The clue of the linoleum.., p.1
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       The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen, p.1

           M. T. Anderson
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The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen







  a Pals in Peril Tale


  Illustrations by KURT CYRUS



  This book is dedicated to the loneliest whale

  (see APPENDIX A.)


  An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

  1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

  This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Text copyright © 2006 by M.T. Anderson

  Illustrations copyright © 2006 by Kurt Cyrus

  Originally published in hardcover by Harcourt Books

  All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

  BEACH LANE BOOKS is a trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact

  Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or

  The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event.

  For more information or to book an event, contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers

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  The text for this book is set in Stempel Garamond.

  Manufactured in the United States of America / 0410 FFG

  2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Anderson, M. T.

  The clue of the linoleum lederhosen / M.T. Anderson ; illustrated by Kurt Cyrus.

  p. cm. — (A pals in peril tale ; [2])

  Sequel to: Whales on stilts!

  Summary: Looking forward to a vacation, Katie, Lily, and Jasper attach their flying

  Gyroscopic Sky Suite to the Moose Tongue Lodge and Resort, where they mingle

  with other child heroes found in books, and where they become embroiled in a

  mystery involving lederhosen-clothed quintuplets and a screaming ventriloquist.

  ISBN 978-1-4424-0697-1 (hardcover : alk. paper)

  [1. Hotels, motels, etc.—Fiction. 2. Resorts—Fiction. 3. Characters in literature—

  Fiction. 4. Humorous stories. 5. Mystery and detective stories.]

  I. Cyrus, Kurt, ill. II. Title.

  PZ7.A54395Clu 2010 [Fic]—dc22 2009046217

  ISBN 978-1-4424-0698-8 (eBook)

  “Great scott!” cried Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut. “Your mother just lost her hand in the rotating band saw!”

  Katie Mulligan kept dribbling her ball of wastepaper back and forth between her knees. “Uh-huh,” she said. “Sure.”

  Katie’s mother screamed and held up her bloody stump.

  Katie kicked the ball of paper into the trash basket, scoring two points. She asked, “Right at the wrist?”

  Jasper rushed to Katie’s mother’s side. “Don’t you worry, Mrs. Mulligan!” exclaimed Jasper. He grabbed her arm. “Lie down flat while I prepare a tourniquet.”

  They were in the Mulligans’ garage, watching Mrs. Mulligan make a roulette wheel for the Salvation Army’s charity casino—or at least that’s what they’d been watching until Mrs. Mulligan’s gruesome accident.

  “Where do you want to go to dinner?” Katie asked her friend Lily.

  Lily shrugged. When she was alone with her friends, she was very quiet, hiding behind her bangs, watching rather than speaking. She was naturally pretty shy. She was also made bashful by the sight of industrial accidents, even though she knew that Katie’s mother was just playing a prank on Jasper, the way Mrs. Mulligan always did. Run over by a moose, decapitated by the dryer, burnt to a crisp by a defective AM/FM clock radio—there was no tragedy too weird and stupid for Jasper to believe.

  “Don’t you worry, Mrs. Mulligan,” he was saying. “By next Thursday I’ll have you fitted up with a bionic hand that will be every bit as good as your old hand. And it will have extendable fingers and photon thrusters, and there’ll be a space in the thumb to conceal your cyanide pill and lock-picking tools.”

  Mrs. Mulligan stopped screaming. She looked at him skeptically. “My lock-picking tools?”

  “Or whatever,” said Jasper. “Whatever’s small and can be concealed in a secret chamber.”

  Mrs. Mulligan took off the fake rubber arm stump and stretched her fingers. “Why would you possibly think I would want lock-picking tools?”

  “Ah,” said Jasper, somewhat displeased. “I see you are not actually wounded at all.”

  “Who has lock-picking tools?”

  “Mrs. Mulligan, was your accident with the band saw just a jolly prank to ‘put one over on me’? Because if it was, may I—ma’am—may I say that I did not entirely appreciate the humor.”

  “Jasper, do you have lock-picking tools? What do you kids do all day?”

  “Good question,” sighed Katie. “It’s vacation, and we’re bored out of our minds.”

  Mrs. Mulligan waved her rubber wrist in the air. “Well, that’s why I was trying to cheer you all up a little.”

  “By sawing off your own hand?” said Jasper.

  “You girls didn’t even jump,” said Katie’s mom.

  “Because we see it all the time,” said Katie. She groaned, “Aaaaaaalllllllll the tiiiiiiiiiiime.” She let her tongue hang out of her mouth and her head roll back.

  Katie Mulligan lived in Horror Hollow, a small, eventful suburb where there were constantly problems with phantasms, murderers, door-to-door tarantula peddlers, and slime. She even had her own series of books written about her. They told every gory detail of how she fought off ghouls on the rooftop, bats in her bedroom, and wyverns in the den. It was a popular series, since she was the only girl heroine to fight evil in flip-flops. Katie was plucky and brave and always spoke her mind.

