Shirley Holmes Christmas
A Shirley Holmes Fan Fiction

by Boo Rogue Amazon
January 02, 2001         11,000 words

Disclaimer: I love the smell of a disclaimer in the morning! Ok now Shirley fans here’s the haps. Shirley, Bo, Alicia, Bart, Molly, Stink, Parker, these people do not belong to me. I am borrowing them in the vain hopes that someone will want to read my story about them. Creedo and Forefront could indeed sue me at anytime for this venture; of course I am very poor so it would really be a waste of their time. They are, however, more than welcome to my credit card bills. So yes, let the madness begin!

Personal Disclaimer: I got the idea for this story during my mother’s Christmas pageant at church. I started thinking that it might be nice to have a Christmas episode of Shirley so I have decided to write one. I will be focusing on the Christmas holiday, which means the faith that surrounds it as well. This is not an overly religious story at all but I just didn’t want anyone of Jewish or other faiths to be offended that I didn’t deal with Hanukkah and the like. I do wish you a happy Hanukkah or a Happy Holiday season.

Authors note: Insert shameless plug here. The title of this story is inspired by the title of one of many books that my all time favorite mystery writer, Dame Agatha Christie, has written. That book was called simply Hercule Pirot’s Christmas. Guess what this story is called. = )

 

Shirley Holmes’ Christmas

By Rogue Amazon Boo

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays to all of the Shirley Holmes fans. This is my gift to you. May the New Year usher in the beginning of all your dreams and the continuation of the ones already realized.

Cast of Characters

Shirley Holmes…..My third favorite detective of all time

Bo Sawchuck…….Best friend of Shirley

Alicia Gianilli……My second favorite little Italian

Molly Hardy……..Sociopath alert!

Stink Patterson…..The kid with a thousand jokes…none of them good.

Bart James………Aliens, Ghosts, Goblins…On my!

Parker…………...Can we say wallpaper anyone!

 

Shirley Holmes’ Christmas : Chapter 1

A column of small white clouds fell around the stately stone foundation of Sussex academy. The white powder gave even more secrecy to the night than the black moonless sky ever could. The perpetrator of tonight’s of events walked softly so that the snow wouldn’t crunch under their boots. Quickly and quietly the heavily bundled apparition slipped into the darkened halls of the private school and slunk slowly towards the large auditorium. With a modicum of movement the darkly clad person first went to the broom closet and retrieved a mop, they then turned and walked down the aisle to the main stage. The object the intruder sought lay nestled in swaddling clothes, his painted eyes staring towards the ceiling. With a quick move the nighttime visitor grabbed the rendition of the child from its manger bed. The visitor then simply slipped away making sure to mop up all the watery footprints left in their wake.

Bo Sawchuck shivered and pulled the brightly colored robe around him tighter. He was freezing to death and he still couldn’t believe that he had let Shirley talk him into this. Three weeks ago when Ms. Stratman had announced that the school was going to be performing a Christmas pageant Bo had scoffed at the idea. There had been no way that he was going to be doing this, and then two days ago one of the wise men became very ill and they needed a replacement. When Shirley had asked him to be the replacement he had given her a very adamant "no" which she had somehow turned into a grudging "yes." He still wasn’t sure how she manipulated him into this ridiculous predicament but she had. Bo thought it might have been a combination of her "It is strange that we keep having so many accidents," and a pair of large pleading blue eyes. He had to admit, despite the fact that him and Shirl where just friends, those eyes could still reduce him to a "yes ma’am, anything you say ma’am guy," before you could say sucker. God help him if he ever started to see her as more than a friend. Not liking this train of thought at all Bo got back to the very serious business of scowling as the costume mistress for the pageant fiddled around with his robe.

"Ow!" Bo cried suddenly as an errant pin bit into his flesh.

"Sorry Bo," the plump middle age woman replied. "But it isn’t entirely my fault, what with the way you keep fidgeting. I swear by all that is holy that you are worse than all three of my boys put together, and that is no small feat mind you." Bo grinned at her.

"Is that a polite way of saying that I’m grumbling too much Evie?" Evelyn Conners stood up so she could look at the boy before her. The plump little woman was five-feet if she was an inch and had to look up at Bo to glare at him. She was a fiery little Irish woman with hair as red as her temper. She also had a wicked sense of humor and insisted that everyone involved with the production call her Evie. She would wince whenever one of the students would call her Ms. Conners and instantly correct them. It was needless to say that she had quickly become one of Bo’s favorite people.

"It’s a polite way of saying that you need to stop mov’in so I can’ get this costume fitted to you right," she grumbled and stuck another pin in the robe.

"Well I wouldn’t even be in this mess if it wasn’t for…" Just then the door to the costume room was flung open and the object of Bo’s annoyance walked in. He noticed that she seemed a bit flushed and her eyes were practically dancing.

"Bo we have a prob…" she trailed off when she noticed Evie working on Bo’s robe.

"Oh hello Ms. Con…I mean Evelyn," the detective corrected. Evie looked up scowling at first and met the bright blue eyes of Shirley Holmes, great grand niece of the legendary Sherlock Holmes.

"Caught yourself this time dear. Now if we can only work you down to Evie then life would be grand," the costume mistress teased.

"I don’t want to make too many strides at a time. It’s the formal British training you know," Shirley countered and to her delight Evelyn laughed.

"That’s about the only thing I hold against your girl, Bo. That stuffy British environment that she was raised in. Poor lass never stood a chance." Bo was about to tell the older woman that Shirley wasn’t his girl, but stopped short. He had already told her countless times that him and Shirley were just friends. She just chose to ignore it. Shirley was even ignoring it by now, and perhaps even finding it a bit amusing.

"Evelyn would you mind if I borrowed my boy for a moment," Bo groaned as Shirley said this silently begging her not to egg Evie on.

"I would be beholden to you lass. The lad is so fidgety you would think he had a whole pile of ants crawl’in around in his knickers. Go ahead and go with your girl lad and we can finish up here later."

"Yes ma’am," he grumbled and slipped out of the robe and then followed Shirley.

"Goodbye Evelyn. I will have him back after lunch," the detective said over her shoulder. Evie just smiled and waved.

