It was going to be a great surprise when Mom dressed in her new clown outfit. Wanting to work as a clown for years, she had finally taken steps to pursue her dream. Dad accepted the package with the clown suit inside yesterday when the deliveryman rang the doorbell. Mom couldn't get the door because she lay sick in bed.
Although it was Saturday, Dad had gone to work. Mom assured him he could leave without regrets as long as he left homemade soup in the fridge. Warming up a bowl of soup in the microwave would be cinchy. Even Joseph, the eldest brother, who was eleven, could help mom with that.
Joseph was smart. He knew how to do all kinds of things. When seven-year-old Susie got a bike for her birthday, Joseph helped dad make sense of the assembly instructions. Once, he even helped Mom figure out how to measure ingredients for sugar cookies.
Ten-year-old Jimmy could hardly keep his eyes off the delivery box when the children piled up on Mom’s bed. Dad had placed the box in plain sight next to the dresser. “Why is the clown suit box so big?” Jimmy asked.
Mom told him the box was big because it contained everything she needed to transform into a clown.
“You mean rainbow hair and big shoes and stuff,” Jimmy pried.
“Ah-ah-ah! That’s a surprise,” laughed Mom. Her stuffy nose and scratchy throat made her sound like a hissing cat talking with people language instead of meowing.
“Well hurry up and get better so we can see you in it,” chuckled Jimmy.
“Yeah, Mom,” injected Joseph, “It’s too bad you won’t be able to wear it for the fair grand opening.”
“I know, Sweetie,” said Mom. “But it'll look just as good when I wear it tomorrow.”
“That’s another thing, Mom,” added Joseph. “Today is the only day the first two hundred people get free prizes. Since the gate opens at 10:00, it would be great if you forced yourself to feel better by 9:30.”
“Joseph, you’re kidding. Right?”
“Yeah, Mom, I'm kidding about you going. But I really think Jimmy, Susie, and I should go. It’s only half a mile away. We could walk there in ten lousy minutes!”
“You’re making me feel sicker talking like that. I couldn’t let you guys walk to a fair alone.”
“The traffic is bound to be immense! You know how crowded the fair will be? Just be patient for one day. Then we'll all go together with your dad.”
“Dad said it would be all right,” interjected Susie.
“He did? When did he say that?”
“When he was getting in the car and Joseph asked him.”
“I see,” said Mom turning her eyes back to Joseph.
“I can keep an eye on everybody. I promise you,” insisted Joseph.
“I’ll hold Joseph’s and Jimmy’s hands the whole time,” assured Susie.
“And we’ll wait outside the girls room if Susie has to use the potty,” added Jimmy.
The Jones children assured their mother they were perfectly capable of looking out for each other. They told her they would only talk to fair workers who asked for ride tickets, and money to play games, and stuff.
Eventually, Mom, who always tried not to be overprotective, let her children walk to the fair. They were about to take Susie on the twisting Spider when a clown offered her a balloon. She looked at Joseph to see if he thought she should accept it. Since it was free prize day and clowns worked at the fair, Joseph gave Susie an okay nod.
“You’re a cool clown,” said Susie taking the balloon. “My mom’s going to be a clown,” she added. “I bet she’ll be just as cool as you.”
About an hour later, hungry Jimmy wanted to get a hotdog. At the concession stand, the cook said they would have to wait a few minutes because the hotdogs were selling out faster than he could roast them. A few minutes later, while Jimmy and Susie were watching Joseph squirt water into a clown mouth to win a stuffed panda, the cook came over with a tray of three hotdogs and three sodas. Joseph did not win the water game and was about to pay the cook but the cook said he did not have to.
“Why not?” Joseph asked.
“It’s paid for,” answered the cook. “Some clown said sweet kids shouldn’t have to wait so long for lousy hotdogs. Then she gave me the cash.”
“Wow!” said Jimmy. “Now you have enough money to try winning the panda again!”
“I guess so,” said Joseph. “Wonder why a clown would pay for our food though.”
“She’s nice,” suggested Susie. “She’s the same kind of nice clown Mommy’s going to be when she’s not sick anymore.”
At home that afternoon, the kids told Mom and Dad, who came home from work early, all about their fair adventures.
“When I was walking around with a hotdog mustard face, the nice clown even gave me a flowered napkin to wipe the mustard off,” added Susie.
“Yeah... The same kind of napkins you buy, Mom,” added Joseph noticing the open delivery box next to Mom’s dresser.
SOLUTION - Even though Mom was not feeling her best, she dressed in her clown suit and went to work at the fair to keep an eye on her children.
The Valentine Necklace Mystery