  Unfortunately, in order to have lots of “cliff-hanger” chapter endings in the Horror Hollow series, a lot of tedious cliff-hanger things had to happen to the family in reality. But even a family constantly attacked by living dolls and ferocious skate-punk vampires couldn’t have disasters every minute of their lives. There had to be some time in between disasters for eating, drinking orange juice, and walking the dog. This meant that in order to provide excitement before the real action started, they had to play a lot of stupid, disgusting pranks on each other. That got old very quickly. There are only so many times you can watch your father’s face melt before you want to just say, “Okay, stop the bus.” It makes you almost long for the moment when, finally, the pine tree out the window grows a big spindly claw and the adventure starts for real.

  Jasper also had a series written about him, but it had been written many, many years before. In his series he invented stupendous devices and went on startling adventures where there was plenty of action and fisticuffs. Unfortunately, the Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut series was no longer read very much, except by kids with the influenza, after they’d run out of everything else to read and had watched a couple of days of MTV, even the reality shows about sorority girls basting turkeys with hard liquor. Once flu victims had played all the Chinese checkers they could stand with their brothers and had used the Internet to look up scenes of ape-to-ape violence, then, sometimes, they would read and
enjoy a good, clean, fast-paced Jasper Dash adventure that had been sitting in their attic for forty years. They would like the Jasper Dash series, but often the scenes they really remembered from his books, the ones that really stayed with them once they got well, turned out to be things they’d dreamed when they fell asleep in the middle of Chapter 12.

  Often, if you go to a town library and under Keyword Search type “Jasper Dash,” you’ll come up with a list of his books—and beside each one, it says: “Withdrawn. Withdrawn. Withdrawn. Withdrawn.” This means that they are no longer in circulation. Some librarian has taken them off the shelf, wiping away a tear, and has opened the book to the back, where there’s a pouch for a card dating back to the time of the Second World War, and she’ll crumple up the card, and then she and her fellow librarians will take special knives and slice away at the book and will eat the pages in big mouthfuls until the book is all gone, the whole time weeping, because they hate this duty—it is the worst part of their job—for here was a book that was once someone’s favorite, but which now is dead and empty. And the little cheerful face of Jasper Dash, heading off to fight a cattle-rustling ring in his biplane, will still be smiling pluckily as they take their Withdrawal Knives and scratch his book to pieces.

  Lily did not have her own series. She didn’t realize yet how exciting her life really was. Her friends knew, because she had often gotten them out of scrapes, but she didn’t believe what her friends told her. She thought she was just the quiet sidekick.

  Want to learn more about these fascinating characters? You can read their previous book, Whales on Stilts!, available for the laughably low price of $15.00 at fine bookstores near you.*

  “If you’re bored,” suggested Mrs. Mulligan, “why don’t you get out of the house? You could go down to the old swamp, or the rust exhibit at the museum, or maybe that weird store that just appeared last night on Bunk Street.”

  “No,” said Katie. “I’m sick of adventures. I’m sick of it all.”

  Mrs. Mulligan put her hands (intact) on her hips and smiled. “Whenever I hear that, I know a particularly big and baffling adventure is just around the corner! You kids just wait!”

  Katie gritted her teeth. She was about three inches away from having a good old-fashioned tantrum. “No,” she said. “I’m going to have a normal vacation. Like a normal kid. Not like a mass-market celebrity in a weird, psychopathic suburban development.” She stood up and began rummaging around in the garage mess. She knelt in front of a pile of stuff. She started to rifle through it. She grunted, “We’re going to play Twister. Okay? That’s it. We’re playing Twister.”

  She threw old kites and skates and carpet samples across the garage.

  “Hey!” said Mrs. Mulligan. “Katie! Stop!”

  Katie didn’t listen. She hurled a pair of running shoes onto the hood of the car. She tossed a map of the world into the air.

  Lily felt kind of embarrassed for Katie, in that tingly way you feel embarrassed when a friend is having a tantrum in front of you and you’re not along for the ride.

  “Katie!” scolded her mom.

  Katie kicked a box of Christmas lights under the workbench.

  “Be reasonable,” said her mother.

  Suddenly Katie shrieked and leaped back.

  “Jupiter’s moons!” gasped Jasper Dash. “Your father’s dismembered torso!”

  * Remember: If you buy two copies and hold them at different distances from your eyes, you can see the book in 3-D.

  “I built my house out of Whales on Stilts!,” says David Gonzales of South Rupture, Indiana. “I stacked them up in a big pile. I’ve never regretted it. It was way cheaper than marble.”

  Jenn Ross of Dexter Heights, South Dakota, writes that she uses multiple copies of Whales on Stilts! to keep deer out of her flower garden. “Oh, I love that book,” she says. “It’s just the right weight for hurling. Or I use a kind of a book launcher my husband made for me. Yessiree Bob, there’s many a deer in Dexter Heights that regrets it ever heard about the exciting career of plucky heroine Lily [Gefelty].”

  “Oh, that old thing!” said Katie’s dad, strolling in from the den.

  Katie’s mom laughed. “Oh, Ben! The torso! I haven’t seen that for years!”

  He smiled. “Not since the day of our wedding.”

  They squeezed each other and giggled.

