A Young Charles Splints Case: The Gold Pencil Sharpener
By Dan Leicht
It was right after lunch when Charles Splints was stopped in the hall by Principal Garlocke.
“I uh,” began the principal, clearly nervous about something, “can I talk to you in private?”
“Sure,” replied Splints, “but lose the nerves, Garlocke. The school counselor is Mr. Vibes, just want to make sure you don’t need him instead.”
“You’re the one I’m looking for, but please, keep your voice down.”
Splints walked past Ms. Belle, the secretary, on the way to Garlocke’s office.
“Hello, Charlie,” she said, nodding to the young man as he walked by.
“You’re new,” said Splints, “so I’ll give you a pass, but don’t ever call me Charlie.”
She raised her eyebrows and nodded with a smug look on her face.
Inside the principal’s office Splints took a seat behind the desk, the principal sat in a small red plastic seat.
“Where’d you find her?” asked Splints.
“Favor for a friend, she’s fresh out of college and needed a job to help with student loans,” replied Garlocke.
“What a nice guy you are. Now what’s this about? I have a math test in twenty minutes.”
“I’ve lost something, or even worse, I fear it’s been stolen.”
“What’s been lost?” asked Splints.
“My favorite pencil sharpener. It’s painted gold and fit so perfectly into my jacket’s front pocket. Last I saw it I placed it on my desk when I went to get lunch.”
“There’s a fee to my services,” said Splints.
“Check the drawer in front of you there,” said Garlocke. “It’s all the candy I’ve confiscated from kids in the past month. Take whatever you please, just return my treasured sharpener to me.”
Splints stuffed a handful of candy into his raincoat and pulled the wrapper off a lollipop. With the cherry flavored sucker clicking against his teeth he left the office, leaving behind a dull, broken spirit.
He stopped at the desk of Ms. Belle on his way out.
“So you’re fresh out of lock up? How many years? Four?” he asked.
“You’re awfully cute,” replied Ms. Belle, “do they let you play detective all day like this?”
“If I wanted compliments I’d still be going to my grandmother’s after school instead of the Ice Cream Parlor. These questions have a purpose, ma’am. I’d appreciate your cooperation.”
“You’re funny. Yes, I spent four years in college. Do you want to go to college some day?”
“Let’s keep the questioning to the professionals, Belle. I noticed you’re using a number two pencil. They break quite easily, how’re you managing to keep up with all your work?” asked Splints, his eyes scanning her desk for the sharpener.
She instinctively grabbed the knob of her desk drawer. “I use a pencil sharpener of course,” she replied.
Splints crunched down on what remained of his lollipop. He took a seat in one of the small plastic chairs against the wall and unwrapped a candy bar.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Waiting, mm, excuse me, for your pencil to crack,” he replied, chewing his candy bar as he spoke.
She nervously carried on with her work, careful not to press too hard as she wrote. It wasn’t long until Splints heard it, the satisfying snap of the graphite tip. He looked up to see her sharpening the pencil under her desk so he couldn’t see. He got up and walked over, the sharpener closed inside her hand.
“Think you could help me out?” said Splints. He pulled a brand new pencil from his pocket. “I have a math test soon and I’ll be needing this number two ready to go.”
“I can’t help you,” she replied. “My sharpener just broke. I’ll need to get a new one.”
“That’s too bad. Let me take a look, I’m pretty handy when it comes to fixing office supplies.”
She sighed and opened up her hand to reveal the gold sharpener. “I couldn’t resist, Charlie. It was just sitting there on his desk, calling out to me.”
“That’s strike two, Belle,” said Splints. He took the gold sharpener from her hand. “The name is Splints. I suggest you learn it, because even though in today’s case you were the culprit, there may come a time when you’ll need my help.”
Splints placed the golden treasure on Garlocke’s desk.
“Where’d you find it?” asked the principal.
“Let’s not worry ourselves with the details. I think they’ve learned their lesson.”