It Comes Back At You


Chapter 6


On Wednesday evening Trixie went to study with Tad.  She came home smiling and excited that she was actually understanding, and liking, math.  She was bubbling over with enthusiasm.

Thursday morning on the bus, Mart sat with Di as usual.  Honey and Dan sat together across the aisle, and Trixie sat alone in front of them.  She was turning in her seat to talk to her friends, when the bus arrived at the stop for Mrs. Vanderpoel’s house.  As Tad got on the bus, Trixie smiled and waved at him.

At Trixie’s greeting, Tad’s face lit up.  His answering smile was wide and warm.  He walked back to where she was sitting.  She slid over to make room for him to sit with her.  As he sat down Trixie grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze.

“Oh, Tad, thank you so much for last night!  I feel so good about going to class today.  I just know what a difference this is going to make in my grades,” Trixie gushed.

Tad laughed at her excitement.  “Anytime, Trix, anytime.  I assume we’ll be working on math again on Saturday, as well.”

“Of course!  I need all the help I can get.”

“Well, you’ve got me twice a week.  Let me know if that’s not enough,” Tad smiled as he spoke.  Behind his words was another offer, and he was waiting to see if Trixie picked up on it.

Trixie’s smile turned shy.  Her heart did a funny little dance.  She wasn’t sure if she’d heard what she thought she’d heard.

Mart certainly had, however.

“I’m sure between her study time with you and her basketball dates with Chris Zack, Trixie barely has enough time left to do her chores.  And if you think I’m doing her chores so she can hang out with you, Webster, you’re nuts!”

Honey glared at Mart, and Diana gave him an angry jab to the ribs.  Trixie just turned beet red and turned to stare out the window.  Dan watched Trixie’s reaction and glowered at Mart.

The comment about dates with Chris Zack had hit home for Tad, just at Mart had intended.  However, he was more bothered by the fact that Trixie was embarrassed, and her feelings hurt.  Mart Belden had better watch out!

Turning to face the boy in question, Tad struggled to remain calm.  “I know your parents well enough to know that if Trixie needed that much help with her homework, they would make other arrangements for her chores.”  Speaking slowly and deliberately, he continued, “I know Trixie well enough to know that she wouldn’t shirk her duties.  And I know I’d be more than willing to help her with her chores if that’s what she needed to find enough time to study.  So I really wouldn’t work yourself into a lather about your sister’s chores interfering with your social life, Mart!”

Tad purposely turned his back on Mart and faced forward.  Trixie turned her head to look at him, gratitude shining in her eyes.  She whispered, “Thank you, Tad.”

Tad smiled softly and grabbed her hand.  Lacing his fingers with hers, he whispered back, “You’re welcome.”  He was rewarded with one of her brilliant, breath-taking smiles.

Mart held his head in his hands and tore at his hair.  He had made happen exactly what he didn’t want to happen: Tad was now Trixie’s hero.

Honey, Di and Dan struggled to maintain their composure.  Way to go Tad!  They avoided looking at each other.  No one wanted to be the first to burst into laughter.



When the bus reached school, the students filed off and headed into the building.  Trixie very pointedly ignored Mart, and walked ahead with Tad, still holding his hand.  Mart scowled and followed them at a distance.  Honey and Di shrugged.  They had to go to their lockers, so they weren’t really following Trixie.  Dan walked with Mart, hoping to diffuse the situation.

When Trixie reached her locker she opened the lock automatically, still talking to Tad.  She wasn’t looking into her locker when she opened it, so she didn’t notice its contents.  Diana did, and screamed loudly.  Trixie looked at her friend, then followed her frightened gaze.

Hanging inside Trixie’s locker was a large rag doll.  The doll had blonde hair hanging down in perfect ringlets, and it wore a red jacket.  The doll had a noose around its neck, and its head was bent at a strange angle.  The doll also had a large butcher’s knife stabbed through its chest.

Attached to the handle of the knife was a short note:  I WILL GET YOU.

“Goddammit!” Mart yelled.

Dan punched the nearest locker, the clanging of the metal echoing down the hallway.

Upon seeing the doll, Trixie’s stomach had leapt to her throat and her heart raced with fear.  Her brother’s reaction, though, had startled and distracted her.  She studied his face, then Dan’s.  They were furious; they were disgusted; they were worried; but what was more important was what they were not:  they were not surprised.

