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operation cat tale Copyright Š 2016, 2017 Judith Blevins & Carroll Multz All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher. This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published by Barking Frog an imprint of BHC Press Library of Congress Control Number: 2017946917 ISBN-13: 978-1-946848-60-4 ISBN-10: 1-946848-60-3

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other books in ® by judith blevins & carroll multz One Frightful Day Blue The Ghost of Bradbury Mansion These Titles Coming Soon

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table of contents 13 Chapter One

D Double Dirty Dog Dare Ya 22 Chapter two

The Cat Emerges 29 Chapter three

Setting the Trap 80 Chapter four

The Cat is Caged 97 Chapter five

The Scheme Unravels 128 Chapter six

End of the Line

chapter one

d double dirty dog dare ya


ur newly formed club, the Are You One Toos (R*U*1*2s for short), has close to two dozen members (twenty-two to be exact) ranging in age from five to twelve years old. All the members live in and around our neighborhood and each was instrumental in converting an old apple shed into a fitting club house. Homer Pearson, Rhymin’ Sally’s father, gave us permission to use the shed as a clubhouse after Sally, a precocious five-year old, was threatened by a band of thugs. It is exactly ten months to the day that Sally was rescued from the lawless group, who as it turned out, had been cruising our neighborhood looking for something to steal or destroy. They descended on the apple stand on the edge of the apple orchard manned by Sally and her mother like a swarm of bees. Apparently, the thugs had staked out the stand as a target and, when Sally was left alone while her mother sought to replenish the apple supply, they struck. • 13 •

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The thugs would have made off with the cash drawer had it not been for a group of neighborhood youngsters returning from a school function and who just happened to be passing by the stand. Seeing what was happening, they immediately sprung to Sally’s aid. I am proud to say I was part of that group. We struggled with the intruders before the thugs were frightened away by Sally’s mother who, after seeing what was taking place, used her cell phone to summon Sally’s father. When Sally’s father arrived and was told about the heroic actions, he praised us and a bond was forged between the Pearsons and our neighborhood group. “What can we do to repay you?” Homer Pearson had asked. “Aww, it was nothing. We don’t need to be repaid,” I replied. However, when Sally’s father was persistent and insisted he be given the opportunity to repay us, I pointed to an abandoned apple storage shed that had stood vacant for a number of years in the middle of the Pearsons’ apple orchard and said, “We are in the process of forming a club to occupy us for the summer and could use your apple shed as a clubhouse.” “It’s yours,” Sally’s father replied without hesitation. “I’ll meet you at the apple shed tomorrow at noon. We, that is the Pearson three, will have lunch waiting for you and your friends and we’ll explore what needs to be done to fashion that dilapidated old shed into a suitable clubhouse.” “Yippee!” we all shouted. The next day, with some of our fellow classmates, neighbors and friends, we descended upon the orchard. There were at least twenty-two in number. And, as promised, the Pearsons had lunch waiting. After everyone had settled in, Sally asked each of us, one-by-one, if we were one of the heroes who had rescued her the day before. • 14 •

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“Are you one too?” I remember her asking. And so, it came to pass that the name of our newly formed club was conceived. From that point forward, we would be known as the Are You One Toos (R*U*1*2s). All those present, including Sally, became the coveted charter members. With the help of Homer Pearson, we furnish the clubhouse with empty packing crates and other odds and ends we gather from our families. Our mothers take turns providing sandwiches, drinks and snacks. It’s cool inside the converted apple storage shed because the apple trees outside provide shade and a persistent breeze wafts through the open door and windows as if on cue. The clubhouse is soon jammed with an assortment of games and books. During these summer months, Shacoo and I take turns reading to our fellow R*U*1*2s. Our seventh grade teacher to be, had challenged us to do something over the summer to promote education in our respective neighborhoods. At first, we did this to satisfy the homework assignment but it was not long before we discovered it was not only educational but fun as well. Everyone looks forward to our reading sessions. The reading sessions have not only became a hobby, but an obsession, and needless to say, our parents are delighted that we are not whittling away our time or getting into mischief.