When they were out of earshot Bo turned to Shirley. He knew that look. It was the "I’m onto something look," which usually meant that he was about to be dragged into another case.

"Bo the baby Jesus has been stolen," Shirley whispered softly as they made there way to the backstage buffet. It was Saturday and the people involved in the pageant had all brought food from home and set up a huge buffet. Bo steered Shirley towards it now.

"What do you mean the baby Jesus has been stolen?" he asked.

"I mean just that. Stratman is trying to keep it hush hush because she is afraid more people will walk. Some of the more superstitious people are saying we have a Christmas phantom," Shirley said thoughtfully. Bo wasn’t looking at her as he rolled up the long sleeves to his robe and then got to the important business of filling up his plate.

"Shirley I still think this whole sabotage theory you have is just your imagination. I mean why would anyone want to sabotage a Christmas pageant? What would be the point?"

"How else do you explain all the missing props, the faulty rigging, the blackouts? It has been one thing after another Bo," she said exasperated. Bo reached down and picked up a couple of slices of ham from a nearby plate. He was about to turn to Shirley and tell her again that she was overreacting when his friend suddenly knocked his plate from his hand.

"Shirley! What did you do that for!" The junior detective didn’t say anything she just pointed to the ham that Bo had recently put on his plate. Two tiny worms were crawling on the underside. The meat had been rancid. Bo turned toward Shirley with a grave expression in his blue eyes. It looks like Shirley was right…again.

 

Shirley Holmes’ Christmas : Chapter 2

"Bart that is not how you kneel next to the baby Jesus!" Alicia Gianilli replied in exasperation. Bart James, a boy of about fourteen, pushed his glasses back into place on his nose and glared at the little Italian before him.

"Alicia, unlike the last theatrical project that we collaborated on this time you are NOT the producer. I will kneel down any way I want too!" Alicia looked like she was about to launch herself over the cradled at Bart but before she could a commanding voice called everyone to attention.

"Students may I have your attention!" Ms Stratman bellowed. Everyone in the auditorium immediately stopped what he or she was doing.

"Very good. I wanted to remind everyone here that we are two days away from opening night. I don’t have to remind anyone how important this pageant is to the school. The money it will bring in will be going towards end of the year bills and also towards student scholarships. This weekend must be perfect. Now let us to some serious rehearsing. Is the cast for the Christmas Carol segment here." A few students had gathered together on stage all dressed as the ghosts of past, present and future. They were about to raise their hands when a loud cry was heard from back stage. The auditorium seemed to move collectively towards the sound. Before any of them could get very far Evelyn came running onto the main stage; Bo and Shirley were right behind her.

"’Tis the most terrible thing I have ever seen. The costumes for the blessed virgin and her husband, they have been torn to bitty shreds!" Ms. Stratman gasped when she heard this and motioned for the costume mistress to lead the way. Evelyn nodded and started back the way she came.

"Everyone stay here until we get to the bottom of this!" the headmistress told the students and then disappeared with Evelyn behind the stage. Shirley and Bo looked at each other with "Yeah Right" looks and then immediately followed Ms. Stratman.

Shirley and Bo followed the two adults at a discreet distance, making sure to stay out of sight. They both found themselves back in Evelyn’s costume room. Ms. Stratman and the plump Irish lady were looking at the tattered remains of Mary and Joseph robes with grave eyes.

"See Ms. Stratman, just as I told you. Ripped to shreds they were."

"Another thing to worry about. As if the missing baby Jesus statue wasn’t enough," the headmistress said on a sigh.

"Aye, my church puts a lot of stock in that statue. It is a very old religious icon, brought over from a small church in my native Ireland. The arch bishop will not rightly be pleased that it has gone missing," Evelyn replied gravely.

"I assure you Ms. Conners that everything is being done to retrieve the statue. We will return it to its rightful place before the show begins. Now do you think there is anything that can be done about the costumes?" Evelyn looked at the shredded material critically before replying.

"I have the wee Italian girl and the boy’s measurements on file still. I

will have to be starting from scratch for both of them. Their costumes will

be simple but functional by the time we open," the little Irish woman

replied. Ms. Stratman gave her a gracious smile

"You are a treasure Evelyn. I must get back to the students now. There is a lot to be done." Evelyn didn’t reply as she was already caught up in fixing this newest disaster. Ms. Stratman hid her slight smile and left. Shirley pulled Bo back behind a nearby curtain just as the headmistress walked by concealing them both. When the coast was clear they peeked out.

"How does my sabotage theory sound now?" she asked him quietly. Bo turned grave eyes on her.

"It is sounding better and better by the minute," he said. Bo was about to say something else but before he could Shirley yanked him back behind the curtain.

"Hey what…" he tried to exclaim only to have her hand clamp over his mouth.

That is when he saw Evelyn walk by them, which only confused him even more. When Shirley finally released him and they stepped out of hiding Bo turned toward his partner with a questioning look.

"Ok, Stratman I can see, but would you mind telling me why we just hid from Evie?" he questioned.

"Because we can’t search her fitting room if she knows we are here," Shirley replied reasonably and started toward the door. She reached for the handle only to find it locked.

"Shirley you had better be searching her room just to get a look at the ruined costumes," Bo said through clenched teeth. Shirley paid him no mind as she pulled a hairpin from her hair and went to work on the lock. She had left her backpack with the rest of the cast bags in the locked storage room that Ms. Stratman had set aside for such things. She still made short work of the lock even with the minimal tools.

"I’m searching for that…and for other things," she replied turning the handle and entering the small room. Bo followed her with an angry expression on his face.

"Shirley you can’t honestly suspect Evie! Why she’s…she’s…Evie!" he sputtered. Shirley turned her level blue gaze on him.

"I don’t like it either Bo but she does have access to the costumes and the baby Jesus statue was from her church. I have to search here just to be sure that she isn’t involved."

"You could just trust me to tell you she isn’t," he growled. Shirley sighed.

"Bo this is nothing personal," she said and started searching. He gave her an incredulous look and then a hard glare.

"Yeah…it’s nothing personal," he said and then turned and walked away telling Shirley without words that it was very personal.

