Who done it, p.1
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           Jon Scieszka
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Who Done It?


  Copyright © 2013 by Soho Press, Inc.

  All rights reserved.

  Published in the United States in 2013 by Soho Teen

  an imprint of Soho Press, Inc.

  853 Broadway

  New York, NY 10003

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Who done it? : an investigation of murder most foul / conducted by Jon Scieszka and you, the reader.

  p. cm

  “A serial act of criminal literature to benefit 826NYC.”

  eBook ISBN: 978-1-61695-153-5

  Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-61695-152-8

  1. Authors—Fiction. 2. Authorship—Fiction. 3. Humorous stories.

  I. Scieszka, Jon.

  PZ5.W6234 2012

  [Fic]—dc23 2012033468

  Interior design by Janine Agro, Soho Press, Inc.

  v3.1

  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Introductory Interrogation by Jon Scieszka

  List of Suspects

  J.R. and Kate Angelella

  Mac Barnett

  Jennifer Belle

  Judy Blundell

  Liz Braswell

  Libba Bray

  Steve Brezenoff

  Elise Broach

  Peter Brown

  Jen Calonita

  Patrick Carman

  Susane Colasanti

  Elizabeth Craft

  Melissa de la Cruz

  Julia DeVillers and Paige Pooler

  Larry Doyle

  Sarah Beth Durst

  Dave Eggers

  Daniel Ehrenhaft

  Elizabeth Eulberg

  Helen Fitzgerald

  Gayle Forman

  Aimee Friedman

  Margaux Froley

  Claudia Gabel

  Michelle Gagnon

  Adam Gidwitz

  Anna Godbersen

  John Green

  Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

  Lev Grossman

  Janet Gurtler

  F. Bowman Hastie III and Tillamook Cheddar

  Geoff Herbach

  Joanna Hershon

  Mandy Hubbard

  Emily Jenkins

  Maureen Johnson

  Lindsey Kelk

  Jo Knowles

  Gordon Korman

  David Levithan

  Sarah Darer Littman

  Barry Lyga

  Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés

  Leslie Margolis

  Julia Mayer

  Barnabas Miller

  Jacquelyn Mitchard

  Sarah Mlynowski and Courtney Sheinmel

  Lauren Myracle

  Greg Neri

  Jennifer A. Nielsen and Lisa Ann Sandell

  Michael Northrop

  Lauren Oliver

  David Ostow

  Micol Ostow

  Alison Pace

  Joy Preble

  Margo Rabb

  Lisa and Laura Roecker

  Marie Rutkoski

  Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg

  Kieran Scott (occasionally Kate Brian)

  Alyssa B. Sheinmel

  Sara Shepard

  Jennifer E. Smith

  Lemony Snicket

  Jordan Sonnenblick

  Natalie Standiford

  Rebecca Stead

  Todd Strasser

  Heather Terrell

  Ned Vizzini

  Adrienne Maria Vrettos

  Melissa Walker

  Robin Wasserman

  Lynn Weingarten

  Kiersten White

  Mo Willems

  Rita Williams-Garcia

  Maryrose Wood

  Jennifer Ziegler

  Michelle Zink

  Verdict by Jon Scieszka

  Afterword by Jon Scieszka

  About 826NYC

  About the Suspects

  Ladies and gentlemen…and I use those terms loosely because I know you are all writers and illustrators…we have a bit of a situation.

  You were all invited to this party tonight because of your relationship with Mr. Herman Q. Mildew.

  Some of you were not fond of him. Others of you could not stand him. Most of you completely hated his guts.

  Mr. Mildew brought you to this abandoned pickle factory because he had something to tell you, something that he thought might make you very mad. And he wanted to see all of you freak out live and in person.

  But that is not going to happen.

  You see…Mr. Herman Q. Mildew is no longer with us.

  He shuffled off this mortal coil, took the long walk off the short pier, has gone to glory, gave up the ghost, cashed in, checked out, kicked the bucket, went bye-bye.

  He is now a corpse, a cadaver, dearly departed, a stiff.

  The problem?

