Junior Detective

By Jim Gerrish
2021, Imagineering Magic. All Rights Reserved.

Junior Detective
By Junior Clayburn
Chapter 1 – My First Case

That’s right. My name is Junior. Some joke, right? My father and mother fought over what to name me from the moment I was conceived until the moment I was born. Finally, my father said, “We’re naming him Junior and that’s that! Let him pick his own name when he’s old enough.” I heard that story from the first time I learned to think and speak in English. So, I was stuck with it.

I can’t do anything about my name until I turn 18, but I could do something about my occupation… Detective. My first case happened my first day of being in the first grade and Jill Witherspoon reported that her lunch money had been stolen. She was crying her eyes out and the teacher, Ms. Simpson, was looking accusingly at all the boys who sat near Jill’s table.

“Now, I want that money returned to Jill’s desk immediately!” was her hairbrained scheme for getting the thief to confess and beg for mercy. “Which one of you boys took it?” she continued.

I had to jump right in at that, because I was one of the boys she was glaring at with those squinty-eye-looks teachers reserve for naughty boys.

“Why do you assume that a boy took it?” I asked. “It could have been a girl. Jill could have misplaced it herself. You’re jumping to conclusions.”

“How dare you talk to me in that tone of voice, Junior Clayborn! No girl would take another girl’s lunch money,” said Ms. Simpleton Simpson. Well if she was going to mispronounce my name, I could use the nickname I gave her in my thoughts.

“My last name is Clayburn, not Clayborn,” I added, just to make a point.

“It should be Clayborn,” said Ms. Simpering Simpson. “Whoever heard of anyone famous named Clayburn?”

“According to the Internet, there are some 39,000 people with the last name of Clayburn in the United States alone,” I told her. Meanwhile my eyes were searching on, in and under Jill Witherspoon’s table that she used as a desk.

“Who gave you permission to use the Internet?” asked Ms. Simpson. “You know full well that first graders are not permitted to use the classroom computer without my permission.”

“I have a computer of my own at home,” I informed her. “Jill, was your lunch money loose or in an envelope or anything?” Anything to shut Ms. Simpson up.

“It was in my purse. I always keep it in my purse in my desk. And now it’s gone,” whimpered Jill.

I pointed to a spot just behind her feet. “Is that it on the floor?”

Jill looked. The crying stopped. She bent down and grabbed it. “My purse!” she squealed.

“Open it and check to make sure your money is all there,” I said.

She did. “It is! It’s all here. Thank you, Junior!”

“Hmmmp!” snorted Ms. Simpson. “How do we know you didn’t steal it and drop it on the floor, Junior?”

“I sit all the way over here, two tables away from Jill. My arms don’t reach that far Ms. Simpson. I just happened to investigate with my eyes first without making any accusations.”

“Where did you learn those words… investigate, accusations?” said Ms. Simpson, when she should have kept her big mouth shut.

“From you, Ms. Simpson. You said them yourself to Ms. Engelbart this morning when you were talking about the coming election.” I said.

She thought a moment, trying to remember her conversation with Ms. Engelbart. I gave her credit for attempting to use her brain for once, but as usual she turned it into a personal insult and assault.

“You told her, loudly, that the ‘Democrats should investigate the accusations being made about them by the Republicans,’ ” I said, just to refresh everyone’s memory.

“How dare you listen to my private conversations with another teacher,” she said in that snotty tone she has.

“The way the two of you were practically shouting at one another, the whole class had to listen to it, all five minutes of it,” was my response, but I knew what the penalty would be for telling the truth.

“Insolence!” said Ms. Simpson. “Report to the principal at once, young man.”

“Thank you, Ms. Simpson,” I said, taking the complaint ticket she had marked with a big X in the box for “other” complaints.

I was free from her clutches and the Principal and I could have a good laugh about Ms. Simpson once in the privacy of his office.

Principal Jones was my inspiration for becoming a detective. In discussing what had occurred in the classroom, he focused on my accomplishment in locating Jill’s purse and said I would make a good detective someday. I just decided, why not today? So when I got home that afternoon, I went straight to the computer and absorbed everything I could find about being a detective.

I also looked up a good picture for Ms. Simpson and decided on Lisa Simpson, which I made into a classroom cartoon to share with the class tomorrow. Notice whose initials are about to trip her up!