"Bo!" she called but he didn’t turn around. With an exasperated sigh the detective went back to her search and silently prayed that she wouldn’t find anything to implicate the feisty Irish woman.

 

Shirley Holmes’ Christmas : Chapter 3

Bo couldn’t believe her sometimes! She could be so exasperating! He was fuming with anger at his best friend as he stalked from backstage only to look over his shoulder guiltily. He was leaving Shirley to break and enter without a look out. Still if she would just listen to him for once! With a disgusted sigh he stalked further away only to be stopped short by the sounds of singing coming from the somewhere to his right. Curious the ammeter detective found his way to one of the practice rooms where he saw Molly Hardy playing accompaniment to the new girl who was going to be doing all the singing for the pageant. Her name was Maria Santos. She was a pretty little thing with dark brown hair and brown eyes; her Spanish decent was obvious even before you knew her name. Her and her father had just moved to the Redington area about a month ago. Bo had tried to talk with her on a couple occasions but it was obvious the she was painfully shy. That is why he had been frankly stunned to find out that she was going to be singing for the pageant. He was equally stunned now to find out that she had an incredible voice. The refrains of "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" echoed through the practice area with an intensity that not even Judy Garland could have matched. It was beautiful and haunting all at once. Maria was so lost in the song that she didn’t notice Bo lurking around but Molly was another story.

"Sawchuck don’t you know its rude to lurk in hallways," the sociopath replied never missing a beat on her piano, Maria, however stopped singing quite suddenly, which is what caused the annoyed expression to briefly descend over Molly’s features. Bo looked a bit guilty when he stepped into the room but out of defiance he ignored his best friend’s archenemy.

"Wow you are incredible," he said and smiled at Maria. The girl blushed a bit but she did not reply.

"Thank you," she said softly and buried her head back into her music. Bo having finally gotten two words out of the new girl decided to try for some more.

"Who taught you how to sing like that?" Bo questioned curiously.

"Bo I know former street urchins such as yourself are beyond the grasp of good manners but we were practicing," Molly said tightly. There was a note of warning in her voice but Bo was feeling reckless today so he ignored it.

"I believe I was talking to Maria, Molly. So how about it? Who taught you to sing?"

"My mother," she replied a bit sadly and then gathered her music, pushed past Bo, and bolted from the room. Molly turned on Bo furiously.

"Thank you so much Bo. It will take me hours to coax her back into the practice room now. Don’t you and Holmes have better things to do than make my life difficult?" she replied primly and then sweep from the room like an empress stalking from her throne room. He grinned after her and said under his breath.

"I live to make your life difficult Molly." Bo was grinning as he left the practice room.

Shirley Holmes sat on one of the fake rocks that had been left back stage, completely lost in thought. She had searched every inch of the costume room and found nothing but the tattered costumes. She didn’t even find the blade that the perpetrator had used. Thankfully she also did not find anything that would show involvement on Evelyn’s part. Still the junior detective was stumped. It was obvious that someone was trying to sabotage the pageant but it was not obvious as to who it could be. Shirley sat and puzzled some more until the sound of muted voices captured her attention. The first one sounded like Ms. Stratman and the other was a man she didn’t recognize. They were in one of the practice rooms behind her and had apparently left the door ajar. Curious, the junior detective crept closer until she was able to make out what was being said.

"Mr. Hines I assure you that we will indeed have the final balloon payment by the first of the year," Shirley heard Ms. Stratman say. The detective couldn’t help but pick up the note of loathing in her voice. It was obvious that Mr. Hines was not one of her favorite people.

"You had better Ms. Stratman. My father may have given this looming gothic monstrosity a reprieve from the wrecking ball but I assure you that I will be no where near as gracious," a high nasal voice sang back. Shirley cringed inwardly with instant dislike.

"Your father believed in this school and the values Sussex has upheld from time immortal. In fact he told me often that he was going to leave the academy to the board of directors and absolve the school of it’s obligations," Ms. Startman accused. "If only they had been able to find his will."

"I don’t think I like what your implying headmistress and as to my father’s foolish sentimental behavior, well you will not get such treatment from me. It is bad business to allow such valuable property to be used for such a purpose as teaching spoiled wealthy children their ABC’s. I assure you that if you do not make the payment by the first of the year then this building will no longer be used for such a purpose. Good day to you Ms. Stratman." Shirley managed to scramble behind some props just as Mr. Hines stalked away. She also got her first really good look at him. He was well dressed but the expensive suit he was wearing seemed to make him look like a stuffed peacock. He was a rather anemic looking man, in his early thirties, with a hook like nose that did nothing for his sunken, watery brown eyes. The glint in his eyes was one that you might see in a school yard bully’s after he has just taken your lunch money. Shirley quickly stored his features in her memory and came out of hiding. Without a backwards glance she entered the room that Mr. Hines had just vacated intending to have a little chat with Ms. Stratman. She found Ms. Stratman sitting at her desk mumbling something about her very own Ebenzer Scrooge for the holidays.

"Ms. Stratman?" Shirley began tentatively. The headmistress gave a start and an exasperated sigh.

"Yes Ms. Holmes what is it?" she questioned. Shirley was a bit unsure as to what she was going to say until it clicked into place, just who Mr. Hines was.

"That was Silas Hines, the son of Sussex’s late owner Sir Martin Hines, wasn’t it?" By the way Ms. Stratman’s eyes narrowed a little Shirley knew she was right. "We can’t just let him get away with trying to shut down the school," the junior detective added.

"That will be quite enough Ms. Holmes," the headmistress replied primly.

"But Ms. Stratman…" she started to say only to be cut off by a hard glare from her headmistress.

"I assure you Ms. Holmes that the matter is being handled. Now if you will excuse me I have a dress rehearsal to over see." Shirley tried not to curse in frustration as she watched the headmistress of Sussex Academy walk away. Not sure what to do next the junior detective had decided to see where Bo had gone off to when a scream followed by a loud crash interrupted her thoughts.

"Alicia!" she said recognizing the voice and ran to the main stage.

