Authors: Mary Elise Monsell
“You got the money?” snarled Mac. He thought it was Sally.
“No problem,” said Maggie.
“No tricks, lady. We'll be there at midnight,” said Mac.
“Right,” said Maggie.
Maggie came running down the stairs, yelling, “Mr. Pin, no ice cream, no truckers, and the gansters are coming at midnight.”
Hank stormed in. “I just got out of that snowbank and I have a truckload of chocolate-chocolate-chip ice cream.”
“Hurray!” shouted Maggie. “But we don't have much time.”
Not minding the cold, Mr. Pin used his beak to open the ice cream and his wings to scoop it into the buckets. He dumped what was left into a huge mountain on the floor.
“Looks like home,” said Mr. Pin.
“All we need now is hot fudge,” said Maggie.
It was midnight.
The diner was dark.
The trap was set.
But where were the truckers?
Several black limos crunched to a stop on the newly plowed street.
The door creaked open. Black shoes glinted in the street light.
Several dark figures filled the doorway. Maggie shivered. Mac had brought his whole gang of thugs!
“Pull the ropes!” shouted Mr. Pin.
“Freeze, you thugs!” shouted Maggie. They could do little else. Gallons and gallons of ice cream avalanched onto the gangsters.
. “Brrrrrrr!” they chattered.
Rope in beak, Mr. Pin tobogganed down the ice-cream mountain and tied up the sputtering, struggling thugs.
But he couldn't tie them fast enough. Some of them were getting away!
There was a loud rumble in the alley. A caravan of trucks had made it! The diner was surrounded.
Police lights twirled.
Officers rushed into the diner, guns drawn, but stopped cold. The gansters were tied up near a mountain of ice cream with Mr. Pin standing guard in the middle, happily preening chocolate off his feathers.
“We've been trying to catch this gang for years,” said an officer named O'Malley as he handcuffed the gangsters. “How did you do it?”
“Smart detective work,” said Maggie.
“Chocolate,” said Mr. Pin.
“How much do we owe you, Detective Pin?” asked Smiling Sally. “You
be staying awhile.”
“No charge,” said Mr. Pin with a hop. “Food's good and you meet interesting people. No reason why big cities can't have big hearts.”
Chicago was a lot better off with a penguin detective. But even detectives need sleep, and sleep was just ahead. Mr. Pin slipped away to the back room, where his snores were almost as loud as the trucks going home on Monroe. The South Pole was many miles away. For now, Smiling Sally's was his home.
MR. PIN and the Picasso Thief
It was bright inside the art museum. But not quiet.
Sneakers squeaked across the wood floor. A dark shadow froze under the skylight.
From the corner of his eye, Mr. Pin saw a hand reach inside its owner's coat. Bang! A balloon filled with something powdery exploded. Covered in white flour, a guard groped for his walkie-talkie. Alarms screamed.
The balloon full of flour was only a diversion. A thief was stealing a painting.
The thief was quick, but Mr. Pin was quicker. He stretched out his beak and tripped the masked robber. For a second, the mask slipped down below the nose of the green-eyed thief. He stared at Mr. Pin, not believing he had just tripped over a penguin.
More guards rushed into the room. Before the thief could be caught, he pulled up his mask and ran off, taking Picasso's famous
The Old Guitarist
Maybe there was a clue. Mr. Pin hopped over to the empty wall to find out. He dusted the museum wall with his wing and then preened his feathers. He tasted chocolate frosting! It was a clue, he thought. But what did it mean?
Just then, his red-haired friend Maggie walked across the room with Officer O'Malley, whom Mr. Pin had first met at Smiling Sally's diner.
“Now, Mr. Pin,” said O'Malley. “Can you describe the thief who tripped over your beak?”
“That painting he stole is worth a lot of money,” added Maggie.
“He had green eyes and probably liked chocolate,” said Mr. Pin.
The Old Guitarist?”
“No,” said Mr. Pin. “The thief.”
“Interesting,” said O'Malley, stroking his whiskers. “Did he get a look at you?”
“He knows I'm a penguin,” said Mr. Pin.
“Hmmm â¦” said O'Malley. “That could be trouble. Not too many penguins go to art museums. You and Maggie could be in danger.”
“Danger?” asked Maggie. “I live above Smiling Sally's diner with my Aunt Sally, two gerbils, and a CB radio. Mr. Pin lives downstairs. Truckers are around all the time. How could we be in danger?”
“Art thieves are always dangerous,” said O'Malley. “I'll send Officer Jones over to the diner to protect you. Meanwhile, if you remember anything else, let me know.”
