The Stought Brothers: ‘The Mystery at the Market’ – Chapter 3
A BarbWire Exclusive Fiction Short Story Series…
Here is the third serial installment of the middle grade (ages 8-12) story, The Stought Brothers: “The Mystery at the Market.” First, a brief reminder of what this is and then the installment begins.
Nonfiction is great. But fiction is important too. And instead of just complaining about all the filth that is out there, we should start producing entertainment—culture—as well. Producing solid entertainment for kids is particularly important.
Furthermore, publishing a serial story is an attempt to expand what BarbWire is. So along with being a place for columns and opinion pieces, I’d like for BarbWire to become more like a magazine. Columns, editorials, and articles are all integral parts of magazines, but fiction and other cultural writings are as well.
You can read more of my reasons for experimenting with this idea from an earlier post.
Click on the “The Stought Brothers” tag at the bottom of the post to view all the chapters of, The Stought Brothers: “The Mystery at the Market.”
The Stought Brothers: “The Mystery at the Market”
By Gunner B. Summit
Dr. Stought spent a few more hours at the hospital so Dr. Ugo could continue showing him around. Meanwhile, Cordelia, Reggie, and Heathcliff went back to their host family, the Gwanis.
The Gwanis lived in a spacious condo in one of the high rises in Lagos. Geoffrey and Cordelia had their own bedroom. And so did Reggie and Heathcliff. No sleeping on couches or pull-out beds.
Cordelia, Reggie, and Heathcliff talked with the Gwanis for a bit. They sat in the living room area for the conversation. The walls were white and it had a lot of light-colored furniture.
They shared details about their lives. And the Gwanis gave the Stoughts some advice on what to do in the city.
Samuel Gwani worked as a manager at a corporation headquartered in Lagos. The corporation operated mines throughout Nigeria and neighboring nations. Fatima, his wife, maintained the home. They did not have any children.
“The market is a fine place to buy many things. You can get groceries, clothing, and many other things there,” Samuel told the Stoughts. “Of course, you can go to shopping centers and supermarkets here too just like in America,” he added.
“The market is a bit more unique to Lagos,” Fatima said. “So if you want to experience more of the city, it is more fun to go there.”
“Just be careful,” Samuel said. “There are some dishonest folks who will take advantage of you.”
“We’ll be careful,” Cordelia told them. “We have dishonest folks in America too.”
The five of them laughed at that remark.
“Isn’t the market on the way to Dan Awi’s house?” Reggie asked.
“Yes it is. You go down the street south of the main street. It takes you right to it,” Samuel said.
Fatima had served them drinks for their talk. She saw that Cordelia’s glass was empty and got up to refill it. “Would anyone else like more to drink?” Samuel handed her his glass.
“Mom, do you mind if Reggie and I go see Dan now?” Heathcliff asked.
Cordelia asked the Gwanis if that would be okay. They said it would be. Cordelia made sure the boys had their cell phones with them.
Reggie and Heathcliff politely said goodbye and then went out the door. They rode the elevator down to the ground floor and soon were on the streets of Lagos.
It was hot and humid, which was normal for this time of year. The city bordered the ocean and there was a lot of other water around it. In fact, a lot of it was built on swampy land. The boys each wore baseball caps with no logos on them. They also wore buttoned short-sleeve shirts. The shirts were light-colored and had no markings on them. The pants and shoes they wore were also plain.
“I wish we could wear shorts,” Reggie said.
“Yeah, but you know what mom and dad said. It’s best not to dress too casually when you’re in someone else’s country,” Heathcliff said.
They quickly found the main street where the market started. Then they walked one street south of it and continued walking west towards Dan Awi’s home.
As they walked they got to see a lot of local culture. There were buildings of all sorts and sizes along the sidewalks. Cars filled the streets. They honked and moved around one another. And their drivers carefully avoided pedestrians.
