The Stought Brothers: ‘The Mystery at the Market’ – Chapter 8
A BarbWire Exclusive Fiction Short Story Series…
Here is the eighth 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
“What are you doing back here?” Dan asked the Stought brothers when they arrived at his house again. “I told you to get out of here.”
“We came back to apologize,” Reggie told him.
“We?” Heathcliff asked while looking at Reggie.
Reggie ignored him. “I’m sorry I said I wanted to record the game. I shouldn’t have done that,” he told Dan.
Dan glared at Reggie and Heathcliff.
Reggie exhaled. “And I’m sorry I acted like you were cheating, and that I showed off my phone,” he added.
Heathcliff squinted through the bright light, looking at Dan for his reaction. Dan’s expression softened even as he still stood directly in front of the door to his house.
“All right,” he said after about five seconds. “I forgive you.”
Reggie extended his hand. Dan finally smiled and walked towards him. He reached out and shook it and then shook Heathcliff’s hand.
“So, should we start playing a new game of pickle?” Dan asked.
Heathcliff shook his head. “No,” he said. “We want to go to your Uncle Joe’s place again. We need to speak with Rasheed.”
“Oh,” Dan said, raising an eyebrow. “Is that why you apologized? So you could get me to take you there?”
“No,” Reggie said. He scowled at his younger brother. “That’s not what Heathcliff meant. We really are sorry for the way we treated you. But something else happened. We heard about a threat to the Lagos Tranquility General Hospital and we need to talk with Rasheed about it.”
Reggie then explained to Dan what had happened. He told them the police were going to question staff at the hospital but they thought they could talk with Rasheed before the police did. And they might be able to find out valuable information a lot sooner.
That made sense to Dan and he agreed to take them to Uncle Joe’s house.
He walked back inside his home to get some personal items and then they started the walk.
The boys chatted a little bit during the trip but they didn’t say a whole lot. There was some talk about baseball and which professional team was doing well. But even then they didn’t get into a long discussion. They completely avoided saying anything more about the fight they had earlier in the day.
Dan knocked on the front door to Uncle Joe’s house when they got there. No one answered and so Dan pounded on the wooden door with his fist a few more times. But the door remained shut.
“Let’s just go to Rasheed’s place,” Dan said when it became apparent that, like before, Uncle Joe was not at home. “Uncle Joe never told me not to bother him.”
Dan knocked a series of three raps on Rasheed’s door and the boys could hear footsteps inside the building right away. Rasheed opened the door and looked at the three youths. He paused. “What brings you back here?” he asked.
Dan looked at Reggie. “We wanted to talk with you about the hospital,” Reggie said.
Rasheed studied them. Then he smiled. “Very well,” he said. “Please come inside so we can be out of the heat.” He stepped back and allowed the boys to enter.
They walked into the building and noticed that it was small. Heathcliff also noticed that it wasn’t much cooler inside than outside. A floor fan roared as its blades spun around and while it blew a lot of air, it mostly moved heat around and didn’t provide a lot of comfort.
“So, what did you want to ask me about the hospital?” Rasheed asked, closing the door behind the boys.
“We were at the market today and we heard two women talking about how someone is going to attack the hospital,” Heathcliff told him. “And they said it was going to happen soon. So since you work at the hospital, we wanted to see if you have heard anything similar.”
Rasheed scrunched his eyes. “An attack on the hospital? Who would want to do a thing like that?” He walked towards a desk where he had a laptop computer and a plate he had used to eat. The utensils he had used for that meal were there too.
“We don’t know. And that’s why we want to see if you know anything,” Reggie said.
The three boys were at the other side of the room from where Rasheed stood near his desk.
“I can’t think of anything,” Rasheed quickly said, now drumming his fingers on the desk. “No, I’m sure it’s nothing.”
“Are you sure you haven’t heard anything?” Heathcliff asked. “Because what we heard was pretty specific. The women even mentioned the name of the group that is supposedly planning this attack. They said it’s a group called Al-Sayf.”
Both Reggie and Heathcliff noticed Rasheed’s eyes as they widened. “I think you boys better leave,” Rasheed said.
“Wait, do you know something?” Reggie asked. He started to walk towards him.
And that’s when Rasheed grabbed the knife that was still sitting on the plate.
“I said you better leave!” he shouted. Then, with a quick motion, he threw the knife at Reggie.
Reggie ducked and it sailed by him. Heathcliff and Dan instinctively dived out of the way too. The knife wasn’t really close to either of the boys. It slammed into the wall behind them with a clang and fell to the floor.
Rasheed rushed towards Reggie. Reggie threw himself at Rasheed’s legs, gaining the lower positon and tackling him to the ground. Heathcliff got off the floor and ran to help Reggie.
Rasheed grabbed Reggie around the waist and threw him off him. This allowed him to be ready for Heathcliff. He kicked at Heathcliff’s legs, causing the younger Stought brother to fall to the ground. Then he punched Heathcliff in the face.
Dan rushed in but Rasheed was on his feet by this time. He used Dan’s momentum to throw the boy to the side, straight into Reggie who was getting up at that time. The two boys collided and fell, sliding into a chair.
Rasheed rushed for the front door, flinging it open and running outside. Soon, the three boys heard a car start and then race off with tires screeching.
Reggie and Dan untangled themselves and then hurried to Heathcliff who was still down. He held his hand at the place on his temple where Rasheed struck him.
“You going to be all right?” Reggie asked.
“Yeah, I think so,” Heathcliff said.
“I’m going to call the police,” Dan told them, his cell phone out and ready to dial.
Reggie waited a minute or so and then grabbed his brother’s hand, helping to lift him back to his feet. Dan was now talking to the police, telling them what happened and where they were.
“Let’s look around,” Reggie said to Heathcliff.
The Stought boys went to the desk where the laptop was. Heathcliff started going through the unlocked computer to see if he could find anything. Reggie began sifting through some papers on the desk.
“Look at this,” Heathcliff said to his brother. He had located a folder on the computer that had photos in it. The photos were a bunch of pictures of the hospital.
“And look at what I found,” Reggie said. He pulled out a handful of papers that were under stacks of other papers. One showed a map of the Lagos Tranquility General Hospital with markings all over it. One of the markings was near an entranceway to the hospital. It was an “X” with the word “VBIED” written next to it.
“I think we just verified that what we heard at the market was true,” Reggie said. “And it looks like Rasheed is the man in the hospital who’s helping to plan the attack.”
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