Fahrenheit 52

Thesaurus Green and the Case of the Walk-off Strikeout (Part 2)

Kal knew when his friend Thesaurus was onto something: closed eyes, mmhmm humming, tapping toes. But what, exactly, was she thinking, he wondered. Could she have really figured out how Tommy struck out and hit a double?

“Yeah, Thesaurus, the Seagulls-Jellyfish game was still going when ours ended.”

Sam scoffed at Kal. “I mean, just barely. It was a complete blowout, start to finish. I already told everyone. The Jellies got clobbered.”

“Crushed, decimated, obliterated, eradicated, slammed… slam… grand-slam… home run!” said Thesaurus half to herself. She opened her eyes. “Hey — does anyone have the box score?”

“This isn’t 1962, Penny,” said Sam. “Why do you want one anyway?”

“Cause Tommy did strikeout. You should have won the game, Kal.”

”Gimme a break. Kid detective solves it again between bites of chicken parm,” said Sam sarcastically. “Tommy clearly doubled. End of story.”

Mrs. Green gave Sam one of those looks.

“Fine… what’s your theory, sis?”

“Firth thing,” said Thesaurus, her mouth full. “Someone hit a home run in the Gullth gameth, righth?”

“Chew your food, honey,” said Mrs. Green, tapping her fork on her plate.

Thesaurus nodded and swallowed.

“Actually, yeah,” said Sam. ”The Monk hit a three-run homer. Why?”

“Sam - please don’t call Robert that,” said Mrs. Green.

“He came up with it himself, Mom! It kinda suits him. He does sorta look like Friar Tuck. Kid’s huge for his age.”

“That doesn’t matter. His parents don’t like it and they’re-“

Kal clapped his hands once.

“My season’s on the line. Can we please get focus, people? Sorry, Mrs. Green.”

Mrs. Green and Sam turned to Thesaurus, who then stood up at the table.

“It’s simple, really. Second factoid, we all know that Tommy Shepherd can’t hit for… his life.”

“We do?” asked Mrs. Green. “I don’t remember hearing that before. That doesn’t feel very fair, does it?”

“Yes, Ma, we do know it. Gym class. Last pick always. Please keep up,” said Thesaurus.

“She’s right, Mrs. Green,” said Kal. “He even closes his eyes when he swings. He’s supposed to be a sure-fire strike-out.”

“Maybe it was his lucky day,” suggested Mrs. Green.

“It was, though! More than he even knows!” said Thesaurus. “But, you’re right, Mom. Tommy being the world’s worst batter doesn’t really matter here. What’s more important here is the third thing, and that’s the field layout…

Blank stares met Thesaurus’s gaze.

“Fine. Visual learners, I see. Here, imagine my napkin is Gully’s Park. Which works, cause it’s just a big rectangle. And this sweet potato skin — you really outta eat the skin, Kal, it’s the best part — that’s Field A where the Goblins and Earwigs duked it out.” Thesaurus placed the sweet potato in the upper left corner of the napkin. ”And then this beet slice—“

“No, don’t use that,” said Mrs. Green. “It will bleed through and stain the table. Use my sweet potato.”

“But you haven’t even eaten it yet, Mom,” said Thesaurus. “Okay, fine. Mom’s sweet potato’s the other field, Field B, where the Seagulls and Jellies played.“ She placed it in the bottom right corner of her napkin.

“Notice anything about the layout of these fields?”

“They’re diagonal from each other,” said Mrs. Green

”Good. Now, Kal — can you tell me where home plate is on Field A.”

Kal dug his finger into his old sweet potato, right at the corner of the rectangle.

“And the home plate on Field B, Mom?”

Mrs. Green stared. “I don’t know.”

“It’s here, Mom,” said Sam, prodding the spud in the bottom right corner of the napkin. “I think I see it, Penny… are you saying that Monk’s home run ball…”

Thesaurus smiled at her older brother.

Kal stood up.

“I’ve got it, too!” he shouted. “Tommy did swing and miss our pitch — the ball that’s in my glove — but he hit Monk’s home run ball! It must have flown all the way over their outfield and into our field, and then Tommy somehow hit it back.”

“Incredible,” said Sam. “That’s got to be some kind of Little League world record, on a couple fronts. Not bad, sis. It makes sense, I guess, but that’s still not proof.“

Thesaurus sat back down.

“I’m gonna text Monk,” she declared.

hey monk - did they ever find your homerun ball from the game today?

He responded right away.

nope. musta blasted that sucker into the stratosphere. hey - can I borrow your math homework tomorrow in homeroom?

um ok

owe you one, nerd

Thesaurus dangled (displayed, flashed, brandished) her phone.

“Well done, dear,” said Mrs. Green. “But don’t let people cheat off you, ok?”

“That’s what you’re going to focus on, Mom?,” said Thesaurus. “Not my amazing mystery-solving?”

“This is insane,” said Kal, standing up. “What should I do? What can I do? Should I tell my coach? I’ve gotta tell coach. I gotta go, now!” He grabbed his backpack and scrambled out the back door, calling over his shoulder, “Thanks for the dinner, Mrs. Green! See you tomorrow, Thesaurus.”

Sam brought his plate over to the sink to rinse it. “You know, Kal could have used you at the field today, Penny. This would have been a lot easier if you could have solved it right then and there.”

“Yeah, but I was at the library researching fireworks… I mean, cactuses. Cacti. Spiky desert plants.”

Mrs. Green raised her eyebrow.

”In fact… hey Mom - can I bike back over to the library right now? I think I just figured out who’s been putting all the library books on the wrong shelves. Mrs. Ambler might even forgive my overdue book fees for this one.”

“Overdue book fees? Just how much are we talking?” Mrs. Green shook her head. “Okay, go. Sam — you, too. It’s getting dark. Stick together.”

Mrs. Green shooed them away and poured herself an extra large glass of Pinot Grigio.