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The Two Faces of
the Jaglom Boy

Mysteries by Kids 11: August 1999
by MirtyPirty

Henry Jaglom was the meanest and sneakiest kid on the block. No one liked him. And that's why we were all suspects when his bike was stolen!
It was about four-thirty and I was playing with Dean and Michelle. We've been friends since we could walk. The whole neighborhood has twelve kids: Dean and Michelle Griffin, Jordan Doyle, Amber and Samantha Kint, Henry and Harry Jaglom, me, my two brothers Steve and Blake, and my sister Diana, and the only baby, Kristy Green.
All of us, besides Kristy, are about the same age and we were all capable of stealing Henry's bike. It's a new eighteen-gear Huffy mountain bike-- all black with SILVERBACK written in silver letters on the side.
I loved that bike, and the other kids had always admired it, too. All the kids had commented about Henry's bike and how nice it was. In fact, back when Henry used to be nice, he'd let lots of us borrow it. But something had happened to Henry-- he hadn't been very nice for a while, and had gotten meaner with the passing weeks. In fact, he'd put the bike in the basement once his cousin Harry had moved in with the family and they'd had to share Henry's room. No one had seen it for months, until Henry had grudgingly agreed to let Jordan borrow it. But Jordan had returned it after a quick ride-- we'd all seen him.
It didn't help that peopple also suspected Henry of being a thief-- although now, with his own bike stolen, that didn't seem likely. Lots of things had been taken in the past months, and they'd all had a habit of turning up around the Jaglom house. It had put Henry in a bad mood.
When Henry came charging up to our porch, his mean face red with anger and heat, I began to panic. He'd punched boys and even girls when he was especially mad.
"All right Sally Hoffman, where did you put my bike?"
"Me?" I asked, taken aback. "I didn't take your bike. Jordan might have. He's been talking about getting a bike, especially after you let him borrow yours."
"Dean, Michelle, where is it?"
"We don't have it," chorused the Griffin twins.
Just then Mom came out the door with a pitcher of lemonade. "Hello, Henry," she said. None of the parents have been too enthusiastic about Henry's rude disposition. My mom pursed her lips as she handed him a cup of lemonade. He drank it and then he dropped the paper cup on the ground and left without so much as a "thanks" or "goodbye."
Harry Jaglom came up to the porch soon after. He's Henry's cousin, and a year younger than Henry. He'd always been a pest to Henry because he was so polite and everyone's parents liked him. It was especially hard for Henry since Harry was living with the family permanently since Harry's parents were overseas.
"Hello, Mrs. Hoffman," he said with his southern twang.
"Hello, Harry. I hear your cousin lost his bike."
"Yes, he has, ma'am. It's been missin' ever since one o' clock and Henry has the whole house turned up and 'round lookin' for it. I had to escape through the back door 'cuz he was keeping me hostage. Wouldn't let me leave." He gave a nervous laugh and turned quickly. "Might as well go back and help him."
He walked away, his skinny shoulders drooping. We all felt sorry for him. Everybody liked Harry.

*     *     *     *

By nightfall every kid and their home had been searched, even Kristy, for any signs of the lost bike. Harry had disappeared and reappeared several times, listening in on conversations. Nobody had any idea of what had happened. We sat around our homes, passing the time, when out of the blue Harry's old bloodhound Ole Red bawled loud enough to wake the dead.
It was around eight and I had just gotten Steve and Blake to sleep, since they had to be at school the next day. They were up with a jump, as was everyone else in the neighborhood.
Ole Red was famous in the neighborhood-- famous because he was the nicest, quietest dog you'd ever meet. He wouldn't bark no matter what, not even if a kid was pulling on his ears.
There was one situation when Ole Red would bark-- and that was if he saw something wrong. He'd saved our kitten, when she was caught up a tree and none of us knew where she was. He'd even stopped someone from robbing a house when he let out that big old howl. So when we heard Ole Red, we knew something was up!
Harry was in his pajamas standing next to an old willow tree. Underneath it was Henry's bike. Henry came running out of the house to his bike and cousin and dog. "My bike," he shouted. People came streaming from every direction until the whole neighborhood was circled around the two young Jagloms.
Questions like, "How did Ole Red know?" and "Ain't it odd that that Jaglom boy's dog found it of all people?" and "Didn't Harry find Mrs. Green's stroller, too? And what about that Bachelor Figg's lawnmower?"
The last remark made everybody remember all the things-- big things-- that went missing. Strollers, lawn mowers, blenders, blowdryers, even an old T.V. and stereo. These had all been found by Harry in noticeable places and now, adding it all up, people began to accuse him of the theft.
Harry went from pink to scarlet as people began to ask him questions. Finally Mrs. Jaglom raised her hand for silence. "Harry, " she said. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
Harry hung his head. "No one liked me when I came here. I began doing things, mean things, and blaming them on Henry. Everyone liked him when I came so I thought if I made him look bad and make me look good I could make friends.
"Taking the little things wasn't enough-- people just thought they'd lost them-- so I began to take things that would be noticed. And it worked. I'd hide them in my room, the attic, garage or shed and would return them by the end of two days.
"People began to like me more then Henry. He was really nice before I came and because I began doing bad things and blaming them on him he began to get mad because he was helpless. Nobody would believe him. And I couldn't stop doing it-- and when I saw Jordan on that bike... well, I'd never seen that bike before. I didn't know it was Henry's. And I thought maybe just one more theft would be enough. I wanted to see if Henry'd get meaner." Harry paused and took a breath. "Henry hasn't been too nice lately-- he's been punching people cussin,' but I-- I provoked him into doing it. I'm sorry."

*     *     *     *

Over the next few weeks Harry was sent to cut lawns, trim and prune bushes, flowers and grass, shop for some people and even babysit from time to time. He apologized to everyone and always kept a smile on his face and soon he and Henry were both friends with everyone in the neighborhood. Yet every once in a while something would go missing and appear the next day and all the people could say was: "Jaglom."
Congratulations, MirtyPirty !
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