The Mystery of the Open Window
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||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 6
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||balled, beat-up, busted, butts, dingy, mulling, nail-chewed, psychedelic, sullen-looking, tunic, finding, culprit, lanky, opening, tie-dye, stress
||Didn't Mom, That C. J.
The Mystery of the Open Window
By Brenda B. Covert
2 My lanky brother hung his head. Now that Mom knew the truth, C.J. was in big trouble. I could barely contain my glee. After all, I had solved the mystery of the open window!
3 Mom had been complaining about finding my brother's window open several days in a row. "Bugs will fly in!" she'd yell about the two-inch gap.
4 C.J. always played dumb. "That's weird," he would say. "I didn't do it. I bet Janae did it."
5 Mom would voice what I was thinking. "Why would your sister sneak in here and open your window?"
6 "I dunno," he'd reply with a shrug. "Maybe she wants to get me in trouble."
7 I knew C.J. had to be opening the window, but I didn't know why. His screen had fallen off, so raising the window was like inviting mosquitoes to dinner! We had an electric fan for those really warm, sticky days. It didn't seem likely that he was talking to friends through his open window. My bedroom is next to his, and I would have heard the voices.
8 Over the weekend C.J. was grounded again. That was nothing new. Mom was napping on the couch; it was positioned near the front door and in full view of the back door. (These are important details--trust me.) I was in my room listening to my tunes. The next thing I knew, Mom was asking me if C.J. went out. I removed my headphones and told her that I hadn't heard a thing.
9 Mom's eyebrows met above her nose. "I just found the bathroom door shut with the light on as if he were in there!" Mom said, waving one nail-chewed hand out in the hall. "I thought I was talking to him, but nobody answered. The room was empty! His bedroom door was shut but not locked, so I went in. That room is empty too! He's nowhere to be found, and I had grounded him!"
10 I turned off the music as Mom stormed down the hall toward the kitchen. I felt bad for her. Dad had left us last year, and so she was raising us kids alone. C.J.'s behavior was causing a lot of unnecessary stress in our family. Didn't Mom have enough to deal with already?
11 I smoothed my tie-dye t-shirt and stepped out of my psychedelic 60's room with the hot pink daisy rug and purple lava lamp and entered the smelly land of C.J. His room always smelled like corn chips. Unfortunately, his dirty sock collection was the culprit. The fumes from his overflowing hamper made his sky blue walls seem dingy gray.
12 I kicked my way through the trash and clothes on the floor as I searched for clues. His old, beat-up desk was piled with junk--old magazines, a balled up sock, a yo-yo with a tangled string, some game cards, and a broken CD player that C.J. was attempting to fix. His bed was unmade. A small breeze shifted the curtains a bit.
13 Hey, that was a clue! I pushed aside the curtain to find C.J.'s window open by about two inches. I turned around to call for Mom, but she called for me instead.
14 "Janae, I'm going to drive around and look for C.J." she said, keys in hand. "He's probably at Kelly's house. You can stay home."
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