It was Saturday again and Charlie was on the final rung of the ladder headed up to his office when he heard the laughing voice, “Hey, Charlie, I’m coming up.” He didn’t have to look to know that voice. It was Teri Clark, his new partner.
Charlie helped her out a while back with a little problem she had with her math teacher. It turned out to be mostly a misunderstanding but Charlie’s advice saved the day. At least that’s how Teri remembers it. Even better, they instantly connected. Teri hooking up with Charlie to help kids with their problems was the outcome.
Charlie climbed the last step into the old tree house and waited for Teri in the Doorway. There she came, still a vision with gorgeous green eyes, a heart stopping smile and auburn ponytail. She poked Charlie’s arm as she slipped past him into his office.
Before Charlie had a chance to turn around, Teri said, “You’ll never guess what happened.”
Charlie took his usual seat on the old wooden box he had found in his grandmother’s cellar as he said, “As excited as you are, it must be something pretty…, well it must be something.”
Teri perched easily on the edge of the small table in the corner of their office where Charlie’s stuff was carelessly piled. “We have a new client,” Teri excitedly said. “Here’s the part you aren’t going to believe. You know Jamey Bullock, right?”
Charlie broke in, “Jamey is our new client? What’s his problem?”
Before Charlie had a chance to continue, Terri said, “Well, no, not exactly. Our client is not Jamey, it’s his father. Can you believe that – Jamey’s father asked me if we would help Jamey?”
Charlie struggled to find some words for it. An adult wanting them to help? “No way,” he finally stammered.
“Yes way and he offered to pay us. He asked me what our usual fee is for helping kids. Can you believe it; he wants to pay us?” Teri could hardly stay perched on the rickety table waiting for Charlie’s take on her news.
Charlie asked, “What’s the deal; what’s up with Jamey? He’s an ok kid. I don’t know him very well but I talk with him sometimes. He seems ok to me. What kind of problem could he have? What kind of problem could he have his dad would want to pay us to help with?”
Teri was quieter as she said, “It’s Toney and Tim Brown. Jamey is having a problem with them.”
Charlie just nodded as Teri continued, “Jamey’s father talked with the twin’s parents. It got better for a while but they’re back up to it. They don’t bother Jamey at school but hassle him whenever they see him in the neighborhood and there aren’t any adults around. They don’t do anything real bad or anything. They tease him and, well, they just torment him. Jamey has gotten to where he doesn’t want to walk back and forth to school and won’t go outside anymore. He just stays in his house. His father is worried about him.”
Charlie glanced around the old tree house, thinking about Terri’s news. He said, “Toney and Tim are real jerks sometimes but why would they hassle Jamey? They are two or three years older than he is. Why would they hassle a little kid?”
Terri gave Charlie a little shrug as she said, “Who knows. The twins aren’t very popular; they don’t have many friends – none I know about. They are only a year older than Jamey. Jamey just seems a lot younger. They probably torment him because they are mean and like to see him get upset.”
Charlie said, “It must be pretty bad if Jamey won’t go out of his house and is afraid to walk to school. I know he’s blind but he gets around pretty good. I’ve seen him playing with his dog in his yard and I see him sometimes on the way to and from school. I just rush by without saying anything to him most of the time. He doesn’t seem very friendly. He never speaks.”
The two detectives didn’t have any quick answers but agreed to think about Jamey and his problem. They would talk about it some more the next time they got together.
It was Tuesday before Charlie and Teri had a chance to get together again. They were back in their office, Charlie sitting on the old box and Teri perched on the table in the corner.
Teri said, “I saw Jamey’s father at the Dairy Queen. He couldn’t say much since Jamey was there too; but he asked if we were going to help with Jamey’s problem. I told him we were thinking about it and would be having a meet about it soon. He only nodded since Jamey was coming back with his ice cream.”
They were both quiet for a while and then Charlie said, “I’ve been thinking about Jamey. I haven’t tormented him or anything but I haven’t been very nice to him either. I act like it is his fault he doesn’t speak when I rush by. It’s like I expect him to say, ‘Hi, Charlie. How are you?’ or something. How is he supposed to know it’s me or even if someone rushes by? It’s pretty noisy along the street. No, I haven’t been very nice. I’m feeling pretty bummed about that.”
