19. May 2018 · Comments Off on THE STOLEN NECKLACE · Categories: ---

People aren’t always as honest as they seem, even when you’ve known them a long time. After her best friend Grace’s birthday party, 17-year-old Amy Watkins stood at her parents’ front door and kissed Walt Emerson goodnight. He was not a terribly interesting date, but she’d known him for years and he was safe. She staggered up the stairs to her bedroom and sank down in front of her vanity, barely able to keep her eyes open. Shutting them for just a moment, she thought about the party and daydreamed about how much she’d enjoyed Grace’s big brother’s attentions to her. He was a real hunk, which she’d never expected of Grace, and he’d seemed quite interested in her. His name was Hank Patterson, and at 6’2, he stood eight inches taller than she, just the right height for a dance partner.

Her next thought was about Greg Kaczynski, another young man at the party who had shown an interest in her. He was the same height as Hank, but there the resemblance ended. Greg had reddish-blond curly hair and twinkling blue eyes, compared to Hank’s dark brown hair and brooding brown eyes.

Turning to the mirror to gaze at her reflection, she had to agree with her two best friends that she’d looked tremendous earlier. Her own mahogany-hued hair and hazel eyes had been beautifully enhanced by the deep green satin dress her mom had helped her pick out. And the necklace and earrings had been the perfect jewelry to wear with the ensemble.

Smiling to herself, she reached for her hairbrush to begin getting ready for bed. She recalled, with a guilty pleasure, the envious looks she’d gotten from Rita Jackson, her “frenemy,” when the girl had walked into Grace’s living room. Amy reached back to unhook the necklace but her fingers couldn’t find the clasp. Then she realized there was no clasp — and no necklace! Her necklace was gone!

Her necklace was made up of a strand of cultured pearls with a pear-shaped emerald pendant, two and a half carats in weight. It had been left to Amy by her aunt when she died last year. The stone was framed by two rows of glittering diamonds, and her aunt had told her it was worth nearly $6,000. Each of the graceful, sophisticated earrings, worth $5,000, had a pearl from which dropped a half-carat emerald, surrounded by micropavé diamonds. Ever since she’d gotten them, Amy had yearned for a place to wear them.

She cried out and then began to sob until her younger sister, Belinda, rushed in from her room across the hall. “What’s the matter, Amy? Are you hurt?” 14-year-old Belinda exclaimed. She ran over to her sister and threw her arms around her. “What happened, Amy?” she asked.

After weeping brokenly for a few minutes, Amy was able to stammer out, “My necklace!” She clutched at her throat. “It’s gone!”

Her brow furrowed in confusion, Belinda drew back to look at Amy’s neck. It was true, she saw, there was no necklace there. Belinda had watched Amy getting dressed earlier that evening, and knew she’d worn the pearl and emerald necklace. “Did you lose it?” she asked, trying very hard not to sound judgmental.

“No, I didn’t lose it,” Amy said. “I think someone must have stolen it.”

“Who could have done that?” Belinda asked with a frown. “Did you take it off and put it down somewhere? Was the clasp broken? Or did someone hold you up with a gun? You’re still wearing the earrings. So if someone stole the necklace, they didn’t get the earrings, too. Should we call the police?”

“No!” Amy cried. “I don’t know how it got stolen. I was wearing it the last time I looked in a mirror at about 11, when I went into the bathroom to check my hair. So it was taken between 11 and 1 o’clock, when I walked in the front door. I know the clasp was all right so it didn’t fall off, and no one held me up at gunpoint. I never took it off this evening. Ever!” She turned away, put her head down on her fists and began weeping again.

After a moment, Belinda, trying hard to be logical, asked, “So who did you dance with? Could one of your partners have unhooked the necklace while you were dancing with him?”

Amy shrugged and shook her head; she hadn’t thought of that. “But none of my partners would have done that!” she exclaimed. “And I only danced with Greg and Hank. And I’m sure they wouldn’t steal from me.”

“Are you sure those are the only boys you danced with?” Belinda asked. She took a tissue from the box on the vanity and handed it to her big sister. “Did you dance with Grace’s father, maybe? Or what about your date, Walt? Surely you danced with him.”

“Hmm,” Amy pondered. “You’re right. I did dance with Walt, and I danced with Grace’s dad, too. And Mr. Allen cut in on Hank, I remember.”

“Who’s Mr. Allen?” Belinda asked. By now Amy had begun undressing, and had washed her face. The two of them sat on Amy’s bed while Belinda tried to get her big sister to focus and help her to figure out how she might have lost the necklace.

“Mr. Allen was my English teacher last year,” Amy said. “But Mr. Allen wouldn’t have stolen my necklace; he’s a teacher!”

“Well, Amy, let’s sleep on it,” Belinda said. “I’ll figure out who stole your necklace, and Felicity and I will get it back for you.” She waited until her sister was under the covers, and stayed in the room until she saw that Amy had begun to relax.

Back in her own bedroom, Belinda sat at her desk and wrote out a list which she headed “Suspects.” She decided she’d better wait until morning to call her best friend, Felicity. The two of them could work on solving the theft when they were both fresh. Amy could tell them a little more after breakfast.

