"A Call From Chet"
Blond, seventeen-year-old Joe Hardy ran downstairs to answer the telephone.
His brother, Frank, dark-haired and a year older, rushed in at the same
moment from the dining room of the Hardys' roomy house in Bayport, a bustling
seaport of fifty thousand inhabitants. "I've got it!" the younger and more
impetuous of the two declared. "Hello? Chet! What's up?" Chet Morton was
a stout, good-natured boy who loved to eat. Next to that, he enjoyed being
with the Hardys and sharing their exciting adventures as they pursued the
criminals, spies, and smugglers whose activities in Bayport had made it the
small-town crime capital of the world.
"Oh, hello, Joe," said Chet on the other end of the telephone, one of the many
up-to-date sleuthing devices used by the Hardys in solving their cases. "Is
Iola there?" their plump, ruddy-faced chum queried. Iola, a slim and
vivacious girl, was Chet's little sister and a good friend of the Hardys,
including Joe, who, though fairer and a year younger, bore a marked
resemblance to his brother, Frank, who was less impetuous that his short,
blue-eyed younger brother.
"I haven't seen her, Chet," said Joe, noticing the reflection of his blue-
eyed, blond-haired figure in the old mirror in the living room, the same
old mirror that played so important a role in _The_Mystery_of_the_Old_Mirror_.
"Maybe she's disappeared!" exclaimed Frank, who, though less impetuous than
his younger brother, still had a nose for trouble, the same nose in fact that
was such a large part of _The_Secret_of_the_Same_Nose_.
"She said she'd be with your father," Chet added. The boy's father, Fenton
Hardy, was an internationally famous detective who had for many years served
with the New York City police force before retiring to Bayport to raise his
sons, Frank, a dark, serious boy and his brother, Joe, who was fairer and
more impetuous. The reknowned detective chose Bayport, a town with a
population of half a hundred thousand, bordered by Bridgeport, Brownport,
Beachport, and Barport, because it had more tunnels, caves, caverns, trap
doors, pits, underground harbors, coves, suspicious holes, and deadfalls
than the Luray Caverns and all but one of the thirty-five abandoned mills
in the western hemisphere. His wife, Laura, a slim and attractive woman,
was Frank and Joe's mother and, unlike the other three Hardys, who were
alive, was dead.
"Iola, with Dad? Wow! There must be a mystery brewing," exclaimed Joe,
remembering _The_Mystery_of_the_Brewery_. "Let us in on it, Chet!" pleaded
the youth, whom a sly intruder with a sharp eye, had there been one, would
have quickly discovered was somewhat fairer and shorter than his darker
and older brother.
"Mystery? Oh, right, yes, sure, Joe, a mystery," Chet conceded. "Listen,
Joe, tell Iola to be sure to get the Zig-Zag Papers. It's awfully important.
I can't tell you anything else now. I've got to go on an errand for Mom or
get my tonsils out -- I can't remember which. Bye." The telephone, a squat,
black instrument which was smaller and darker than a radio, emitted a loud
"What's cooking?" inquired Frank of the blond, blue-eyed youth whom anyone
would have quickly recognized as his brother, due to the strong resemblance
between the two.
"I don't know, Frank," remarked Joe, replacing the suspiciously shaped
receiver in the cradle. "Chet sounded pretty secretive. I'll bet something's
"Let's go ask Dad," urged Frank, whose driver's license contained the entry
"Brown" under the words "Hair" and "Eyes." In this regard, it differed from
his brother's which carried the descriptions "Blond" and "Blue" in those
spaces and indicated a birth date a year after that on Frank's.
As the two boys raced through the hall toward the stairs to their father's
room, which commanded an excellent view of the town of Bayport and Barmet
Bay, after which it was named, Frank noticed a piece of paper which had been
slipped under the door and now lay on the hall carpet, a long strip of dark
rug which contrasted sharply to the lighter floor-covering in the living room.
"Look!" said Frank, calling his brother's attention to the strange note.
"Wow, a secret message!" cried Joe.
Frank read the note, which was made out of letters cut from magazines and
pasted on a piece of plain paper of the kind people often use to write on:
YOU HARDYS ARE FUCKING FINKS. KISS OFF, OR ELSE! SIGNED, A FRIEND.
"Good night!" exclaimed Joe. "Whoever wrote that means business!"
"What's a fink, and what's fucking?" wondered Frank aloud.
"I don't know," replied Joe tensely, "but my guess is it's underworld lingo.
It probably means bothersome detective, and whoever wrote it must want us
out of the way!"
"Yes, that must be it," declared Frank.
"Say," interrupted Joe, "I've never noticed that pair of rubber before!" On
the floor next to a familiar object, which called to the brother's minds
_The_Secret_of_the_Umbrella_Stand_, stood a pair of slip-on rubbers, one for
a left foot, and its mate -- the same size but shaped to fit a right foot!
"You're right!" agreed Frank. "Let's take them and the note up to Dad's
lab and analyze them for clues. We can look for Iola later!"
Joe quickly assented, but at that moment, Aunt Gertrude, Mr. Hardy's
unmarried sister, came into the hall from the kitchen. She was a tall,
angular woman, somewhat peppery in manner, but extremely kind-hearted and
affectionate. Knowing that she worried about the dangers they encountered
in the course of their sleuthing, Frank quickly hid the note and the rubbers
behind his back.
"Well, how are my favorite detectives today?" inquired Aunt Gertrude, running
her fingers through the blond hair which Joe, the fairer of the two brothers,
had on his head.
"Just fine, Aunty," replied Joe, trying to conceal his excitement about the
note. "Frank and I were just going up to Dad's lab to do a little, er,
"Oh, how nice," said Aunt Gertrude tartly, slipping her hand inside Joe's
shirt. "And how is that appendix scar?"
"Gosh, Aunty, that was four years ago!" exclaimed Joe.
"Well, there's always the risk of hernia," she intoned, moving her hand down
into his pants. "You can't be too careful."
"Oh, that tickles," gasped Joe, squirming under Aunt Gertrude's medical
examination. Her concern for their health and her almost daily examinations
of them for what she called 'signs' were a standing family joke.
"Look, Aunty, we're in kind of a hurry," Frank said impatiently, as he
backed out of the hall. "We'll be back later."
"You bet," said Joe, moving away from Aunt Gertrude's grasp.
"Oh, you boys are so jumpy," she said. "You just drive me crazy."
As Aunt Gertrude walked back into the kitchen, the two boys quickly made their
way to their father's well-equipped crime laboratory, located over the garage,
where a dark green Buick, longer and lower than a Ford, and belonging to Mr.
Hardy, sat silently, its gas gauge pointing ominously towards 'empty'!
- * -
"Sex between a man and a woman can be a wonderful thing if one
is between the right man and the right woman." - Woody Allen