 

Shirley Holmes’ Christmas : Chapter 4

Bo Sawchuck also heard the scream and came running from the opposite side of the auditorium. He quickly gained the stage, entering from the left side and noticed the Shirley had entered from the right. They both exchanged nods of acknowledgement and then took in the scene in front of them. Alicia sat on the stage trembling while Bart stood over her protectively. Another girl that Bo knew as Elizabeth Cali was kneeling next to Alicia trying to calm her down. Right in front of the little Italian was one of the stage lights that had been rented for the show. The heavy light had apparently become loose and crashed to the ground. While Ms. Stratman was busy trying to calm the severely spooked students down a bit; Shirley took advantage of the confusion to get closer to the light. She knelt down to get a closer look at the riggings for the light and found a slight discoloration where one of the screws should have been. A slight but very recognizable odor wafted from the empty hole confirming what she had first thought upon entering the auditorium. That this was no accident. Bo saw what she was doing and distracted a few of the students milling around so they wouldn’t bug the detective. When she was done, however, she motioned for him to follow her and they both left the stage together for the relative privacy of the backstage area. Bo turned to ask her what she had found but she motioned for him to be quiet and then motioned for him to follow her. She didn’t speak until they had entered one of the soundproof back stage practice rooms and shut the door.

"That was no accident," she said without any preamble, "it was blatant sabotage." Bo nodded already having expected the answer.

"How did they do it?" he asked curious as too what she had found.

"Hydrochloric acid," was her faint reply as she started to pace, "What we have so far is two strong possible suspects one with motive and one with opportunity but where did they get the means?"

"I hope you still aren’t including Evie in that list of suspects," Bo said and Shirley sighed.

"I still have to consider her a suspect Bo although I have my doubts on whether she could be the one sabotaging the pageant. My personal feelings aside, however, she did have ample opportunity to destroy the costumes and take the statue but she doesn’t have a motive, which brings us to our prime suspect," Shirley replied absently. Bo had just sat down on a nearby piano bench and he looked up at the detective startled.

"Prime suspect? Since when do we have a prime suspect?"

"Since I overheard a conversation between Ms. Stratman and Mr. Silas Hines," she replied and then went on to relate the rest of what she had overheard. Bo took it all in his face growing more angry by the minute.

"So this Hines guy has a motive." Bo said.

"A multi-million dollar motive to be exact," his best friend replied, "But where is his opportunity and his means?"

"He could have hired someone," Bo pointed out. Shirley thought about that for a moment and realized that Bo was right, he could have, indeed, hired someone, especially since the crew for the pageant was all volunteers from the school and the community. Shirley was pacing completely lost in thought when the edge of a paper caught her eye. Intrigued the detective bent down next to the piano and picked it up. It was an old newspaper article that had been cut of the Chicago Sun Times. Bo saw what Shirley was holding and immediately stood up to look over her shoulder. What they both read made them gasp.

"I think we might have found someone else with a motive," Shirley replied meeting Bo’s eyes.

The practice room was dark as the hooded figure approached the door cautiously. It appeared that no one had been in the room since this morning, which suited the covered figure fine. Looking around cautiously the mysterious person made sure that no one was observing them as they quietly entered the practice room. With a knowing hand the perpetrator drew the blinds and went to turn on the lights. A heavy sigh of relief escaped their lips only to be replaced by a cry of disbelief as the figure turned and found herself face to face with Shirley Holmes.

"I think you dropped something Maria," the detective said softly holding up the newspaper article. Maria Santos’ shock at seeing the detective evaporated and a look of crushing defeat crashed down on her slim shoulders. She knew that she had been caught.

"I was hoping that now one would find that until I had a chance to retrieve it," Maria said softly. Shirley stood up to face her but instead of accusation like one would normally expect the detective’s features where soft, even understanding.

"Bo and I found the baby Jesus statue hidden inside your locker, we also found the exacto knife that you used to destroy the costumes," the detective said and Maria seemed to wilt even further.

"I understand if you have to go to Ms. Stratman about this, I would have done the same if our positions had been reversed," she replied softly.

"I would like to reserve that right until after you tell me why," the detective replied. The petite Spanish girl looked at her in surprise, her brown eyes suspicious.

"You wouldn’t understand," she said to which Shirley replied, "Oh I may understand more that you could possible imagine." Maria wasn’t sure how to respond to that so she satisfied herself by searching the detective’s eyes for a hint of what she meant. Having found what she had been looking for the little Spanish singer sighed and stated her narrative.

"Last year at my old school I was in our Christmas pageant. I had the lead role as the Virgin Mary; it being a Catholic school this was the highest honor. I remember that my mother was so proud of me, but she was going to have to miss the performance. I was angry at her thinking that she was putting work before what was the most important day in my life. So she tried to surprise me. She flew back into Chicago the day of the pageant; we had a very bad snowstorm the night before and the roads where treacherous. I guess she lost control of the car…and I never saw her again." During this narrative a few tears had entered Maria’s eyes and Shirley’s were no less dry. "When I came to Sussex and my father found out that we where having this pageant he thought it would be a good idea for me to do something…anything with it. I had become so withdrawn that he was afraid for me. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad that I am singing in the pageant but every time the living nativity started I just…I couldn’t bare it. So I decided to sabotage that part of the pageant, but then the other things started happening and I thought that maybe…maybe God was punishing me for my selfishness. I was scared that it was all my fault. So I’m kind of glad that you found me out Shirley. I don’t have to hide anymore," Maria said. Shirley looked at her and finally spoke.

"Bo and I have already returned the baby Jesus to his crib and as for the costumes, well Evelyn has already remade them so I think that we will pass on telling Ms. Stratman what had happened," Shirley replied to a stunned Maria.

"But why?" she choked.

"Because five years ago my mother disappeared in Rwanda. We don’t know if she is alive or…so I know what it is like to miss your mother during the holidays," Shirley replied simply not meeting the other girl’s eyes. "I believe this belongs to you," the detective added and handed the girl her newspaper clipping, Maria nodded and then did something that she hadn’t done for almost a year. She smiled. Her face then reverted to a frown.

"But what about the other accidents?" Maria said.

"Those weren’t your fault Maria, but I think I know whose fault they are.

Now all we have to do is prove it."