  “That’s it,” said Katie. “I’m through!” she screamed. “Forget it!”

  And by three o’clock that afternoon, she, Jasper Dash, and Lily Gefelty were whizzing off for a week of rest and relaxation in the mountains at the Moose Tongue Lodge and Resort.

  Jasper had wanted to go to the Moose Tongue Lodge and Resort for a long time. There were trails through the mountains and decks you could sit on and look across the horizon. Jasper had a way of finding places that looked like they had never seen 1968, let alone 1973 or 1994.

  Plus, he had recently received a coupon for a free dinner in their dining room.

  Katie, Lily, and Jasper didn’t have the money for hotel rooms, so Jasper had fired up his Gyroscopic Sky Suite, which was designed to attach inconspicuously onto the outer walls of classic hotels.

  Inside, there were several small rooms with bunks, each room equipped with a shortwave radio and a speaking snorkel. There was a lot of closet space and a common area for sitting together and playing games. The Sky Suite also had other things one might need when on vacation, like a sauna and a crime lab. The whole capsule was shaped kind of like a rocket, but it was shingled so that when it attached itself to a vintage hotel, it appeared to be a turret. It had rocket engines, like almost everything Jasper invented, but they were only for emergencies. Usually, it was dragged through the sky by a robotic jet with a large girdle. The Sky Suite hung below the jet. The robot drove.

  During the flight up to the lodge, the kids sat in Lily’s room, playing 52-pickup with magnetic cards. Occasionally, they’d look out the window and see the foothills flying past beneath them, covered with oaks and maples.

  Finally, the lodge itself came into view. They saw the mountain, its summit bristling with weather antennae. It was nestled on cliffs below the mountain peaks. It was surrounded richly by pines—a huge wooden hotel with gables and chimneys and grand staircases and big windows and little suspended bridges that led into the woods across fissures.

  Jasper lifted his speaking snorkel. “All right!” he said. “Aim and toss!”

  The robotic jet pilot said, “Righto! Hold on to your lunches!”

  “Huh?” said Katie. “We already ate our—”

  Suddenly the pilot ejected the Sky Suite from its girdle. It flew through the air. With a huge crash, it hit the side of the hotel. As it hit, big metal clamps bit into the wood—there was a detonation—loud as the blasting of volcanoes—and the Sky Suite was secured, smoking, looking as if it had always been there.

  It took a minute before anyone could hear again.

  “Jasper!” said Katie, livid. “That was insane!”

  Lily bit her lip and waited for the police to arrive, banging on the metal door of the capsule. But there was no sound.

  “Have no fear, chums,” said Jasper. “We’ve arrived as safe and sound as chicks on Easter Sunday.” He unstrapped himself from his chair. “I just hope we managed to connect with a hallway. Otherwise, it could be a little bit sticky.”

  The three of them walked to the metal door. Jasper unlocked the door and swung it open.

  They stepped out. They were in a guest’s private bathroom. A man was cowering in the bathtub suds. There were broken wooden planks and chunks of plaster floating on the gray water all around him.

  Jasper cleared his throat and said, “I’m sorry. You appear to be in our antechamber.” He marched to the bathroom door.

  Katie gasped, “Oh wow. Oh wow. Here, let me help you pick up some of this … Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m so …” She and Lily scurried around, gathering pieces of wood.

  The man made a high-pitched meeping noise.

  Jasper said, “Madam, we regret any inconvenience we may have caused you. Unfortunately, we’re staying right here in rooms 23 A-E.”

  He pointed at the metal door of the capsule, on which was painted “ROOMS 23A-E.”

  “This is the fourth floor,” whispered the man. “I think you have the wrong room.”

  “Excuse us, good lady, if you will,” said Jasper. “We have to go tip the concierge. He appears to have given us a smashing view of the hot spring.”

  Jasper walked out through the man’s bedroom and into the hall. The girls followed him.

  “Jasper,” said Katie, “Jasper, you idiot! How are we going to get back to the capsule? We’ll have to go through that man’s bathroom every time we want to go to our bunks!”

  “What man?”

  “The bald one in the bath.”

  “I would hate to inconvenience anybody,” said Jasper, “except that I’ve found, in certain situations, that people would rather have a good story to tell than just another dull old bath. I think that eventually he will see the funny side of it.”

  “After a few days?” demanded Lily.

  “I hope it doesn’t take him that long,” said Jasper, uneasily. “He might find it hard to sleep until then. The ventilators are quite loud.”

  They walked down a sweeping staircase into the lobby.

  The lobby was cavernous. On the walls were old moose-hide snowshoes and wooden skis. There was a birch-bark canoe hanging above the front desk. A row of mounted animal heads hung high on the wall. People were bustling everywhere. Porters were taking bags; bellhops in pillbox hats were squeaking, “Yes, ma’am!” and bowing; there were lots of big men in raccoon-skin coats and pinstripe suits smoking cigars and pointing at portraits on the walls. The portraits were of famous men and their horses and hounds. One was of a sport fisherman with his trained eel, Loopy. Another man in a portrait had a falcon on his gloved arm.

  Jasper walked right up to the front desk.

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