It was one of those lonely middle-of-the-night nights. Like when Gussie and I lived in that tiny apartment in Hollywood. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night for no reason at all and there Gussie would be sitting up in bed staring in front of her and smoking in the dim darkness. The fire at the end of her cigarette would brighten and the numbers on the clock glared 3:30 or 4:30 or 5. She would sigh and I would know that there was something wrong. Yes, it was one of those nights. I couldn’t sleep. Somewhere a dog barked. My dog, the beloved Nancydrew, sprang to attention and padded over to the window, her little claws going clickety- clack on the oaken floorboards. She was only a puppy when we rescued her: a black-and-white ball of fur. I was six then. She grew up to look like a border collie only smaller, the size of a terrier. And guess what? She smiles all the time. Really. Whoever heard of a dog smiling? But Nancydrew does. Distant thunder and a soft summer rain fell on the roof. It was late summer and just the beginning of autumn. Nancydrew barked one short sharp bark as if to warn an intruder. I heard a tapping on the windowpane. In my sleepy state, I groped around for my glasses, put them on and squinted toward the window. When I went closer, I could see that it was my friend Frankie! Quickly, I unlocked the latch on the window and swung it open. He fell into the room dripping water all over the place. He was not his usual immaculate self. He was wearing a dirty blue seersucker shirt and worn out jeans. His face was tired and he was soaking wet to boot. “What are you doing?” I asked. He held his fingers up to his lips and shushed me. “Sh … sh… sh… I am sorry, but I have something I want to ask you.” How did you get up here?” I looked out the window. Broken branches dangled from the pine tree he had shinnied up. “Wow! That’s pretty good.” “Never mind that now. I need to talk to someone and I don’t have anyone else I can trust.” “Okay.” Nancydrew jumped on him and started whining. He leaned down to pet her and said, “A black-and-white mutt. They’re the best.” I really liked him for that. He had time to pet my dog. Even with all the mysterious business at hand. “What’s going on?” “I decided to run away. But then I realized that I have something important to do. I came to ask for your help.” “Well, sure. But, you know, you could have knocked on the front door!” “I was afraid your grandfather would call my parents.” “Let’s go and see.” I took him by the hand. “Where are we going?” “To see Grandpa.” “No, I don’t want to.” “Why not?” I demanded. “I don’t know … I …” “You don’t trust adults, do you?” “Maybe not,” he answered and looked me straight in the face and I knew I was right. “Mr. Perkins is an adult and you trust him. Besides my Grandpa is different.” “Different from what?” Frankie had decided to be stubborn. “From other adults, of course “You love your grandfather very much, don’t you?” “Yes.” “I don’t have anyone like that, except Mr. Perkins. And now he’s been taken away from me.” “What do you mean?”  “He’s been arrested. I was there when the cops showed up and put him in handcuffs and carted him off to jail. “Oh, no!” “But I didn’t let him go without a fight. I yelled and hit and kicked. But they were too much for me. I couldn’t save him, Jen!” He was crying now as if his heart would break. “Of course, you couldn’t. You’re just a kid.” I couldn’t stand seeing him in so much pain. “Those terrible sirens. I’d never heard that in the woods before.” He became quiet. “My mother claimed that he had stolen her diamond necklace and that was all they needed.” “My grandpa will help. I’ll get him to be his lawyer.” “The great Sidney MacGregor! That would be cool. But it’s not going to matter. My mother always gets what she wants – even when she’s wrong.” “What do you want me to do?” “I want you to help me save Mr. Perkins.” “How?” “By coming back with me to the castle and making a search for that necklace.” “Well, I can’t very well do that. Not right now, anyway,” I wanted to get back into that castle in the worst way. I was hoping Frankie would invite me, but not like this! “You have to.” “Tomorrow, when it’s light. I’ll get my friends to help.” “Tomorrow is too late. It has to be now. We can’t let any more time go by.” “I can’t just go out right now in the middle of the night!” “It can’t wait. Now is a good time. Everyone will be asleep.” “We’re going to search rooms with people sleeping in them?” “Please.” That was all he said. I felt it was the right thing to do.  I smiled and said, “Sure.” I stuffed pillows in my bed to make it look like I was sleeping there. I put my yellow slicker over my pajamas and put my galoshes over my tennis shoes. Then I motioned Frankie to follow me down the stairs. We tiptoed as quietly as we could, our hearts stopping at each creak of the floorboards. FRANKIE HAS A PROBLEM Click the speaker icon to hear Chapter Thirteen read by the author chapter thirteen Illustration by Julius Mann       juliusmann1@yahoo.com HOME PAGE     PROLOGUE     BIOGRAPHY     SYNOPSIS      CHAPTER THIRTEEN     REVIEWS  jennifersudy@gmail.com ©2018 Jennifer James VOICE OVERS KID’S READING ROOM Contact Jennifer James at: