The Case of the Stolen Keepsake

Chapter 4

by Stacey (SST205 at aol.com)
4/27/02

A long story. It was always a long story. Michael never minded telling it, though, and Holmes and Watson didn't seem to mind listening. The threat of losing their homes, the kids getting together and rooting through the Walsh's attic; the map, the Fratellis, Sloth, the treasure hunt, the ship....

"So you were allowed to keep this jewel?" Holmes asked, eyeing Michael levelly.

Michael nodded. "Yes, sir. No one ever thought it was real if they saw it. My brother's probably going to---"

His eyes flew open. "---kill me. Oh, my gosh!"

The gang at home. They were going to have to find out what had happened sooner or later.

"Is there something wrong, sir?" Watson asked, a concerned look on his face.

Michael gulped and looked at Mister Holmes. "Uh--is there some kind of--I really need to call home."

Holmes' gaze was level and curious. "Yes, of course. Watson, instruct Mister Walsh in the use of the computer, won't you?"

Watson helped Michael up, and led him to a computer by the far wall with a large screen. After fiddling with some buttons and switches, the compudroid told Michael how to get in contact with the States, in particular with the number of a somewhat rundown-looking barn in Astoria, Oregon....

The signal travelled across the Atlantic, and across the States to the West Coast.

Andrea Carmichael-Walsh parked her car and got out. It was beginning to sprinkle.

"It figures." she mumbled, letting a wan grin cross her face and pulling the back of her jacket up over her strawberry-blonde hair, "I just took the car to get washed yesterday."

She ran around the front of the car, up a gravel-covered walkway and to the wide barn door. Grabbing a hold of its rusty handle, she gave it a few good yanks and finally got it open wide enough to slip through. With another effort, she tugged it shut.

"Lovely weather out there, isn't it?"

Andrea slumped against the door. "Oh, yes, just gorgeous."

She pushed herself away from the door and walked over to a metal desk, behind which she could see a blond head bowed over a computer keyboard.

"Any word from Mikey?"

The blonde head raised up, and a pair of serious green eyes looked up at her. "No--" the young woman said, slapping the side of the computer. A metal box with a dim red light on it was attached to the back of the computer with some crisscrossed wires. "This goofball gadget of Rick's better not be screwing up the reception, either."

Andrea chuckled. "Ah, he means well. He's always meant well." Inside, Andrea hoped the little gadget wasn't 'screwing things up' either. "Where are the guys?"

Stephanie kept her eyes on the computer screen. "Eh -- Rick's in the loft, no doubt building some other goofball contraption; Clark's in the back working on the printing press; and Larry--"

"Aaaagh!"

Andrea whirled around, Stephanie looked over her shoulder, and a black-haired head popped over the railing of the loft above.

"Whatever it is, I didn't do it!"

Stephanie looked upward. "We know, Rick, we know."

The doorway in the partition that divided the barn was soon filled by a young man with his arms held out to his sides. He was dripping with black ink.

Andy tried to hold back a snicker. "Clark--what happened?"

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" came a voice from behind the wall.

"I was ready to put ink back into the printing press to see if what I did to it made it work--"

"--and then you said to 'come here' with the ink!" came the apologetic voice.

Clark sighed, closing his serious brown eyes. "Larry, I said 'DON'T GO NEAR' the ink!"

Just then the barn door opened and closed. A tall figure in a yellow rain jacket came through the door, then turned around and closed it behind him. Turning again, he pulled the hood of his rain jacket down and exposed a head of dark hair. "Hey, has anyone heard from--" his eyes, which were about as dark as his hair, widened. "Uh -- Clark, what happened?"

"One word, Brand -- LARRY." Clark said, finally grinning a bit and stepping into the room. "Agh -- if you folks'll excuse me, I've gotta go change."

It wasn't until Clark was halfway up to the loft that a head appeared around the door in the back portion of the barn. "Eh -- is it safe to come out now?"

Stephanie shook her head. "You know, we may not be able to call you 'Chunk' anymore, Larry, but "Butterfingers" still fits!"

A middle-aged man of solid ("But not fat!") build stepped all the way into view. "I said I was sorry--sheesh."

