Illustrated by: Richard Williams

Published by: Harper & Row, 1989


Copyright © Marilyn Singer 1989

The Case of the Fixed Election

Chapter One

Brad Cohen Is Not A Clone

He’s Got A Brain That’s All His Own

Vote Cohen For President

read the sign.  A chunky, dark-haired boy was tacking it on the bulletin board near the school cafeteria.

A short, wiry girl in a yellow dress rushed up to the board and planned another sign squarely next to his.  This one said:

Elect Corky Lemon For President

Because This Lemon Is A Peach

The two sign posters took a moment to admire their handiwork.  Then they turned and glared at each other.

“You don’t have a chance, Lemon,” sneered the boy.

“That’s what you think, Cohen,” answered Corky.  With a toss of her head, she marched past him.

Brad thumbed his nose at her and galumphed off in the opposite direction.

“Those two don’t like each other very much,” said Dave Bean to his twin brother, Sam.

Sam wasn’t really thinking about what Brad and Corky thought of each other. Instead, he was marveling at how fast they (and their campaign managers) had worked.  Their signs were all over the school already.  Dave was running for Student Council president too, and Sam was his campaign manager.  But not only hadn’t they put up his signs, they hadn’t even made them yet.  They couldn’t seem to come up with a good slogan.  Before Sam had a chance to say anything, Jack Dodge, the only candidate for vice president, said in his nasal voice, “As a reliable witness to the preceding incident, I’ll corroborate that.”

Sam looked at him blankly.  Jack’s father was a lawyer, and Jack was always using big legal words and phrases hardly anybody understood.  It was annoying. Jack was annoying.  But when it came to “good causes,” he was also the hardest-working kid in the school.  Right now he had a petition he wanted Sam and Dave to sign.  It was about saving some big trees near the school that a developer wanted to cut down.  Sam and Dave read the petition.  While they were signing it, Jack asked, “Where are your posters, Dave?”

“We;ll be putting them up soon,” Dave said, thinking that that had better be true. “What do we have so far, sloganwise?” he whispered to Sam as Jack dashed over to their gym teacher to get his signature on the petition.

Sam pulled out the notebook and read, “‘Dave Bean–he’s keen’; ‘Dave Bean is no beanbag’; ‘Vote for Dave–one of the best human Beans around.'”

“Ugh, ugh, and ugh,” said Dave.

“Yeah.”  Sam nodded.

Jack rejoined them.  “Well, I want to wish you good luck on your campaign, Dave. You’ll be getting my vote.  It’s no mystery you’re the best candidate for the job.” He patted Dave on the back and charged off into the cafeteria, waving his petition like a flag.

Sam and Dave looked at each other.

“It’s no mystery…” Dave began.

“You’re the best candidate for the job,” finished Sam.

“Not a bad slogan, with a few changes…”

“…for a famous detective.”

Sam and Dave slapped five.  “Thanks, Jack,” they chorused to the empty hall. Then, laughing, they went into the cafeteria to eat lunch.

That evening they worked on the posters.  Sam picked out the colors; Dave came up with the design; and they both did the lettering.

“These look great,” Dave said when they finished.  “Let’s go in early tomorrow to put them up.”

“Yeah,” agreed Sam, wondering if Brad and Corky had left them any wall space. Brad, Corky, and Dave, all of them running for president and all of them wanting to win.  Sam thought his brother had a god chance, but he wasn’t a shoo-in. Brad was pretty popular, and Corky had a lot of friends too.  It was going to be a tight race.

“I hope it’ll be a clean on,” Dave said.

“What?” Sam looked up at him.

“The election.  With the way Brad and Corky are acting, I hope there won’t be any dirty tricks.”

“Do you think there will be?” Sam asked.

Dave hesitated a moment, then shook his head.  “No,” he said.  He repeated it firmly.  “No.”

But Sam didn’t think he looked so sure about it.