“Right,” said Maggie and Mr. Pin together.
Mr. Pin hopped over slush puddles and snow-banks, his red muffler flapping like a flag in the windy city. He had to hurry to keep up with Maggie.
“Why was the guitar player blue?” asked Mr. Pin.
“Because Picasso painted him during his blue period,” said Maggie with authority.
“What's a blue period?” asked Mr. Pin.
“When Picasso painted everything blue,” explained Maggie.
Just then Mr. Pin noticed a white panel truck following close behind them. On the side of the truck were the letters
B A K
. The other letters were splattered with slush.
The truck stopped. An elevated train rumbled overhead.
“Quick,” said Mr. Pin. “Go up the stairs to the train. We're being followed!”
“What?” shouted Maggie.
“Hurry!” said Mr. Pin as he hooked a wing under her arm and pulled her up the steps.
Sneakers squeaked up the stairs. The train screeched to a stop.
As the train doors closed behind Maggie and Mr. Pin, a man wearing a parka over a long white apron pounded on the window. Mr. Pin and Maggie crouched behind a seat and held their breath until the train left the station.
“Whew! That was close,” said Maggie.
“Yes, it was,” said Mr. Pin, adjusting his cap. “That man was the Picasso thief!”
Mr. Pin and Maggie rode the train back and forth for a while to be sure the Picasso thief was no longer following them. Then they got off the train, walked down the stairs and over to Smiling Sally's diner on Monroe Street.
Smiling Sally's was a friendly diner, open until midnight. Booths and a few tables and chairs were arranged on a black-and-white tile floor. Sally stood behind the curved counter, spinning cups in her hand and passing out hot cinnamon rolls to hungry truckers.
“Food's good and you meet interesting people,” she said to a new customer.
Maggie and Mr. Pin stormed in. They waved to the truckers and hurried to Detective Pin's headquarters in the spare room behind the kitchen. Sally brought them lunch, and then they got to work.
“We know the thief has something to do with chocolate,” said Mr. Pin, hopping back and forth.
“Right,” said Maggie.
“We were followed by a white truck,” he added.
“Right,” said Maggie.
B A K
were written on the truck,” said Mr. Pin.
“Right,” said Maggie.
“The first three letters in bakery are
B A K
,” said Mr. Pin.
“And the man following us was wearing a white apron,” added Maggie.
“The Picasso thief is a baker!” shouted Mr. Pin, hopping up and down.
“Right!” agreed Maggie. “But how do we find Mr. Green Eyes before he finds us?”
“We have to find the bakery that has the same chocolate I found on the museum wall,” Mr. Pin said, chomping on a roll.
“There could be hundreds of bakeries in Chicago. How do we find the right one?” asked Maggie.
“Sometimes you have to eat to catch a thief,” said Mr. Pin.
Maggie wasn't going to argue with Mr. Pin. He had been right before, when he saved Smiling Sally's diner from being blown up by gangsters. But that was another story.
Just then a man wearing a trench coat and with a long hooked nose and black glasses opened the door. Maggie shivered.
“I'm Jones,” he said. “O'Malley sent me.”
“Just in time, Jones,” said Mr. Pin. “We'd like to visit a few bakeries.”
Maggie and Mr. Pin were in Jones's squad car, bouncing over potholes and mud puddles on sleet-covered streets. All of a sudden Mr. Pin ordered, “Stop the car!”
“He likes chocolate,” explained Maggie to Jones.
Mr. Pin hopped out of the car and went into a German bakery filled with large tiered cakes. Mr. Pin's beak went back and forth as he surveyed the cases of pastries. Then he settled on a nice German-chocolate cake with flaky coconut in the frosting.
“Delicious” he said, hopping back into the squad car. His feathers were matted with sleet and chocolate frosting. “But I would like to try some chocolate-frosted doughnuts, please.”
Jones sighed as he spun away from the curb. They drove from bakery to bakery, Mr. Pin sampling chocolate at every stop. Still, every time he tasted the chocolate he said, “Not quite right. One more, please.”
Soon it was getting dark. Just as Mr. Pin was about to give up, he pointed with his wing and said, “Follow that truck!”
It was the white panel truck speeding straight down Michigan Avenue, past where they were parked!
“Wake up!” Maggie yelled at Jones, who had fallen asleep.
“Never mind,” said Mr. Pin. “I'll drive.” He leaned Jones to one side, hopped up onto his black bag, and took the wheel.
Maggie got on the radio and called O'Malley for help. Then she asked him to call Sally and tell her she was all right.