Ace is on the Case

“Ace, isn’t it exciting? Two dates!!” Angie smiles widely at me, clearly hoping I’ll share her enthusiasm. “Who knows, maybe one of them will be my boyfriend soon! Maddox or Gabe?”

Boyfriend? Gabe? Maddox? I know those boys! Maddox goes there to play football while Gabe goes there with his hoard of little siblings. Apparently, Angie, despite having gone to that park ever since I found it, hadn’t met them before today. 

You don’t even have to meet them to know anything about them since you can smell Maddox’s cologne from an almost further distance than you can hear his voice. If Gabe didn’t come with his siblings, you wouldn’t really know him, though. His siblings bounce around on top of him, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and their smell puts me on edge. Everything about them winds me up, I’ve never seen children act so wildly, to the point that sometimes I wonder whether they’re actually monkeys- or monsters- in disguise. We actually walk by Gabe’s house regularly, and we’re on track to pass it again today. She must be blinder- and deafer- than I thought! The devilish monkeys are always out when we walk by, and the screaming they do is hard to miss. 

“Ace? Are you listening?”

“We’re about to pass Gabe’s house,” I tell her, looking at the blue, three-story house. Her eyes follow mine.

“Wait, huh, those are his siblings! Hey, is Gabe home?”

“Yeah, why?” a girl whines, making a face. 

“Just wanted to say hi,” Angie smiles uncomfortably. Abruptly, Gabe walked out, saving her from his siblings. 

Having no interest in their current exchange about how awful the school play is, my mind lands on the topic of the disturbing feelings I have about Gabe’s family. Never has it been more essential to figure out what bothers me about them; I can’t exactly let Angie date him if I think there’s something fishy about him. Monster children, a hauntingly familiar scent, too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hissing laughter coming from their house sporadically, and a lack of parental supervision are all among the things that agitate me about them. The more I think about it, the more three of the observations relate. Lack of parental supervision can mean less well-behaved children and a lack of people who can cook. 

But the whiff of dust and sweetness, maybe fruit loops, still fills my nostrils, puzzling me. It reminds me of an old lady’s house. Is it even dust I’m smelling? It’s not an, “I need to sneeze” kind of dust or a “this smells old and disgusting” dust either. Nostalgic might be a better descriptor than dusty if not for the lack of happiness associated with the sweet smell.

Cackling, on the other hand, is vexing. I haven’t heard it yet today, but I know it will happen eventually. Forget grandmas- what if there are ghosts? If you look past the vibrant color, the house does bring a sort of ominous feeling to the air. With its third story, it towers over other houses, and it has more sharpness to its structure than any building I’ve seen. I’ve even seen the lights going on and off in diverse patterns late in the night.

I’m seriously beginning to worry about Angie. Before I can fully unsettle myself with my train of thought, it’s time for Angie and me to get back home for dinner. Whispered sniggering follows our departure.

Tonight I go to sleep with images of Angie being attacked by ghosts and evil grandmas and swarms of monkeys. Most disconcerting of all is that Gabe is pretty normal. So average that it would make sense that there’s something that he’s hiding…

I woke up hoping that I could go back to sleep, but I’m alert when the realization hits me. I know what he’s trying to conceal. Confirmation is necessary immediately.  

When Angie comes to get me for soccer this morning, I insist that we walk by Gabe’s house. When we pass the park I have to discreetly pass Maddox before they can start chatting up a storm. The least of my priorities at the moment, Angie scolds me for walking so quickly before wondering aloud if Gabe is at the park or at home. 

Then I hear it, hissing laughter coming from the house. Looking up, I saw her- the source of the concerning scent. She sneers down at me from her high and mighty perch as she slinks away from the view of the window. Frantic, my mind races through the options I have. I know her kind- getting rid of her is impossible, and she’s clearly won over everyone in the house without them even knowing who she really is. Honestly, you have to feel sorry for Gabe. Skulking around and getting what she secretly craves from everyone is the cause of her amusement. She comes and goes as she pleases, never listening to anyone. 

Blood rushing and heart-pounding, I wish I could get to her. I want to know why she would ruin Angie’s happiness like this. The facts are I need to get Angie away from Gabe, she could never be happy with that evil temptress around, and Gabe isn’t as great as he might seem. But how do I get her away without putting her in danger of the lying, cheating fool? Maybe I should have let Angie and Maddox babble up a brook back at the park. 

Just then, Angie sees what I see too, “Hey… I think I see a cat.” Yes, that evil temptress. I must eat her. It will fix everything. If I can’t eat the cat, you have to date Maddox. Gabe isn’t right for you!! “I’m sorry, boy. I know you hate cats, I should’ve known Gabe had a cat. We even talked about pets, I just talked too much about you, you good doggie!!” 

“I’m a good dog!”

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