“There was not a murder in this house,” Father finally said.
“I just read about it!” I cried. “In the newspaper over at the library.”
“Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper,” laughed Father, who wrote for a newspaper.
I just stared at him. I couldn’t believe he was making a joke out of this.
“Okay,” he said finally, “the first reports were that he had been murdered—”
“And then later the investigators found out it was a suicide.”
“A suicide? But what about the marks on his neck? The impressions of fingers on his throat?”
“Self-inflicted,” said Father. “He wanted it to look like a murder. It was, I guess, his ‘last laugh’ on the community.”
“Well, there was probably another reason, too. In those days insurance companies didn’t pay life insurance claims on suicides, so maybe he was just trying to make sure that his family would get his insurance money.”
When I saw Gil in the hall at school on Monday, I told him what Father had said.
“Well,” he said, “I guess you shouldn’t stop doing research just because you find something interesting.” He seemed to think for just a moment. “It was a better story when it was a murder,” he said. “But I guess I can understand a suicide.”
“Sure. Can’t you?” His blue eyes blazed.
“I’ve got some great news,” said Mr. Gisborne in science class that afternoon.
I waited to hear some news from the world of football—the only world Mr. Gisborne had ever really seemed very interested in.
“About the science fair,” he continued.
There were groans and muttered complaints from around the room.
“No,” said Mr. Gisborne, “I know you’re going to like this.”
The class settled down just a bit.
“The Parent-Teacher Organization has decided to offer a great incentive for you to do your best.”
We waited in doubtful silence.
“For everyone who receives a ‘Superior’ rating at the fair,” said Mr. Gisborne, “there’s going to be a special field trip.”
“Where to? McDonald’s?” I heard a voice shout from the back of the room.
“McDonald’s? Well, I suppose there’s a McDonald’s there.”
“Where?” came a chorus of voices.
“At Niagara Falls.”