Charlie could barely hear Teri when she said, “Me too. I haven’t been very friendly either. I usually say, ‘Hi,’ as I rush by but I doubt if he knows who I am or even hears me most of the time.”
Charlie said, “I haven’t figured out anything to do about the twins but I can be friendlier. We could both figure out how to be friendlier. That would be a start.”
Teri nodded and said, ” We can at least do that much. I feel bad about how I have treated him too. We both see him every now and then. Maybe we can at least be friendlier when we see him.”
It was the next day after school and Charlie was rushing home to meet Teri in their office. He rushed past Jamey as usual, barely speaking. He suddenly stopped and turned to look at Jamey. He was making his way along the sidewalk, his cane tapping to help him find his way.
As Jamey got closer, Charlie said, “Hi Jamey.” Jamey didn’t answer but kept walking toward Charlie. For a moment, Charlie thought Jamey was ignoring him. He then remembered and said, “Hi Jamey. It’s Charlie Checker. Would you mind if I walked with you a while?”
Later, Charlie was relating the story to Teri. She asked, “So what did he say?”
Charlie said, “I think he was surprised. At first, all he said was, ‘It’s ok.’ but we walked a while and I talked some about school and asked him what he thought about school. He didn’t talk a lot but when we got to his house, he tapped the mat his dad put on the sidewalk and said it was his house. I told him it was nice talking and he just said, ‘Thanks for talking,’ and went on into his house.”
Teri said, “That was nice, you telling him your name. Maybe he would be friendlier if we did that so he knew it was us.”
Over the next couple of weeks or so, Charlie and Teri didn’t go out of their way to talk with Jamey but made a point to say, “Hi,” whenever they saw him and always said who they were, even after Jamey seemed to recognize their voices. They did this at school as well as in the neighborhood. They didn’t become best buds with Jamey or anything but enjoyed talking with him now and then. They still didn’t have a solution for the Toney and Tim problem.
It was another Saturday over a month after Jamey’s father had first approached Teri. Charlie and Teri were relaxing in their office when they heard someone knocking on the ladder to the tree house. “Charlie, Teri, are you up there?”
Charlie went to the door to look down to see who was there. It was Jamey’s father. He said, “May I come up for a minute? I have some business for us to finish up.”
Charlie said, “Sure,” as he glanced over at Teri. They both wondered what Jamey’s father could possibly want.
With a little extra effort, Mr. Bullock made it up to their office where there was barely room for the three of them. He said, “I am here to thank the two of you and to pay you for the work you did. Jamey is getting along a lot better and even the Brown twins are not bothering him as much.”
Mr. Bullock went on to explain, “Jamey is happier and I think it is not as much fun as it was to torment him. The twins are still not very happy children but at least they are mostly leaving Jamey alone. The best part is Jamey has made a friend. He and Robby, the boy three houses down, are hanging around a lot and seem to enjoy each other. They play with Jamey’s dog and like to spend time playing games and doing computer stuff. Jamey has things that talk to him or are marked so he can play. I don’t know how it will work out but I have my fingers crossed. Robby is the first real friend Jamey ever had.”
Mr. Bullock swallowed a little and then said, “I am here to thank you. I don’t know how you did it but quite a few kids started speaking to Jamey and for some reason got in the habit of making sure he knew who they were each time they talked. It was a little thing but Jamey got more comfortable and he now has a few kids he hangs with some. Not a lot but some. I don’t know how you did it but whatever you did, it worked. I think the Brown twins started leaving him alone because he started ignoring them and not reacting when they hassled him. Anyway, Jamey is happy and so am I. How much do I owe you?”
Teri looked at Charlie who just nodded. Teri said, “You don’t owe us anything Mr. Bullock. We have enjoyed getting to know Jamey better. We don’t hang around a lot or anything but he is a nice kid. We are happy to know him better.”
Mr. Bullock fussed a little about paying them but finally said, “If you are sure, Thank you. You made a lot of difference for Jamey. His mother and I truly appreciate everything you have done.” He then carefully made his way back down the ladder.
Neither Charlie nor Teri said anything for what seemed like a long time. Charlie finally just shook his head and said, “I don’t know what we did but I guess it worked out just dandy.”
Terri smiled and said, “Yep, just dandy.”
We are Charlie Checker and Teri Clark, detectives, and we approve this report.