child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница

“Not her! She said she has no money to waste on a no-good son. As far as she’s concerned, Ty’s on his own. I’ve already called my lawyer, but he thinks he’ll have trouble getting Ty released.”

“Why?” Pete asked.

“Is there something we don’t know?” Bob said.Mathilda looked serious. “The police want him held without bail.”

“On what grounds?” Jupiter cried.

“That he has a past criminal record and is from out of state. And even more important, he’s a material witness against what they think is a gang of car child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница thieves operating in Rocky Beach.”

“When will you know if we can get him out?”

“There’s a hearing later,” she said. “But my lawyer wants to talk to a judge before then.”

“Keep trying, okay, Aunt Mathilda?” Jupiter urged. “It’s vital we get him out to help us”angry woman agreed, and went back to the office to call her lawyer again. In the workshop the Three Investigators looked at one another.

“Can we go ahead without him, Jupe?” Pete asked.

“We’ll have to.” Jupiter became thoughtful. “So the police think there’s a ring of car thieves child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница in Rocky Beach, do they? That has to mean there have been a lot of other car thefts in the area recently.” He turned to Bob. “Bob, can you find out if El Tiburon and the Piranhas were playing a gig in Oxnard the night Ty says Tiburon asked him to drive the Mercedes down here?”

“Sure. I can ask Jake Hatch.”

“No. I don’t want anyone to know we’re investigating.”grinned. “I’ll figure something out.”

“How about right now,” Jupiter said.

“Okay. Let’s go.”groaned. “I can’t miss karate class this child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница afternoon. It’s my kata demonstration.”

“What’s so important about that?” Jupiter said.

“The kata are the ancient training exercises, Jupe,” Bob explained. “They’re the whole spirit of karate. There are about fifty of them, and you have to do a lot of exact moves in an exact amount of time. We do one a month.”

“Anyway, I have to pick up Kelly at the Y after,” Pete added. “She has her aerobics class at the same time.”

“I guess Bob and I can handle it,” Jupiter said. “Meet us back here later, okay?”grinned. “We child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница’ll tell you all about the excitement and fun we had hoodwinking Jake Hatch.”

“Forget it,” Pete said hotly. “I’ll skip karate and pick up Kelly later. Come on, guys!”all laughed as Pete ran for his battered Fiero and Bob headed for his antique but shining VW. While Jupiter decided who to ride with, a sleek silver Jaguar XJ6 sedan drove into the salvage yard. A slim brunette in sky-blue exercise sweats bounced out of the Jag. She waved back to someone inside.

“Thanks bunches, Dad! Pete’ll bring me home. Bye!”Jaguar zoomed away. Kelly Madigan ran child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница across the salvage yard to Pete and took his arm. She barely came to his shoulder. Kelly looked up at Pete with her big green eyes and smiled into his startled face.

“Daddy couldn’t drive me to aerobics, so I told him to bring me here and you would.” On tiptoe she kissed Pete on the nose and grinned. “I mean, we always meet after your karate class anyway.”gulped. “I’m not going to karate today, Kel… I — ”

“Not going? Why not, for heaven’s sake?”

“We… we’ve got a big case, Kel. Jupiter’s child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница cousin Ty is in, trouble and we have to solve the case and get him out of jail.”

“Case? Oh, I know that’s important, but we always go to karate and aerobics on Monday. How are you going to take me home if you’re on a case? And Mother expects us for dinner afterward, remember? I’m sure Jupe and Bob can do it all fine for today. Anyway, we better go or we’ll be late.”took Pete’s hand, waved to Jupiter and Bob, and pulled the confused Pete to his car. With a child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница helpless shrug to his friends, Pete got in. The Fiero drove out of the yard and turned toward the YWCA across town.

“That,” Bob said, “is why I don’t let any girl make me go steady, no sir! Play the field, that’s the only way, right, Jupe?”

“I guess I’d like to play any way I could.”

“Come on, Jupe, I bring enough girls around for you. So does Pete. Don’t you like any of them?”sighed. “It’s more they don’t like me.”