Brand shook his head. "Larry, if you didn't drop something --"

"--or spill something--" Steph added,

"--or break something--" continued Andrea.

"--you wouldn't be you," Brand finished with an amiable grin. "Now, as I was saying," he turned his gaze on Stephanie. "Has anyone heard from my little brother?"

His wife shook her head. "No, not yet."

"At least, we don't think he's called." Stephanie added, glaring at Rick's little gadget.

Almost instantaneously, the red light on top of said gadget began to flash. "A call!" Brand said excitedly.

"Mikey!" added Andrea.

"Steph, turn the thing on!" Larry added, nearly jumping up and down in his excitement.

Footsteps could be heard coming down from the loft. Brand looked up to see Clark with a different shirt on, and Rick coming right behind him.

"You mean it works!?" Rick nearly shouted.

"I hope so." answered Stephanie, rapping her knuckles impatiently on the desk as the computer warmed up. "Come on, please...."

Finally, the computer came to life. "Rick, what buttons do you push to make your gizmo work?"

Without a word, the group's resident inventor reached over her shoulder and tapped: Alt/Enter. The computer screen went fuzzy a moment, then a still slightly fuzzy picture came through.

"Hey," came a voice almost as fuzzy as the screen, "All of you in one place? I'm honored."

On the American side of the computer, most of the onlookers' jaws had dropped at the sight of the younger Walsh brother.

"Mikey--" gasped Brand and Larry.

"What happened!?" cried Stephanie and Andrea.

Michael sighed. "I--I got mugged."

Clark shook his head. "Jeez -- anything for a good story, huh, Mikey?"

"Ay---" Michael muttered, rolling his good eye. "Um -- guys, I--I need your help."

Brand leaned in close to the screen. "What is it, Mikey?"

The bruised face in the computer screen looked up, full of apology. The other members of Walsh and Associates found it hard to tell if Michael's lower lip was trembling, or it was just the static on the screen. "Brand - -th-the guys who mugged me -- they -- they took it."

Michael's older brother closed his eyes. He knew exactly what Michael meant. "Aw---" he opened his eyes again. "It's just a jewel, Mikey. A big one, but just a jewel. I'm just glad you're safe."

On the screen, Michael grinned a little. He glanced to the side. "Eh--Mister Holmes has offered to help me find it."

"Mister Holmes!?" came the cry from the American side.

"Yes," came a voice with a decided English accent. Just then a hawk-faced man appeared beside Michael. "Mister Holmes. I would take it, if I may be so bold, that I am speaking with the 'Associates' of 'Walsh and Associates', am I not?"

The stunned Americans could only stare and nod.

"Very good." Holmes went on. "If you would be so kind as to wait at your local airport -- I have called New Scotland Yard and asked them to send a shuttle for you, which will bring you here to Baker Street. We shall then start looking for the stolen jewel."

For a moment, there was silence on the American side. Stephanie found her voice first. "Uh--y-yes, sir."

"We--we look forward to it." added Andy.

"Very well." They saw a grin cross Holmes' face. "We shall see you then."

After the computer had been turned off, everyone stood and gathered in a circle by the desk.

"Whoa...." Clark muttered, shaking his head. "Brand, your little brother is something else."

"I know." Brandon answered as he took his wife's hand. "I know."

After they said a prayer for safe travel, everyone began scurrying around making sure everything was locked up.

Stephanie was thoughtful. "That guy's really something."

"Which guy is that?" Andrea asked, making sure she had everything in her purse.

"One-eyed Willy." her friend answered. "Even after all this time, seems like he still wants us to go on an adventure involving his treasure."

Andrea chuckled. On the adventure so long ago, she remembered how her then-teenaged brother-in-law imagined himself to have a rapport with the old pirate -- "talking" to him on their journey through the tunnels, and referring to him as 'The original Goonie'. "Yeah," she agreed. "Weird, isn't it?"

Finally, when everything was ready, they headed out to the cars. "This is going to be so cool!" said Larry. "Heh -- look out, New London, here come the Goonies!!"

On to Part 5!

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