  Each and every one of you had a reason to send Mr. Herman Mildew to the Great Beyond. You are all suspects in his demise. And it is up to me—and the keen reader holding this book—to figure out: Who done it?

  As you well know, Herman Mildew was not a nice man.

  He was mean, arrogant, loud, large, obnoxious, cruel to small furry animals, delusional, thoughtless, difficult, vulgar, negative, likely to take the last sip of orange juice and then put the empty carton back in the refrigerator, intolerant, sneaky, greedy, fond of toenail clippings and strong cheeses, hugely entertained by the misfortune of others, hateful, quick to anger, unforgiving, mean, gaseous, paranoid, belligerent, unreasonable, demanding, smelly, near-sighted…in short: an editor. Perhaps even your editor, or the editor of someone you admire.

  Some examples of his sadistic behavior, in no particular order:

  • He enrolled Dave Eggers in True Romance’s Book-of-the-Month Club.

  • He drew mustaches on all of Lauren Oliver’s author photos.

  • He told Mo Willems what he could do with the Pigeon.

  All this is true. So why did you accept this invitation?

  Never mind. The more important question is why a quick pat-down of this audience turned up:

  • 1 poison-tipped umbrella

  • 1 suitcase full of poisonous tree frogs

  • 3 throwing stars

  • 1 noose, 1 candlestick, and 1 lead pipe

  • 2 snakes resembling speckled “friendship” bands

  • 1 frozen leg of lamb

  What?

  Me?

  Why do I have a piece of piano wire hanging out of my trench coat?

  Why…why…not because Mr. Mildew once forced me to play “I’m A Little Teapot” on the piano in front of hundreds of booksellers. And I wasn’t going to use it to strangle anyone in a most fitting way. I have piano wire because…because…because I was fixing my piano last time I was wearing this coat. I was just replacing the—

  Wait a minute! Our readers and I are running this investigation. We’ll ask the questions. And we want answers. We want alibis.

  Of course, before you begin, we are bound by law to advise you that you have the right to remain silent.

  But who are we kidding?

  You are (as mentioned) a bunch of writers and illustrators. You couldn’t remain silent if your life depended on it. You would sell your grandmother for an audience.

  So tell us your alibi.

  Convince us that you did not do in, cut down, rub out, bump off, put away, dispatch, exterminate, eradicate, liquidate, assassinate, fix, drop, croak, or kill the late, unlamented Mr. Herman Mildew.

  List of Suspects*

  J.R. and Kate Angelella

  Mac Barnett

  Jennifer Belle

  Judy Blundell

  Liz Braswell

  Libba Bray

  Steve Brezenoff

  Elise Broach

  Peter Brown

&nb
sp; Jen Calonita

  Patrick Carman

  Susane Colasanti

  Elizabeth Craft

  Melissa de la Cruz

  Julia DeVillers and Paige Pooler

  Larry Doyle

  Sarah Beth Durst

  Dave Eggers

  Daniel Ehrenhaft

  Elizabeth Eulberg

  Helen Fitzgerald

  Gayle Forman

  Aimee Friedman

  Margaux Froley

  Claudia Gabel

  Michelle Gagnon

  Adam Gidwitz

  Anna Godbersen

  John Green

  Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

  Lev Grossman

  Janet Gurtler

  F. Bowman Hastie III and Tillamook Cheddar

  Geoff Herbach

  Joanna Hershon

  Mandy Hubbard

  Emily Jenkins

  Maureen Johnson

  Lindsey Kelk

  Jo Knowles

  Gordon Korman

  David Levithan

  Sarah Darer Littman

  Barry Lyga

  Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés

  Leslie Margolis

  Julia Mayer

  Barnabas Miller

  Jacquelyn Mitchard

  Sarah Mlynowski and Courtney Sheinmel

  Lauren Myracle

  Greg Neri

  Jennifer A. Nielsen and Lisa Ann Sandell

  Michael Northrop

  Lauren Oliver

  David Ostow

  Micol Ostow

  Alison Pace

  Joy Preble

  Margo Rabb

  Lisa and Laura Roecker

  Marie Rutkoski

  Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg

  Kieran Scott (occasionally Kate Brian)

