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A Knock on the Door
Call me Jones.
Jigsaw Jones, private eye.
I solve mysteries. For a dollar a day, I make problems go away. I’ve found stolen bicycles, lost jewelry, and missing parakeets. I’ve even tangled with dancing ghosts and haunted scarecrows.
Mysteries can happen anywhere, at any time. One thing I’ve learned in this business is that anyone is a suspect. That includes friends, family, and a little green man from outer space.
It was a lazy Sunday morning. Outside my window, it looked like a nice spring day. The sky was blue with wispy clouds that looked like they had been painted by an artist. A swell day for a ball game. Or a mystery. Maybe both if I got lucky.
I was standing at my dining room table, staring at a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle. It was supposed to be a picture of our solar system. The sun and eight planets. But right now it was a mess. Scattered pieces lay everywhere. I scratched my head and munched on a blueberry Pop-Tart. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right. As a cook, I’m pretty good with a toaster. I began working on the border, grouping all the pieces that had a flat edge. Sooner or later, I’d work my way through the planets. The rust red of Mars. The rings of Saturn. And the green tint of Neptune. I’ve never met a puzzle I couldn’t solve. That’s because I know the secret. The simple trick? Don’t give up.
Don’t ever give up.
My dog, Rags, leaped at the door. He barked and barked. A minute later, the doorbell rang. Ding-a-ling, ding-dong. That’s the thing about Rags. He’s faster than a doorbell. People have been coming to our house all his life. But for my dog, it’s always the most exciting thing that ever happened.
Every single time.
“Get the door, Worm,” my brother Billy said. He was sprawled on the couch, reading a book. Teenagers, yeesh.
“Why me?” I complained.
“Because I’m not doing it.”
Billy kept reading.
Rags kept barking.
And the doorbell kept ringing.
Somebody was in a hurry.
I opened the door. Joey Pignattano and Danika Starling were standing on my stoop. We were in the same class together, room 201, with Ms. Gleason.
“Hey, Jigsaw!” Danika waved. She bounced on her toes. The bright beads in her hair clicked and clacked.
“Boy, am I glad to see you!” Joey exclaimed. He burst into the room. “Got any water?”
“I would invite you inside, Joey,” I said, “but you beat me to it.”
“I ate half a bag of Jolly Ranchers this morning,” Joey announced. “Now my tongue feels super weird!”
“That’s not good for your teeth,” I said.
Joey looked worried. “My tongue isn’t good for my teeth? Are you sure? They both live inside my mouth.”
“Never mind,” I said.
“Pipe down, guys!” Billy complained. “I’m reading here.”
“Come into the kitchen,” I told Joey and Danika. “We’ll get fewer complaints. Besides, I’ve got grape juice. It’s on the house.”
“On the house?” Joey asked. “Is it safe?”
I blinked. “What?”
“You keep grape juice on your roof?” Joey asked.
Danika gave Joey a friendly shove. “Jigsaw said ‘on the house.’ He means it’s free, Joey,” she said, laughing.
Joey pushed back his glasses with an index finger. “Free? In that case, I’ll take a big glass.”
Text copyright © 2017 by James Preller
Illustrations copyright © 2017 by R. W. Alley