Belinda lay in her own bed and her dreams, though she didn’t really remember them all in the morning, were about digging holes in the backyard, and searching her mother’s and her sister’s drawers, though in the dream she didn’t know just what she was looking for.

After breakfast, while Amy slept in, Belinda called Felicity. “Come on over,” she said, “we have a mystery to solve!”

“A mystery?” Felicity asked. “What are you talking about?”

“Amy’s necklace was stolen last night, and we have to find the thief! Come over right now and we’ll go over my list of suspects.”

When Felicity arrived just ten minutes later, the two girls sat down at Belinda’s desk and talked over how they planned to solve this mystery.

“The first thing we should do,” Felicity suggested, “is interview Grace. She threw the party, and she should know everyone who was there. We can interview all the people at the party.”

“Interview them about what?” Belinda asked. “Amy told me she danced with a guy named Greg Kaczynski and with Grace’s brother, Hank. Do you think we should just come right out and ask them if they took the necklace? And if we don’t ask that, would they tell us if they had?”

The two girls looked at one another, and then Belinda said, “Amy also danced with Grace’s dad, with her date, and with Mr. Allen, her high school English teacher. So we have, what, five suspects?”

“And what was a high school English teacher doing at a teenage girl’s birthday party?” Belinda asked. Felicity shrugged, and agreed they would need to interview each of those people. “But who else could have stolen the necklace?”

“I think Amy said something about a jealous girl named Rita,” Belinda said. “She might have done it. Or she might have seen something. So that’s six people to interview. And if we count Grace,” Felicity said, “that would be seven. Seven witnesses; that’s a lot.”

“Well,” Felicity said, “that’s a good list to start with. I don’t think we should try to interview everyone who was there – that’s about twenty-five people. Who should we talk to first?”

When they got off their bikes and knocked on Grace’s door a half-hour later, she told them, “Oh, yes, I remember her necklace. It’s stunning! I had to compliment Amy on it. I told my boyfriend Aaron I want one just like it. Or at least similar, since I don’t wear pearls, and green doesn’t look good on a blonde. So my necklace will be a sapphire — well, not a real sapphire; I doubt Aaron can afford that. And I don’t have pierced ears so I can’t get a pair like Amy’s. But my necklace will be almost as beautiful as hers. Don’t you think so, Belinda?”

Belinda smiled and nodded, though she doubted anything Grace’s dopey boyfriend might buy would be anywhere near as beautiful as Amy’s necklace. Then she asked if they could talk to Grace’s dad. “Sure; he’s just upstairs,” Grace said, and called him.

When her father came downstairs, Belinda asked if he had noticed Amy’s necklace. He frowned and shook his head. “No, of course not. I’m a man, and we men don’t care about jewelry. She did look very nice, though, and she’s a very good dancer.”

That didn’t help the girls at all so they nodded and then, just as they finished with Grace’s dad, Hank came home. Belinda asked him if he had seen the necklace and he said, “Oh, those green and white beads she wore? Sure, I saw it. It was nice. What about it?”

“Well,” Belinda asked, deciding not to correct him about the necklace’s value, “when did you see it last? After you danced with her?”

“Yeah, I guess when she and Walt left, about 2 o’clock. I noticed it because she got her hair stuck in the clasp when she was putting on her coat, and I had to help Walt unhook it for her. She’s a real nice girl, isn’t she?”

Belinda nodded, and the girls left the house. “Don’t you think that was a little suspicious?” she said. “Hank saying she caught her hair in the clasp? She didn’t say anything about that. Well, we’d better try and find out where Mr. Allen lives.”

“Oh, I know where he lives,” Felicity told her. When they arrived at his house, he answered their knock and grinned as he greeted them. Felicity said, “Mr. Allen, you don’t know me, but my brother was in your English class last year. Could we ask you a few questions about the party last night?”

“Oh, of course; come on in,” he said. “And please call me Nick. Would you like something to drink — a soda, or a glass of water?” When the girls shook their heads, he asked them to sit down and said, “So now, girls, how can I help you?”

Belinda was a little embarrassed to be asking this of a stranger, and a teacher at that. She hemmed and hawed for a moment, then said, “Well, we just wanted to ask if you remember seeing the pearl and emerald necklace my sister Amy was wearing at the party last night.”

“Oh, yes,” Nick said warmly, “I saw it. That was an emerald? You know, the emerald is almost as hard as a diamond. But maybe it was synthetic. You know, they’re making synthetic gemstones, including diamonds, that are almost as good as the real thing. And those pearls could have been synthetic, too. What do you think?”

“No, they’re real,” Belinda said confidently, and immediately was sorry she’d given away the jewelry’s value; what if he’d stolen it? He’d know that he could get a lot of money for it. “But do you recall when you saw the necklace last?”

Nick considered for a moment, and then shook his head. “No, hon. I just danced with Amy once, and then Grace’s brother cut in. But you know, now that I think of it, Walt did admire her necklace and I noticed it then. That must have been nearly midnight, and I left the party soon after. I had to get home and feed Harvey, my dog. He gets upset if he doesn’t get his dinner before my mother goes to bed.” He started to stand. “Would you like to meet my mother?”