“A lot of girls like you, I can see that. I mean, take child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница that little Ruthie today. She definitely liked you. All you have to do is make your move.”flushed. “Anyway, what about finding out about El Tiburon and the Piranhas?”

“No problem. Let’s go.”got into Bob’s bug and drove out of the salvage yard. Bob turned toward downtown.

“Where are we going?” Jupe asked.

“Jake Hatch’s office.”

“But we don’t want him to know we’re investigating — ”smiled. “Trust me.”reached a seedy, dilapidated building on the edge of the main downtown shopping area. Bob parked in the lot at the rear.was no child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница elevator in the run-down building. Only a feeble light filtered in through the dusty sky-light over the stairwell. Rows of scarred half-glass doors lined the uncarpeted hallways. On the third floor Bob opened the last door on the right. The Investigators stepped into an outer office. Beyond it was Jake Hatch’s private inner office.

“Hi, Gracie,” Bob said. “Is Mr. Hatch in?” A pretty young woman with blond hair sat at the only desk in the outer office. She was typing some long list. She looked up and smiled when she saw Bob.

“You child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница know it’s his lunchtime.” Bob sat on the edge of her desk and flashed his most charming smile. “Sure, that’s why I came now.”young woman laughed and shook her head at Bob’s brashness. He had to be five years younger than she was, but her eyes said she was pleased to see him. “You’re much too sure of yourself, Bob Andrews.”

“Is it a crime that I like to talk to you instead of old Jake, Gracie?” Bob’s smile widened. “Besides, I brought my friend Jupiter along today so he could meet you child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница. Jupe, this is Grace Salieri, the best secretary in the business.”

“Pleased to meet you, Miss Salieri,” Jupiter said.

“Call me Gracie, Jupiter,” Grace Salieri said. “Now cut the soft soap, okay, Bob? What are you doing here?”

“Sax has a client who wants a La Bamba band,” Bob explained. “We don’t have one. The guy was up in Oxnard a couple of nights ago and saw a gig he liked. He couldn’t remember the name of the group. I thought it might have been El Tiburon and the Piranhas. Were they up in Oxnard two nights ago, and child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница where are they playing the next couple of days?”

“Jake’d want the full commission on Tiburon.”

“Sax doesn’t care about his split on this. He just wants to please the client.”got up and walked into the inner office.

“What’s she doing, Bob?” Jupiter whispered.

“Checking the booking charts on Jake’s wall. Sax uses the same system. It’s faster than a computer — you see where all your bands are at once.”Salieri came back. “Yep, Tiburon and his boys were up in Oxnard at The Deuces two nights ago. They play The Shack child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница the next two days.” She sat down behind her desk.

“Great, Gracie, thanks,” Bob said. He leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Sax’ll ask if that’s where the client saw the La Bamba band he liked. If it is, old Jake has a nice fat commission.”laughed. “Get out of here, Bob Andrews.”the office, Bob winked at Jupiter as they hurried back down the dusty stairs to his bug.

“Even if Gracie tells Jake, all he’ll see is easy money. And now we know Tiburon was in Oxnard when Ty was.”

“And child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница The Shack is a pizza cafe that we can get into,” Jupiter said. “If Ty is out of jail, maybe he can identify Tiburon. If not, we can talk to Tiburon and maybe get some answers.”

“When?”

“Tonight. We’ll meet at HQ,” Jupiter said. “Then we’ll go to The Shack and talk to El Tiburon and the Piranhas.”

PiranhasShack was a popular hole-in-the-wall pizza restaurant on the eastern outskirts of Rocky Beach. Jupiter and Bob arrived at eight. Pete, it turned out, had to take Kelly to a spring-break party. Jupiter child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница only sighed.and shabby, The Shack attracted students from the local high school and junior college. Most places with live music sold liquor, which meant they were off-limits to anyone under twenty-one. The law was rigorously enforced, even to making underage performers sit behind the bandstand under the watch of a club employee. But The Shack was a pizza restaurant, serving only soft drinks, and teenagers flocked to it.most nights they flocked. Not this night.Jupiter and Bob walked in they saw two high school guys playing a rickety old pinball machine in a corner. Two more child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница ate pizza, their eyes glued to a silent TV set. Four Latino girls sat at one of the tables around the postage-stamp-size dance floor. They had to be the girlfriends of the band players because they were the only ones watching the bandstand.Shack was nearly empty, but the sound in the small cafe was deafening.

“La… bamba… bamba… bamba!”Latinos sang and played a Latin rhythm on electric guitars, a bass, and a keyboard that sounded like a Mexican street band. The drummer pounded bongos and gongs and rattled gourds. The musicians were up to their child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница ankles in cables, amplifiers, pedals, and fifty other pieces of equipment that left them almost no room to move on the tiny bandstand.

“La… bam… ba… I”Tiburon and the Piranhas! They pounded, gyrated, and grinned like fiends into the almost empty room. Their faces glistened with sweat. They looked eagerly at the door as Jupiter and Bob came in and took seats at a rear table.

“I hate to say this,” Jupiter whispered, “but they’re not very good.”

“Sax says they shout instead of sing,” Bob agreed. “They don’t play very well either.”

“I assume El child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница Tiburon’s the one in the white suit?”

“Right. The tall guy in front playing lead guitar.”watched the tall Latino as he sang and pranced around the wire-tangled stage. Slim and handsome in an exotic white suit with skin-tight pants, a long jacket, and silk shirt open over his chest, he was all showman — a lot of style and not much talent. The four shorter Piranhas playing behind him were dressed in red and black.

“This isn’t much of a Latino hangout,” Bob said. “I don’t know why Hatch booked them in here.”

“I child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница don’t think they do either,” Jupiter said.hardworking band switched to straight Rock ‘n’ Roll. The high school guys stopped eating and playing pinball and began to listen. More people drifted in, but it still wasn’t a crowd. Suddenly Bob leaned close to Jupiter.

“There’s Jake Hatch.”short, stocky man in an expensive gray suit had come into the cafe. He wore a watch chain and vest over his ample belly. He had the kind of pale, heavy face that always looks like it needs a shave.scowled at the gyrating band, and at the child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница room that was still more than half empty.

“Will he recognize you?” Jupiter asked.

“Definitely,” Bob said. “He won’t know what we want with Tiburon, but Gracie’ll have told him about my visit.”stood just inside the door. He looked sourly at the pounding band and watched a few more people trickle in as the set came to a crashing end. The Piranhas immediately abandoned their instruments and joined the girls at the front table. Tiburon circulated through the small crowd, talking and grinning. Jake Hatch lit a cigar. Then he saw Bob, and his heavy eyebrows went child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница up. He came over to the table.

“So?” Hatch said as he sat down. “Sendler needs Tiburon and the Piranhas, eh? Get it straight: I don’t split commissions.”

“We might be interested in a La Bamba band,” Bob said. “Sax sent us to look at Tiburon. He’s looking in L.A.”laughed nastily. “That ain’t what Gracie tells me. You got a guy that spotted Tiburon and the boys up in Oxnard a couple of nights ago. He’s hot for them.”

“But we don’t have to find Tiburon do we?” Bob grinned child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница. “If we do, it’s a fifty-fifty split.”’s face darkened with anger. “Someday I’m gonna run that Sendler out of town. Everyone knows he lies and cheats to get clients and gigs. You’ll go with him, kid, if you don’t wise up and get your act straight.”

“Glad to see you’re so interested in my career,” Bob said smoothly.

“Take my advice and dump Sendler,” Jake Hatch said. He puffed on his cigar. “How’d you like to make some good money right now?”

“I always like to make money.” Bob smiled.

“Tell me child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница everything Sendler does. Who his clients are, how he lines up his bands, the works.”

“Gosh, that’d be spying, wouldn’t it, Mr. Hatch?” Bob said in mock horror.

“Everyone spies, kid.”

“Sorry, Mr. Hatch. That’s not my style.”glared at him.

“Don’t play so honest with me. What do you call what you’re doing in here? You think I don’t know Sendler sent you here to make a deal with Tiburon behind my back.”

“Says who?” Bob smiled. “Sax doesn’t — ”kicked Bob under the table. They couldn’t tell Jake Hatch that Saxon Sendler child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница didn’t know they were there. Hatch would realize that the whole story about someone wanting El Tiburon and the Piranhas was a hoax. The agent looked at them suspiciously. Just then El Tiburon appeared at the table.

“Hey, you’re talking about El Tiburon, eh?” the tall, flashy bandleader announced. “My fans, right? You love our music. You gotta have El Tiburon and the Piranhas.”

“Well — ” Bob began.

“You’re all great,” Jupiter said hastily. “Especially you. Are you El Tiburon himself?”

“You’re looking at him.” The guitarist-singer drew himself up to his full height. Close child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница up, he had a long, proud face as smooth as pale-brown glove leather. “You want a autographed picture? Jake, give these guys a pub shot.”looked dubiously at Jupiter, not sure what his connection to Bob was. The uncertainty was clear on his face. If Jupiter was a real fan, Hatch didn’t want to offend him. But if Jupe was only there with Bob, Hatch wouldn’t do him any favors. He played it safe by trying to pass it over and tell Tiburon about Bob at the same time.

“They’re out in the child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница car. I’ll get one later.” He nodded at Bob. “This guy here ain’t a fan. He works — ”

“Hey, I know my fans.” Tiburon scowled. His teeth showed, making his sharp face look a lot like his namesake. “Go get a picture for my friend, okay?”Bob and Jupiter thought Hatch would explode. But the talent agent only swallowed hard. He managed a smile, got up, and went out the front door.

“Could I get a picture for my cousin Ty too?” Jupiter asked after Hatch had gone.

“Sure, Jake’ll bring a couple. Your cousin’s another child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница fan of mine?”

“Not exactly,” Jupiter said. “Ty says he knows you. He wanted me to talk to you.”

“He someone in another band? I know a lot of guys in bands.”

“No,” Jupiter said. “He’s the guy who drove your brother’s car to Rocky Beach for you. He tried to, anyway, but he couldn’t find your brother.”Tiburon’s smile slowly faded. Then the smile came back, but it was a different smile now. The smile of a real shark.

“Yeah, I heard about this loco Anglo, steals some hot wheels and comes around with a child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница crazy story about I asks him to drive it to my brother. Hey, even the cops don’t buy a story like that.” He shook his head as if sad for poor, crazy Ty. “Your cousin, hey? Too bad.”

“So you don’t know about the car or Ty?” Bob said.laughed. “Hey, man, this cousin you got should’ve stayed up in Oxnard. I mean, I ain’t even got no brother!” And the tall bandleader walked off, laughing all the way to the bandstand.looked at Jupiter in dismay. “Jupe? If he doesn’t have a child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница brother, Ty has to be lying!”on the bandstand the four Piranhas stared at Jupiter and Bob. Jake Hatch returned with a stack of photographs in his hand. He looked at the guys and then at El Tiburon and the Piranhas tuning up for their next set. The talent agent walked over to the band.

“Come on,” Jupiter said quickly, “let’s get out of here.”

“Don’t you want the photo?” Bob said.

“Watch me.”pushed through more arriving people and went out into the night. As they passed the display board outside on their way to Bob child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница’s VW, Jupiter grabbed the photo of Tiburon and pulled it off.was still dejected when they got into the car. “He wouldn’t lie about a brother, Jupe. It’s got to be your cousin who’s lying.”

“Not if Tiburon was making Ty deliver a stolen car and lied about a brother then,” Jupiter said as Bob started the car and drove off. “And,” he added grimly, “someone is sure lying now.”

“Who, Jupe? What lie?”

“Tiburon could only have heard Ty’s story from us, the police, or Joe Torres and his friends. We didn child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница’t tell. The police wouldn’t have. So Tiburon had to have been told what happened at the bodega by Torres or one of the other two. Which means one or all of them do know Tiburon and were lying to us and to the police!”

“You’re right, Jupe!” Bob said.

“And,” Jupiter added, “neither of us mentioned Oxnard to Tiburon tonight, yet he knew Ty had gotten the car in Oxnard.”

“Wow! So either Torres told Tiburon about Oxnard, or Ty is telling the truth about Tiburon. Or both. What do we do?”

“What we do,” Jupiter said, “is child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница turn this car around and go back and wait for Tiburon and the Piranhas to come out of The Shack.”

That Shark!shivered in the unheated VW and listened to the loud music from The Shack. Southern California is really a desert climate, warm during the day but cold at night. In spring the cold chills to the bone. It was a long night for the Investigators.music, and the few customers drifting in and out of the cafe, went on until midnight. Then silence. The last patrons came out in twos and threes. Finally the band exploded through child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница the double doors in a bedlam of swearing and raging and bad temper.surliest of all was Jake Hatch. Under the single street lamp he waved his arms at a bearded man who seemed to be the owner of The Shack. Tiburon and the Piranhas stood around them in a sullen circle. At last Hatch said something short and sharp to the band, stalked off to a silver-gray Rolls-Royce, and drove away. The Shack owner threw up his arms and went back inside. Tiburon and the Piranhas vanished around the back of the building.

“Follow them, Bob child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница!” Jupiter said quickly.

“That’s the parking lot back there, Jupe. They have to come out this way,” Bob said. He nodded his head in the direction Jake Hatch had vanished in his Rolls-Royce. “That Rolls has to be secondhand, but I still can’t figure how Jake can afford it on his talent business. Sax says even he couldn’t.”was still shaking his head over the Rolls-Royce when the first of the band’s cars came out from behind the now darkened building.

“Holy cow!” Jupiter exclaimed.was a large sedan, what make or year child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница neither of them could tell. It was totally covered with spray-painted graffiti from one end to the other, even on the windows!car was painted so thickly with messages that its original body color was invisible. It was so low to the ground that its real shape was difficult to make out.

“It’s a lowrider!” Jupiter exclaimed.specially rebuilt car rode only six inches above the street. Its springs and shocks had been cut down, or perhaps it had been modified with a hydraulic system that lowered the whole car. If the car was hydraulic, the child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница driver could reraise it for highway driving. The car had steel plates under the front and rear to protect the underside when it hit bumps in the road, or when going in and out of driveways.was followed out in a stately procession by four other lowriders. They all turned toward the barrio.young Latinos drove lowriders. The cars were part of life in the barrio, a special way to be different from Anglos and dazzle the girls. Usually lowriders were beautifully kept. They were painted and repainted, polished and shined, decorated outside and in, until they were in perfect child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница condition for parading on Saturday night and competing in car shows.these lowriders were different. They were ugly, with thickly painted messages that proclaimed the name and talent of El Tiburon and the Piranhas in ten different colors.

“It’s advertising,” Jupiter said. “Their trademark. At least they’ll be easy to follow. They have to drive slowly.”gave the gaudy lowriders a block’s head start before he began to follow them. He had to keep reducing speed to stay far enough behind the slow procession. At last they reached the edge of the barrio. Bob was child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница still hanging back when the lowriders all turned into a car wash next to a Taco Bell only two blocks from Rocky Beach High School. On a school holiday there were a lot of cars parked at the Taco Bell, even after midnight. It was a hangout Bob and Jupiter knew well.cruised slowly past the car wash, where Tiburon, the Piranhas, and their girlfriends had left their cars. Now they were lounging in the indoor waiting area, having snacks and soft drinks. Some other young Latinos had joined them.

“We’d better stake out,” Jupiter said. “The child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница Taco Bell looks like a good place.”

“I’ll bet it does.” Bob grinned.

“And what does that mean?” Jupiter demanded.

“I never heard of a diet with fast-food tacos.”

“There are diets with everything on them,” Jupiter said loftily.

“Not tacos on a grapefruit and cottage cheese diet.”groaned. “But I’m starving.”

“Hey, I don’t care if you’re fat.”

