Jimmy Lee Caper: Jerkwad Teen Detective by Preston Haggis.)
Volume VI: Mystery of The Pilfered Gnome
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Jimmy Lee Caper - rude, selfish, junior detective.
Elmo Montpelier - Jimmy's best friend, an affable, young hunchback.
Professor Lincoln Mancrisp - Stern headmaster of Quillham Academy; addicted to pizza rolls.
Hannah Hooverton - Jimmy's clever, ambitious classmate.
Dr. Thane Blackingham - Eerie, mysterious owner of a tall dark tower.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
"Or what?" sneered Jimmy.
Professor Mancrisp pointed the ash cane at Jimmy. "That sounds like another hunchback insult. Apologize to Mr. Montpelier."
The Professor frowned. "Why do you pal around with him, Mr. Montpelier? He insults you, borrows money that he never repays, and often puts a football under the back of his shirt, the better to mock you. Don't you deserve better?"
Elmo shrugged. "My Auntie says it's a moral test: if I can hang out with Jimmy all through Quillham, there isn't anything I can't do in life. And after graduation, she'll pay for an operation to remove my hump. At least she says she will. Nothings on paper."
"That's the way it goes," sneered Jimmy in a mocking sing-song.
"Skip it. But I think you've benefited from blind luck and observant companions."
"That's a load," yelled Jimmy. "I'm the smart one. I'm the one who figures things out. And I'll find that gnome and you'll look as dumb as an old wino eating pizza rolls under a bridge."
With a whistling crack, the professor brought the ash cane down on Jimmy's hand.
"Owww! What was that for?"
"Metaphorical insults count the same as real ones. Very well, Mr. Caper. Locate the gnome and we'll discuss our respective intelligence later."
Jimmy smirked. "What do I get for finding it?"
Professor Mancrisp held up the ash cane. "Think more along the lines of what you won't get."
Outside the faculty building, Jimmy and Elmo walked quickly, pulling Quillham blazers tight around their collars in the crisp autumn air. Jimmy seethed, shaking his sore hand. "Where does that old fart get off hitting me?"
"I don't know," said Elmo, still enjoying the moment, relishing the hours he'd replay it in his mind.
Jimmy seemed mystified. "Nothing sticks to him. I've ratted the professor out to Child Protective Services for beating me with that stick. I've planted kiddie porn on his computer and called the feds. I've told the cops he was an old fruit who tried to queer me. I swear, the guy is made of Lucite. Stuff that's worked with every teacher, parent, child psychologist, social worker, and counselor just slides off old Mancrisp. What's worse, he's becoming a hero to other adults. I gotta find a way to pull the plug on Professor Pizza Roll."
Elmo struggled to keep up with Jimmy."What about the gnome?"
"How the hell should I know? You got five?"
Elmo handed him a new five-dollar bill. "Thanks, McKinley," said Jimmy as he jogged across the quad, away from the hunchback. "I'm gonna get a burger at the student center. Why don't you ask around, see what we can dig up on the gnome. Are we cool?"
"Hey, no problem," called Elmo to Jimmy's back. For a brief moment, he wished he could mentally kill people like in Firestarter, but the impulse passed and Elmo wearily waddled off toward the administration building.
He saw Hannah and waved. She waved back. Elmo started toward her but was suddenly struck on the head by a water balloon, dropped from a nearby tall mysterious tower. Drenched, Elmo examined the remains of the balloon.
It was then he found the note.
A moment after he realized the balloon hadn't been filled with water.