Read The Mysterious Cases of Mr. Pin Online

Authors: Mary Elise Monsell

The Mysterious Cases of Mr. Pin (3 page)

Meanwhile, Mr. Pin swerved back and forth between buses and taxis. Horns blared and buses beeped. But when people saw a penguin driving a police car, they just stopped and stared.

“Oh, no!” shouted Maggie. “I think we've lost him. All units,” she said into the radio. “We need to find a white panel truck with the letters
B A K
. The driver may be the Picasso thief.”

The radio was silent. Jones snored loudly. Then all of a sudden a voice came through.

“Spotted him just past Ohio Street.” It was Hank, a trucker from Sally's diner.

“Thanks,” said Maggie. “That's a roger. Over and out.”

“Glad to help,” said Hank.

Mr. Pin sped down Michigan Avenue to Ohio Street. There he saw the thief turn into a side street and park in front of a small bakery specializing in extra-large wedding cakes.

Mr. Pin pulled into a dark alley.

Green eyes glinted in the light as the thief got out of the truck.

“That's him,” whispered Mr. Pin.

“He's going into the bakery,” said Maggie.

“It has to be the bakery we're looking for,” said Mr. Pin. “But where's the painting?”

“In the bakery,” said Maggie.

“I have to know for sure,” said Mr. Pin, hopping out of the car.

“Be careful,” said Maggie. “Art thieves are dangerous.”

But Mr. Pin had disappeared into the alley's shadows.

He made his way to the back door of the bakery and slowly opened it. He heard shouts inside, so Mr. Pin hid in a cake box wedged between two blocks of dry ice. Frost collected on his wings, but he enjoyed the cold.

Two men were arguing.

“Leave that painting here, Borris,” said one baker. He had on a tall white hat.

“It's too risky, Max,” said Borris, the green-eyed baker. “That crazy penguin and the redhead are on to us. They know about the bakery. We have to move the painting.”

“Too late!” shouted Mr. Pin as he slammed a freezer door into a cream-puff pastry cart. The cart skidded into Max, who toppled over a large chocolate cake.

“Hmmm. That chocolate smells familiar,” said Mr. Pin, sniffing with his beak.

Outside sirens blared. Police lights twirled.

But Borris was getting away! He was carrying a very large wedding cake out the front door.

Mr. Pin grabbed his black bag and hopped after him.

As the thief started his truck, Mr. Pin opened his bag and emptied his prized rock hopper rock collection in front of the tires.

The motor whirred and the wheels spun, but the white truck wouldn't budge. The rocks had stopped the thief cold.

Squad cars skidded to a stop around the truck.

Police nabbed the thieves. They were handcuffed and loaded into a paddy wagon.

“But where's the painting?” boomed O'Malley, arriving on the scene.

“The cake!” shouted Mr. Pin, pointing to the cake in the truck.

“Oh, no,” groaned Maggie. “You can't be hungry at a time like this.”

Mr. Pin tasted the cake with the tip of his wing. “It's chocolate!” he said excitedly.

“Calm down, penguin,” said O'Malley. “It's just a cake.”

“It's a cake with a painting inside,” said Mr. Pin. “The thief baked a cake around the painting. The chocolate is the same as what I found on the wall of the museum.”

Sure enough, when the police scraped away a bit of the frosting on the cake, they found a carefully wrapped painting. It was Picasso's
The Old Guitarist
.

Inside the squad car, Jones woke up and asked, “Isn't that penguin full yet?” Mr. Pin wasn't. He disappeared into the bakery, hot on the trail of more chocolate. O'Malley congratulated Maggie, who insisted it was Mr. Pin who should be thanked.

Meanwhile, another police car arrived, and Smiling Sally jumped out carrying a large sack filled with cinnamon rolls.

“There you are,” she said, hugging Maggie. “I knew you'd be all right, but I'm sure you're both very hungry. Where's Mr. Pin? He probably needs one of my nice hot cinnamon rolls.”

At that moment Mr. Pin, another case under his belt, wobbled out the bakery door. He looked for a moment at the steaming, sugary rolls and asked, “Could we save them for breakfast?”

MR. PIN and the Monroe Street Pigeon

1

It was midnight. Chicago steamed. Mr. Pin's wings stuck to the typewriter.

