The Search for Bugsy Short Story

"Hold still, Bugsy! I can't paint you if you don't hold still!" Autumn sighed, knowing her buttoned-nosed Retriever puppy couldn't understand what she was saying. She looked at her painting. "Oh well," she shrugged, "I'm almost finished anyway. I just have to finish the shading..."

She gasped, startled by a shrill cry from Bugsy. "Bugsy!" she cried, "What's wrong boy?" He barked then took off, still yapping as he ran down the main corridor of the sprawling estate. Autumn ran after him, calling as she went, "Bugsy, come back!"

She wondered why he was so jumpy as she ran down the corridor of the sprawling estate. Where am I? she wondered. Autumn wished she knew the way around the new house. Why'd we have to move? I mean, this place is big enough for like, twenty people! She stopped in front of Austin's room to ask him if he had seen Bugsy. Just then he came out of his room, his dirty blonde hair wet like he had just gotten out of the shower, and his bright blue eyes were sparkling. That was, until he saw the look on Autumn's face. "Austin!" she exclaimed, running up to him, "Have you seen Bugsy? I was painting him and he started barking, then he ran out of the room and I can't find him!"

Austin could tell she was near tears.He stared at her, with her face of pure innocence twisted into a mask of anguish, her green eyes blue with sadness and her shoulder length blonde wavy hair as flat as a plain. It was a pitiful sight indeed. "No, I haven't seen him. Have you asked Josh?"

"No." she replied. "I was about to ask him though."

"Okay then, let's go."

Autumn thought about adding, "But I probably won't ask Josie," but thought better of it. Don't think about her, her mind warned. But Autumn couldn't stop the train that was her mind from going on with its course. With the very thought of Josie's dark brown waist length hair came Autumn's other thoughts of Josie's other features, from her Hispanic skin tone and accent, to her skinny figure with those green toadstools she called eyes. She was one of Autumn's reoccurring nightmares and this nightmare she couldn't wake up from.

She had been in the bathroom getting ready for supper, as was her usual ritual, when Josie came storming in. "Get out!" Josie had said. Autumn had asked her why and stated that she had been in there first but Josie retorted, "No one cares, can't you tell? Just get out you idiot!" Josie had yelled. Autumn had been heart broken.

They rounded a corner, Autumn completely lost, and came to Josh's room. Austin knocked, saying, "Hey, Josh! Can you come out here for a second?"

"Sure," he replied.

Autumn was stunned, wondering once again how she had gotten so lucky to have such a muscular brother. There was Josh, his shirt over his shoulder, sweating up a storm. Even with such a stinky smell, he was someone you would feel safe around.

"What's up?" he asked, looking from Autumn to Austin and back again.

"Have you seen Bugsy?" Austin asked.

"Afraid not," he said in his Russian accent, carefully pronouncing every syllable. He could tell from the look on Autumn's face that something was wrong. "What's the matter Autumn? Bugsy too good at playing hide and seek or something?" he asked, trying to lighten her mood.

"This is serious." Austin replied sharply.

"Whoa there, bro, I was just trying to cheer her up! Don't blow a casket!"

"Um, Josh," Autumn told him, obviously trying not to laugh, "I think you mean gasket."

"What's the difference?" he asked.

Austin seemed to have lightened up as well. "No," he snickered, "there's no difference at all."

Just then, Josie came around the corner, then, seeing Autumn, abruptly turned around and started to walk in the other direction.

"Wait!" Austin called after her, running down the hall.

A few minutes later, Austin was walking back towards them with Josie trailing behind.

"She say's she hasn't seen Bugsy," Austin told them. "But she said she'll help look for him, right Josie?" he said as he stared at her.

"Right," she said through her teeth.

"Okay Autumn, where have you looked so far?" he asked.

"Hm... well, let's see... he ran off, and I was panicked so I went off to find you guys," she replied, suddenly feeling like a complete idiot, just like Josie had said.

"That's okay, sis. We'll split up and find him." Austin then proceeded to assign everybody four rooms and then said, "Okay then, we'll meet back here in one hour. Now go!"

An hour later Josh, Austin, Autumn, and Josie came back to the area outside of Josh's room. "Anyone find anything?" Josh asked.

"Nothing," Josie replied. The others nodded their head in agreement. "Well, time to go listen to music," Josie said nonchalantly.

"How can you think of music at a time like this?!" Autumn screamed. "I've never met a more heartless person than you Josie Sanchez!" She got up and stormed out.

"What?" Josie asked, realizing that everybody was staring at her. "Anyone else have any other ideas?"

"I do," Josh spoke up, "we can ask Mr. McCarthy." Austin agreed that they should ask Mr. McCarthy, the grounds keeper.

"We might as well go to the insane asylum and talk to a patient there," Josie argued. "I mean, the guy is nuts. He is always talking to the plants and wearing suits when he does his garden work."

