When we last checked in with Sgt. Joe Friday, his sharp detective skills were at work in setting up an undercover operation to solve the disappearance of Gladys Jefferson’s tasty strawberry-rhubarb pie. If you missed the first part of the story, here is a link back to “Sweet Caper.”
The opening episode of the story ended with:
Early the next morning, the seasoned detective hides across the street from the Jefferson’s house. The large lilac bushes provide a perfect lookout to view the kitchen window on the side of the house.
Right on cue, Mrs. Jefferson sets her freshly baked strawberry-rhubarb pie on the kitchen window sill to cool. Friday waits patiently to see if his stake-out will lead him to discover some answers.
Waiting from his hidden observation post, Joe Friday can almost smell the cooling pie across the street. Having skipped breakfast, he can’t help but feel a sweet craving for a piece of Mrs. Jefferson’s pie. He quickly shrugs off his hunger, and his well-seasoned eyes look out and wait.
A young boy, about the age of seven, walks down the sidewalk. He is pulling a small wagon with a tattered cardboard box sitting inside. The faded letters “Billy’s Bake Shop” can still be plainly seen.
The boy parks his wagon off to the side by the neighbor’s house, and he quickly and quietly slips up to the Jefferson’s kitchen window. In a flash, he gathers the pie and carefully walks back to his wagon. He hastily places the pie inside the cardboard box.
“Hmm, let’s see where this wagon travels to now,” ponders the sergeant. As the boy begins walking his wagon back down the sidewalk away from the Jefferson’s house, Friday carefully begins to follow at a safe distance.
It appears the boy is heading toward the small downtown area. He walks at a steady, unhurried pace as he pulls the wagon loaded with the stolen pie. It looks like Billy’s Bake Shop is open for business.
The young pie thief stops at an alley, and he scans the area for anyone watching him. Feeling alone and safe, he turns right and heads down the alley. Along the alley are back entrances to a collection of small offices and retail shops.
Friday continues to keep the boy in his sight, being careful to disappear just as the young entrepreneur checks the scene for any spies. He watches from the corner of the alley, hidden by a trash dumpster.
The boy continues walking and pulling his portable bake shop down the alley before stopping at an office door. He knocks on the door and waits. Before Friday can even think back to former capers he has solved over the years, the backdoor of the office opens. The boy returns to his wagon and removes the pie from the dilapidated cardboard box.
“Wow! I never saw this coming,” thinks the detective. The boy is handing off the pie to Mr. Jefferson.
As soon as the transaction is finished, Billy’s Bake Shop heads on his way, and Mr. Jefferson slips back into his office. The ever-curious detective wants to gather just a bit more information before he jumps Mr. Jefferson. His mind is working quickly, and he wonders what the real motive is behind the mystery of the strawberry-rhubarb pie’s disappearance.
Friday walks quickly from the alley around to the front of Mr. Jefferson’s office. He crosses the street to have a perfect vantage point of everything.
In a few minutes, a quartet of men, who seem quite friendly with each other, enter the office door. The sergeant checks his watch . . . the time is mid-morning, exactly when many people enjoy a coffee break.
Realizing it’s time to crash the gathering, the ever-alert detective crosses the street and heads directly to the office door. Upon entering, he finds the foursome of men sitting with Mr. Jefferson for coffee and fresh-baked strawberry-rhubarb pie.
Surprised by Friday’s appearance, the men stop eating and talking. They know their scheme has unraveled, for sure!
The eager and hungry sergeant listens as the quintet of pie lovers explain their side of the story. The bakery down the street has been closed for months, and the men have grown impatient with enjoying a sweet treat with their morning coffee break. What can be better than tasting one of Gladys Jefferson’s blue-ribbon pies?
Mr. Jefferson pipes up, “How about sitting down with us for some coffee and pie?”