A Young Charles Splints Case: S-L-I-D-E
By Dan Leicht
The young Charles Splints cases take place when the future detective of Brooksend was still in elementary school. A seven year old Charles Splints is on the case.
Splints swung on the swing-set as he looked on at the game of hopscotch happening over on the paved walkway. Four of the girls from his class played the game, its rules seemed trivial at best. The young detective was in the process of breaking his height record on the swing when he heard it, a cry for help.
“Randy!” shouted Linda.
Splints leapt off the swing and rolled upon landing to break his fall. He got up and dusted himself off as he walked towards the altercation.
“What’s that you got there, Randy?” asked Splints. “You playing nice with the other kids or do I need to send another letter home?”
“You’re not the boss of me, Charlie,” replied Randy.
There are two things you never call Charles Splints. The first is cute, he hates that, but he hates being called Charlie even more.
“Drop the chalk and step away, Randy. We don’t need this turning out like the marshmallow incident.”
“My mom had to buzz my hair off because of you,” said Randy.
“That’s what happens when you patronize the younger kids during lunch. I happened to have a jelly and fluff sandwich that day, my options were limited.”
“Well you’re not getting this chalk, Charlie. These girls don’t need to play this stupid game anyway. Look,” he said to Linda as he pointed to the playground, “you’re missing out on all the fun. We’re playing tag.”
Linda looked over to the playground. It didn’t look like a fun game of tag was taking place. Kids lied motionless on the mulch where Randy had shoved them down. Splints was so entranced with the game of hopscotch he hadn’t noticed the carnage.
The detective cleared his throat.
“There’s only one way to settle this, Randy,” said Splints.
“Oh yeah, Charlie? What’s that?”
“A game of Slide.”
The girls gasped at the very mention of it.
The game of Slide was, on paper, written as S-L-I-D-E, its rules playing out the same as H-O-R-S-E, but instead of mimicking baskets you had to copy the way the person before you went down the slide. If you failed to mimic the other person you got a letter, first to get all five letters had to head back to class early.
“You can go first, Randy. I’m feeling generous,” said Splints.
“Ha, you’ll regret it.”
Everyone on the playground took notice and crowded around the bottom of the bright red slide. The slide was ten feet tall with a metal ladder leading to the top. At the top there was a bar he had to crouch under, for safety reasons as well as, if it was on purpose was unclear, a means to keep anyone taller than four foot from using the slide comfortably.
Randy crouched under the bar and stood up, holding on to it for support as he removed his shoes and tossed them to the ground.
“Try this one,” he said. He slid down the slide on his feet as if on a surfboard catching a wave. The detective laughed and copied his turn with little effort.
“Now my turn,” said Splints, putting his shoes back on. He climbed the slide and without hesitation slid down head first and went into a forward somersault as he launched off the slide at the bottom.
“Pffft, that’s not hard.” Randy climbed the slide and launched himself down with the same intensity as the detective, only at the bottom he wasn’t nimble enough to pull off the somersault, or maneuver much at all, which resulted in him getting a face full of dirt and mulch.
He spit out dirt and wiped his face.
The game pressed on, by the time Randy had acquired S-L-I-D Splints was feeling quite pleased with himself.
“This is the last one,” said Splints. “You think you’re ready?”
“Just get on with it,” snapped Randy.
Splints climbed the slide and crouched under the metal bar. He stood up and crouched back down, facing his feet towards the ladder with his back to the slide. Everyone looked on with wide eyes and beating hearts.
“You won’t do it,” said Randy.
Splints let go.
The crowd took a deep breath.
He stopped at the very edge of the bottom of the slide.
The crowd let out a sigh of relief.
“Your turn,” said Splints.
Randy scoffed and climbed the ladder. He stuck his feet back towards where he climbed and let go of the bar. The crowd looked on as the bully slid down, his speed picking up, he couldn’t slow down, he tried to grip the sides, but his hands were slipping. He wiggled and tried to stop himself. His momentum flung him over the side where he again landed face first in the dirt and mulch.
“That’s E,” said Splints. “Hand over the chalk. You’ve got a history test to study for.”