"He tells good jokes though," Josh said, "Like this one. What's a tiger's favorite flower?" When no one answered he said, "A Tiger Lily!" They all laughed, though he didn't realize Austin and Josie were laughing at him, not with him.

"Well, I think it's worth a try. Besides," Austin added with a wink, "we wouldn't want Autumn to blow a casket for not trying!" He laughed heartily, rolling on the ground clutching his stomach. Josie laughed, she herself near tears. After their fits of laughter had subsided, they got up and walked off to find Mr. McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy sure is eccentric, Austin thought, but he's not too bad when you think about it. They walked around the house, and just as expected, saw Mr. McCarthy tending his Petunia garden. Boy, that guy sure did like his Petunias. Mr. McCarthy had speckled gray hair, bright blue eyes, and a fascinating British accent. And not only was he eccentric, but like Josh had said, he was funny, at least, most of the time.

"Hello, Mr. McCarthy," Josh said, waving him down. "We wish to ask you a question."

"Well, ask away," he replied, his eyes never leaving his Petunias.

"We were wondering, did you see Bugsy run through here earlier?"

"The little Retriever pup? Yes, I believe I did. I saw the little pup run towards the street. A black van was on the curb and the little retriever ran right up to it. A lady stepped out and she had something shiny in her hand. A dog whistle, I would imagine. Anyway, she had what looked to me like a piece of bacon in her hand and she threw it in the car. Of course he jumped in after it and contently gnawed on it. Then the lady closed the door and I haven't seen the pup since. The van she was in was just like that one over there," he pointed across the road at a big black van slowly driving down the street. The windows were tinted, so they couldn't see the driver. However, something must have caught the drivers attention because it sped up and raced down the street. Moments later, they heard a scream, high pitched and innocent.

"Autumn!" they all cried in unison.

"Oh, no!" Austin cried, "That must've been her! Something must've happened. We have to go see if she's alright!"

Just then, the black van raced back down the other direction and just before the window was rolled up Josh realized who was in the van, who took Bugsy, and more importantly, what had happened to Autumn. "Mrs. Brookfield..." he said. "Don't you get it?! She kidnapped Bugsy so she could get to Autumn! Mrs. Brookfield kidnapped Autumn!"

Josie, Josh, and Mr. McCarthy all sat around Austin and his computer, feeling completely and utterly useless while Austin tapped away on his computer. "Her address has got to be on here somewhere," he said, searching his computer. "Ah! Here we go! 722 Firehouse Road." he paused. "Anyone know where that is?" He looked around at all the desperate faces counting on him to lead them to Autumn. The problem is... I don't know where she is either. He banged his head on the desk. "Augh!" Why had this happened to his sister, his only blood related sister of all people? She was so innocent, so sweet, so kind. And when he thought about mean, cynical, strict, old Mrs. Brookfield... he ground his teeth so hard he felt dizzy. This was all his fault, and he intended to fix it and put Mrs. B in her place.

Mr. McCarthy spoke up. "I know where Firehouse Road is," he said. "I can drive you there."

"Thanks for the offer, Mr. McCarthy," Josh spoke up. "But I think we should just walk there. It would be more inconspicuous."

"Right you are, my boy! So, how about you walk and I'll try and get the police to come. You guys get Autumn out while I do that. Is that okay with you, children?" he asked.

"Yeah, we can do that," Austin replied.

"There it is, the monster's house." Austin commented. "It looks like a death trap to me."

"That's because it is one, bro!" Josh told him.

"Okay, so let's review," Josie said. "You guys sneak in the back window, while I distract Mrs. B at her front door. I'll be disguised as a Girl Scout so I won't get caught and I'll sell Mrs. B some cookies. By that time, you guys should've been able to get in through the back window. I suspect Mrs. B is keeping Autumn in the basement where no one can see or hear her. You guys get down there, figure out something to get her back out, and PRESTO! We're home free! So, you guys ready?"

"Yep," they said in unison.

"Okay then, let's split up!"

Josh and Austin made their way around to the back of the house while Josie tromped the other direction. Austin and Josh slipped through the back window, quickly scanned their surroundings and saw that there was a narrow hallway. At the end of that narrow hallway was a flight of stairs leading down.

"Let's go that way," Austin pointed down the hall.

"Your the leader and where you lead I'll most likely follow," Josh replied.

They made their way down the narrow hallway, down the rickety old stairs, and into a horror film basement. It was complete with cobwebs, rotten wood, and a tied and gagged victim. Autumn. Bugsy was sitting right next to her, whining. She looked as thought she were asleep, or... no, Austin thought. She can't be... Just then she stirred.

"Ugh, what happened?" she said.

"Autumn!" Josh urgently whispered, "Psst! Are you okay?"

