THE ADVENTURES OF FREDDIE CALHOUN: KID LAWYER
By: E. Frederick Calhoun
Following is an excerpt from “Dead Like Hammerham Lincoln”, the first in a new series of children’s books about 8 year old Freddie Calhoun and his adventures as the neighborhood lawyer. The author is currently looking for a publisher for the series. If you are interested in publishing Freddie’s stories, or if you have any other questions, contact the author below.
It was a typical Saturday: the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, a lawn mower was groaning off in the distance. I strolled down my driveway taking long sips from my mug of hot chocolate trying to shake off my sleepless night before; searching between the marshmallows for the meaning of it all. I wasn’t looking forward to whatever miscreant or sob-story was waiting for me at the office that morning, but I knew they were waiting. Miscreants and sob-stories are my job.
My name is Freddie. I’m 8. I’m a lawyer.
When I finally got to the office, after the long walk all the way to the end of the driveway, the place was mercifully empty. I had a moment to sit back and collect my thoughts before the start of another day, and another case. It wasn’t long, though, before my serenity was shattered by a knock at the door. (Well, since my office is really just a card table at the end of the driveway, it’s not so much a door as it is a piece of construction paper that says “door”, but it gets the job done).
With the echo of the knock still floating in the air, a young lady came walking in. I recognized her from the playground at school — her name was Suzy Belafonte. Suzy was a cute, short girl with a big, round head. She wore glasses sometimes, but only because she thought it made her look like Velma from Scooby-Doo. She liked Velma. Suzy lived down the street from me. Her mom made good grilled cheese sandwiches — the kind with Velveeta, not the individually wrapped slices that always got oily and gross like my mom made.
Suzy sat down and got right to the point — Suzy was a very direct person. “Mr. Calhoun,” she began, “my hamster is dead … dead like Hammerham Lincoln.”
Suzy was only 6 and, given my considerable advantage in years, intelligence and education, I didn’t have the heart to embarrass her by telling her that it was pronounced ‘Ham-BRA-ham Lincoln’.
“Mr. Calhoun,” she continued, “yesterday I came home from playing jacks at Alice Kroger’s house to find my hamster lying outside of his cage, dead.
“I picked him up in the hope that he was just sleepy, but he was cold and not nearly as playful as he had been earlier that morning. I screamed and my mom came running in. She saw me holding my dead hamster and she muttered some treacle about ‘these things happening’ and ‘nothing lasting forever’. Then, quite abruptly, she suggested we bury him in the backyard next to my goldfish Zippy. Zippy died last spring due to an unfortunate curling-iron incident that I don’t want to go into right now.”
“What was your hamster’s name?” I interrupted.
“Well, Mr. Calhoun, he went by many names, this Hamster. My mom called him, variously, ‘the hamster’, ‘the fuzz-ball’ and ‘that stinky thing’. My dad usually called him ‘the mouse’. My snobby sister called him ‘Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny.’ I called him Ralph.”
“Then we’ll call him Ralph.”
“Good. So, like I was saying, Ralph was dead and my mom wanted to bury him next to Zippy …”
Fearing her ultimate point was a ways off, I interrupted again. “Why did you come to see me, Suzy? Shouldn’t you be sitting with Smelly Joe from across the street? He likes to dig holes and bury stuff.”
“Mr. Calhoun, Ralph’s already buried. I’m here because I suspect foul play in his death and I’m being stonewalled by the proper authorities.”
“My mom and dad.”
“Oh. What do you mean ‘stonewalled’?”
“They’ve refused to conduct an inquest into the very suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. They have refused to authorize an autopsy even after repeated requests and foot-stomping on my part. They’re even evasive when asked questions about Ralph. I asked my mom point-blank if she knew how Ralph died and all she said was, ‘Honey, it could have been any number of things. When hamsters get out of their cages they’re very vulnerable.’ But how did she know he was out of his cage!? I could have just picked him up when I came in!!”
At this point I had to jump in again. “Look, Suzy, you’re obviously broken up about Ralph, but I’m not the one to help you. After all, I’m Freddie Calhoun: Kid Lawyer, not Freddie Calhoun: Kid Private Investigator. If you find out that Ralph died from a slip-and-fall at the local Buy-N-Save, give me a call. Otherwise, I don’t know that I can help you.”
And with that, I escorted Suzy from my office. I had a lot of legal work to do and couldn’t be bothered with her little murder mystery.
As I was walking back to my desk, though, I started to think and rub my chin with my hand like fancy lawyers do.
“How did Suzy’s mom know Ralph was out of the cage? Why was she so anxious to bury the rodent without so much as a memorial service? How did she manage to make those grilled cheese sandwiches so gooey on the inside yet so crisp on the outside?!”
I flung myself around and screamed “SUZY!” (even though she had only walked seven feet away), “I’LL TAKE THE CASE!