“I am not fat! A little… heavy, maybe, but — ”

“Jupe, it’s okay. Pete and I like you, heavy or skinny. Now come on, what do we do?”

“We stake out at the Taco Bell child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница,” Jupiter said stiffly. “And if we don’t have a taco, we’ll stand out too much.”turned his head to hide his smile as he made a U-turn. He drove back down the street and into the Taco Bell parking lot. They got out and mingled with the crowd at the stand. They knew some of the kids from high school and chatted with them as they waited in line.and Jupe took their tacos to a table by the window. They had a perfect view of the car wash. The bench was gone from this table child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница, so they sat on the table as they munched and watched.this late hour the car wash was closed to customers, but it seemed to open for El Tiburon and the Piranhas. An older man stood behind the food counter, but all the car wash attendants were gone. El Tiburon was clearly in charge. He lounged in the only easy chair, with the Piranhas and their girlfriends all around him. He talked and they all listened.one girl. She got up and went to buy something at the counter. El Tiburon pointed a long finger and shouted loud enough for Bob child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница and Jupiter to hear at the Taco Bell.

“Get back here, chick! No groceries when we talk business. You got that, Owner?”the food counter the older man shrugged and shook his head at the girl. She whirled around and snapped out something to Tiburon. Instantly Tiburon was up and beside her. He grabbed her arm. One of the guys who wasn’t a Piranha jumped up and pulled Tiburon’s hand away.froze inside the car-wash lounge.reached out and held the other guy’s shirt. The guy knocked Tiburon’s hand away. Tiburon hit him with a child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница hard right. The girl’s defender staggered but came back with a wild left of his own and then a right-hand punch. Tiburon ducked the left, blocked the right, and knocked the other guy down with a single powerful punch. This time the guy didn’t try to get up.said something and laughed. Everyone laughed. Except the girl who had defied Tiburon. She bent down over her fallen champion. Tiburon strode back to his easy chair and started to talk again as if nothing had happened.and Bob watched from their table at the child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница Taco Bell.

“He acts more like a gang leader than a band-leader,” Bob said.

“Yes,” Jupiter agreed. “He seems to be both. As if the band is part of a larger gang. I think — ” The leader of the Investigators stopped in mid-sentence.car had pulled into the car wash. A man got out and motioned toward the lounge.

“It’s Joe Torres!” Jupiter exclaimed.the lounge Tiburon stood up, said something to a Piranha, and hurried outside to meet Torres. They stood talking in the shadows for some time as the rest of the gang waited inside.

“Torres was lying child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница!” Bob cried. “He definitely does know Tiburon. I’ll bet he was the one the stolen car was really supposed to be delivered to. Tiburon just made up the story about his brother.”

“Maybe and maybe not,” Jupiter said. “Torres was lying about not knowing Tiburon, but that doesn’t make the rest true, Bob. I mean, maybe Torres was protecting Tiburon, but doesn’t know anything about the stolen cars. Or Tiburon did what Ty says up in Oxnard, but was only being used. Maybe Tiburon had no idea the car was stolen.”

“So how do we child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница find out?”

“We have to know more,” Jupiter said. “We’ll watch awhile longer.”

“It’s getting late,” Bob said. “If Sax gets back from L.A. tonight, I might have to work tomorrow.”

“We’ve got to find out if Tiburon knew the car was stolen, or if he didn’t, who told him to get Ty to drive it down to Torres’s bodega.”

“Jupe!” Bob said suddenly.had gone back inside the lounge, and Joe Torres was heading straight for the Taco Bell!

“He’ll recognize me!” Jupiter said, panic-stricken.looked for a child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница place to hide. There was nowhere!Taco Bell was all but deserted now, the few remaining patrons widely scattered among the bare tables. The parking lot was well lighted and almost empty. The long counter inside the hacienda-like building had no customers.