 

Shirley Holmes’ Christmas : Chapter 5

Bo had been keeping an eye on things stage side when he saw Shirley and Maria emerge together from the back. Both girls were smiling which made Bo smile in return. He knew what was going to be said in the practice room and he was glad that Shirley decided to let Maria slide. It only proved to him what he had always known, that his friend had more heart than anyone else he knew. With a grin on his features he motioned them both over, wanting to tell Shirley that nothing suspicious had been happening. Shirley smiled and took a step towards him and then froze.

"Bo look out!" she cried. Startled her partner turned his head just in time to see the heavy wooden prop for the manger scene coming towards him. Thinking fast he dived forward and just managed to avoid being crushed. The dive however brought his head into contact with the stage floor. The last thing Bo saw were the stage lights above him before he sunk into blankness.

Bo’s head felt like a herd of elephants had just stamped though it as he shook off the remnants of his recent black out. Slowly and painful the ammeter detective opened his eyes to find the welcome sight of his best friend hovering over him with a very concerned expression in her deep blue eyes. It took him a minute to reorient to everything else and he realized that Shirley wasn’t the only one that was standing around him, the entire cast of the pageant including Ms. Stratman was there as well. Bo blushed and the tried to sit up wincing a bit.

"Bo you should lay still," Shirley said trying to stay him with her hands. He shook his head slightly and she relented with a frustrated sigh. It brought a small grin to his face.

"Me strong male caveman, me feel no pain," he teased and she scowled at him.

It was obvious if he was able to tease her then he must be ok.

"Mr. Sawchuck I have sent for the nurse. I see that you appear to be all right but I would suggest that you let her check you out," he heard Ms. Stratman say from behind the throng of gathered students. "Now for the rest of you back to rehearsal." The assembled body of teenagers just groaned and Bo felt a moment’s sympathy for them. Still someone had just tried to flatten him with a backdrop, if it had been one of his classmates he hoped that Stratman would drive them mercilessly into an early grave. Bo was brought out of his dark musings by the arrival of the school nurse, a stern but kind looking woman in her mid-sixties. She had been a retired army nurse before taking the job at Sussex. In a no-nonsense voice she told the rest of the milling students to back off and in quick session had Shirley and Maria helping him to her office. He wasn’t as sure on his feet as he thought we he first tried to stand up. If it hadn’t been for Shirley he would have been eating stage again. She was a lot stronger than she looked he mused thoughtfully. This was a more profound thought than he could have possibly imagined.

Shirley Holmes paced back and forth in front of Bo’s bed lost in thought. She had returned to the stage after getting Bo to the infirmary, leaving Maria with him, and gotten a good look at the manger backdrop that had fallen on Bo. The two by four that had held the prop erect had apparently been sawed almost three forth of the way through by a hand saw. By the discoloration and the fact that there was no sawdust under or around the sabotaged area Shirley was able to deduce the prop had been sabotaged sometime ago. The wood final was unable to hold the prop erect anymore and just snapped. So the attack had not been directed at Bo, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. While Shirley had been pacing Bo and Maria had wisely remained silent but noticeing his friend’s perplexed look he knew it was time to get her to share her thoughts.

"You think Hines is behind all this don’t you," he said causing Shirley’s head to snap his way. By the look in her eyes one would think that she had forgotten that she wasn’t alone.

"I don’t know what I think but Hines still has the most to lose if the show goes on, so to speak," Shirley replied. "That prop the fell on you Bo, it had been rigged to do that almost a week ago. There is no telling what else has been sabotaged in this manner," she added ominously.

"So we could have a rash of really bad accidents coming our way," he replied.

She didn’t say anything and her silence was all the confirmation he needed.

"What can we do? How can we stop them," Maria said softly from Bo’s side. Shirley looked at the petite girl and gave her a small smile. That is when her gaze settled on the office beyond her and the computer that was on the desk, a slow mischievous glint lit her eyes as she turned to Bo and Marie. Bo was instantly wary knowing that look all to well.

"Shirley…"he started warningly. She paid him no mind.

"Maria would you mind keeping an eye out for the nurse. I have to borrow her computer for a minute." Maria was a bit startled by such a request by she complied and Shirley left her and Bo as lookouts.

"Don’t worry this will only take a second," she said and started off.

"Try to avoid the confidential employee files Shirl," Bo called after her. She shot him a grin over her shoulder before entering the office. Bo was just shaking his head, knowing that he was just wasteing his breath.

Shirley made a quick survey of the office to get her barrings and then sat down at the nurse’s computer and turned it on. She logged on to the net hoping that the information she was looking for could still be accessed that way. Shirley set to work and a few minutes and a few back doors later she found the file she had been hoping to find. It was confidential information on Sir Martin Hines. It had been well know to Shirley for some time that a certain board member kept detailed files on the owners, teachers, and other board members. Some of it was highly illegal and embarrassing stuff and the files were heavily encrypted. For a previous case she had been hacking into his files only to stumble upon the backdoor to the files she was now browsing through. She had figured because of the amount of the encryption that her earlier escaped would have been discovered, apparently that was not the case. On the heels of this thought Shirley had a very disturbing one. The situation could also be that he was just waiting for the person to log on again so he could find out their identity. Either way she was taking a huge risk, especially since she had a very sinister theory to go along with all of the information. It was actually a pending case for her. She had noticed a trend in the board’s voting of late that lent merit to her theory, sooner or later she was going to have to make her move. The implications of what the backdoor signified to her were helping her lean towards sooner. That aside, however, she was almost grateful for the existence of these files now. They told her quite a few interesting things about Martin and Silas Hines, some very interesting things indeed.

It was a very excited detective that came back into the infirmary. She was practically overflowing with energy as she walked in smiling. Bo couldn’t help but smile in return. "It appears," he thought, "that we have a break in the case."

"So what did you find out," he asked when she stayed silent. She just grinned wider, kind of like the Cheshire Cat when he was leading Alice around by her nose.

"I think I know why the accidents are happening if not the who," Shirley said and Bo shot her a confused look.

"But I thought we already knew the why," he said puzzled. She just shook her head in a negative gesture.

"No we thought we did, now we know for sure."

