A Young Charles Splints Case: The Bubblegum Bandit
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.
Charles Splints stood at the top of the slide as she sloshed a lollipop back and forth in his mouth. It was Friday, everyone’s favorite day of the week, everyone except Splints. Fridays always meant trouble.
“Charlie, Charlie,” cried Debby from the mulch covered ground below.
Splints looked down and raised an eyebrow.
“I mean, Splints,” she said, correcting herself.
“What is it, Deb?”
She pulled out a dollar bill and a nickel, his usual fee. Splints slid down and accepted the offer. He was on the case.
“What you got for me, Deb? It’s not the swing set hog again, is it?” he asked.
“It’s Randy.” She pointed to the kid sitting atop the jungle gym and then to her head. Stuck within her long blonde hair was a wad of bubble gum. Splints deduced from the scent that it was watermelon flavored.
Randy Lamb was known across the playground as The Bubblegum Bandit, but it’d been weeks without an incident. Splints shook his head. He should’ve known better than to think Randy had changed. Detention doesn’t work for everyone.
“Say no more,” said Splints. As he walked he crunched the lollipop between his teeth. When he arrived at the jungle gym he dropped the stick and pressed it into the dirt with his shoe.
“What’s your problem, Splintsy?” asked Randy. He was twirling the gum around his finger as he spoke.
“The gum in the hair isn’t going to stick as a style anytime soon, kid,” said Splints. “You could try handing out gel. Stuff works wonders for me.” Splints pointed to his dark slicked back hair.
“Not a chance,” said Randy. He climbed down from the jungle gym and stood beside Splints. Randy was in the fifth grade and, having hit his growth spurt early, was a foot taller than Splints.
Randy removed the wad of gum from his mouth. Splints stepped away but the notorious bully only moved in closer. During his third attempt to stick Splints with the gum the pint sized private investigator grabbed hold of his wrist and jumped up on the first wrung of the jungle gym for leverage. Splints whacked Randy in the face with his own hand, causing the gum to get stuck in the bully’s messy brown hair.
Randy backed away, stunned. Splints dusted himself off.
“This isn’t over, Splintsy!” cried the bully.
“Randy,” said Splints.
“Get a haircut.” Splints unwrapped another lollipop, placed it into his mouth, and walked away.