Case 1 - After-School Detectives
"I deem thee Watson!"
I turned around to face the girl sitting at the desk behind me. The girl was Sheryl Holmes. We had met in the first grade, and ever since then, we were what one would call friends. Giving her a curious stare, I asked the only question that could be asked, "What?"
"I'm going to start a detective agency, so you should be the Watson to my Holmes."
I raised an eyebrow at her suggestion. Ever since she was little, Sheryl's dad had been reading mystery stories to her, so that was probably what brought this on, "Your dad's been reading you mystery stories again?"
"Nope, I read them myself," she beamed proudly. "And from now on, call me Holmes!"
"Just because you two share the same surname doesn't mean that you're anything like Sherlock Holmes."
"... fine, but I'm still calling you Watson!"
"No, Sheryl, please don't."
"Waaaatson," she said, with a playful tone in her voice.
I gave up and sighed. At this moment, our seventh grade teacher, Ms. Grey, entered the classroom and greeted the class, sparing me from any more of Sheryl's usual craziness.
The class listened as Ms. Grey rambled through the morning announcements (well, it felt rambling to me, at least). When she was done, Sheryl started up her usual craziness again. Standing up in a dramatic fashion, Sheryl declared, "Ms. Grey, I have an announcement."
Although taken aback, Ms. Grey recomposed herself quickly and allowed it, "Sure, go ahead, Sheryl."
Oh no, this can't be good.
Sheryl walked up to the front of the classroom. Proudly, she said, "I would like to announce that me and Watson are going to be starting a mystery solving club after-school. So come to us if you have anything you need solving!"
The class sat in silence at the strange announcement. It was a while before someone thought to ask, "Who's Watson?"
"Oh!" Sheryl pointed at me, "That's James' new nickname."
Sitting in my seat, the only thing that I could do was shake my head as Sheryl happily (and oblivious to the stares from the rest of the class) headed back to her seat.
After Sheryl had sat down, Ms. Grey got up and smiled to the class, "Alright class, let's flip open our textbooks to page ninety-seven."
***The last bell of the day rung. Sheryl packed her things up excitedly, "C'mon, let's go, Watson!"
"Why, it's elementary, my dear Watson. To our clubroom of course!"
I sighed at the use of that name again. Then I realized that I had some leverage now, "If you keep calling me that, then I'm not going to join your club."
"No buts, Sheryl, that's my condition."
"Alright, fine...," she pouted.
Two minutes later though, she was back to her energetic self as she enthusiastically opened the door to an empty clubroom, "Welcome to our new clubroom!"
We stepped inside and looked around. And that's when I noticed the many books on chess that were on the shelves. And all those chess boards on the tables.
Oh, Sheryl, please tell me you didn't do what I think you did, I thought to myself.
"What are you two doing here?" A voice from the doorway asked. There were a bunch students there now.
Sheryl turned around in surprise, "This is our clubroom!"
"No, this is our clubroom."
"We got here first!"
We all stood there in silence for a moment.
Finally, I said, "Sheryl, that's not how it works."
"You didn't fill out a clubroom request form, did you?"
Sheryl looked at me with surprise, "We have to do that?"
I furrowed my brows, "Yes."
I ushered Sheryl out of the room so that the Chess Club could get on with their lives.
***Sheryl and I were walking out of the office with a clubroom request form when a girl from our class ran up to us, "Sheryl! James!"
It was Kelly, and she had a panicked look on her face. "I can't find my backpack!"
Sheryl grinned, it was going to be our first case after all. "Don't worry, we'll help you!"
Kelly smiled gratefully, "Thank you!"
"So, let's start by..." Sheryl's voice trailed off.
Kelly and I waited for Sheryl to finish her sentence. And then I realized that Sheryl had no idea where to start, so I chimed in, "Retracing your steps?"
"Right!" Sheryl said. "So, did you have your bag with you when you came in this morning?"
Kelly put a finger onto her lip as she thought back to this morning, "Yes, I remember carrying it into our first class."
We ended back in Ms. Grey's now-empty classroom. Sheryl asked Kelly, "So, then what?"
"Well, I remember carrying it with me to our next class."
The three of us went to two more classrooms like this, with Kelly remembering that she still had her bag with her when she left the classrooms.
Our next stop was our homeroom again where she had lunch with her friends. Kelly thought back once again and said, "After I ate lunch, I had to go to the library to return some books."
We entered the library next, and Kelly walked over to a table. "I put my bag down here, and took my books out."
Kelly walked over to the reception, "Then I put the books into the return slot here. And then..."
"And then?" Sheryl asked, excited.
"Ah, and then the bell rang, so I headed to the next classroom."
"Alright, let's go!"
As the two girls headed towards the door, I realized that they had forgotten something, so I shouted, "Wait!"
Everyone in the library gave me a hard stare and the librarian shushed me. I looked around apologetically and said, "Sorry."
The two girls headed back to me and Sheryl asked, "What?"
I turned to Kelly and asked her, "So you put the books in the return slot and headed out of the library right after that?"
"... Doesn't that mean you left your bag at that desk?"
Kelly stared at me, and then she suddenly realized what I was talking about, "You're right!"
Everyone stared at us again and the librarian gave us a harsher shush.
In a hushed voice, Sheryl said, "But the bag isn't here now! That means someone stole it!"
"Oh no!" Kelly pressed her hands to her mouth, tears welling in her eyes.
"Or," I said, "It could just be in the lost and found."
Kelly's face brightened and she wiped the tears from her eyes, "Right, let me check!"
She walked over to the librarian at the reception area and describe her lost bag. The librarian disappeared into the back for a few minutes before coming out with a pink bag. She held the bag up and asked, "Is this the one?"
"Yes!" Kelly took the bag from the librarian, "Thank you!"
Kelly then hugged Sheryl, "Thank you, Sheryl."
After the hug, Sheryl gave Kelly a thumbs up and proclaimed, "No problem! That's what we after-school detectives do!"
And for the third time, everyone in the library stared at us again as the librarian shushed us.
Sheryl pouted, "Oh, give me a break! We just solved our first case!"
Grumbling collectively, the patrons went back to their activities.
"Thank you too, James." Kelly gave me a hug.
"No problem," I said.
We headed out of the library and Kelly waved goodbye to us happily as she walked down the hallway in the other direction.
Hm, that felt nice. Maybe Sheryl's on to something. Maybe this little mystery solving club will be worthwhile. After all, we are helping people.
***I sat down in my seat in homeroom the next day, in front of a fidgety Sheryl. "What's wrong?"
"I can't think of a name for the club," she said, gesturing to the clubroom request form in front of her.
A girl, looking embarrassed and flustered, walked up to us, "Hey... You guys are the After-School Detectives, right?"
Sheryl's ears perked at the mention of that phrase. She smiled a big grin and looked at me for approval.
I smiled back and nodded.
"Yes, we are!" Sheryl replied as she scribbled the name down onto the form.
And that was how the After-School Detective was formed.