"Ok, would you care to enlighten us oh enlightened one," he replied sarcastically. Maria remained quiet but she was looking at the detective expectantly.

"From what I found out it appears the Sir Hines was an avid supporter of the theater," Shirley started and was about to continue before she was interrupted.

"What does that have to do with our little problem," Bo said and Shirley glared at him.

"I’m getting to that. Hines interest apparently started here we he was a

teenager. He was a member of the Sussex drama club and did all manner of

acting,"

"So he was a geek," Bo interrupted and Shirley ignored him. Maria being an accomplished actress herself added her own reproof as well.

"As I was saying he was a member of the drama club but he wasn’t able to pursue acting outside of high school. His father didn’t deem it as respectable, so Hines consoled himself by being a supporter of the arts. When he died he had every intention of turning the school over to the board of directors on the condition that the academy continue it’s long tradition of turning out the finest scholars the world had seen, his words not mine," she added and then continued. "He also wanted the school to start a drama program with funds from his estate, all of this was well documented in his will, which he said in a letter to the board was hidden in the place that had brought him the most happiness in his life."

"Sussex Academy," Maria said quietly and Shirley smiled at her pleased.

"Yes Sussex Academy or more precisely the auditorium where the pageant is taking place," Shirley added.

"Then that means the accidents are to distract everyone from searching for the will so that the person causing them can find it first," Bo said with a rare show of insight. The detective shot him a pleased smile as well.

"Exactly, nice job Bo," she said and he blushed a bit because of the praise. It was hard to earn the detective’s favor; she did not give it lightly so when she did you knew that you had done something especially well.

"So where is the will then," Maria asked and then added, "I mean it is a big auditorium, how are we going to find one piece of paper among all that space, especially with all the people around?"

"Oh I already know where the will is. There is just one more thing I have to do then we can wrap up this case once and for all. Bo do you feel up to coming with me?" The detective queried. Startled by the request he nodded and got slowly to his feet. To his relief the world did not spin when he stood.

"Ok Shirl, where are we going," he asked including Maria in his question.

"Maria I need you to go back to practicing with Molly like nothing has happened. Bo you and I are going to have a little talk with Evelyn." Bo didn’t like the sound of that and was about to ask her just why they needed to talk with Evie. She seemed to be anticipating as such and cut him off.

"Bo please, I need you to trust me right now," she pleaded. Her best friend frowned at her and she could tell that he didn’t like it but he was willing to do as she said…for now.

"Thank-you," she said on a sigh and turned to walk out of the room. Bo and Maria followed her, Maria hoping that Shirley really knew what she was doing and Bo hoping that his best friend had a damn good explanation. It was lucky for both of then she had both.

 

Shirley Holmes’ Christmas : Chapter 6

Bo and Shirley found Evelyn in her small fitting room putting the final adjustments on Alicia’s and Bart’s costumes. She was humming an Irish lullaby while she worked and using a small knife to cut through fabric. She was so lost in her work that she didn’t notice Shirley and Bo standing behind her.

"Why did you do it Evelyn," Shirley said from behind the older woman. She spun startled only to meet the accusing glares of both Shirley and Bo. She gave them both an innocent look.

"Ah Shirley and Bo. What bring you to my end? Shouldn’t you both be suited up for the dress rehearsal?" It was Bo that answered his voice filled with the kind of betrayal that can only come when someone you truly like wrongs you deeply.

"Evie how could you sabotage the pageant? The school? I told you how much this place has saved me…I just…" he trailed off unable to continue.

"I don’t know what you are talking about lad," she denied stiffly intending to go back to her work. Bo was about to retort back angrily but Shirley put a staying hand on his shoulder. He glanced at her, and the compassion in her eyes was almost his undoing. He nodded once indicating that he would stay silent. She mouthed a thank you to him and then faced Evelyn with all the cold proficiency she could muster.

"I must admit that you had me stumped for awhile but then I started remembering a few things in some of our previous conversations. You told me once that you had two sons and that they would be the death of you one day but then today you told Bo you had three. Also the fact that you told me you had arthritis but then I saw you lifting a heavy sewing kit from you car the other day, but the most important thing you forgot to mention was the fact that you attend Sussex academy as a teenager and it was there that you met Martin Hines and got pregnant with his illegitimate son Silas," Shirley finished and Evelyn turned pale. The once energetic, petite red head aged twenty years before their eyes.

"We found the hydrochloric acid and the hand saw in your trunk, also if you had attended Sussex as a teenager then you would have known were all the power poxes were," Shirley accused and Evelyn sank into a nearby chair with a haunted look on her face.

"I didn’ mean for anyone to get hurt, you must believe that!" she cried and then continued. "When the lad there got taken to the infirmary I just about died. I coudn’ believe that it had gone this far."

"Why did you do it then Evie," Bo asked choking back his own hurt. The older woman lifted tortured eyes to him.

"Because he was my son. I gave Silas up to his father when he was born because Martin’s dad threatened to expose my indiscretion with Martin to the school board. Martian was graduating that year but I still had two years left at Sussex, they would have thrown me out if they had found out that I had just had a baby. So they took my baby instead. The last time I saw Silas was in the hospital when they had ripped him from my arms and tak’in him away from me forever, and then about a week ago he turns up on my door step. Apparently in a fit of grief and conscious Martin had told Silas about me. When Silas told me that I could redeem myself in his eyes by helping him to find Martin’s Will, well I guess the temptation to have my son back in my life was too great, but when Bo got hurt I decided that enough was enough. I told Silas as much when he came by a few hours ago. He gave me this to show me how much like that bastard that liked to call himself his grandfather he really was." Bo and Shirley had been avidly listening to Evelyn’s tale when their attention was finally brought to the side of her face that she had kept hidden in shadow. A black eye was forming around the skin. Bo felt an instant rage at Silas Hines and vowed to show the man new meanings to the word pain. Shirley on the other hand looked grave and then she asked the one question that would tell her if what she had just been told was a load of crap or not.

"Did you know that Silas lied to Mrs. Stratman? The balloon payment is due today." Evelyn’s startled eyes flew to the detectives.

