What I should have been doing this afternoon: Working on my book.
What I did instead: Wrote a Nancy Drew parody story about Antiques Roadshow.
Eh, it happens.
Please enjoy. :P
PANSY CREWE AND THE MYSTERY AT THE ANTIQUES ROADSHOW
Attractive eighteen-year-old Pansy Crewe laughed gaily as she packed her suitcase. “Oh, Nana, you worry too much.”
The motherly housekeeper wrung her hands in her apron. “I worry exactly the right amount. Every time you go somewhere, you end up finding trouble.”
Pansy’s blue eyes sparkled. “I don’t find trouble, Nana. Trouble finds me.”
Nana Bruen had taken care of Pansy since she was a small child, cooking needlessly elaborate meals, keeping the Crewe house spotless, and providing parental guidance and support that Pansy’s busy lawyer father probably should have provided himself. Despite doing all this and still being ranked as “the housekeeper” rather than a member of the family she’d lived with for fifteen years, Nana was remarkably kind to her master and mistress, showing genuine concern for them whenever their dangerous lifestyles inevitably led them to trouble.
“Just promise me you’ll be careful,” Nana said.
Pansy placed another neatly folded dress into her suitcase and pressed the lid carefully shut. “Fred and Tess will be with me, and Brick is meeting us later. How can I possibly get into trouble with so many people around?”
“I don’t know,” Nana said. “Somehow you always seem to manage it.”
Pansy kissed Nana on the cheek and smiled reassuringly. “I’ll be fine, Nana. I always am.”
And it was true. When Pansy looked back over the seemingly endless stretch of time since she’d turned eighteen, she reflected that in just those few months, she’d been poisoned, chloroformed, run off the road, kidnapped, bound and gagged, half-drowned, nearly hit by numerous vehicles, threatened by deadly animals, almost struck by lightning, and had been knocked out so many times that she wondered how her brain was still able to function well enough to say her own name, let alone continue solving mysteries.
Pansy was an amateur detective, aided in her case load by her strangely unworried lawyer father Parson Crewe, who continued to give her mysteries to solve despite the fact that they nearly always led to blunt head trauma and harrowing near-death experiences for his lovely titian-haired daughter. But Pansy loved mysteries, cherishing each case that came to her with an obsessive fervor that probably should have worried those around her, so she never complained when her father had another one for her.
Her father had no case for her this weekend, but Pansy had a feeling she would manage to find a mystery somewhere along the way anyway.
Pansy made her farewells to Nana and slid her suitcase into the trunk of her blue convertible. The car had been a gift from her father, and she was amazed that it was still in one piece after the number of times someone had run it off the road or crashed into it.
No one’s going to crash into me today! Pansy thought optimistically as she started the car. She scanned the sky and found it blue and cloudless, meaning there was very little chance of a freak lightning strike or sudden torrential rainstorm, and as there was no large body of water for miles, there was a decent chance that she might actually make it to Tess’s house safely.
She carefully backed out of the Crewes’ driveway–and slam, a dark sedan crashed into the back of her convertible. One of the windows of the sedan rolled down and a remarkably aerodynamic paper airplane was tossed from it before the sedan sped away with a squeal of its tires.
Pansy was shaken from the accident but still managed to memorize the license plate of the fleeing car. She would tell it to Chief McDougall, she decided, and see if the Creekside Lows police could track down the car that had hit her. Before she could climb out of the car, however, the paper airplane made one last graceful spin in the air and flopped to a perfect landing in Pansy’s lap.
While reading the note right away would have made sense, instead Pansy took a moment to admire her own beautiful outfit. She wore a sky blue skirt with lace trim, paired with a white satin blouse and a stylishly cut blazer of the same material and color as the skirt. Her slender feet were adorned with matching pumps, although flats would probably have been a smarter choice given how often her detective work required her to move faster than a dainty stroll.