Belinda shook her head, and indicated to Felicity that they should leave. “It was nice meeting you,” she said, extending her hand to shake his and motioning to Felicity to do the same. “And thank you for answering our questions.”

“You’re welcome, girls; I hope you find the necklace,” Mr. Allen said warmly as he shut the door behind them.

“Well,” Felicity said, getting on her bike, “do you believe him? I guess he knows now that the jewelry is valuable, but if she caught her hair in the clasp when she and Walt were leaving, that should let him off the hook. So I guess he wasn’t much help. What about that guy, Greg Kaczynski? Do you know where he lives?”

Belinda did, but when they spoke to him, Greg was no help at all. His answers to their questions were mostly, “I’m sorry, I don’t remember.” Belinda figured he’d been drinking, so he probably wouldn’t be much help. But, “I do remember one thing. When I danced with Amy, I thought her date, Walt, was gonna jump me. He had a look on his face that, I dunno, I didn’t like. If the necklace is missing, it might be he didn’t like me being so close to it. What do you think?”

The girls both shrugged and nodded with little interest and, as they walked on to Rita Jackson’s, Belinda pointed out, “We can’t really rule any of them out yet, even if Greg was drinking. He might not have had that much to drink.”

Rita lived on the same street as Greg but, when they talked to her, all they learned was what Amy had said, that Rita was envious of how lovely Amy had looked. “You know, kid,” she told Belinda, “even though you’re her little sis, you gotta know how ignorant she is. That necklace wasn’t the real thing – hah! Where’d she get anything valuable like that? So, all in all, kid, I don’t know a thing about her necklace. Okay?”

“So who else is on the list?” Felicity wondered as they stood outside Rita’s door. “Have we talked to everyone? Maybe we’ll need to expand our list of suspects since none of them so far knows much of anything.”

Belinda studied the list. She had crossed off nearly all the names. She said, “Well, there’s only Walt Emerson left. But he was Amy’s date. We’ve both known him for a few years, and I doubt he knows anything. But I guess we should check him out anyway.”

“I know where he lives. Let’s go interview him,” Felicity said.

Walt Emerson lived just a few blocks away from Rita Jackson, so the girls rode their bikes over and knocked on his door. His mother answered as she was leaving, and she invited the girls in. “Walt’s in the family room,” she said. “Go on in. I’m sorry but I have to go.”

When they walked into the family room, they saw Walt stealthily shove something under the sofa cushions. Then he stood up and frowned. “What the hell are you doing here?” he demanded.

“What are you hiding?” Belinda asked suspiciously.

“Nothing,” Walt said brusquely. “None of your business.” He stood up and walked over to a recliner and folded his arms, glaring defiantly at them.

“Well, I’m not sure it’s nothing,” Felicity said. She looked at Belinda and winked, and then she walked over to stand in front of Walt while Belinda came up beside him. While he was focused on Felicity, Belinda reached out and pushed him over into the chair. Then she turned and reached under the sofa cushion, pulling out Amy’s necklace!

“It was you!” she cried. “You stole Amy’s necklace! Why would you do that?”

Walt scoffed. “That necklace isn’t worth anything. Why would I want to steal it? My mom has a lot better costume jewelry than that.”

Belinda raised an eyebrow and studied Walt for a long moment, and then grabbed a poker from the fireplace beside her. Holding it threateningly above her head, she cried, “Felicity, I’ll hold him here; you call 911.”

While they waited for the police to arrive, Walt started to cry. Between sobs, he said, “I need money. Amy’s necklace was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, and I knew it would get me off the hook with Ed Connors.”

“Who’s Ed Connors?” Belinda asked. She lowered the poker a bit and Walt cringed. He doesn’t know me very well, she thought; I’d never use it on a person.

“He’s a bookie my mom uses,” Walt explained brokenly. “I bet on the last game of the pennant race, when Mom was so sure the Mets would win. She wouldn’t give me any money to bet so I took my college fund out of the bank. But the Mets lost! And if Mom knew I’d bet and lost, she’d be furious and send me back to my dad. So I had to do something! You get it, don’t you?”

“I do not get it,” Belinda said. “All I know is you’re a thief and a deceitful fool, and you don’t deserve my sister. We’re taking the necklace back to her, and you’re not going to college, you’re going to jail.”

When the police arrived, both girls were sitting on Walt, who was still weeping helplessly. As soon as he heard the story, the officer clasped handcuffs on the boy and then dragged him off to jail.

When they got back to Belinda’s, Felicity rushed upstairs to be the first to tell Amy they’d gotten her necklace back. Belinda held back; she wasn’t sure how Amy would take the information that it had been her own date, Walt, who’d stolen her necklace. But Amy took it well. She grinned and kissed both girls, and then put the necklace on again and the three danced around the room in excitement.

A few days later a press conference was held in front of the police station, and Belinda and Felicity were awarded a special medal by the Mayor of the city. It was in all the newspapers and even on television, but Amy had asked the girls not to say too much about the necklace. She had already put it in their mom’s safety deposit box.

“We don’t want to give other potential thieves any ideas,” she told her sister.





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