"WHAT WAS, WHAT IS, AND
WHAT WILL BE"

by Patrick Keating
copyright 2002

Based on characters and places created by Robert Arthur, Jr.
"Excuse me."
Officer Stephen Laurel of the Rocky Beach Police Department looked up from his post at the front desk, and fought back a sigh of exasperation.  Not that kid again.

"Is the Chief in, please?  It's imperative that I speak with him."

"Yes, but he's very busy.  He doesn't have time for kid's games."

"That's O.K.," a voice called from the inner office, with a slight note of resignation.  "Send him in."

The boy quickly went into the inner office.  "Chief, I have examined the scene of the robbery again and I am certain that it could not have been committed by the Smolinske-Fulmer gang."

The Chief leaned forward.  "Are you now?"

"Yes, sir.  You see, in examining the tread marks by the getaway car and comparing them with---"

The Chief held up his hand.  "You wouldn't really expect them to use their own cars, would you?  If I were going to commit a crime, you don't think I'd use either my patrol unit or my personal car, do you?"

"No, sir, of course not.  I should have realized that.  However, if you also take into account that--"

"Young man, I appreciate your enthusiasm and your desire to support law and order, but this is police business and I can't have teenagers, no matter how well intentioned, getting underfoot.  I think you have the makings of a fine detective, and when you're old enough, I encourage you to consider a career in law enforcement."

"But sir, you once--"

"Times change young man."  There seemed to be the slightest hint of regret in the Chief's voice.  "I'm sorry, but I must insist that you do not involve yourself in this case any further."

"Yes sir."  He handed the Chief a notebook.  "I anticipated that this might be your response.  These are our notes on what we've discovered.  You might wish to review them.  If they prove helpful in solving the case, I would appreciate it if you would mention that when the time comes for me to apply for the job of police officer."

The Chief smiled.  "Of course.  Thank you.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of work piling up on my desk."

"I understand Chief.  Thank you for talking with me."

As the boy left, Chief Jupiter Jones glanced up at the photograph of his predecessor Samuel Reynolds.  "Go ahead, laugh.  I know what you're saying up there.  Now I get to know what it's like to have some smart-aleck kid tell me how to investigate a crime."

He paged through the notebook with a thoughtful frown.  The boy was smart, Jupe realized, and very detailed with his notes.  There were observations about the crime scene his own officers had failed to make.

The boy also idolized the Three Investigators, but Jupe couldn't let him interfere in
police business as he, Pete and Bob had all those decades ago.  The world had changed, and not entirely for the better.  While the Three Investigators had faced dangers, they were tame compared to what was out there these days.

Maybe one day, things would be better in that regard.  The way little Titus explored and seemed to remember where everything was suggested that he had excellent memory and skills of observation.  Perhaps when he was old enough, a junior detective firm could once more open for business.  But not yet.  Not for young Eddie Norris, unfortunately. 

Jupe set Eddie's notebook aside for the moment, and turned his attention to the papers already in his inbox.  The sooner he got through them, the sooner he could get home to Allie and the baby.

THE END


Note - This Three Investigators short story first appeared on the Jones Salvage Yard forum to positive reviews.  The author, who's been a Three Investigators fan since he first read "The Mystery of the Talking Skull" in 1976, says, "For some time, I'd liked the idea of Jupe ironically growing up to become the police chief annoyed by an insufferably smart teenage detective.  I'd also liked the idea of keeping that revelation a surprise."