Oh, by the way, my name is Robert Bailey. Robert Princeton Bailey

to be exact. Both of my parents are M.D.s and I suspect I inherited some of their intelligence. Because I was at the top of my class, the R*U*1*2s refer to me as “Genius.” I enjoy sharing my • 15 •

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knowledge with the R*U*1*2s when we gather at the clubhouse for lessons or just to read. We cover a myriad of topics: history, travel, geography, and classic tales such as Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows. One of my closest friends and fellow classmates, Shacoo Bandaris, is also a good student and helps me with the lessons and the readings. Shacoo and I attended all six grades of school together. When we first met, I asked her about her name because it was so unusual. She related to me the story told to her by her mother. When her mother was still in high school, she had gone on a senior trip with her classmates to an isolated island in the Pacific. The word “shacoo” in the island’s dialect meant “I love you.” Her mother was so captivated by the natives and culture that she decided if she ever had a daughter she would name her “Shacoo.” Sure enough, she had a daughter and now you know how Shacoo got her name. Shacoo tells me that she especially loves listening to me read. She says that my renditions, which are usually accompanied by beguiling animation, are entertaining as well as enlightening. She says it is like having “Mr. Rogers” right there with us except that the R*U*1*2s have the option of interrupting to ask for clarification when they don’t understand what is being said. Shacoo’s mind is like a sponge and, she not only absorbs everything but remarkably, retains it. Between the two of us, we have all the bases covered. What one doesn’t know, the other does. We delight in sharing our knowledge with the other members who sit transfixed for about an hour or so but then grow restless, clamoring to go outside and play. When school begins again in the fall, all of those who live on Melrose Lane and the surrounding area eagerly return to school. At day’s end, all of us just as eagerly return to the clubhouse to help one another with our homework, play games and hold ed• 16 •

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ucational sessions aimed at making us better students. Some of the things we consider a drudgery at school we consider a delight at the clubhouse. It’s like wanting to sleep in on school days and wakeup at daybreak on weekends and days we could sleep in. When we arrive at the clubhouse, there are usually treats waiting to be sampled. I suspect the Pearsons not only provided us with a clubhouse but the freshly backed pastries that find their way to the clubhouse. Among the most popular topics covered in our sessions are revelations about the Solar System. I explain that everything in the Solar System orbits around the sun. In addition to the planets, the Solar System, I explain, also consists of moons, comets, asteroids, minor planets, dust and gas. “Although there are only eight planets, the Solar System is made up of many worlds that are every bit as fascinating as ours, some of which are actually larger than our own planet. “Asteroids, on the other hand, are made up of thousands of particles. Some asteroids are too small to be planets while others still can be 50 to 100 miles across. Comets are mostly frozen gas and dust. Sometimes they are called ‘dirty snowballs.’ Occasionally, a comet can be thrown off its helter-skelter orbit and drawn into the Solar System. These slowly melt into a magnificent show of light and, if we’re lucky and in the right place at the right time, we may be able to see one zipping through the night sky. You may have heard your parents or your teachers talk about Halley’s Comet or a more recent one called ‘Hale-Bopp.’ The Comet Hale-Bopp passed close enough to Earth to be seen in the spring of 1997. “In case you’re wondering how comets get their funny names, that’s because they are named after the individuals who discover them. Hale-Bopp was named for two discovers: Mr. Hale and Mr. Bopp.” Many giggle when I tell them that some• 17 •

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day they might have one named after them. Cupcake tells the group that she thinks it would be cool to discover a comet and have it named after her or her pet gerbil, Sturdley. I don’t have the heart to tell her that is a ridiculous idea. Shacoo picks up where I leave off. “One of my favorite night-sky treats is watching falling or shooting stars. Falling stars are not related to actual stars,” Shacoo relates. “You can see them at night but you have to be quick as they travel very, very fast. They are created by dust and rock and are better known as ‘meteoroids.’ They burn up when they enter the Earth’s atmosphere and at that time they are known as ‘meteors.’ The burning produces a short-lived fiery tail and that is what we view falling from the sky.” “It is better than watching fireworks on the Fourth of July,” Tank comments.

Tank’s full name is Timothy Patrick O’Malley. He is also a twelve

year old and has been a classmate of ours all six grades. Tank’s father, Liam O’Malley, is a police officer so Tank is admired by the younger members who revere policemen and the safety they provide. Tank, Shacoo and I are close friends and spend a lot of time together. It’s amazing how much the three of us think alike. We are inseparable and appreciate each other’s friendship. Speaking of staying in touch, I receive some sort of an e-mail every day from Rhymin’ Sally. I never know what to expect. Her latest e-mail reads: When you instruct us on nature’s law, I sit transfixed in utter awe. You teach us history, math and how to draw. • 18 •

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You and Shacoo do so without a flaw.

I have to laugh when I think of Sally and her typical “Sallyisms.” During one of our sessions, I remember her saying: Last year Daddy took me to the sea. I asked him questions but he couldn’t tell me. I wanted to know why the water was blue And why the waves did what they do.

