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jonathon wart and the hand of doom Page 3


  Chapter Four: Plotting with Felicia

  Felicia paced quickly back and forth in her large living room. Her apartments within the Wart mansion were extremely luxurious but, as usual, she wasn’t happy. Quickly, she turned on her heels and faced Mr. Thumbs, who had been sitting quietly on the sofa looking at his phone.

  “So what do you think?” barked Felicia.

  Mr. Thumbs looked up, somewhat startled. “What do I think about what?”

  “About Jonathon, of course. What the heck is he up to now? What’s his latest crazy scheme?”

  Mr. Thumbs’ face broke into a devious smile. “I can tell you what he told me and, if it’s true, his latest scheme is almost miraculously stupid. In fact, I had to fight to keep my eyes from tearing up in joy when I realized what he was up to. Jonathon’s new investment idea is absolutely ridiculous and absolutely bound to fail.”

  “So don’t leave me in suspense! What’s his latest plan?” asked Felicia, leaning forward eagerly.

  “Our young moron has turned art critic. He wants to buy a painting done by a crazy old deceased billionaire at an estate sale.”

  “Really? That’s unlike Jonathon. I mean, it’s not unlike him to be an idiot, but I never figured him for an artsy type.”

  “Well, maybe that perverse little mind runs deeper than we thought.”

  “So what’s the deal here? Why does he want to buy a painting done by a crazy old coot?”

  Mr. Thumbs smiled condescendingly at Felicia. “Obviously, Felicia my dear, because he thinks it has some value, although I have no idea why he might think so.”

  “So this is a stupid move, right?”

  “Well, it hasn’t happened yet, but if he goes through with his plan and bids successfully on the painting, then—yes—it’s almost certainly a stupid idea.”

  “So the little idiot is playing right into our hands?” said Felicia, her face brightening.

  “Absolutely.”

  “But how can he be that stupid? I mean, what if there’s some trick involved?”

  Mr. Thumbs nodded slowly as he checked his cell phone. “That’s always that possibility. We know we can’t trust Jonathon, even when we think we know what he’s up to.”

  Felicia stared at the floor briefly and then began to smile broadly. “I’ve got it! I’ll go to Jonathon’s stupid sister.”

  “You mean Lizzie?”

  “Yes, that’s her name! A stupid name for a stupid girl.”

  “And what exactly is that going to accomplish?”

  “Don’t you see? I’ll pretend to be her friend. She’ll fall for it completely. I’m older, much more glamorous and infinitely more sophisticated. She’ll be thrilled to death that I’m even giving her the time of day.”

  Thumbs paused. “Well, I’m not so sure about that…”

  “Nonsense! The girl will be beside herself with excitement! Just think of it….me! Taking time out of my busy day to pay attention to her! She’ll be so eager to talk to me that she’ll cough up everything she knows in the first two minutes. If Jonathon is trying to pull a fast one on us, I’ll get it out of her—every detail.”

  “What if she refuses to talk?”

  “That stupid little girl could never resist me, Thumbs. I’ll tell her we’ll be best friends forever. She’ll eat it up! And then she’ll spill her guts!”

  “Maybe, but….”

  “This afternoon. I’ll do it this afternoon. By tonight we’ll know about every little secret that Jonathon’s devious little brain is planning.”

  Mr. Thumbs sighed. “I hope you’re right about this.”

  Felicia beamed. “Thumbsie, dear, when have I ever not been right about something like this?”

  “Well, there was the time that….”

  “Never mind about that! You go and sit in your office and wait for me. I’ll find out everything and get back to you before you know it.”

  Minutes later, Felicia came bounding into Lizzie’s bedroom where she sat playing solitaire on her tablet.

  “Lizzie!” Felicia cried cheerfully. “I’ve wanted to talk to you for ever so long!”

  Lizzie looked up, her face going a little paler. “Felicia? Uh, is that you?”

  “Of course it’s me, Lizzie! And why shouldn’t it be me? I mean, we’re practically sisters!”

  “Not exactly,” said Lizzie quietly. “We’re really just…”

  “Of course we are! My dad may just have been your uncle, but I know he was like a father to you.”

  Lizzie winced slightly. “Actually, I never really knew your father that well…”

  “And Daddy Dear used to talk about the two of you all the time. It was always Jonathon and Lizzie, Lizzie and Jonathon. Some days that’s all I ever heard about. He thought of you like his own children.”

  “But he barely ever saw us…” began Lizzie.

  “Oh, but he wanted to, Lizzie. He wanted to. I can’t tell you how many times he would come up to me and say, ‘Now Felicia, I want you to be just like a sister to Lizzie—the sweet adorable younger sister you never had. You know how fond I am of Lizzie, he would say. Why, you two could be BFFs…you know you could.”

  “But…”

  “I know what you’re thinking, Lizzie. I’m so much older, more cosmopolitan, more attractive, uh, I mean, more sophisticated. So why would a dazzling young lady like me want to befriend a mere girl like you?”

  Lizzie’s eyebrows lifted. “Yeah, I was kind of wondering about that.”

  Felicia tried to look serious. “Well, I’ll tell you, Lizzie. It’s for Dad. It was my dearest father’s last wish before he…”

  “Cut you out of his will?” interrupted Lizzie.

  “No, no! Not that! This is not about his will! What do I care about money? This is about honoring my father’s last request.”

