For once, the Happy Helpers arrived at the senior center ahead of Three Handy Guys for their Saturday assignments. Bob showed the girls what needed to be done in the kitchen. Everything had to be wiped down and cleaned because a health inspector was coming on Monday. Bob explained that the senior center had to get a good rating from the Health Department in order to continue serving meals. He really needed the girls to do their best to get things especially spotless. He asked Laura to help him wipe down everything in the kitchen. Melissa and Amber were given the job of folding up the tables and chairs so that they could sweep and mop the entire floor.
The two girls had nearly finished getting the tables and chairs out of the way when the Three Handy Guys arrived. They were jostling each other and laughing at something as they made their way through the dining room to the door that went to the back side of the building.
“Having fun?” Spike laughed as he watched the girls struggling to fold up the last table. “Come outside when you’re done, and you can help us have some real fun.”
“That’s okay,” Melissa shot back. “We like doing this.”
“Sure you do.” Spike laughed again. “We can tell by the smiles on your faces.”
“Would you like some help with the tables?” Logan offered.
“We’ve almost got it done,” Amber said. “But thanks anyway.”
“Boys,” a man called from the doorway.
Everyone turned to see Walt walking toward them.
“I need to talk to you for a minute.” Walt had a serious look on his face.
“I wonder what they did.” Melissa watched the boys as they followed Walt through the doorway.
“No idea,” Amber mumbled as she folded up the last chair and put it on the storage rack.
“I’ll sweep, and you can mop,” Melissa suggested, returning from the storage closet with the broom and dustpan.
“That’s fine with me,” Amber said. She took a bucket out of the storage closet, added floor cleaner, and filled the bucket with water.
Melissa started sweeping the far section of the dining room. As she finished a section, Amber came in behind her and mopped the area. When she had finished sweeping the entire floor, Melissa walked toward the kitchen to empty the bucket she had been using to collect the dirt as she swept it up.
Amber continued to mop the rest of the floor. Behind her she heard boys talking and turned to see the Three Handy Guys walking across the clean floor. They were all dripping wet, and their shoes were leaving muddy footprints.
“What are you doing?” Amber shouted.
“You missed some over here.” Spike pointed to the muddy prints and laughed. “You sure don’t know how to mop a floor.”
“She’s a girl,” Chris chimed in. “What do you expect?”
“We’d show you how it’s done,” Logan added. “But you girls think you can do anything better than we can.”
“That floor was perfectly clean!” Melissa shrieked. “You messed it up on purpose!”
“Bingo!” Spike said snidely. “Give the girl a Kewpie doll.”
“That’s what you get for cutting holes in the plastic bags after we did all that shredding,” Logan said with anger in his voice.
“We know it was you,” Chris added. “No one else would have done it.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Melissa said. “Do you?” she asked Amber.
“No.” Amber shook her head. “No idea at all.”
“You’re trying to get us kicked out so you can take over,” Spike stormed. “But you won’t get away with it!”
The boys continued across the floor, leaving more footprints as they went and even shaking water and mud from their pants. Amber followed behind, mopping up as best as she could.
“You’d better go get some fresh water,” Melissa suggested. “You’re just smearing the mud around.”
Amber carried the bucket full of muddy water into the kitchen. Bob had the back door open so that he could take out the trash. Through the door, Amber saw the van, sparkling clean and white. She looked at the bucket in her hands and back at the van. Before she knew what she was doing, the muddy water was splashed all over the van.
“I can’t believe you did that!” Laura gasped.
“I can,” Melissa said. “You should have heard how those boys talked to us.”
“You mean Spike?” Laura asked.
“I mean all three of them,” Melissa continued. “They accused us of cutting holes in the bags with the shredded paper. Can you imagine?”
“Why would they think we would do that?” Laura looked from Melissa to Amber.
“They think we’re trying to take over,” Melissa told her. “That we’re intentionally trying to get them in trouble!”
“We’d better get the floor clean before Bob comes back,” Amber pointed out. “We might get in trouble if he sees this muddy floor. It would be our word against the boys. Bob might not believe us.”
Melissa and Laura grabbed mops and helped Amber clean up the mud. They were just closing the door on the storage room when Bob came into the dining area.
“Wow!” he exclaimed. “You girls did a really nice job. Everything is so clean and shiny. I’m sure we’ll get an A rating from the Health Department.”
The girls turned to look at him, but didn’t say anything. “Here,” he said, handing them each a paper bag. “I can’t do much to say thanks, but at least I can give you lunch. It’s a beautiful day. Why don’t you eat your lunch outside on a picnic table?”
Laura chose a picnic table in the shade and sat down. Amber and Melissa followed her and sat across the table. They started unpacking the lunch bags. Each one contained a turkey-and-cheese sandwich, some carrot sticks, a bag of chips, and two cookies. There was also a small container of juice.
“Can you believe those guys?” Melissa said between bites of her sandwich.
“I wonder what made them so mad,” Laura mused. “I can believe something like that from Spike, but Chris and Logan are usually pretty nice.”
“They probably cut holes in the bags themselves,” Melissa suggested, “and tried to blame it on us. When that didn’t work, they got mad.”
“Maybe,” Laura said, still doubtful. “What do you think, Amber?”
“That sounds logical,” Amber agreed with Melissa. “Logan and Chris would probably go along with any idea Spike came up with. They believe anything he says.”
“Do you think they planned it from the start?” Laura asked. “I mean hiding the spoons and the brooms?”
“I’m sure of it!” Melissa said firmly. “Then when we spoiled their fun by using those old brooms, they threw rocks and dirt all over the walkway so it looked like we didn’t sweep it at all.”
“They didn’t like it when we were assigned to do the shredding,” Amber pointed out, “so when they saw their chance, they spread the shredding all over the copy room.”
“We can’t let them get away with this!” Melissa smashed her juice carton with her fist. “We need to teach them a lesson.”
“I don’t know about that,” Laura said nervously, “We could get into more trouble.”
“Not if we’re careful,” Melissa assured her.
“What do you have in mind?” Amber leaned toward Melissa.
“I don’t exactly know, but give me time. I’ll come up with a perfect plan.”
The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon