The Case of the Flying Trampoline

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The first Saturday in March started with a forecast for warmer than normal temperatures, perfect for the trampoline and pool party planned for 3:00 that afternoon at the Cordova’s house.

Unfortunately, just before five, the weather started to take a dramatic turn for the worse. Fluffy white clouds were quickly replaced by thick gray and black thunderheads blown in by an ill southern wind. Unaware of the danger lurking just above their heads, the group of fifteen or so teenagers continued to enjoy the party.

Until it was too late.

A momentary brilliant flash of lightning lit up the sky, ripping a jagged slice in the dark, menacing clouds above — releasing a torrent of rain on the young partygoers far below. Fierce winds swayed the giant 50-foot-tall pine trees lining the property, causing limbs to bend erratically — reaching out like huge arms trying to grab the guests who were now scampering for cover of the main house.

Hail hitting the metal gutters mimicked the sounds of metal spikes driven to secure railroad tracks. Other golf ball-sized hailstones pounded the pavement then ricocheted up and off the large living room window, threatening to break it at any moment. Huddled inside, safe for the moment, the partygoers watched in fear-laced amazement as straight-line winds twisted off the tops of the huge pine trees as easily as one would twist off caps of toothpaste tubes.

That’s when it happened.

A mighty gust of wind blew all the furniture into the pool, and the secured trampoline was no longer. Each partygoer’s description was the same. “It was as if an invisible hand reached down, picked the trampoline high up into the air, and tossed it. Then it was gone.” None of them saw where it had landed. Even after an extended search, the missing trampoline wasn’t found. Little did they know they had become a part of a mystery that would soon befuddle every person in the small country town.

Two weeks later, another birthday party was held at the Cordova’s house. Late in the afternoon another storm descended, but this time it was much larger than the first. High winds and lightning caused the teenagers once again to seek shelter inside. And once again they watched as furniture was blown into the pool, listened as hail pounded the gutters and bounced off the sidewalk, and marveled as the huge pine trees snapped like toothpicks.

The kids decided not to take a chance and took shelter in the basement until the storm passed. Half an hour later, they returned to the living room, walking towards the picture window to survey the damage in the backyard.

They never made it.

Suddenly, a blinding flash of lightning followed by an epic boom so loud it shook the entire house caused everyone to dive to the floor and instinctively cover their heads. All those silly tornado drills they had practiced each month in school now seemed all too real — and no longer silly. They knew something in the backyard had been struck, but what?

They crawled their way back to the basement as the storm raged for over an hour more, leaving a wide swath of destruction and fallen trees across the small town. The storm had also left something else.

Another real-life mystery.

After the storm finally subsided, the brave teenagers left the basement to survey the damage in the backyard. And that’s when they saw it. What once was taken, had now been returned.

The mighty hand of the storm had set the missing trampoline back down in its original location next to the pool — undamaged! But where had the trampoline been for the last two weeks? And why had nobody spotted it in all that time?

After their investigation of the strange occurrence, even the local police department eventually admitted what had happened at the party was a true mystery — one they couldn’t solve.

For help, they would soon turn to the one person whose insight and out of the box thinking had helped them solve other seemingly impossible cases in the past.

Unfortunately, they would have to wait to talk to her. She was busy until 2:30 in the afternoon when the local elementary school dismissed its students. And today, she was riding the bus home instead of being picked up by her parents.

They call her The Fifth-Grade Detective.

(Join us next week for the surprise conclusion of this story.)

(Based on a story idea by Charlee Gilbert.)

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories weekly in The Citizen since 2001.]