Jack stared at the list of car parts once again and saw that the first letter of each item could be used to spell out the words magic beans. Instinctively, Jack felt his pocket for the beans, which he always kept with him. The night of Jack’s escape, Sister Kim had entrusted the beans to Jack and told him to deliver them to a person named Kelby who lived out west in the mountains. Since then, Jack had been through many misadventures, but he still had the beans.
But could they be magic beans? Jack seriously doubted it. They looked like ordinary coffee beans in an old SIDI cleat bag, but at least Jack could take some comfort in the fact that Sister Kim was still sending Jack messages.
After yoga, breakfast, and a big glass
of vegetable juice, Jack bundled up once again and made the long hike down the mountain to pick up the newspaper at the Mr. Kar Wash car wash. By now, most of the roads in town were cleared, and people were digging out from the early blizzard.
The car wash was open for business when Jack arrived in the parking lot, but no one appeared to pay any attention to him as he picked up Monday’s edition of the Des Moines Register newspaper from the doorstep and began the long hike back up the mountain. That afternoon, Mr. Karras and Jack studied the newspaper but found no new leads.
On Tuesday, the mountain road to the Karras’ home still hadn’t been cleared of snow, so Jack made the trip to the car wash and back for the third time. There weren’t any big news stories about Jack or anything that could be linked to the Ragbrai conspiracy except
a small statement in the Corrections section that said:
Register’s Computer Audit Revised
Representatives from the Special Collections Branch of the Des Moines Register explained that the computerized audit which initially linked orphan Jack Piper to $120,000 in missing RAGBRAI revenue was incorrect. According to officials, bugs (errors within the paper’s new computer system) have been fixed, leading to a revised value of $120 of missing revenue. The source of the missing revenue has been narrowed down to the area of RAGBRAI marketing while the search for Piper continues.
“How do you like that?” exclaimed Mr. Karras. “From a hundred and twenty grand to a hundred and twenty bucks. That must be some screwed-up computer system they’ve got.”
“But I still don’t have any idea why they think I ripped off $120,” said Jack.
“The way things are going with their computer program, you should just wait a few days and see if the amount drops to twelve cents,” joked Mr. Karras.
“Wait long enough and they might even owe you money.”
to be continued... [a serial by little orphan dbax]