Blue eyes narrowing with suspicion, she moved to stand toe-to-toe with Mart.  He would not meet her eyes.  “I think you have a lot of explaining to do,” she hissed at him.

Diana’s scream and Mart’s swearing had attracted the attention of the nearest faculty members.  Principal Stratton and Coach Epperly had been nearby, helping to maintain order with the normal morning traffic in the crowded hallway.  Mr. Stratton took a quick look into Trixie’s locker and pulled out his walkie-talkie.  He radioed the main office to call the police immediately.  He told the Bob-Whites not to go anywhere, then he and Coach began to wave off the gathering crowd of students attracted by all the commotion.

When Molinson arrived with another officer, he briefly looked at Mart and Dan before examining Trixie’s locker.  He would not look the young girl in the face.  He also refrained from speaking to her.  He did not ask what she was up to, what trouble she was causing, or why she had not called him sooner.

Molinson’s lack of questions was the final straw.  Fury blazing brightly in her eyes, Trixie stamped her foot and yelled, “Someone had better tell me what the hell is going on!”

Honey and Di had been quietly standing nearby.  They were shaken by the sight of the doll, and by Mart and Dan’s reactions.  They were quietly conversing with Tad, Mr. Stratton and Mr. Epperly right up until Trixie’s outburst.  She never swore, but then, she’d never been this angry before.

Honey wanted to be tactful, but she was also angry.  “Sergeant,” she began, “is there some reason why you don’t seem surprised to see something this disgusting hanging in Trixie’s locker?”  Her voice sounded harsh, and her hazel eyes shone with suspicion.

Molinson looked at the faces around him.  This conversation could get ugly.  He asked Mr. Stratton if the group could possibly retire to the principal’s conference room.  Mr. Stratton agreed that a private conversation would be in order, and he began herding the young people to his office.  The sergeant stopped to relay instructions to his officer regarding the evidence before following them down the hall.

After everyone was settled in the conference room and the door was tightly shut, Sergeant Wendell Molinson turned to face his own private firing squad in the person of one very irate Trixie Belden.  The policeman felt decades older than his 27 years, and he swore every grey hair on his head had Trixie’s name on it.  The only strategy he had to deflect her anger was the equivalent of playing a very dirty trick on all the other Bob-Whites, but it was all he had at this point.  Cringing at the depths to which he was sinking, he forged ahead.

“Let’s start at the beginning.  I believe that would put us at Wimpy’s on Friday night.  Honey, why don’t you start?”

Honey looked like she’d been slapped.  How could he make her look like part of this conspiracy?  She looked at Trixie, who was now staring at her with murder in her eyes.  Hesitantly, she told what she knew of Friday night.

When Honey finished, Sergeant Molinson moved on without pausing.  “Okay, Mart, you’re up.  Go to Saturday morning in the woods.”

Mart quietly and unemotionally told his story.  Dan was next, telling about the clubhouse on Tuesday.  By the time they were finished, Trixie was livid.  She jumped up and paced about, ranting and raving about every single time she had been reprimanded for not telling others what she was up to, and how she was supposed to share information with the police, but they obviously did not have to reciprocate – even when it was a matter of life and death.  In mid-rant she stopped.  After a moment of pregnant silence, she began to laugh.  She fell back into her chair and laughed hysterically.

Coach Epperly cleared his throat.  “Uh, Trixie, perhaps we could all share in the joke?” he asked cautiously.

Trixie managed to stop laughing long enough to say, “I’m not the one hiding information from my parents.  I can’t wait to see the sergeant try and explain this conspiracy of silence to them.”  Then she started laughing again.

Coach Epperly pictured Peter’s reaction.  He looked at Molinson, then joined in Trixie’s laughter.  Tad looked amused, but refrained from actually laughing at the sergeant.  Molinson looked decidedly embarrassed.  Mart, Dan, Honey and Di looked more than a little green. 

Principal Stratton sighed and reached for the phone.  “Might as well get this over with right now.”



By lunchtime, Trixie was still furious with the Bob-Whites.  When she walked into the cafeteria, she made a point of looking disdainfully at the group seated around their usual table.  Then she turned up her nose and walked in the opposite direction.  Unfortunately for Tad, he was sitting with Dan and Mart discussing the events of the morning.

