit the ignition button. As expected the engine revved up and yes we were still giggling. "Make it move", I prodded my partner; he eagerly complied and we plated with if for a good half an hour. At some point my adult brain kicked in reminding me that Mary, Tim and Christina would be here any minute. That"s where the idea hit me. "Hey Tiny!" I said stopping his play. I"ve got a great idea." I laid out my plan as only five year old could giving what details I could muster. He grinned and nodded his head. He took the car and placed it out of sight around the corner of the building. That done we waited for our group to show. In about ten minutes Mary"s car rolled in and parked beside us. I noticed that she was looking around as if expecting to see something. I barely held back a giggle. Opening the car door, she, Christina and Tim stepped out. The looks on Christina and Timmy"s face said they had hoped that my call meant that I had found their vehicle. No luck?" Mary stated also bummed out at not seeing the car. That"s when Tiny, who was standing behind me to conceal the unit, hit the ignition button and revved up the mock Hemi motor to a roar. Three sets of wide eyes turned towards the noise and the dramatic appearance of their car dashing into view. Tiny skillfully, well as skilled as he could be having only had a half hour to practice with it, maneuvered the car in a series of circles which finally ended with the Charger stopping right beside the stunned couple. Both stood dumb struck with jaws open wide and eyes as wide as could be. Tiny and me could not hold it in any longer and broke down in a gale of laughter. "What;? I mean, how;?" Tim finally went silent unable to comprehend what had just happened. Tiny eagerly explained the deal. "Your car is in reality", he said, "a remote controlled model." He showed them the radio unit and even revved the cars motor up to prove it. "Turns out", I told them, "That you car never was stolen." I rehashed the events that ended with the discovery made by Peter Thompson. I went into great details on how the car had shoed up at the park in response to the planes control unit completely by accident. I then added to Tim that it would be a good idea to disengage the radio receiver in the car. I showed them the instruction pamphlet that we also had neglected to look for. "It"s all in this", I said sheepishly; after all I should have looked for the instructions myself. Everyone had a good laugh and now that they had their prize back wanted eagerly to take it out for a spin. Tina, I noted was the one that got behind the steering wheel. As they took off we all could clearly hear them whooping it up. I looked over at Mary who was looking as radiant as a pregnant girl could. "Say gorgeous", I said. "What say you me Tiny and Terri go get something to eat." She took my arm in hers snuggling close to me. "How about we all stop and get an some ice cream instead?" With a sparkle in her gorgeous blue eyes, she added, "with blueberries, lots of whipped cream and chocolate syrup." ""Anything mommy wants", I told her squeezing her to me. "Anything mommy wants. I wonder if they have pickles to go?" The End

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    Big Don! Have a look see at this ones dialogue and see if it still needs tweaking.
    “Sure thing toots”,
    “Oh yuck!” Christina responded
    “Timmy got a job!” Tina exclaimed proudly.

    Commas even though you have punctuation inside the quote. toots should be Toots. It's a name.
    “knows who the kid with the plain is.” plane

    I still want to see that Charger Hemi! Must be really cool!

    Pickles and yogurt? Not really appetizing, but, I am not in her condition. lol
    @ kt. Yeah, I already spotted that plain/plane error and fixed it on my original. Nice catch though.
    The Red Dodge Charger was taken from a friend of mine. She had just bought her baby and my brother and myself took it out on a long road and floored it. Wow!
    Had to toss in the typical pickle reference for the pregnant Mary; it only seemed appropriate.