  Alyssa B. Sheinmel

  Sara Shepard

  Jennifer E. Smith

  Lemony Snicket

  Jordan Sonnenblick

  Natalie Standiford

  Rebecca Stead

  Todd Strasser

  Heather Terrell

  Ned Vizzini

  Adrienne Maria Vrettos

  Melissa Walker

  Robin Wasserman

  Lynn Weingarten

  Kiersten White

  Mo Willems

  Rita Williams-Garcia

  Maryrose Wood

  Jennifer Ziegler

  Michelle Zink

  * For the record: Alphabetizing this list was my idea, to speed things up. I am assisting in this investigation only so I can leave the abandoned pickle factory as soon as possible. (It smells much more like “abandon” than “pickles,” I can assure you.) Also, there’s a special two-hour Ancient Aliens on the History Channel at midnight and my TiVo is on the fritz. Point being: I’m not trying to curry favor with Mr. Scieszka, if that is his real name. Okay, full disclosure: I’m a suspect too. But look at some of the other alibis. Not to point fingers, but David Levithan’s is in free verse. Gayle Forman’s is in “Twitter.” The team who wants toddlers to Go the F**k to Sleep is in rap-with-illustration, a format heretofore unknown. There’s even a Jack Russell terrier, Tillamook Cheddar, who offers her doggy art as proof of her innocence. And what of the suspects who conveniently implicate fellow suspects? (Lauren Myracle and sisters Sheinmel, are your ears burning?) I alphabetized so that you, the reader, can zero in on suspicious people of interest. Yes, I said “people” instead of “writers” or “illustrators.” Or even “canines.” I am in a generous mood. As long as I make it home by midnight. —Daniel Ehrenhaft

  We were mad enough to murder, but please allow us to explain.

  We didn’t murder Herman Mildew. You can split us up—in fact, we encourage it—and you can scream and shout and shine a bright light in our eyes to see that we are telling the truth. We have nothing to hide here because we didn’t do it. We admit that we said we were mad enough to murder, but it’s not what you think. We were mad enough to murder, but not mad enough to murder Herman Mildew.

  (Is it all right that we use the past tense when we talk about Herman Mildew, or does that make us look guilty too?)

  It’s true—Herman Mildew was a rat of a man, who nibbled and nibbled and nibbled away at our words, chewing up and spitting out the most beautiful and meaningful parts of our novel. He was never pleased with any draft that we turned in to him on time. He was never happy with our work. He always wanted more, or demanded a whole lot less.

  Herman Mildew was definitely the princess who slept on the pea.

  Herman Mildew was the Goldilocks to our bears.

  We agree; if he is, in fact, dead and he was, in fact, murdered, then it was most certainly someone he knew. It just wasn’t us.

  Yes, it’s true that he used to be our editor.

  Yes, it’s true that he didn’t like our book.

  Yes, it’s true that we wrote him into the final draft of our book as a villainous, spiteful tree-dwelling gnome.

  And, yes, it’s true that he fired us from his imprint after he discovered the aforementioned gnome’s name, hardly a fire-able offense.

  That being said, once we were fired, we were free from him. We were free from his yammering, and free from his pointless line edits. We didn’t have to falsely lie in our blogs about how brilliant and amazing our editor was to work with (a total lie!) or write a loving acknowledgement in the back of our book like Thank you, thank you, thank you so much, Mildew, we owe every success of this book to you (which would have also been a lie!).

  Are we guilty of being tacky, naming the villainous gnome after Mildew? Maybe.

  Are we guilty of being mean? Absolutely.

  But are we guilty of murder? No, not his.

  We were mad enough to murder was meant as an expression, not a literal action. We never meant it to be real or even directed at Mildew. Simply put—the reason it was said was that we absolutely drive ourselves insane sometimes. Always talking like this—in the plural first person point of view, simultaneously, like we’re the same person, always speaking as one. It’s enough to make one mad—maybe not mad like mad enough to murder, but more mad like mad like crazy.

  Are we making sense with this yet?

  Allow us to be clearer: we were once mad enough to murder, but after this falsified murder accusation we are madder like madder like incredibly annoyed, and quickly barreling toward madness like madness at the hands of the late Herman Mildew.