"No that can’t be right? Silas said that we needed to find the Will by the first of the year he said…" she started to reply but trailed off.

"He said a lot of things," Shirley added and the continued, "Most of them untrue. Now the question I have for you is do you want to fix this?" Evelyn looked from the detective to her partner and with a bit of her old fire she answered.

"Yes I want to fix this. Son or no, Silas is wrong to try and take this school from young people such as yourself and I was wrong to help him. I will do anything to make it right again." Shirley nodded and Bo gave her a grudging smile, which seemed to lift Evie’s spirits even higher.

"All right then here is what I want you to do," Shirley said and Evie’s eyes got wider and wider as the detective laid out her plan. If all worked out the way she had it planned then Sussex was going to have the best Christmas present ever.

 

Shirley Holmes’ Christmas : Chapter 7

Silas Hines was feeling very smug about the tables he was about to turn on that old battle-ax Stratman. How he hated that woman and her incessant meddling. Then there was his weak willed mother caving in at the last minute. It seemed that no matter where he turned he was surrounded by spineless cowards. Even his own father was as yellow as the sun. The only man that was worthy of his esteem was his grandfather, Alfred. That old man knew what it was to get what you wanted no matter who you stepped on along the way. Part of him may hate the old man for what he use to do to him but the other part thanked him. He knew that what he was about to do would make the old codger grin from ear to ear from his place in hell. This thought caused a nasty grin to spilt his very unpleasant face. Lost in his dreams of skullduggery he was not pleased when his secretary interrupted his thoughts from within the safe confines of the intercom.

"Mr. Hines a phone call for you," the voice box squawked. "It’s your mother." A severely annoyed expression crossed his face. He had left explicit instructions that he was not to be disturbed but as usual Jenna ignored him. He was really going to have to find a new secretary. With an annoyed grunt he answered the phone.

"I thought I told you that I didn’t want to speak to you again," he growled into the phone at the same time Evelyn told him.

"I found the Will." It took a minute for Silas to process that statement so he said.

"You found what?"

"I found the Will," Evie said from across the lines of Ma Bell.

"I thought you found helping me distasteful," he said suspiciously. To which Evelyn replied.

"I do find you distasteful but I don’t find your money distasteful. I want one hundred thousand to bury this Will in a place were even God himself woudn’ a be able to find it." A slow grin crept over Silas’ features. "So mother wants to play games with me," he thought. Making his voice sound cold and angry Silas answered her.

"What makes you think that I am going to give you anything old woman," he replied nastily.

"The fact that if you don’t I will be reading the will to the board myself on the first of the year," she retorted.

"In that case mother I do believe you have yourself a deal," he said and then hung up. He was already figuring out ways to avoid paying her what she demanded and besides he had one trump card left to play in this little game.

"Ms. Stratman I can’t work with him!" Alicia moaned as Bart tripped over his robes yet again. The headmistress of Sussex Academy lifted her eyes heavenward in a plea for patience.

"Mr. James do try it again and try to avoid tripping over your robes this time," she said levelly, to which Bart grumbled a reply. Alicia just made a deep frustrated sound as she walked back to her mark with him.

"I swear you have got to be the clumsiness person I have ever met," she growled and Bart glared at her.

"Well if you would stop trying to turn our entrance into the five hundred meter dash," he retorted.

"Listen egghead I am the actress here and my entrances are perfect," she yelled back. Ms. Stratman looked on the escalating argument with a disapproving gleam in her eyes, but the rest of the crew and cast were gazing with amusement. The headmistress was trying to think of a way to head off yet another argument between these two students when on particular joker saved her the trouble. He may have just been kidding but he inadvertently stumbled upon the one comment that could stop them cold.

"Would you two just kiss in make up all ready," a voice yelled from the crowd. The auditorium snickered a bit as Bart turned beet red and Alicia floundered like a landed bass. The little Italian was just about to come back with a scathing retort when the auditorium doors burst open. The cast and crew turned collectively and found themselves starring at Silas Hines with no less than five lawyers and seven police following in his wake. There was a nasty grin on the loathsome little man’s face that Ms. Stratman didn’t like at all.

"Mr. Hines to what do we owe the…pleasure," she added after a bit. He shot her a nasty smile.

"I have come to tell you and your students that you are trespassing on my property and if you do not vacate the premises immediately then these gentlemen will help you to vacate in an orderly fashion."

"I believe you have made a mistake gentleman. The school still belongs to us until the first of the year," she said but there was a note of unease in her voice.

"I’m afraid you are mistaken Ms. Stratman. The balloon payment was due on this property at five o’ clock this evening," one of Silas creepy little lawyers said. "I’m afraid that you are, ideed, trespassing on Mr. Hines property.

"I think you better rethink that statement," a voice said from the second row of the auditorium. Everyone turned collectively to see Bo sitting in the forth row, second seat in on the far side. He was casually reading a magazine.

"You will be the first of many escorted out of here," Silas said furious that this cheeky teenager would dare to challenge him. Bo looked up with a bored expression on his face.

"I woudn’ be thinking so if I were you Silas," a voice from behind Bo countered. Silas turned around going almost pale as he saw Evelyn walking towards the teenager. She stopped right next to Bo.

"What is going on mother?" He asked with a narrowing of his eyes. The auditorium seemed to give a collective gasp but Evie was so focused on what she had to do that she didn’t react.

"What you are trying to do to these people is wrong Silas, and I’m not going to let you get away with it son or no," the plump older woman replied holding her head high.

"Are you daft you old bat," he said, "You were the one who set up all the little accidents, not me, so it will be you I will be sending to jail first." Silas made a motion with his hand and one of his officers started forward that is until Bo made a sound as if to clear his throat.

"Like I said before, you really need to rethink that statement," he replied still casually reading his magazine. The Scrooge like little man turned towards the boy with raw fury in his eyes and started to stalk toward him. Bo saw him coming and casually bent down and pulled something from under his seat. It was a rolled piece of parchment still sealed. Silas stopped short and turned utterly pale, and Bo gave him a cheeky grin as he broke the seal and started reading the document.

