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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)

TITLE: Move Over Sherlock Holmes
By Francy Judge


You’d think raising my son in the church, home-schooling him until tenth grade, and praying fervently for him would be enough to secure him on the right path. It isn’t. I need a new occupation: Detective Mom.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The house phone rings at 10:45. It’s about time he called. “Hey, it’s Stephen.” Like I wouldn’t know. “Can you pick me up? I’m at the east end by the music store. I forgot bus money.”

“Hi. Your friends couldn’t lend you 50 cents?”

“I left and forgot to ask.”

“Left where? You remember you’re supposed to call by 9 so we know where you are?”

“Sorry. Are you coming?” I can almost hear his eyes roll.

“Yah…I’ll be there in ten minutes.” Can he hear my eyes roll? I throw on a jacket. It’s windy and cool. Stephen’s only wearing blue jeans and a black band t-shirt with a hole in the armpit. Did I sound grumpy on the phone? Lord, help me be kind. Remember- communication.

Stephen leans against the wall next to the “We’re Closed” sign. His blond hair hangs in his eyes. His body is growing faster than he can eat peanut butter sandwiches. His head bobs to his private ipod concert.

“Yo, that was quick.” What kind of greeting is “yo”?

Now that he is safe at my side, I begin my detective work. Before interrogating my son, my nose, a great tool, detects the smell of alcohol intertwined with ocean air. “How’s it going?”

“It’s cool.” I don’t hear slurring yet.

“Who did you hang out with?”

“Just some friends from school.”

“How many is some? Any names?”

“Nick and I met up with Willie and a bunch of kids.”

He sounds fine. But I worry because there’s a lot of partying in our town. “Were you at someone’s house?”

“Willie’s…then we hung out under the boardwalk.” Oh, great – where kids hide from cops and drink. Broken beer bottles shine in the sand as evidence.

“You smell like beer. Were you drinking? I’m not going to get mad.” More like livid, but livid won’t open any communication doors.

“I wasn’t. I don’t know what you smell.”

After Stephen goes to bed, I do a wash and investigate his clothes. His shirt does smell like beer, but he didn’t act any different. Hmm. Take mental notes in my detective log.


Saturday, May 16

Before Stephen goes to his friend’s house, he berates me for not washing his blue jeans. Now he’ll have to wear his black jeans with a black shirt, too “emo” for him. Did anyone ever write an adolescent dictionary? I’d like to buy a copy.

I correct his lovely attitude that sneaks out occasionally and hand him a peace offering. “Here, you can wear the grey shirt.”


Rrrrr. That teen voice. “Come home by 11.”

Stephen comes back in to get his phone and gives me a hug. He’s still my two year old son asking me for a piggy-back ride; my five year old who danced and sang to a Kid’s Sing Praise video. My real son exists somewhere under wild hormones.

This night, Stephen comes home on time and heads straight into bed. Time to wear my detective hat again. I begin by finding his clothes. Where is that grey t-shirt? I check near his bed, the usual dumping spot. Stephen thinks his entire room is a hamper. Only a black t-shirt that wasn’t there before he left. The shirt is clean, not even deodorant smell.

“Stephen, where are the clothes you wore? I’m doing a wash.”

“On the floor here.”

“I found a black shirt, not the grey one.”

“That’s the one I wore.”

“No, I saw you wearing grey.”

“No, I changed…I’m tired.”

My husband helps search. We charge back into Stephen’s room with steam. “Where is that shirt? Mom knows you wore the grey.”


We give up for now. Even Sherlock Holmes would have trouble solving this case of the missing sweaty t-shirt. On second thought…I’m sure he’d pass on this one. Only a parent would dive into a teenage boy’s room, nose first.


Sunday, May 17

“Morning. Where’s the shirt?”

“Okay…I hid it in a bush.”

“And you’re about to explain?”

“Just taking precautions –in case you smelled something again. I didn’t want to get in trouble. But you gotta admit that was funny last night.”

Hilarious. “Your sentence will be announced, Mr. Comedian.”

One mystery solved.

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Member Comments
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Amy Michelle Wiley 07/23/09
You kept my interest throughout. Great dialogue. I was dissapointed to not find out why he smelled like alcohal, though.
Seema Bagai 07/23/09
I liked the narrator's voice in this piece. I agree with the above comment about the unaswered question. Overall, an entertaining story.
Allen Stark07/28/09
Well written, but not sure I understand the punch line.