  How is that for clarity?

  Of course I wanted to murder Herman Mildew. Please understand, I want to murder people all the time, and I never do it. I’m just not the murdering kind. For every person I’m accused of murdering (one: Herman Mildew), there are thousands of people I wanted to murder who are still alive. And so it’s just highly unlikely, if not completely impossible, that I killed Mr. H.M. That’s just math.

  I submit in my defense this list:

  PEOPLE I HAVEN’T MURDERED

  1. Mike Dumbroksi. I went to high school with Mike, and I hadn’t heard from him since, until about a week ago, I started getting emails telling me that Mike Dumbroski would like to add me to his professional network on LinkedIn. I do not know what LinkedIn is. I do not understand what Mike Dumbroski’s professional network is, or why he would like me to join it. And I cannot figure out how Mike Dumbroski got in touch with me, since the last time I talked to him, when he asked to copy my homework for Algebra 2/Trig, my email address was BeEfJeRkY@prodigy.net. But somehow I have received seventeen LinkedIn-related emails from Mike in the last twelve days, and yet I have not murdered him.

  2. Guy Riding his Bike on the Sidewalk. Yesterday this guy was riding his bike toward me on the sidewalk. It was crowded, and he almost ran into me. He had to squeeze his brakes hard, and the brakes made that awful noise. I darted to my left to get out of his way, and I bumped into an old lady in a purple dress, and she harrumphed at me like it was my fault, when everybody knows that it’s illegal to ride bikes on the sidewalk. That guy needed to get in the road. Plus he had a dumb beard. Bu
t I still didn’t murder him, even though I wanted to.

  3. Man with a Funny Accent Who Called My Dog Fat. At first I thought maybe he just meant that my dog was big, but used the wrong word, since he was European. But then he asked me if my dog ate a lot of food. My dog does not eat a lot of food, and he is not fat. But even though I would have been totally justified to murder this man with a funny accent who called my dog fat, I didn’t.

  4. Inspector 43. I bought a pair of madras boxer shorts two days ago, and when I put them on this morning I discovered that the right leg was significantly tighter than the left. It is important to note that my legs are approximately the same size. Seriously, it feels like I’m wearing a tourniquet right now. This whole disaster is the fault of Inspector 43—I know, because he left a little tag in the bag that said he’d inspected my boxers to ensure they met high standards of quality. And so did I spend today traveling to the factory, demanding to see the badges of all the boxer-short inspectors, and then murdering Inspector 43? No. Instead I stayed home and watched a Real World/Road Rules Challenge marathon in my boxers.

  5. My Next-Door Neighbor. My next-door neighbor has a NO PARKING sign in front of his house, but it’s not like the city put it up or anything. He just bought it at a hardware store and glued it to his fence. Or nailed it to his fence—I don’t know if he used glue. Regardless, it’s legal to park in front of his house. He’s not fooling anybody with that sign. But when I parked there the other day, he left a note on my car telling me to park somewhere else. I was so mad! But did I murder him? No. Of course not. I did help send him to jail on unrelated charges, but that is a different story.

  Look at that! That’s five people I have not murdered, right off the top of my head. And there are many, many more. Including, of course, Herman Mildew.

  You want to know what the members of the debate team at the Bronx High School of Science mostly did? We discussed how much money it would take to make out with the coach, an enormously fat troll of a man we called Mr. Gunt. We really spent a lot of time on this. Would I for $500,000? I would, but Paolina, a beautiful girl whose mother owned an art gallery wouldn’t. $300,000? I was still willing, but others dropped out. At $84,500 I was the only one still able to endure the thought of getting hot and heavy with Mr. Gunt.

  Junior year I won Nationals. Winning that debate trophy is the thing I am most proud of in this world. Forget the book awards and the film options. Despite my hatred of Mr. Gunt, or maybe because of it, I went to every meeting and worked as hard as I could. And when I won, I tried to give my trophy to Mr. Gunt as a kind of thank you, but he wouldn’t take it. He just said his dog Blanche was a better debater than I was, made me give her the sandwich from my lunch bag, and told me to get out of his classroom.

 
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