Fahrenheit 52

Thesaurus Green and the Case of the Walk-off Strikeout (Part 1)

Mr. and Mrs. Green had two children: Samuel and Penelope. They called them Sam and Penny, respectively, and so did their teachers. Sam was fine with this arrangement, but not so much Penny.

Instead, she preferred everyone on Orcas Island to call her Thesaurus.

A thesaurus is a book that lists words in groups of synonyms and related concepts. I know what you're thinking: what happens if you look up thesaurus in a thesaurus? Well, I just did, Clever Reader, and I found words like lexicon and onomasticon. And, if you don't know what these words mean, join the club. Better yet, ask Penny. I mean, Thesaurus.

Thesaurus loved books, even from a very young age. In fact, one night, when Thesaurus was only fourteen months old, her parents left a small book about a ravenous (starved, craving, voratious, famished, you get the picture) caterpillar in her crib. When they returned in the morning, the book was gone. Thesaurus ate it.

Thesaurus loved words even more. Her favorite word was palimpsest, which is a book written on top of another book. Apparently, paper was pretty hard to come by in the Middle Ages, and monks had to make do. But this meant that, sometimes, in some stories, there was another story hidden underneath the surface. And Thesaurus liked to sniff these out.

Which she did all the time, much to the chagrin (annoyance, irritation, dismay) of Sam (and occasionally her parents). Family dinner was prime-time mystery solving for Thesaurus, and - tonight - she was on the case.

"Penny - there's no mystery here! The Goblins lost, fair and square!" shouted Sam at the Green's dinner table.

"You don't need to rub it in, Sam," said Kal, Thesaurus's best friend, who lived down the street from the Greens and always liked to stick around for dinner.

You see, Kal's Little League team, the Goblins, lost to the Earwigs in the semi-finals of the playoffs earlier that afternoon. The Earwigs were set to play the Seagulls next Tuesday in the championship game. The Seagulls had pummeled (pulverized, bashed, flogged) the Jellyfish in the baseball diamond just beyond the outfield of the Goblins-Earwigs game. Both games were played at the same time, a tradition in their Little League-obsessed town, which helped drive attendence (and hot dog sales).

"It just doesn't make any sense," said Kal.

"See, Sam? Something's a-foot," said Thesaurus. "What exactly doesn't make sense, Kal?"

Kal jabbed at his boiled sweet potato.

"I just don't get it. We struck him out."

Sam scoffed. "Are you joking? Tommy line-drived it to right field. Scored two runs. Game over. Walk-off double."

"Sam - you don't need to be rude," chided Mrs. Green.

"Sorry, Ma," said Sam.

"Samuel..." she continued.

"Sorry, Kal," muttered Sam.

Kal put down his fork. It clinked on his plate. "Look, I know that Tommy hit a double. Obviously, I was there. I'm the catcher. But, he also struck out."

Everyone at the table turned towards Kal. Lips pursed. Brows furrowed. Then Thesaurus sniffed the air thoughtfully.

"What do you mean, Kal? How could he do both?"

"I can prove it."

Kal picked up his backpack and fished out his catcher's mitt.

"This is my glove. I haven't touched it since the game ended."

"Big deal," said Sam.

Thesaurus whispered to Kal, "Open it."

Kal did, and inside the catcher's mitt was a worn baseball.

"This is the ball that Drew pitched. I know it cause I scuffed it on the fence by accident chasing a foul tip in the third inning. There's a little tear right... here. See?"

Thesaurus and Sam and even Mrs. Green confirmed the scuff.

"So, what are you saying, Kal?" asked Thesaurus.

"That Drew pitched this ball and I caught it. That Tommy struck out and we should have won the game, then and there. That, somehow, Tommy also hit a double to win the game at the exact same time."

Thesaurus closed her eyes. She always closed her eyes when she was solving a mystery or thinking really hard or trying to remember her 42-digit alphanumeric (with symbols) email password.

"Kal, when Tommy hit his double and also struck out, was the Seagulls-Jellyfish game still playing?"