The Case of the Cackling Car
Illustrated by: Judy Glasser
Published by: Harper & Row, 1985
Copyright © Marilyn Singer 1985

The Case of the Cackling Car

Chapter One

The kissing gourami were living up to their name.

“How long do you think they can go on like that?” Sam Bean asked his identical twin brother, Dave, as they both stared at the fish.

“For hours, I think,” Dave answered.  “Just like Mark Manganero and Susie Spitz.”

Sam laughed.  He and Dave had accidently stumbled across Mark and Susie sitting on a park bench with their lips locked together the day before.

“Hi, Davasam,” Ms. Chang, the owner of the pet shop they were in, called, using the name she’d made up for them.  “Solved any cases lately?”

“Not this week,” Dave said, with a smile.

“Well, even famous detectives need a break…Got some nice neon tetras in.”  She came over and pointed to an aquarium full of sparkling little fish.

“They are nice, but we’re leaving tomorrow on our Christmas vacation, just Sam and me,” Dave said, “and we can’t buy any new fish until we get back.  What we need today is some fish food.”

“Who’ll be taking care of your fish while you’re gone?”

“Our friend Rita O’Toole,” Sam said.  “Our parents are taking their own vacation in Florida.”

“Where are you going?” Ms. Change asked, getting them a container of food.

“To a small town in Texas named Papagayo,” Dave answered.  “It’s near the Mexican border.  Our aunt lives there, and she invited us for the big fiesta they’re going to have.”

“That sounds like fun.  Near Mexico, eh?  How about bringing me back a Mexican tarantula or two?”

“Gee, I don’t know,” Sam said, dubiously.

Ms. Chang laughed.  “I’m only kidding, Davasam.  There are very strict laws about bringing in animals from other countries.  You need papers, certificates, all sorts of things.  Sometimes, the animal has to be in quarantine for a long time.”

“Really?” asked Dave.

“Most definitely.  Unless you smuggle them in.  People try to avoid the cost and time by smuggling in animals.  But I don’t imagine you’d want a tarantula crawling around in your sneaker.”

“No, thanks.”

“Although it would most likely be the tarantula who suffered.  Anyway, here’s your fish food.”

Dave paid for it.

“Have a wonderful trip.  Tell me all about it when you get back,” Ms. Chang said, smiling.

“We will,” said Dave, and picking up his purchase, he and Sam left the store.