"Josh, Austin! Where am I?" Autumn cried. "What happened?"

"Long story short, you were kidnapped by Mrs. B and tied and gagged in her basement. That's where you are now," Austin briefly explained.

"What? Why did she kidnap me? I'm so confused," she looked dizzy, "...and I'm not feeling so well."

"Josh! Catch her! She's going to faint!" Josh jumped into action, hardly catching her before she hit the floor.

"Autumn! Autumn! Are you okay?" he said, lightly slapping her cheek.

"Ugh," she paused, "did I faint?"

"Yeah, I think so." Austin told her. "Now listen, we need to get you out of here before you faint again. Can you stand up?" he asked.

"I think so," she replied. "You'll have to help me, though." She stood up, mostly on the support her brothers provided.

"Okay, sis." Josh told her, "We're going to get you out of here. There's some stairs to go up and Austin will have to see if the ghost is clear, though."

She giggled. "I think you mean coast, Josh."

"Ummmmm... yeah, sure." He looked like he wasn't sure. I wonder if Josie is okay, he thought. I hope nothing's gone wrong and she's in trouble. He figured that if anyone even dared to approach her, she could easily take care of the problem. She, in Josh's opinion, was pretty tough; pretty cool.

Austin looked out a crack in the door and gave Autumn and Josh the all clear signal. "We can go now. It doesn't look like Mrs. B is around. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be quiet and careful still."

"Let's go quickly," Autumn replied. "The sooner we get out of here, the better."

Austin cautiously looked out the door, then he slid out, slowly and carefully, and motioned for the others to follow him. Bugsy, seemingly unaware that they were in danger and probably thinking it was all a big game of hide and seek, followed them out. They slipped back out the back window. Once in the yard Austin told them, "Okay, now we're going straight to the police station. We can tell them what happened to you and they can arrest Brookfield."

"Oh, so her name's Brookfield now?" Autumn asked sarcastically.

"Well, I don't think she deserves Mrs. before Brookfield. That would say she was normal, which she's not."

"Touché," she laughed.

"Josh, do you have your cell phone? I need to call Josie and make sure she's okay," Austin asked.

Autumn slapped herself in the face. "Josie! What did she do? Where is she?"

"She was distracting Brookfield," Josh told her. "She did a great job judging by the lack of noise we've heard since rescuing you."

As they made their way towards the police station Austin tried to call Josie. Autumn couldn't help but feel proud and grateful to Josie. She had risked her safety by trying to save Autumn. And that was all Autumn could ever ask for.

When they arrived at the police station the police had the boys and Bugsy stay in the waiting room. They took Autumn back to a separate room where Autumn began to tell her story to the detective who was interviewing her. "It happened like this," she told him. "I was really mad at Josie for, well, being mean. I ran around to the other side of the house and sat on the lawn. I'll tell you the truth. I was thinking about running away. I had decided to chart my course and sketch out a map of the neighborhood. So I walked around the street making my map." She took a crumpled piece of paper out of her back pocket revealing the map she had been making. "I had gotten back to our street when a black van pulled up beside me. I thought it would just pass me because I had moved to the side of the road. But the van stopped and a lady dressed in black jumped out. I started to run, but she had longer legs than me and quickly caught up. She tackled me, bounding me hand and foot before hitting me in the back of the head with something really hard. I apparently passed out, because the next thing that happened was Austin and Josh," she motioned towards them, "asking me if I was okay and untying me. The lady dressed in black who jumped out of the van was Evelyn Brookfield. Or as we call her, Mrs. Brookfield."

"Thank you for the information, Miss. We'll send some officers over there right away." He made a signal with his hand. "You kids are excused." He started to get up, then apparently thought of something. "Ms. Autumn," he said. "May I please have your phone number? In case we come across any problems, of course."

"Sure," she replied. She gave him her number. Mr. McCarthy was waiting outside the police station in his car with Josie in the front seat.

"Hop in kids," he said. "I'll drive you home."

They got in. As they started down the road, Autumn asked, "Mr. McCarthy?"

"Yes?"

"Can we go by Mrs. B's place? I want to see if the police have come by yet."

He seemed to ponder that for a minute. "I suppose so."

They drove down Mrs. Brookfield's street, stopping as they neared her house. The place was completely covered with police cars, all with lights going and sirens blaring. And that's when they saw it. Mrs. Brookfield, exiting the building in handcuffs. As she was being shoved towards a cop car, she saw Autumn and shouted something intangible at first, then shouted, loud enough so all the kids could hear, "This isn't over, Autumn. I'll get out and I'll find you. Oh, and when I do, you're in for the ride of your life. I'll be back! Back to get you Autumn," and she was shoved into the police car.

Autumn shivered and Josie put her arm around her. "You'll be fine, Autumn. I promise I won't let her do anything to you."

And Autumn truly believed what Josie had said.