While I was at it, I ran off some posters for my new business, that of “Junior Detective.” My specialty (so far) was in “Lost and Found.” I assumed that would grow over time. I figured I’d better not charge any money while I learned my trade, or some grown-ups would object to it.

I used my computer to put together a photo of me with a picture I had taken of my first grade classroom early that same morning on the very first day of school.

I put up my detective posters the next day, all around the cafeteria. I ran into Principal Jones and told him I was just following up on his idea for me to become a detective. He laughed and told me that I had already broken the law in putting up posters around the school without a teacher’s signature on them, but instead of arresting me, he just signed each of the posters I had and told me, “There! Now it’s legal and official. Good luck, detective!”

I was busy from the very first day I launched my career as a detective. I was just making a notebook to keep records of my cases, with Jill Witherspoon’s name next to a big #1, when a boy with the nick-name of “Snot-Nose”, because he was always wiping his nose with his sleeve, came up and asked me if I would help him find his lost bicycle. I handed him a paper napkin for his nose and I told him I would have to do that after school today, if he walked me around and showed me where he usually rode and so on. I asked him his name and wrote Jerome Scott by a big #2 on the next page after #1. I included “S.N.” next to his name to remind me who he was and 3:00 PM to remind me when to meet him.

Meanwhile, there was the case of the missing lunch, which was found mistakenly placed in someone else’s locker, the case of the lost wristwatch that belonged to an eighth grade student who feared that he had lost it in the school’s swimming pool, but had merely left it inside his towel, and the final case of the day was a missing library book that turned out to have been already returned to the library when it was found by someone else. They became cases #3 to #5, and to my surprise, Principal Jones knew about each one as he was closely following my “career” from a distance. “Good job, Detective,” he said after each one was solved, no matter where he met me in the school, and talked to me about how I had handled the case.

At 3:00 PM, I met Jerome Scott, whom I was careful not to call “Snot-Nose”, at the door to the school and he walked me to his house, showing me where he had ridden to and from school every day since the first day of school for this year. Yes, he was certain he had ridden his bicycle to school yesterday, and he and his father had looked for the bicycle when it had gone missing, but had no luck finding it.

Someone had to be involved in this case #2. It had to be a thief from the first to fourth grades, because as Jerome described the bike, it was too small to be of interest to anyone from the higher grades unless it was being stolen for a younger brother, or stolen to sell, or stolen for spite.

Jerome seemed to have no enemies, or none that he knew of, so that reduced one motive. He hadn’t noticed anyone stalking him to or from school. He had scratched his name “Jerome Scott” into the paint of the top tube or crossbar as it was called. The bike was blue with white markings … and wait a minute. Just as he was describing the details of his bike to me, I saw a boy on a blue bicycle just like the one he was describing, riding past us on his way home.

It was an older boy from the fourth grade that Jerome knew from school. The boy was known as a bully and a fighter and had started an argument with every boy in his fourth grade class, including little Jerome from the first grade.

We followed him on foot as best we could and caught up with him just as he was pulling into what had to be his house, because the first thing he did was chain his blue bicycle to the fence to keep it from getting stolen. We walked up casually and looked around. Jerome verified that the bicycle ridden by the “suspect” was not his bicycle, just painted the same colors. As we were about to leave, I spotted another smaller bicycle painted blue with white markings underneath the front porch of the house.

I went up to the front door and knocked on it, politely. The “suspect” opened the door. “Yeah? What do you want?” he said. He was wearing a pair of swim trunks now and had a baseball bat in his hand.

“We are looking for a lost blue bicycle and we noticed the blue bicycle underneath the porch here. Can we look at it more closely?” I asked, politely.

“Beat it, or I’ll call the cops,” he growled, coming down the steps at me.

I held up my phone. “I already dialed 911 and gave them this address. They’ll be here any minute. We just want to look at the bike,” I said, nicely.

“You what?” he screamed, suddenly frightened and therefore suddenly dangerous.

“You have a bat and I don’t,” I said. “That won’t look good when the police arrive.”

He reached behind the porch rail, brought out another beat-up baseball bat and tossed it to me. “OK, now it’s a fair fight,” he said.

“Why are we fighting?” I asked, as calmly as I could, taking his photo before putting my phone in my pocket so I could hold the baseball bat down in front of me. His bat was up and ready for him to swing.

“You accused me of stealing your bike,” he said.