Trixie walked away, without any idea where to go.  She just knew she wasn’t going to sit with them.  Chris, Riss and Paul waved her over to their table.  She smiled and went to join them.  And so the high school gossip mill began churning: trouble amongst the Bob-Whites, the very exclusive group of seniors letting a sophomore join them, the way Chris smiled at Trixie, the look on Tad’s face when he noticed, etc.

As Trixie sat down next to Chris, he looked at her with concern.  “We heard what happened this morning.  Are you okay?”

Trixie shrugged.  “I guess.  People are acting like I should be scared, but this seems like a prank to me.  Besides, when you’ve been held at gunpoint as many times as I have you begin to get a little numb to fear.”  She smiled ruefully, “I suppose that’s a very bad thing.  It’ll get me in trouble someday.”

Riss laughed.  “As if you haven’t been in trouble before?”

“Exactly!”  Trixie joined her laughter.  “Besides, I refuse to let fear run my life.”

Chris still looked worried.  “Do your parents want you to go right home after school?”

“Oh, no,” she assured him.  “I can still practice, as long as I meet all their conditions:  1) I have to go to the community center with at least one of you, I cannot walk alone; 2) I have to come right home afterwards; and 3) I can’t decide to enjoy the weather and walk home – I have to let Chris drive me.”

“No problem,” Chris said determinedly.  “I have no intention of letting you wander around alone.  I’ll be with you the whole time.”

Trixie knew she should be annoyed that he was acting as over-protective as Jim and Brian ever had.  Instead, she was busy trying to ignore the warm feeling she got when he said that.  She was also trying to ignore the knowing look Riss was giving her.



The rest of the day passed without incident.  Trixie enjoyed the very long lecture Mart received from their parents at dinner, but other than that there was no further discussion of the situation.

There were no troublesome incidents on Friday from the standpoint of the case, but from the view of the Bob-Whites the day was a disaster.  Trixie spoke to no one at the bus stop.  She sat up front on the bus instead of in the Bob-Whites’ usual seats in the rear.  She ate lunch with Chris and company again.  By this time the rumor mill was running overtime, and people were making comments to the group in the halls.

In French class, Tad slipped Trixie a note.  She ignored it at first.  Halfway through class he tilted his notebook toward her.  In huge letters sprawled across the entire page he had written, “Please, Trix.”

She finally relented and read his note.


I do not agree with the decision the guys made to hide things from you.  I think they were wrong.  However, your brother loves you and was trying to protect you.  Same with Dan.  And the girls didn’t know about most of the stuff.

You are hurting them and yourself.  You guys are best friends, and have weathered worse storms than this.  Forgive me for being blunt, but get off your high horse.

Spend the weekend working through this.  Please.


Trixie glared at him.  He pleaded with her with his handsome turquoise-blue eyes.  He is so hard to resist!  She rolled her eyes and shrugged her shoulders noncommittally.  When the bell rang, she grabbed her things and left quickly, so he couldn’t try to talk to her again.

She had calmed down by the time she got on the bus to go home, but she still sat in front, this time allowing Tad to sit with her.  They talked quietly, and she did end up promising to think about what he’d said.  They made plans for him to pick her up for their study date, so she wouldn’t be biking or walking through the woods.

At the stop for Crabapple Farm, all the Bob-Whites got off.  Trixie ran ahead into the house and grabbed her mother’s hand.  She pulled Moms up into her room and shut the door.

“Moms, make them go away.  I don’t want to talk to them.”

Helen looked at her sympathetically.  “Sweetie, you have to talk to them sometime.  I know you’re mad at them, but is this really worth destroying the Bob-Whites?”

“No, it’s not.” Trixie shook her head vehemently. “However, I don’t want to do this today.  I want to be left alone tonight, and I will talk to them tomorrow.  Make them go out tonight.”

Her mother hesitated.  Trixie pleaded, “Please, Moms.”

Helen finally nodded.  Trixie wanted to talk to Brian before she talked to the others.  Helen knew Brian would calm his sister down and talk some sense into her.  She also knew that the conversation would go better if the rest of the group didn’t try to get involved in it.  “Alright,” she sighed.  “I’ll get rid of them.  But you had better talk to them tomorrow.”

Trixie threw her arms around her mother.  “Thanks, Moms.  I knew you would understand!”



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