The Hardy Old Men
Joe Hardy grouchily tumbled out of bed, slamming his hand down on his screeching alarm clock to shut it up.
It had been a rather bad week for him; for one thing, his parents and aunt Gertrude were away for the week, leaving him and Frank to do all the cooking.
And Frank was a terrible cook. Joe wasn’t sure how much longer he could survive on his brother’s cooking.
For another, when Joe had looked in the mirror, his beautiful blond hair had turned white. Not to mention, he was turning eighty-nine tomorrow, which meant he was getting old.
Just like Frank.
And then, to top it all off, his long-time (as in like seventy-two years long) girlfriend Iola had said she would never speak to him again because she was sick of being just his ‘girlfriend’. Maybe he ought to have married her a while back. If he had, he wouldn’t have to be enduring the stuff Frank threw together that he liked to refer to as ‘food.'
Sighing, Joe climbed down the stairs, only to be met with the smell of burning bacon. He could hear Frank slamming pots and pans around. Grumbling about having to deal with another of Franks famous burnt breakfasts, Joe entered the kitchen.
“Morning, Joe!” Frank smiled. His smiled vanished as he realized his eggs were beginning to get a little…overdone. Unthinkingly, Frank grabbed the pan handle with nothing but his bare hand. “Ah!” he screamed, quickly jerking his burnt hand back, and in so doing knocking the pan to the floor. Eggs flew everywhere.
Joe rolled his eyes as Frank ran to run cold water over his hand.
“Klutz,” Joe muttered.
“What?” Frank asked, not looking up.
“I said…guts. You’ve got guts to try to pick up a frying pan without a mitt!”
Frank continued to rinse his hand, and Joe hobbled out of the kitchen on his cane, leaving Frank to clean up the mess.
Suddenly, the phone rang. Joe ran (as fast as an old man can) to answer it. “Hardy residence.”
“Is this Fenton Hardy?” asked the voice of an old woman.
“Uh…nope. I’m his son, Joe. Dad’s away.”
“Oh? Isn’t that nice? May I speak with him?”
“Under the circumstances, I’m afraid that’s not possible.” Joe rolled his eyes. "I don’t know where to reach him. Maybe I can help you?”
“No, sonny. You’re too old to solve my mystery. I need someone young and strong like your dad.” He heard the phone click, and then the dial tone.
“Young and strong like my dad?” Joe repeated. “What does she think he is? Immortally young?”
Not wanting to let a mystery get away that easily, Joe redialed the number.
“Agatha McGarvy speaking,” came the voice of the same woman he had talked to. “If you’re a telemarketer, you can go ahead and just keep your mouth shut. Don’t want anything to do with you.”
“Mrs. McGarvy?” Joe said. “I’m Joe Hardy. Remember me?”
“No,” came the unexpected answer.
Joe blinked. This lady certainly had short term memory. As Joe explained who he was once again, Agatha lay in bed, reading a sixty year old newspaper with a picture of Fenton Hardy on the front page. The headline read ‘FAMOUS PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR FENTON HARDY BUSTS NATION-WIDE CRIME RING!’
Clearly, Agatha was living in the past.
When Joe explained he’d love to give her mystery a go, her answer was completely different than before. “Why, I’d love that!”
Joe sighed. She was certainly an odd woman. “Could you give me the details of the case?” he asked.
“Somebody stole my cane and glasses and I fell down the stair and broke my neck.”
It took a moment for that to sink in. Agatha did not sound like a woman who had just broken her neck.
“Eh…when did this happen?” Joe asked, not sure if he really wanted to hear the answer.
"Ohh-kay,” Joe muttered in annoyed exasperation. Agatha was full of surprises.
“How do you know you didn’t just misplace your stuff?” He asked after a moment’s pause.
“Look here, Joey,” she said. Joe stuck his chin out indignantly at being called ‘Joey’, as she continued. “I can’t get around with out my cane, and I can’t see without my glasses. I always leave my glasses on the table be my bed, and my cane is always leaning against that table. When I woke up yesterday, they were both gone. Now how could I misplace them?”
Joe shrugged. “Just making sure. Look, Mrs. McGarvy, how about I come see you and we can talk about it?”
“Please, call my Agatha. And that would be lovely.”
“What hospital are you in? I mean, you are in the hospital, right?”
“Of course I am, silly! Bayport Hospital, room C-1.”
Joe hung up the phone and went to tell Frank.
Frank and Joe pulled up in front of the Bayport Hospital. At first, the nurse at the desk was reluctant to let them in because they weren’t family, but when she called Agatha’s room, Agatha insisted that if she didn’t let them see her, she would get out of bed and come see them.
