The boys were sitting in their hide-out with hands on their chins, their faces with dreary expressions. Kevin had been caught in the act. Their leader was grounded. The only consolation they had was Vikki got her birthday fudge, and that was a good thing.
Ralphy let out a huge sigh, “What do we do now?”
Charlie looked over at him, “Give him a minute. Kevin should be here soon.”
Ralphy creased his brow, “He’s grounded. How is he gonna get here?”
They heard the panel to the secret space open and, with a smile from ear to ear, Kevin looked at his friends, “Hi, guys!”
”How did-“ Ralphy’s eyes squinted.
Kevin waved it away, “I can sneak out of my room any time I want.”
His friends made a space for him to stand at the table. He put a drawing down.
Sammy pointed to it, “What’s that supposed to be?”
”It’s a bowl of Miss Robin’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies, our next mission.”
All the faces lit up, but it was Sammy who squinted one eye, “Aren’t those grown-up cookies? I mean those are just for the grown-ups, right?”
”Yup, but we’re gonna snitch ‘em. It’s our duty.”
Charlie’s mouth turned up at the corners, “I trust you have a plan, oh fearless leader?”
”Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. She’s making them this afternoon and putting them in the cookie jar under where she keep the plates. I say we wait until after dinner, and make our move.”
Sammy spoke up,”Won’t Nigel be looking out for us?”
“That’s the fun part.”
Nigel opened a side panel to his office and walked in. The walls were lined with shelves, and the past gadgets the Underfoot Clan had devised to try and procure sweets. He let a smile creep across his face as he placed the wire hanger grappling hook in a free space on one of the shelves.
”If I didn’t know better, Nigel, I would say you’re encouraging him.” A gruff man in his late forties entered the office and sat the desk furthest from the panel.
”Maybe just a little, Jonathan, but you have to admit. It is quite entertaining.”
Jonathan pointed his chin at the panel, “You’ve collected all of his inventions?”
Nigel turned to his friend nodding, “Yes, but I doubt most of these are his. Ralphy is the one with a knack for that sort of thing. I’ve seen him devise all sorts of trinkets from broken toys and out-of-date electronics.”
Jonathan nodded back, “Yeah, Kevin knows how to pick a crew. Do you think you’re going to catch him this time, too?”
”I always think I am going to catch him. It doesn’t always work out that way, however.”
Jonathan chuckled, “You two are about three to one in your favor, right?”
”Yes.” Nigel sat at his desk and began to hit the keys on the keyboard, his fingers flying, “I have to write this report and then go about my patrol. Jonathan, isn’t it your turn for night duty this week?”
”Yes, and I am about to go to bed as soon as I finish this journal entry.”
“Does everybody know what to do?”
Kevin’s friends all nodded. He continued as he walked to the panel, “Good, I have to go to class before they check my room and find out I’m not there and not in class either.”
He was half-way down the hall when he heard Robin, “Aren’t you supposed to be in class, Kevin?”
He scrunched his shoulders and turned around to face her, “Yes, ma’am, I’m on my way there.”
”You’re supposed to already be there, squirt. You looking to extend your grounding?”
He looked wounded, “Me? Be grounded longer? Do I look like I’m greedy for more bad stuff to happen to me?”
She smirked, “Don’t act innocent. Just get to class, Kevin.”
The rest of his friends filed out in intervals and made it to their classes as well. Charlie was about to enter the science lab when Nigel stood next to him, “You’re late for class, Master Charlie. Are you feeling alright?”
”I just overslept, Mr. Masters. That’s all.”
Nigel closed one eye and tilted his head, “That’s not like you, Charles. You’re never late to class. You and the other three wouldn’t be up to something, would you?”
Charlie turned the knob to the classroom, “No, I just overslept. I stayed up too late last night studying for today’s chemistry test.”
”I see. Good luck on your examination.”