Satisfied now that her outfit had been appropriately appreciated, if only by herself, Pansy unfolded the paper airplane. A message had been scrawled in heavy black ink inside:
PANSY CREWE, DO NOT GO TO THE ANTIQUES ROADSHOW!
Pansy’s eyes widened as she read the message. It had been nearly a week since she’d received a note warning her not to go somewhere or do something, and that was enough time for her to be able to feel appropriately threatened by the note she held now.
Someone didn’t want her, Fred, Tess, and Brick to go to Antiques Roadshow. But who? And why?
Pansy got out of the car and gave the back of her convertible a quick inspection. Among the many things she’d done over the past year, she’d also taken an extensive automotive repair class, and so she was able to tell that no serious damage had been dealt to her cherished and comfortingly indestructible convertible. After running inside to phone Chief McDougall and give him the license plate number — which the chief was immediately able to tell her belonged to a stolen car — Pansy climbed back into the driver’s seat of her convertible, slid on a pair of fashionable sunglasses, and began the drive to Tess’s house.
She found both Tess and Fred waiting for her on Tess’s front porch. They got to their feet and waved cheerfully as Pansy pulled into the driveway.
Pansy smiled and waved back. Pretty, plump, blond Tess Darvin reached the car first, followed by boyish Fred Gayne with her short dark hair and athletic build. The two girls were cousins, and while Tess found her own shadow terrifying and Fred made herself generally unpleasant by repeatedly shaming Tess for eating anything more fattening than a carrot stick, they were Pansy’s best friends and often helped her when there was a mystery to be solved.
“Hi, girls!” Pansy said. “Are you ready for our roadshow weekend?”
“You bet,” said Fred with a grin. She reached for the trunk to stow her suitcase and stopped at the sight of the tortured metal. “Another fender bender, huh?”
“Yes,” Pansy said. “And it came with a warning. Someone doesn’t want us to go to the roadshow.”
“Oh, no!” Tess exclaimed. She began to quiver with fear.
“Please,” Fred said. “I’d be worried if someone didn’t warn us not to go wherever we were going.”
“My thoughts exactly,” Pansy said. “Well, let’s get going! It’s a long drive, and we don’t want to be late to meet Brick.”
“Oh, is your special friend Brick Brickerson going to be there?” Tess teased, her earlier fear forgotten as she giggled.
George sighed. “Why do you call him by his full name like that? It’s weird.”
“It is not weird,” Tess said. “You’re weird.”
“I’m boyish,” Fred said. “I’m not weird. You eat too much.”
“I eat just the right amount,” Tess huffed, “and I’m pretty sure ‘boyish’ is just a covert, old-fashioned way of saying ‘gay,’ so why don’t we talk about that sometime instead of my weight, shall we?”
Pansy laughed merrily. “Oh, you two. On to the roadshow!”
* * *
Brick Brickerson met them outside the building where the roadshow was being held. He was a tall, handsome young man with a talent for football, rowing, running, diving, skiing, skating, and chemical engineering, and he continued to spend time with Pansy despite the fact that she clearly ranked her mysteries far above him in terms of importance.
“Hey, gang!” Brick said as they drove up. “Glad you could make it. And I’m very glad to see you, Pansy. You’re looking particularly attractive and titian-haired today. Did you bring it?”
Pansy smiled as she got out of the car. “I have it right here in my purse.”
Pansy had inherited a number of valuable items from the grateful patrons of her cases. It had never occurred to her to sell these items, as despite not having a job and being a member of a single-parent household that employed a full-time housekeeper, she had a seemingly limitless supply of cash to use for last-minute plane tickets, stunning outfits to wear once and then discard, and all the other miscellaneous expenses that cropped up when one was a busy girl detective.
It had, however, recently occurred to her that she should probably have some of the more valuable items appraised and insured, as criminals always seemed to be breaking into her home or walking rudely in through the front door just because the Crewe family had a habit of leaving it unlocked. She had brought what she thought was the most valuable item to the roadshow today, and she hoped to both get it appraised and also find a reliable person to appraise her other treasures at a later date.