“Quick!” Bob said. “Kneel down!”knelt down on the floor beside their bench-less table. Bob took off his denim jacket and sat on Jupiter’s back, using it like a bench! He draped his jacket over his knees as if his legs were cold. Then he leaned casually back against the table in the dim light child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница, munching the last of his second taco.looked innocently at Torres as the scrawny Latino went by. He hoped the bodega owner wouldn’t notice that there was no bench on either side of the hidden Jupiter. But Torres barely glanced at Bob as he walked past him to the counter.’s voice was muffled. “For a skinny runt you weigh a ton. Can I get up?”

“He’s still at the counter. He could look this way again any second. Better stay down.”groaned.laughed silently. “You make a pretty good bench. Nice and soft.”

“You wait!” Jupiter’s child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница muffled voice fumed. Bob gave Jupiter a gentle poke in the ribs. There was a strangled explosion as Jupiter fought to stay silent. Bob stopped teasing him as Torres got his burrito and came back past them on his way to the car wash and his car. This time the thin, dark Latino didn’t even glance at Bob.

“Okay, he’s gone,” Bob said, standing up.got to his feet, holding his back and hanging on to the table until he could straighten up. He glared at Bob, and then smiled.

“That was fast thinking,” he admitted child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница. “But we’d better get out of here. Some of the others could decide to have a taco.”hurried to Bob’s red VW in the parking lot and drove to the salvage yard and Jupiter’s house. The yard was locked and dark. So was the house.

“Everyone’s asleep,” Jupiter said. “But let’s find out if Ty’s here.”the house they tiptoed to the downstairs den. The door was open and the room was empty. Upstairs they looked into the guest bedroom. It was empty, too. Bob was worried.

“Maybe the police have more evidence than you child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница thought.”

“Perhaps,” Jupiter said. “I’ll ask Aunt Mathilda in the morning. But I still think Ty is telling the truth.”

“I sure hope you’re right, Jupe.”

“Anyway, we’ll all meet at HQ after breakfast.”

“Unless Kelly’s got something for Pete to do.”didn’t seem to hear this last thrust at their absent friend. “You know,” he said slowly, “a band that moved up and down the coast almost every night would be a perfect cover for a gang of car thieves.”

Orange Cadillacthe next morning, Pete threw on his Bop Til child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница You Drop T-shirt and drove to the salvage yard. He wanted to make amends for missing the action the night before — and to find out what had happened. He found the big iron gates locked, and headed across the street to the house.was still at breakfast with his aunt and uncle. He was eating grapefruit and cottage cheese. He didn’t look too happy, and it wasn’t only the diet.

“We still can’t get Ty out of jail!” Jupe said.Mathilda fumed. “The judge still hasn’t set bail! My lawyer is throwing a fit, but there child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница’s almost nothing you can do to hurry a judge. The prosecutor is insisting that Ty is a suspect in this case. He’s afraid Ty will run away. My lawyer is almost sure we’ll get a ruling today, but he isn’t at all sure it’ll be in our favor.”Titus, a short, slim man with a huge mustache, looked at his wife. “You sure this cousin is on the level?” he asked. “That’s a pretty shaky story.”

“We’re sure, Uncle Titus,” Jupiter said. “We’ve uncovered enough facts already to make us almost certain child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница his story is true.”

“Now all we have to do is prove it,” Pete said.Titus frowned. “You be careful, you hear? Car thieves are nothing to fool with.”

“We’ll be careful, Uncle Titus.” Jupiter finished his cottage cheese. “I’ll go and open up the yard. We’ll be over in Headquarters, then we’re going out. Aunt M, if Ty gets his bail set, would you leave a message on our answering machine? We’ll call in every hour or so and get our messages.”

“All right, Jupiter. I’ll just call the child_detArdenWheelscars, hot music — and sizzling mystery-adventure 2 страница lawyer again, then be right over to open the office.”and Jupiter crossed to the gates and opened the electronic lock with Jupiter’s belt control. In HQ, Jupe told Pete what had happened last night. Pete laughed at the description of El Tiburon and the Piranhas in the tiny and almost empty cafe. He was excited when Jupiter got to the appearance of Joe Torres at the car wash.

“So Torres did know someone named Tiburon!”

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