There were stores along the way but there were vendors in the streets too. Men and women had carts or stands on the sidewalk for selling all sorts of colorful food and goods. Some of the men and women cried out directly to Reggie and Heathcliff. Some asked them to buy some of their food. Others showed them worthless trinkets. The boys simply refused the offers with a smile. Most of the street vendors smiled back.
Eventually, the boys walked left the market section of the street. They now were in a new neighborhood. This was a slightly less populated part of the city. And there weren’t many businesses or vendors. Most of the buildings were houses or other living spaces. The sidewalk became a bit more cracked and there were fewer cars on the street.
Reggie and Heathcliff reached Dan Awi’s house. It was small and could use a few repairs. But at the same time, it was neat. Dan came out the front door when he saw the boys approaching on the sidewalk.
“Hello, Reggie and Heathcliff,” he said with a smile and a wave. The brothers returned his greeting. They talked for a bit about how excited they were to meet one another in person.
Dan wore a baseball cap with a logo from an American professional team. “Do you like playing baseball?” Reggie asked.
“Yes!” Dan replied. “It’s my favorite sport!”
“It’s too bad we don’t have a few more guys to play a game,” Heathcliff said.
“Why can’t we just make up a game of our own?” Dan asked.
“You mean like a game that’s sort of like baseball?” Heathcliff asked.
“Exactly,” Dan said.
“Why don’t we just do pickle?” Reggie said.
“What is ‘pickle’?” Dan asked.
Reggie explained the game to him. Two of the players acted as baseball fielders. Each player had a glove and was at a base. The third player acted as the runner. He would leave one base and try to reach the other base. The fielders threw the ball to each other trying to get him out. The runner didn’t have to run directly from one base to another. He could stop part way and go back to the base where he started. The idea was to get the fielders to miss a throw, or to attempt to chase him down. If they tried to chase him down and he thought he was fast enough, he could attempt to outrun him to the opposing base.
Dan liked the idea. He said he had two gloves and a baseball. He got those and found an unused cardboard box. The boys ripped two of the flaps off and used those as bases.
They played for about an hour and loved it. Each boy had a chance to be a runner and a fielder. Then they stopped for a break.
“We were at the Lagos Tranquility General Hospital earlier today,” Reggie said. “Our dad’s doing some work there. One of the doctors there, Dr. Ugo, said one of the hospital employees rents a place from your uncle.”
“You must mean Uncle Joe,” Dan said. “He rents a building to a man named Rasheed Al-Tikriti.”
“That’s the name,” Heathcliff said.
“Let’s go see Uncle Joe. I want to introduce him to my new friends,” Dan said.
“That’d be fun!” Heathcliff said.
“Wait a minute,” Reggie said. “Is Uncle Joe’s place far away?”
Dan said it was not. Reggie texted his mom to see if it was okay to make the trip. She said it was after he told her where it was. Then the boys began walking to Uncle Joe’s place.
It was a short trip. It was only a few blocks away and less than a mile in walking distance. Dan knocked on his uncle’s door but no one answered. After the third knock, a man in a building next to Uncle Joe’s house came out and said hello to Dan.
“Hello, Mr. Tikriti,” Dan said to him. Dan made the introductions. Rasheed had a day off working at the hospital.
Once he finished the introductions, Dan explained who the Stought brothers’ father was. “Reggie and Heathcliff’s father is a doctor. He is visiting at the hospital.”
“Really?” Rasheed said with a smile. “That’s wonderful. I hope to get meet him.”
Dan soon said they had to go. Reggie and Heathcliff said they were happy to meet Rasheed and then all three of the boys went back to Dan’s home.
Rasheed walked back inside the building he rented for his home. He smiled again as he sat down in a chair next to a fan. Not only would Al-Sayf be able to kill a lot of people in the upcoming terrorist attack, but they would be able to kill at least one American as well. Ahmed Al-Majid and his fellow terrorists would be happy to hear this.
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