"I Sir Martin Hines being of sound mind and body do declare this to be my last will and testament rendering all previous wills null and void," Bo read aloud. "Should I read the really cool part or can you guess," he said to Hines. Silas had a look of utter shock and disbelief that was slowly tuning to rage, still no one had really expected him to do what he did. With a cry he jumped over a row of seats and wrapped his fingers around Bo’s throat.

"I’m going to kill you," he growled and the fingers tightened. Bo was turning a bit red when the pressure finally came off of his windpipe, he gasp in great lung fulls of air. Not sure what had happened he turned to see Silas on the ground unconscious and Shirley standing over him with the brass Menorah they had put up in honor of the Jewish students that Sussex had in attendance. Behind Shirley a very annoyed Detective Tremian stood glaring at the scene in exasperation. He walked over to Shirley and removed the religious symbol from her hands.

"Thanks Princess but I think you had better let us take it from here," he said and motioned for his officers to come get the fallen businessman. Needless to say they were confused but Detective Tremain outranked them so they followed orders. Tremain also turned to Evelyn and said politely.

"I’m afraid that you are going to have to come with us too ma’am." She smiled at him.

"I know Detective and I woudn’ a have it any other way, and if we are going to be acquainted you are gonna have to call me Evie. I hear ma’am I start looking for an old woman," Evelyn said then the followed the entourage of lawyers and police out the back door, once they were gone the shock seem to wear off of everyone at the same time. The cast and crew gathered around Bo asking all sorts of questions, but before he could make a sound Ms. Stratman called for order.

"That’s better," she said as the student and staff finally calmed down. "Now Mr. Sawchuck if I could please get a look at the document." Bo calmly handed it over to the headmistress and watched delighted as she realized that it really was Sir Martin’s will.

"I see you have been busy," she said and actually smiled, "and just were did you find it?" she asked.

"Well Sh…" he stated to say looking around for his best friend only to find she had pulled another one of her Houdini acts on him. "I mean Evie found it in a small metal box sewn into the seat I was sitting in." Ms. Stratman looked startled at that.

"You mean his will had been here all along? How did Evelyn no where to look for it?" the headmistress queried.

"Oh that’s easy. It is the seat he sat in for drama class until he graduated from Sussex Academy. Just check out the old yearbooks," Bo replied.

"You are to be commended then," Ms. Stratman replied.

"No, Evie is," he said and walked away. The headmistress smiled at that and then replied to the assembled students and crew.

"All right everyone we still have a show to put on so back to work," everyone groaned but complied. It was a very surreal end to and extraordinary day.

 

Shirley Holmes’ Christmas : Chapter 8

Two nights later the backstage area of the Sussex Academy’s auditorium was brimming with excitement as various costumed students and faculty acted out some of the most famous stories associated with the holiday season. Bo was a bit nervous, as he was soon to be going on stage in his wise man persona in front of a full house. The response to the pageant had been overwhelming and they were sold out for the next two shows as well. Bo figured it has something to do with the publicity generated from Silas Hines arrest, something that was probably causing him no end of grief. The ammeter detective couldn’t say he was sorry for him though. Bo turned and looked to see if the other wise men had arrived. Stink and Parker were to be his fellow sufferer but they hadn’t gotten to their places yet. Bo was starting to get a bit nervous, that is until he saw a familiar face coming towards him. It was Shirley and she was dressed as the messenger angel that appeared before the shepherds. Bo would never tell her but he thought she was quite literally stunning in the simple white costume. He grinned at that thought. His best friend was going to break some hearts if she is ever able to balance a boyfriend with her sleuthing.

"There is no need to be nervous Bo," she said when she finally reached him.

"Me? I not nervous?" he denied to which she gave him a knowing look. She then took his hand and ran two fingers quickly across his palm and held them up revealing the sweat that was there.

"Sweaty palms, short breathing and dilated pupils, all sure signs of nervousness," Bo scowled at her but then gave her a rueful grin. It was a good reminder that this apparition before him was all Shirley. She let his hand go and turned toward the stage.

"By the way I wanted to tell you that they let Evelyn go. She is testifying against her son," Shirley said. Bo didn’t reply, his thoughts still weighing heavy on his mind in regards to Evie. He was still a little hurt by the fact that Evie had been the one behind all the accidents but the fact that she had been willing to help them in the end was making up for it. He had already decided to go see her before Christmas. He just hoped he could completely forgive her by then. Bo had a feeling that in might not be as hard as he thought previously. Shaking off this line of thought Bo got a sly look on his face and pulled out a wrapped package from under his robes.

"Merry Christmas," he said holding it out in front of Shirley. She turned to him with a surprised look on her face.

"That’s sweet Bo but you didn’t have to get me anything," she replied.

"I know but I wanted to. It’s in honor of all those times I saved your butt," he said grinning.

"I beg to differ on that," she replied back but took the package, she held it for a moment admiring the paper.

"Ok it’s a present so the fun stuff is inside, and you have to open it to get to that," Bo replied. Shirley just shot him a glare but she then smiled and ripped into the package. What she uncovered was a slim leather bound journal that appeared worn with age. Puzzled she opened it to the first page and started reading. Her eyes got wider and wider as she read.

"Omigod Bo, this is…this belonged to…" she said too stunned to finish. Bo couldn’t help the huge smile that split his features. It was nice to render Shirley speechless for once.

"It was your great grand-uncles. I figured it should stay in the family," he said. Shirley didn’t know what to say. This journal was one of the most thoughtful gifts she had ever received.

"Bo this is amazing. How did you find this?" she asked. Bo just grinned but said nothing. On stage Tiny Tim played by one of the younger Sussex students was sitting on his Uncle Scrooges knee after the old codgers redemption about to utter Dickens most famous line.

"Well my cue is about to come up so I have to go, close your mouth before you catch something Shirl," he added and walked over to where he had just seen Stink and Parker enter. "Stink…a wise man, some things just have to be seen to be believed," he added before walking away. It was Shirley’s voice that stayed him for a moment.

"Thank you Bo, and Merry Christmas."

"You’re Welcome Holmes, and Merry Christmas to you too," he said and then went over to meet Parker and Stink. On stage before the lights came down the actor on stage rounded their sentiments off nicely.

"And God bless us everyone."