And, of course, if she ended up being featured on the show, which was her favorite television program next to CSI: Miami, that wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.
The roadshow was already well underway as they entered. A crowd of people milled around with old vases, rugs, antique bicycles, and so on. Pansy even caught sight of a little girl determinedly pulling a red wagon with a giant stone gargoyle in the back, and she admired the little girl’s grit. Not enough to help her pull the thing, as Pansy doubted doing so would lead her to a mystery, but enough to give the girl an encouraging nod from a distance.
As they strolled through the room, Pansy scanned the place in search of a jewelry expert who could give her some information on the jeweled broach she carried in her purse. As she walked, a man crashed into her and the purse was knocked from her hands. Pansy gasped, but the man had already retrieved the purse and was handing it back to her.
“Sorry, Miss,” he said in a gruff voice.
He hurried away, but Pansy’s occasionally photographic memory kicked in at that moment and memorized his face. He had a thin, villainously curly mustache and beady dark eyes, and he wore a newsboy cap low over his forehead. Pansy knew instantly that he was a criminal, because in her experience only criminals had mustaches, beady eyes, caps, and gruff voices. He had already vanished into the crowd, however, so she decided that a criminal couldn’t get into that much trouble in a room full of potentially priceless antiques and continued her quest for a jewelry expert.
When she found one, she drew the broach out of her purse and laid it on the table. Tess gasped despite having seen it before, and Pansy was sure that Fred would’ve looked impressed, too, had she not been chatting a few feet away with a beautiful red-haired woman. Pansy shook her head at her friend’s neverending quest for new chums. Fred was always so friendly, especially with attractive girls, though she never seemed to stay friends with any of them for very long after they exchanged phone numbers. Poor Fred.
“Well, this is a beautiful broach,” said the expert, an older woman with permed white hair and very red lipstick. She examined it for a moment, turning it over in her fingers, then gave Pansy a sudden dramatic look. “Too bad it’s a fake.”
“What!” Pansy exclaimed. “A fake? It can’t be!”
“I’m afraid it is. This is mere costume jewelry. Not valuable at all.”
“Gosh, Pansy,” Brick Brickerson said as they moved away from the expert’s table. “That’s too bad.”
“I’m sure the broach I was given wasn’t a fake,” Pansy said. “So that can mean only one thing. That man who crashed into me must have taken the real one and switched in this fake!”
“I mean, that sounds kind of farfetched,” Fred said. “If he did that, he would’ve had to not only know that you were coming, but to also know exactly what you were bringing. And he would’ve had to know enough about the broach and jewelry-making to make a perfect copy of it. And he would’ve had to be fast enough to switch the two broaches out in that half-second between bumping into you and giving you back your purse.”
“Yes, I’m sure that’s what happened,” Pansy said, pounding her fist into her hand in determination. “We must find him! I’m sure he’s planning to steal more than just my broach, and if he succeeds, Antiques Roadshow could be ruined!”
Tess gasped. “Oh, Pansy, no!”
“Come on,” Pansy said. “Let’s split up and comb the hall for him. If you find him, whistle and twitter like a bird. If you need help, hoot like an owl.”
Fred sighed and lifted her cell phone. “Could we not just text or call or–”
“Brick, you’re with me,” Pansy said. “And Fred and Tess, you check over there. Good luck!”
The pairs headed off to search the roadshow for the thief.
* * *
Pansy soon lost Brick in the crowd, and when she noticed his absence several minutes later, she shrugged and decided it was probably for the best. Finally, she spotted the thief. He was lurking behind a potted palm just a few feet away from where a woman and an expert were being filmed talking about the woman’s antique necklace. Pansy drew closer and was just in time to hear the expert say, “And you’ll be pleased to hear that this necklace is worth $20,000.”