I remember looking at Sally and saying: “Okay, Sally, to answer your two-part question, quite simply waves are caused by the winds blowing on the surface of the sea. Stronger winds make bigger waves. You can even make waves of your own by blowing on a pan or bowl of water. The blue of the water is created by the sunlight. The sunlight has almost all the colors of the crayons in your crayon box; red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. Some of the sun’s light is reflected off the ocean’s surface and that is what causes the water to look blue. “About seventy percent of the Earth is covered by oceans. A new ocean was designated in the spring of 2000 and it now joins the other big four that we’re familiar with which, of course, are the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic oceans. The new one is named the Southern Ocean and it surrounds Antarctica.” After pausing, I then say: “And just in case you’re wondering why the ocean water tastes salty, it’s the result of rivers flowing into the sea. The rivers pick up small amounts of mineral salt from the river bed, rocks and soil through which they pass. This is not very salty but when the ocean water evaporates the salt remains in the ocean thus causing the remaining water to become more saturated with the salty debris as time passes. This process has been going on since Earth was created and, as you can imagine, a lot of salt has accumulated in the oceans over the past millions of years. That’s • 19 •

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how ocean water became and is still getting salty.” I ignore Sally’s question as to where pepper came from.

The area that surrounds Melrose Lane is a typical middle class neigh-

borhood. My parents, Olivia and Jackson Bailey, both being medical doctors, no doubt, could afford to live in a more upscale part of town. They, however, have always claimed they “wanted their children to experience life in the middle of the stream,” so they bought a red brick house on Melrose Avenue. As it turns out, they have been able to have only one child, namely me. My parents are determined not to spoil me even though they can provide me with everything I want and more. They require me to do daily chores. I take out the trash and keep my room clean. I help with the dishes and tend my pet Siberian Husky, RX (pronounced Rex and named because of my doctor parents who write a lot of prescriptions and their patients who bark and whine a lot about how much they pay for them). I relish the time I spend on my school work so there is never any protest about doing homework before play. Because I am inquisitive, I read books, magazines and the newspaper incessantly. At dinner time, my father usually quizzes me about the daily events in the local newspaper—and not just about those found in the sports section. The time I spend on computer games and watching television are closely monitored. “We want you to be a participant—not merely a spectator,” my father is always saying. I have become particularly interested in current events and, recently, an article pertaining to a “cat burglar,” who is ravaging the area surrounding Melrose Lane, catches my eye. The • 20 •

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burglaries have become a matter of grave public interest and concern. The whole town is clamoring for police action and the impeachment of our current chief of police because of his perceived ineptness. The letters to the editor are replete with disparaging comments about the unsolved crimes in the area and the laxness of the authorities. My curiosity prompts me to want to solve the mystery of who is responsible for the burglaries. I guess I think of myself as a modern day Sherlock Holmes. I have read all of the fictional detective stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who, incidentally, was a physician as well as an author. This, of course, is not surprising since my parents are also physicians. I’m also drawn to novels involving mystery, intrigue and courtroom drama such as Double Jeopardy, Justice Denied, Deadly Deception and Karma. Even though they are adult novels, I find myself solving the mystery long before reading the last chapter. As the burglaries persist, I’m obsessed with solving the riddle. It bothers me that so many have been committed without the burglar having left so much as even a trace of evidence. When I’m not otherwise preoccupied, I find myself obsessing over the quandary. If the authorities aren’t going to do something about the crime spree, then who is? Maybe it is time for the R*U*1*2s to get their feet wet.

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about the authors


udith Blevins’ whole professional life has been centered in and around the courts and the criminal justice system. Her experience in having been a court clerk and having served under five consecutive district attorneys in Grand Junction, Colorado, has provided the fodder for her novels. She has had a daily dose of mystery, intrigue and courtroom drama over the years and her novels share all with her readers.


arroll Multz, a trial lawyer for over forty years, a former twoterm district attorney, assistant attorney general, and judge, has been involved in cases ranging from municipal courts to and including the United States Supreme Court. His high profile cases have been reported in the New York Times, Redbook Magazine and various police magazines. He was one of the attorneys in the Columbine Copycat Case that occurred in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2001 that was featured by Barbara Walters on ABC’s 20/20. Now retired, he is an Adjunct Professor at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado, teaching law-related courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Operation Cat Tale by Judith Blevins & Carroll Multz (Childhood Legends #1)  

Imprint: BHC Press/Barking Frog Genre: Children's Fiction Release Date: 7/31/2017 Book Description: To Catch A Thief… Jefferson City is a s...

Operation Cat Tale by Judith Blevins & Carroll Multz (Childhood Legends #1)  

Imprint: BHC Press/Barking Frog Genre: Children's Fiction Release Date: 7/31/2017 Book Description: To Catch A Thief… Jefferson City is a s...