So the nurse let them.
“Joe, hi!” Agatha said, smiling. She sat up in her hospital bed. “Which one’s Joe?”
Joe laughed. “Me. This is my brother, Frank. He’s an A #1 jerk, but he said he’d see if he could help.”
Frank glared at his brother.
“You said she broke her neck?” Frank whispered to Joe. Other than a few bumps and bruises, Agatha looked none the worse for wear.
Joe grinned. “I told you, she’s some woman. I ought to ask her out when the release her.”
“From the looks of things, I don’t think you’ll be waiting very long,” Frank commented dryly, not sure if he was joking or not.
“I’m glad to meet you, Frank,” Agatha said, breaking into their conversation.
“My pleasure, ma’am,” Frank said, reaching up to touch the brim of his hat…which he realized he wasn’t wearing.
“So, have you any enemies that you know of?” Joe asked.
“Me? Enemies?” Agatha laughed. “I’ve never had an enemy in my life! But, nonetheless, I think someone was trying to kill me!”
“It must be pretty hard to kill you,” Joe muttered out of the corner of his mouth.
“Huh?” Agatha asked.
“I said…we’ll do just what we can to help you,” Joe lied.
An hour later, the Hardy’s left the house with Agatha’s house keys in tow.
Agatha’s house was old. Older than she was, in fact, and in worse condition.
As they walked in, Joe was afraid it might topple in on them. “Guess we ought to dust for fingerprints,” he said obviously, looking up at the tall ceiling and thinking how painful it would be if that heavy looking glass chandelier were to fall on his head.
The Hardy’s climbed the stairs and entered Agatha’s bedroom. Frank took out his dusting powder, a brush, and his magnifying glass.
“I’ve found something, Joe!” Frank exclaimed, forgetting that Agatha left fingerprints just as much as anyone else. In his excitement, Frank, always the klutz, knocked his eye glasses off his face.
Joe, lost in his own search, didn’t hear Frank’s exclamation.
“Joe, I lost my glasses! I can’t see without them, and my magnifying glass doesn’t magnetize the prints enough by itself!”
Joe’s head jerked up. “What?! You mean the eyeglasses-stealing horror has struck again?! Did he take them out of you pocket? Or right off your face? But I doubt it, because wouldn’t that just be bold—?”
“Shut up!” Frank yelled. Though used to his ‘little’ brother’s sudden and goofy outbursts, they still annoyed him very much. “Nobody took anything. I dropped them. Now. Would you please find them?”
After a minute of crawling around on the floor, Joe triumphantly held up Frank’s glasses in front of his face. “Found them!”
Examining the fingerprints, Frank said logically, “they’re most likely Agatha’s, but I’ll lift them, and we can see next time we go and visit her. Let’s go.”
Just as they were about to head downstairs, they heard a voice coming from the living room.
“The old lady’s in the hospital,” the male voice was saying. “We’ve got plenty of time. Be here in half an hour, Clyde. I’ll be waiting for you.” They heard the phone being slammed down onto the receiver.
“Think we can take him?” Frank whispered.
Joe grinned. “No sweat.”
“Wait for my signal,” Frank ordered as they crept down the stairs. The man, his back to them, was rummaging through drawers in a desk. “Now!” Frank yelled, and they both leapt from the stairs, landing on top of him. But they had forgotten to take into account the this man was young, and they…weren’t so young.
“So, anymore brainy ideas, bro?” Joe asked, trying to loosen the ropes that tied him to a chair.
Before Frank had a chance to answer, they heard the outside door open.
“Hi, Clyde!” They heard the first man say.
“Hi, Bart!” Clyde said.
“I caught two guys snoopin’ around here,” Bart informed Clyde. “Got ‘em tied up in the kitchen.”
Frankly, the kitchen wasn’t a very good place to leave them alone in.
“Is it cut?” Joe asked impatiently.
“Yup,” Frank answered, handing Joe the steak knife. “My turn.”
The kitchen door opened, and Frank and Joe stepped out, each armored with two very sharp kitchen knives.
“Uh-oh,” Clyde muttered.
“You can say that again,” Bart agreed.
“Uh-oh,” Clyde repeated. Bart elbowed him in the gut.
In the Bayport Police Department (BPD) the two burglars, identified as Bart Jarman and Clyde Morrow, confessed to stealing Agatha’s cane and glasses so they could get her away from the house, knowing that she was rather wealthy.
And Joe, true to his word, took the extremely grateful Agatha out on a date the next day because, just like Frank had foretold, she was released that day.
And everyone was happy, especially Joe, because he had a new girlfriend. Well, everyone with the exception of Bart and Clyde, who had to spend life in prison.