The woman gasped and began to babble in her excitement, and Pansy saw the thief rubbing his hands together in a villainish way that really should have been an instant red flag for everyone in the vicinity. When the woman took her necklace and turned to leave, the man crept away from the palm and followed her.
So that’s his plan! Pansy thought to herself. He waits until they film someone finding out that their item is worth a lot of money, and then he follows them and steals it!
Rather than whistling or tweeting like a bird, Pansy followed the man following the woman. They were about halfway across the room when the man struck — he bumped into the woman as he had Pansy, causing the priceless necklace which she was for some reason still holding in her hand to fall to the ground. Pansy kept her eyes on the man’s hands, and she saw his quick fingers duck into his pocket, pull out a replica of the necklace, and put the real necklace back into his pocket!
“Here you are, ma’am,” he said, handing the woman the fake.
“Stop!” Pansy cried, pointing a dramatic finger at the man. “It’s a fake! That man has your real necklace in his pocket!”
The thief looked back at her, and despite the fact that she’d clearly said, “Stop,” he took off running. Pansy sighed at the general impoliteness of criminals, then took off gamely after him and hoped she would be able to catch him before he could make it out the door.
Oh, no, he’s going to get away! she thought desperately.
But just as Pansy thought all was lost, Fred and Tess appeared out of nowhere in front of the man! While Tess smiled coyly at him and twisted a lock of golden hair on her finger, beguiling him with her pretty plumpness, Fred made use of the judo she sometimes knew how to do and grabbed his arm, flipping him down onto the floor where he lay still.
Brick Brickerson appeared after all this was over, blinking and wondering how he’d somehow both lost Pansy and missed out on all the action yet again.
The police were called, and when they arrived, Chief McDougall extracted a number of priceless items from the man’s pockets, including Pansy’s broach.
“Well, you’ve done another fine job here, Pansy,” McDougall said. “I should really be ashamed that an eighteen-year-old detective does a better job of tracking down criminals than the entire police department, but instead I’m pleased and not at all threatened.”
“But there’s one thing I don’t understand,” Tess said. “How did the man know what fakes to bring to the roadshow?”
“Let’s ask him,” said Pansy.
The man had been handcuffed and stood with his mouth clamped shut as if he never intended to speak again. The second Pansy asked him her question, however, he began pouring out his life story with a look of bewilderment, as if unsure as to why he was confessing to everything when the sensible thing would’ve been to just keep his mouth shut.
Pansy learned a great deal about him, more information about his backstory than she really needed to know, to be honest, but at last he got to the point.
“And after the four-fingered man left me in his library, I found a book called Mind-Reading and Jewelry Copying For Dummies and decided to take it with me. I was able to master its techniques, and I decided to use them to read random people’s minds about what valuable items they were taking to Antiques Roadshow and then make incredibly realistic fakes of those items so I could steal them.”
“Unbelievable,” Pansy said.
“It really is,” Fred said. “I mean, it literally does not make sense. And do we believe in supernatural stuff like mind-reading, or no? It’s not really consistent.”
“Well, he’ll be using his mind-reading abilities for something else soon,” Chief McDougall said. “Like reading the minds of his cell mates! Because he’s going to jail, I mean. Take him, boys!”
The police escorted the thief away, and Pansy basked in the glow of having figured out another puzzling mystery. Little did she know that very soon, another baffling case would come her way in the form of The Mystery of Copyright Law As It Applies To Works of Parody.
“Well, Pansy, that’s another case solved,” Brick said, trying to put his arm around Pansy as she took a neat step out of his reach. “When do you think the next one will come along?”
“Soon, I hope,” Pansy said. “But hopefully not for a little while yet. I just realized that we haven’t had luncheon yet!”
“And Tess at least must be starving!” Fred said. “She only had six pancakes and three bowls of oatmeal for breakfast!”
Everyone laughed heartily except for Tess, who really should not have put up with this kind of shaming bullshit from people who were supposed to be her friends, and the chums walked off in search of a tearoom that still served something called “luncheon.”