Excerpt from

"It's long distance for you, Trans. The man says it's top secret!"
Trans froze. "F-for me? What will I say, Dad? I don't know anything top secret."

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Chapter nine: The Phone Call

A Character story about Trust.

"So just calm down, will ya?" Mike yelled. "I can't understand a word you're saying."
"OK," Trans panted, out of breath from running to his friend's house. "So when I woke up, I was visible of course, right? So the policemen looked scared, which is understandable, of course, and when I couldn't get them to understand why I was there I gave them my phone number and pretty soon my dad was there again and-"
"So your dad wasn't held in jail at all?"
"Nah. I-I guess I misunderstood what they were talking about after the accident, er, I, mean near accident, and I thought he was being arrested but really they just went to the station because it was so cold. Anyway, Dad explained the explosion and they promised not to make it public or anything so no one would try to kidnap me or anything but they were pretty amazed, believe me and if they hadn't seen me invisible, er, I mean, turn visible, they said they would never believe that story."
"Man, you must have felt really important when they found out you were able to be invisible!"
"Ah, not exactly," Trans answered, not wanting to play down the idea of being important. "But they did take a lot of notes and said they were going to keep them in file. They said maybe I could help them catch a criminal or something like that! That would sure be cool, to be able to be a detective just once before this stuff wears off."
The next week passed without incident. His classmates only talked with him about his ability when they could do it in secret, and Trans was able to avoid screaming the entire week. Trans was actually relieved that his life had some normalcy for a change.
Saturday evening found the whole Gringle family sitting around the supper table. While they ate, Mr. Gringle mentioned some excitement from the evening papers. "Say, Trans, have you heard about 'Nick the Knife,' and what he's been doing in Chicago?"
"No. Who is it?" Trans asked as he cleaned the remaining piece of baked potato from its brown wrapper.
"That's the name given to the guy who is causing a lot of trouble out there. The papers say that he has a twelve inch knife and is holding up people and stores all over and no one is able to catch him. He seems to know when the police aren't around."
"Wow. That sounds exciting! Let's you and me go and catch him, Dad. What do you say?"
"Enough of your dreamy talk, young man," Mrs. Gringle responded, smiling. "How about a little ice cream on a slice of hot apple pie?"
"How about a BIG scoop of ice cream on a BIG piece of pie?" Trans beamed. "Or maybe even two!" Just then the phone rang.
"I'll get it," Mr. Gringle answered, jumping up. "Hello, Gringles . . . yes, this is Mr. Gringle . . . no, this is John Gringle. Transelthon is my son . . . Yes, that's right, my son. . . Ah, just a moment, please." Mr. Gringle put his hand over the mouthpiece and said, "It's long distance for you, Trans. The man says it's top secret!"
Trans froze. "F-for me? What will I say, Dad? I don't know anything top secret."
"Don't say anything until they tell you what they want. Here."
Trans took the receiver with a shaky hand. "H-hello?"
"Mr. Gringle? First, I want to know if your phone is on a party line."
"N-no, Sir."
"Good. Then I want you to listen very carefully. You are the man who has the power to turn invisible, aren't you?"
"Well, I'm not a man. I'm just a twelve year old boy. And yes, I can turn invisible." When he said this Trans saw his Dad wince and he regretted saying anything.
"Twelve? I didn't realize. . . Well, never mind. I still think you can help us. Now listen very carefully," continued the faint but very intense voice on the other end of the line. "This is Captain Pickwin of the FBI. As you probably read in the paper, we have been after that varmint 'Nick the Knife' for some weeks now. Every time we are about to catch him, he seems to be able to slip us. Now, Mr. Gringle, that's where you come in. We would like to hire you to help us catch this crook. We are prepared to pay you a thousand dollars a day for your services plus all expenses of course. There will be some slight danger to you but as long as you are invisible, it won't be a great danger. When can you start?"
Trans was so stunned by these words that all he could think to say was, "W-who, me?" Finally Trans gained control of his thoughts and asked the man to hold the line while he explained this to his parents.
After several minutes he returned. "My Dad said I can help you if he can come along too. He said he can take some vacation right now. He said it wouldn't be safe for a boy my age doing such important and dangerous things alone. Would that be OK?"
"Good. We knew we could count on you. And, yes, of course. We will want your father with you and will count on him to help you any way he can. Naturally, this must remain top secret. When can you fly to Chicago?"
Trans asked again. "My Dad said we can be ready tomorrow afternoon. We go to church in the morning and he teaches a Sunday school class."
"Tomorrow afternoon will be fine," answered the Captain. "I'll call back with the details." Trans tried to explain what the Captain had said but some of it sounded confused in his excitement. Before he could finish, the phone rang again and Mr. Gringle answered. It was the Captain calling back. "Now listen carefully. Your plane will leave at 1:10 pm and the tickets will be at the airport. When you arrive in Chicago, you are to stay right in the baggage pick-up area. There you will see a rather short man with a green feather in his hat. You are to ask him the way to the taxis. If he replies, 'north,' you will know that he is our agent, and you are to go with him. Ask no further questions. See you tomorrow, and, Mr. Gringle, good luck."