  “If you say so, but…”

  “Now Lizzie, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that we don't have a lot in common. But we do! We both like art. You like art don't you, Lizzie?”

  “I guess so...sort of…but…”

  “And you and Jonathon will be going to that art auction in a couple of days, right?”

  Lizzie nodded.

  “So I think it would be great if we could combine our efforts, right? You just tell me what you and Jonathon will be bidding on and maybe I could help you buy it. I mean, you and Jonathon might have trouble at the auction. It's possible that the auctioneer won't even notice a couple of young kids like you. You might never even be able to get a bid in. Now me, on the other hand...I'm much older and they probably know who I am, so you know that they'll take me seriously.”

  “I guess so.”

  “Of course. I can be a great help to you and Jonathon. So how about it? You fill me in on what you're going to bid for and I'll help you get what you want.”

  Lizzie paused. “Maybe I should talk to Jonathon first.”

  “No, no! You don't have to talk to Jonathon. This is just between us...it’s a girl thing, remember? You know…like sisters. It'll be our secret.”

  Lizzie smiled. “Sure, I guess so. But it’s not like it’s a secret. Jonathon told me that we’re going to bid on ‘The Hand of Doom.’ He showed me a picture of it in the newspaper. Personally, I didn’t think too much of it but Jonathon knows more about that stuff than I do.”

  Felicia squinted at Lizzie. “Really? Are you sure about that? That’s really the painting that he’s going to bid on?”

  Lizzie smiled. “Yep. That’s what Jonathon told me.”

  “And he hasn’t changed his mind?”

  “Not that I know of.”

  “Mmm,” said Felicia. “I suppose it’s possible. But if he changes his mind you’ll be sure to let me know, right?”

  Lizzie nodded her head eagerly. “Oh, absolutely! You’ll be the first person I’ll tell.”

  “Terrific!” Felicia said eagerly and breezed out of Lizzie’s room.

  Lizzie hurried to Jonathon’s room.

  “You wo
n't believe it,” she said as she bounced into her brother’s room.

  “Exactly what is it that I won’t believe?” said Jonathon, looking up from his desk.

  “Felicia came to see me, just a few minutes ago.”

  “What do you mean, came to see you? Does she even know who you are?”

  “She knows I'm your sister and that's all she needed to know.”

  “Wow! I almost can’t believe it. Tell me what happened.”

  “She just came strolling into my bedroom. I’m surprised she even knew where in this huge house it was. Anyway, she comes in all bubbly and tells me that she’s decided that she and I should be best buddies.”

  “Buddies?”

  “BFFs. She said it herself. Those words actually came out of her mouth.”

  “Why would the two of you become great friends?”

  “Because that’s what her daddy—Uncle Wart—wanted.”

  “Hold on, this is getting stranger by the minute. Her father—Uncle Wart—wanted her to be your friend? But if it wasn’t for us, she would have inherited Uncle Wart’s entire fortune. She’s hated us ever since we moved into this house.”

  Lizzie smiled. “Not now. Now we’re great friends. Oh, there’s one more thing. She wanted me to tell her what painting you’re really going to bid on at the auction.”

  “Oh, I see. She’s trying to be your bud so you’ll reveal our little secrets. And she clearly doesn’t believe that I’m going to bid on ‘The Hand of Doom.’”

  “Nope. I think she and Mr. Thumbs thinks that it’s too crazy to be true.”

  Jonathon nodded his head thoughtfully. “Very interesting. That’s probably a good thing. If they think we’re going to bid on some different painting, they’re less likely to get in our way.”

  “Okay, so how do we keep them guessing?”

  “I’m not sure, Lizzie, but I’m confident I can come up with something. Thanks for letting me know about this.”

  “No problem, Jonathon. I’ll let you know if my new best friend comes up with any new questions.”

  Later that afternoon, Felicia pranced happily into Mr. Thumbs’ office.

  “Well, I’ve done it,” she announced cheerfully “I’ve befriended the little idiot.”

  “Lizzie? Excellent! What have you discovered?”

  “Believe it or not, he really intends to bid on that ‘Hand of Doom’ painting, just like Jonathon said.”

  “Really? So he’s really that stupid, is he?”

  “Of course. They’re just two stupid kids. They can’t begin to match wits with two sophisticated adults like us.”

  Thumbs put his hand to his chin. “Maybe…but I’m still not absolutely convinced.”

  “You’re not?”

  “No. And I’ve already taken some additional steps to make sure we can stay on top of things.”

  Felicia’s eyes brightened. “Oh, goody, Thumbsie! I love it when you make devious plans!”

  “And these are among my most devious, even if I do say so myself,” said Mr. Thumbs, chortling softly to himself. “I’ll soon be able to tell you exactly what he's up to because I've placed a digital listening device into one of the lamps in his bedroom and one each in the living room and dining room as well, so I’ll be able to hear every word he says."

  “You did?” said Felicia, throwing herself into a nearby chair. “That’s great! Let's hope the little bugger doesn't notice it.”

  Thumbs looked hard at Felicia. “Uh, Felicia, you do realize that I'm the bugger right? I mean...I'm bugging Jonathon and...”

  “Oh never mind! The point is that we've got to fool him. He can't catch on to our plan.”

  “No fear of that. He won't. All of the listening devices are cleverly hidden. There’s not a chance in the world that he’ll find out what we’re up to.”