The Mystery of Silas Finklebean: Chapter
FRIES DEFINITELY ALIVE
Nine-year-old Freddy Funkhouser and his thirteen-year-old
sister, Nancy, were counting up the receipts for the night
at their family restaurant, the Burger Castle. As they were
finishing, their father, Alfred, walked out from the kitchen,
placed a large white bowl on his head, and instantly vanished.
"Omigosh," said Nancy, "Now he's
really done it. This is worse than him blowing himself up
all the time with one of his screwy inventions."
Suddenly Alfred reappeared, holding the bowl. "My inventions
aren't screwy, dear, just sometimes slightly ahead of
"Cool, Dad," said Freddy excitedly. "You
made yourself invisible."
"Not exactly. This bowl refracts light particles and
gives the appearance that the person wearing it has vanished.
Here, try it."
Freddy put the bowl over his head and disappeared.
"Oh, Dad, if you could only make that permanent,"
said Nancy, looking longingly at the spot where her brother
no longer was.
Freddy reappeared holding the bowl and handed it back to
his father. "Dad, that is like sooo awesome."
"It certainly has some interesting applications."
He whispered to Freddy. "But it certainly doesn't
top what you did."
Like his father, Freddy was an inventor. And he had invented
something -- or somethings -- super special that
had helped his family recently win a parade float competition
against their rivals, the Spanker clan, who owned the enormous
Patty Cakes Restaurant across the street.
"Where are they, by the way?" his father asked.
"Hey, guys," called out Freddy, "over here."
The five -- or six, if you counted heads -- figures
came out from the dining area. They were all super-powered
French fries that Freddy had built and brought to life with
the help of a billion jiggy-watts lightning bolt. Each was
a different color and didn't look anything like a human,
so when they weren't working at the Burger Castle, Freddy
had to disguise them with regular clothes, wigs and makeup.
Theodore was an incredibly smart blue crinkle-cut Fry; Ziggy
was a tiny yellow Fry; Si and Meese were skinny, conjoined
red shoestring Fries; Wally was an enormous purple waffle
Fry; and Curly was a green curlicue Fry. The Fries were all
disguised as guys except for Wally, who wore a polka dot dress,
wig and high heels and was known as Wilma in the small town
of Pookesville, where the Funkhousers lived.
When they were at the Burger Castle, though, the Fries wore
no disguises at all. The customers just assumed that the brightly
colored Fries were in costumes because all the Funkhousers
wore funny outfits too: Alfred was a tomato, Nancy was a bottle
of ketchup and Freddy dressed as a chicken and clucked in
greeting to each customer.
"Boy, Mr. F," said a beaming Si, who was always
happy. "That rutabaga meat loaf with a reduction sauce
made out of pansies and candle wax with just a dash of that
thingamastuff you made in your laboratory was a big seller
today. What an aroma. Mm-mm."
Meese, who was always sad, scowled at his twin and said,
"It smelled like elephant poop and gave me a headache."
Alfred replied, "Well, that strong smell halts runny
noses on the spot."
"But we'd sell a lot more of it if you'd
just change the name," said Nancy. "The 'Snot
Stop Special,' isn't really all that appetizing
when you think about it, Dad," she added, rolling her
"That's nice, dear," said her father absently.
At that instant Howie Kapowie came running into the restaurant
waving a piece of paper he was holding. Howie was Freddy's
only friend -- well, his only human friend, anyway.
He was even smaller than Freddy and had rumpled black hair.
"Hey, Freddy, did you see?"
Freddy took the paper and read it while the Fries and Alfred
"Wow," said Freddy. "A science competition."
"With a hundred dollar first prize and your picture in the
Pookesville Tatler newspaper," said Howie. He popped
three cheese cubes in his mouth and chewed slowly while he
fantasized about victory. "Do you realize how many cheese
cubes I could buy with a hundred dollars?"
"Howie," said Freddy, "we can work on a
"That's what I was thinking. I mean after all,
you're the real scientist, but I make a pretty darn
"Hey," bellowed Wally, forgetting he was supposed
to be Wilma. He quickly switched to a girly voice. "I
mean, hey, maybe you can invent some food. Not just any food.
A mountain of food. No, a whole mountain range of food. No,
a whole mountain range of food that keeps growing back even
after you eat it."
As he talked, Wally's eyes grew bigger and bigger and
his butt and belly stretched wider and wider.
Freddy gave him a poke and whispered, "Ix-nay on the purpulis
enormosis thing." Purpulis enormosis was the Latin name
that Theodore had christened Wally with because, well, he
was purple and enormous. And he, like the other Fries, could
morph into virtually anything he wanted to. Nancy watched
this spectacle very suspiciously.
While Howie and Alfred already knew what the Fries really
were, Nancy was still clueless about their origin. Freddy
wanted to keep it that way.
"I hear Adam Spanker's entering the competition,"
"In a battle of brains, I'm not afraid of Adam
Spanker," said Freddy confidently.
Adam Spanker headed up a gang that struck fear into the hearts
of children all over Pookesville. His father, Stewie Spanker,
was the Pookesville police chief, town mayor, and he
owned the Patty Cakes Restaurant. It was hard to say who was
meaner, the father or the son.
"You never know, he can be tricky," warned Howie.
"That's good advice," said Alfred Funkhouser. "Okay, we're
heading home, Freddy. Do you want to ride with us?"
"We'll walk home, Dad," answered Freddy. "It's sort of a
tight fit with Wall- I mean Wilma in the station wagon."
After Nancy and their dad left, Freddy, Howie and the Fries
went into a back room where Freddy took off his chicken costume
and the Fries put on their human clothes. Curly pulled several
baseballs out of his locker and started tossing them in the
air. He entertained the customers at the Burger Castle with
his juggling skills and liked to practice whenever he could.
Wally had put on his high heels and was trying to cram his
dress over his head when he stumbled and bumped into Curly.
"Whoops!" said Wally. The collision sent the
baseballs Curly had been tossing bouncing down a set of steps
leading to the basement. "Sorry, Curly."
"ThanksokayWallyaccidentshappen," mumbled Curly.
He strung all his words together because Freddy had made a
mistake when constructing the green Fry's voice box
and hadn't yet figured out how to fix it.
"I'll go get them." Wally threw his dress
on the floor, rushed down the steps and through an open door
at the bottom. A second later, they heard a big crash.
"Here we go again," said Freddy wearily. Yet
not even Freddy could imagine how much trouble Wally would
be getting them into this time.