It had been a hot summer at Smiling Sally's diner. Mr. Pin, rock hopper penguin detective from the South Pole, was writing his memoirs. His friend Maggie was upstairs with her aunt Sally. Mr. Pin was downstairs, in his headquarters behind the kitchen.

“The sky was dark. The air was cold,” typed Mr. Pin, recalling his first mystery.

Errrrrrk!
Boards creaked in the diner. Mr. Pin looked up from his desk.

Errrrrrk!
They creaked again. It was time to investigate. Hopping off his typing crate, Mr. Pin opened the door.

Creeeak. Thud
. Someone had just gone out the back door!

Crash!
Mr. Pin stumbled into a cart of coffee cups. A light switched on.

“What's going on?” It was Maggie, barefoot, red hair flying in all directions.

“I don't know,” said Mr. Pin. “But someone was here, and he left a note.”

Maggie picked it up. “Meet me at Buckingham Fountain before the race at noon tomorrow. I need help,” Maggie read.

“Someone's in trouble,” said Mr. Pin. “Memoirs can wait.”

2

Monroe Street shops charged the air with smells of smoked chicken, fresh popcorn, and carry-out sushi. Everyone said hello to Maggie and Mr. Pin as they walked toward Buckingham Fountain. Mr. Pin bought a
Tribune
and flipped to the city news.

“Another day of politics,” said Mr. Pin.

Meanwhile, Maggie was looking at chocolate pigeons in the window of a chicken store.

“Why would a chicken shop sell chocolate pigeons?” said Mr. Pin.

“I don't know,” said Maggie. “And I wonder where Pete the chicken man is.”

“He's missing,” said his wife Florrie, who had just come out of the store.

“Who's missing?” asked Mr. Pin, looking up from his papers.

“The chicken man,” said Maggie.

“Pete put the trash in a grocery cart and went outside to dump it. He hasn't been back since,” said Florrie. “I'm beginning to get worried.”

“What was he wearing?” asked Mr. Pin.

“A big, baggy coat,” said Florrie.

“We're on another case,” said Mr. Pin. “But we'll keep an eye out for him.”

“Now there are two cases to solve,” said Maggie as they continued east on Monroe. “The chicken man is missing and someone is in trouble at Buckingham Fountain.”

There was little time to talk. Soon it would be noon and a ten-kilometer race was about to start in Grant Park.

The city seared. Waves of heat curled from the sidewalk. Most penguins would die in this weather. But Mr. Pin was no ordinary penguin.

The two detectives rushed past the Art Institute, the scene of another mystery. Someone had stolen a famous Picasso. But that was another story.

Maggie and Mr. Pin hurried through Grant Park to Buckingham Fountain. Numbered runners stretched, drank Gatorade, and talked about the heat.

Just ahead a homeless lady sat on a bench feeding the pigeons. A grocery cart filled with her possessions was parked next to her. The pigeons flocked like children listening to a story. Mr. Pin marveled that homeless people fed pigeons.

Big cities can have big hearts, he thought.

“I wonder whom we're meeting before the race,” said Maggie.

“Hmmmm,” said Mr. Pin calmly. “It isn't
before
the race anymore. The race is
starting
.” A wall of runners raced past Maggie and Mr. Pin. The two detectives scrambled onto the fountain.

“Look out!” shouted Maggie.

The homeless lady was steering her cart wildly through the runners toward Maggie and Mr. Pin. A runner who did not look like the other runners was chasing the homeless lady. He had a number. But he was wearing shiny black shoes.

The runner caught the homeless lady and snatched a box that was hidden in her cart. Maggie fumed. How could someone steal from a homeless person?

The homeless lady wrenched the box out of the runner's hands and tossed it to Maggie. Maggie caught the box but fell backward into the fountain. Mr. Pin hopped in and grabbed the box, just before it hit the water. He quickly swam to the other side. The thief snarled at Mr. Pin, but the wall of runners forced him away from the fountain.

The homeless lady had vanished.

Now Maggie and Mr. Pin had a mysterious box from a mysterious lady who was chased by a runner who wasn't a runner.

“That wasn't a runner,” said Maggie.

“I know,” said Mr. Pin. “And that wasn't a homeless lady.”

“Who was it?” asked Maggie, astonished.


That
was the chicken man.”

“How do you know?” asked Maggie.

“There was a chicken on the side of his grocery cart,” said Mr. Pin.

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