“Not my bike, his bike,” I said, pointing to Jerome. “And we haven’t accused you of anything. We just want to look at the bike.”

“On the count of three I’m going to knock your head off,” he said, and I believed him. He got to count up to two.

On his count of two, I pushed my bat straight out forward without swinging it and hit him right on the chin with the business end of the bat. It was just as the police car rolled up.

The “suspect” dropped to the ground, not knocked out, but dazed, his bat falling from his hand. Jerome caught him as he fell or he would have hit his head and done further harm to himself.

I dropped the bat that I had used to knock the “suspect” dizzy and showed the police both my empty hands, as Jerome did the same. We took turns explaining to the police what had happened. From what they had seen, they agreed that it was self-defense. They went with us to haul Jerome’s bike out into view where Jerome identified it with his name scratched into the crossbar where he had said it would be. His helmet was attached to the bike and also had his name in it. By then the kid, whose name I still didn’t know, had recovered and was crying to the police that I had attacked him.

“You were the one about to swing your bat at him,” said the policeman. “We saw that much as we drove up. Where’s your parents?”

The long and short of it was, when the parents finally came home, they took over from the police, agreed that their wayward son, Paul Logan, had probably stolen the bicycle and hidden it under the porch without their knowledge, and so on. I was as busy taking notes for case #2 as the policeman who was filling out his own report. I also took photos with my phone, and when the policeman asked me to initial his report, I asked him to initial mine.

Jerome put on his helmet and rode beside me as I walked him back to his home. I asked him if he had learned any lessons from what had happened today.

“Number 1, get a bike chain and lock up the bike,” he said. “Number 2, on the count of two, push the bat straight forward without waiting to swing it. Aim at the chin.”

“Actually I was aiming for his face in general. His chin just happened to be in the way,” I said.

“Number 3, beg and plead with my parents to let me carry a phone,” he said finally.

“Let me take your picture on your bicycle as a satisfied customer of the Junior Detective Lost and Found services,” I said.

“Gladly,” he said. “Do you need any help? You know, like Watson helped Sherlock Holmes?”

“Go tell your parents about today’s adventure and we’ll talk about it tomorrow, if you still want to help,” I said.

I took his photo on my phone and when I got home I erased the background so I could fit his picture on a poster as a satisfied customer. I printed out a copy for him to have the next day and jotted down some questions to ask him, if he still wanted to help me as a member of my “Detective Firm.” I was impressed by his knowledge of the Sherlock Holmes and Watson story. It’s not easy to read.

Then I told my parents all about my busy day and that the police might come to the house to ask them some questions, if they still had any unanswered about me and my Junior Detective operation.

When Jerome showed up early the next day holding up his new phone, and with no snot dripping from his nose, I made an instant decision to give him a try-out in the role of Watson. I took his photo with our American flag in the background (ignore the giant purple crayon) so people would know he is a good person to have working on their side in the Junior Detective Agency. That’s right, we are now an “Agency.”

I gave him a pile of napkins in case his nose started acting up again (allergies, I think), and we started interviewing customers from the line that formed in the cafeteria as soon as we showed up.

Some of the “customers” just wanted to complain about other students or teachers or school policies. Both Jerome and I had to tell them that all we cared about was lost and found issues. If they hadn’t lost something, then we couldn’t help them. We each ended up with 2 legitimate cases of things that had been lost or stolen at the school recently. So we took down the information in our notebooks and told our new “clients” that we would do some investigation and get back to them as soon as we had something to report.


What? Still reading? Then you may want to continue the book to find out how it all ends, or to learn how Junior becomes a detective at the age of seven in the First Grade. Jim Gerrish

Chapter 1 – My First Case
Chapter 2 – The Junior Detective Agency
Chapter 3 – We Uncover Our Pasts
Chapter 4 – Helping Larry Logan
Chapter 5 – Giving Thanks
Chapter 6 – Caroling, Caroling
Chapter 7 – Happy New Year
Chapter 8 - Art Prodigies
Chapter 9 – Magic Prodigy
Chapter 10 – Spring Magic
Chapter 11 – Mathematical Prodigies
Chapter 12 - Adding New Skills
Chapter 13 – Summer School
Chapter 14 - Collider Collisions
Junior Detective Complete Book One - Six Chapters
Chapters 1-14
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2021, Imagineering Magic. All Rights Reserved.