Down at the Lost & Found Department in Eerie, something's missing: the Missing People! A power failure has released them from their cryogenic storage chambers, and now Jesse James, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Amelia Earhart and many more are on the loose and Marshall and Simon have to get them back. What's worse, some of the world's greatest political criminal minds are getting together for the crime of the century only the century they have in mind is over, and they'll be so mad when they find out. If the boys don't think of something fast, these crooks are going to rob a train loaded with gold bullion and escape the Lost & Found and Eerie once and for all!!
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Simon and I sat down at one of the booths and Mr. Radford brought us our sundaes. I plunged my spoon into the mound of ice cream and fudge, and I could feel my brain clicking into gear. "Maybe we should look for Lodgepoole," I suggested between mouthfuls.
"What if he's Lost?" Simon argued.
"Then that will be another clue," I replied. "We both know what he looks like, and where he usually operates. Why don't we split up and scour the town?"
"Okay," Simon agreed. "Just as soon as we finish these." He swirled his spoon around in the bottom of the ice-cream dish. Ten minutes later we checked that our walkie-talkies were working, and then sped off in opposite directions. Simon was checking the laundromatone of the best places in town to lose thingsand the bus depot. I was looking into the police station and the-banks. Pens were always missing from there. But when there was no sign of any activity in either spot, I called Simon to re port my failure.
"Nothing here, either," Simon's voice crackled back over the radio. "Lodgepoole really is missing."
"Well, let's not give up," I replied. "Why don't you check the lockers at school? I'll check the chamber of commerce." I signed off and rode across to the chamber's office. Once there, I slipped my mirrored sun glasses into my pocket and walked through the door. There was a bulletin board inside, and Lodgepoole liked to confiscate a few notes each day. But today the board was more crowded with messages than I'd ever seen it. Seriously weird, I thought.
When I checked in with Simon, he re ported that there was no sign of Lodgepoole at the school.Something was very wrong.
I was about to head back to World of Stuff foranother brainstorming session with Simon when I spotted a couple of huddled figures in the alley next to the chamber of commerce. They were obviously bums of some kind, wrapped in blankets. They were passing a bottle in a brown paper bag back and forth between them and taking turns drinking from it.
I'd never seen a homeless person in Eerie before. Let's face it: You need to be in good condition to deal with all the weirdness that goes on in this town. Homeless people are probably scared away from here pretty quickly. I inched closer to the men and watched them for a moment. One of them was wearing a green visor, and there was only one person I'd ever seen wearing one like it.
I stepped into the alley but the two men didn't seem to see me. I moved forward slowly and soon was only a few feet away from them.
One of the men took a long swig from the bottle. I looked down and recognized the red and yellow bottle cap of my favorite brand of root beer lying at my feet. The drinking man was tall and lean. His face looked tired and sad. He was wearing a green and blue scarf around his neck, a pin striped shirt, a gold watch, and a large key on a chain around his neck. For a homeless person, he'd done pretty well. The other man was smaller and rounder, with gray hair and glasses that made him look like a depressed owl.
In an instant, I realized who I was looking at.
"Al!" I said to the man with the bottle. "Mr. Lodgepoole!" I added, turning to the shorter man. "What are you doing up here? Why aren't things getting lost?"
Al glanced up at me and blinked. "Oh, hi, kid," he mumbled in his gravelly voice.
"Teller, Marshall," Lodgepoole recalled. "History book, drawer, briefcase . . ." He was referring to the first time I'd met him after he'd confiscated my father's briefcase. He shook his head. "It's no use," he replied. "We're not working because we've lost it."
"Lost it?" I repeated. "Lost what?"
"Everything," Al answered.
I sighed, and pulled out my walkie-talkie. "Simon," I said. "I've found them. Meet me in the alley by the chamber of commerce."
"What's going on?" Simon asked.
"I don't know yet. They're not making a lot of sense." I signed off and stared at the two guys. They looked pretty depressed. "What have you lost?" I tried again.
"Everything," Lodgepoole repeated. 'We've lost the Bureau of Lost."
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