by Laird Long -
It had been two years since the great detective Sherwood House had last seen his good friend Doctor Waters. So, when the two men finally met again at the Doctor’s home for a backyard barbeque, they heartily shook hands with one another.
“And you remember my sons, Travis, Tyler, and Timothy?” Dr. Waters said, gesturing at the three boys lined up in the living room.
“Of course I do!” Sherwood exclaimed, startling the boys. “But, my, how they have grown since I saw them last!”
Sherwood proceeded to solemnly shake hands with each of the Doctor’s sons, grimacing only slightly when he gripped the dirt-stained hands tipped by dirt-laden fingernails of Travis and Tyler.
“They’ve all been recently playing in the woods out back,” Dr. Waters explained.
“Ah!” Sherwood nodded and then smiled when he gripped and shook Timothy’s hand. “But here’s a lad who values cleanliness, eh?” He turned Timothy’s hand over in his own, admiring the scrubbed cleanliness of it. “You’ll be a doctor like your father, no doubt,” he joked.
“And where is your fourth son, Thomas?” the great detective inquired.
“Oh, I suppose he’s out in the backyard or the woods somewhere,” Dr. Waters replied. “Come, I have hot dogs grilling on the barbeque as we speak.”
Sherwood clapped and rubbed his hands together with gustatory delight and to freshen them up a bit.
The two men were just stepping out onto the backyard patio when Dr. Waters’ youngest son, Thomas, raced around the back of the garage, over the lawn, and up to his father. “Someone’s stolen my bag of candy!” the boy wailed.
Sherwood’s eyes glowed like the coals in the barbeque. “Show me!”
The two men jogged after the boy, around to the back of the two-car garage. There was a hole dug in the weeds there, dirt strewn out along the nearest side of the hole.
“Don’t touch anything!” Sherwood proclaimed, holding Thomas and his father back.
“Just why did you bury a bag of candy, anyway?” Dr. Waters asked his son.
The boy sniffled, staring at the empty hole. “Because Tyler and Travis and Timothy are always stealing my things. I just bought this big bag of jujubes at the store, and after eating only half of them, I sealed the bag up tight in a second bag and buried it back here for safekeeping. Not more than half-an-hour ago.”
“Yes, the dirt is fresh,” Sherwood said, bending down next to the hole.
Dr. Waters commented, “Sherwood, it’s not necessary that you investigate this.”
“But I must, Doctor!” He pulled a magnifying glass out of his pocket and bent his head down to minutely examine the hole, the dirt strewn out into the weeds.
“It was not an animal that dug up this ground,” he concluded...