Authors: Chelsea Cain
Tags: #Fiction, #General
Confessions of a
A Parody by
Illustrations by Lia Miternique
For Frank Hardy
Nunc scio quit sit amor.
f you are reading this, then I am gone and this manuscript, per my instruction, has been delivered to the writer Chelsea
Cain for publication as she sees fit. I chose Ms. Cain as my editor based on the merits of her four-volume Trixie Belden biography,
which won the National Book Award last year.
As many of you know me only as a character in a series of books written by a former friend of mine named Carolyn Keene, let
me make one thing clear: Carolyn Keene used my name without my permission and made a career for herself telling stories of
my adventures, many of which were fraught with error and some of which were patently false.
Why did I wait all these years to come forward? Of course I wrote Carolyn's publisher, but they insisted that I was a fictional
character developed by a think tank and written by a confederate of writers led by Edward Stratemeyer and that Carolyn Keene
didn't exist! Defeated, I watched as Carolyn made a name for herself pillaging my life's work.
I feared that if I revealed myself, details might come to light that could embarrass my husband and child. I have lived with
that fear too long and have come to understand that the truth must be known regardless of its consequences. And so it is only
now, in the twilight of my life, that I feel that it is time to set the record straight.
River Heights, Illinois
eaders of Carolyn Keene's version of my life's events may be surprised to learn that Ned Nickerson was not the love
of my life. In fact, my heart belonged to another. I first met Frank Hardy in the summer of 1925. He and his younger brother,
Joe, had come to town from Bayport, New Jersey, on the trail of a missing waitress. I was walking out of Jackson's Drug Store
when I saw them pull up on their red Indian Scout motorcycles. Even soiled from their five-day journey, they were both striking.
Frank was wearing khaki pants, a collared shirt, and a maroon sweater. Joe was wearing the same clothes, only his sweater
was blue. They even had the same haircut, though Frank's hair was darker. Yet to me they could not have been more different.
I could tell immediately that Frank was the older, more experienced of the two brothers. He held himself taller and walked
with the subtle swagger of a boy older than his seventeen years. I approached them—they had parked their Scouts in a no-parking
zone—and soon found myself swept up in their mystery. We found their missing waitress working the morning shift at Oscar Peterson's
Bakery, and the two soon returned to Bayport. I never thought I'd see Frank again. Until that next summer when the doorbell
I had just solved the Mystery at Lilac Inn and was unpacking my tasteful blue luggage when I heard our housekeeper, Hannah
Gruen, answer the door. Hannah was only in her midthirties then, though a youth spent smoking unfiltered Luckys had aged her
prematurely. She wore her fair hair in a bun and her skirts long, though I had seen her more than once leave the house in
trousers when my father was away on business. Curious as to the identity of our visitor, I craned to look around the upstairs
corner and saw the back of Frank's head as Hannah took his coat. My heart leapt in my chest.
I smoothed my stylish coif, adjusted my loose knit jacket, and went downstairs.
"Frank," I announced maturely. "How good to see you again."
I extended my hand, and Frank took it, grinning.
"Nancy," he responded. "It's a pleasure. It's good to see you looking as slim and attractive as always." Then his face grew
grave. "But enough pleasantries. I'm here because something has happened to Joe and I need your help."
I nodded solemnly, but even as I did my heart swelled. He needed my help. Of all the teen sleuths he knew (and rumor was he
knew plenty), he had come to me.
Before we could say another word, the doorbell rang again. Hannah answered it. She turned to me, her cheeks flushed with excitement.
"Nancy!" she gasped. "It's a letter for you. Special delivery!"
Hannah Gruen and Frank Hardy gathered around me as I opened the mysterious letter that had just arrived.
"Who's it from?" asked the housekeeper.
"I don't know," I answered. "There's no return address." I opened the letter carefully so as not to destroy any clues. Inside
was a typewritten note:
"STAY OUT OF IT," the note warned.
I looked up at Frank, who stood gazing intently at the letter. "Maybe you had better tell me a little more about what happened
to Joe," I told him.
Hannah went to the kitchen to make tea while Frank and I sat in the living room, the typed note on the coffee table between
"Joe has been penning mash notes to Helen Corning for months. She finally agreed to meet him if he came to River Heights,"
Frank explained glumly. (Helen was three years older than I so had already graduated from R.H. High and was in heady pursuit
of a husband.) "But she had to cancel at the last minute," Frank continued. "I called Jake's Ice Cream Parlor where they were
supposed to rendezvous, and Jake said that Joe waited for an hour and then left. This was two days ago, and he has yet to
I folded my hands neatly in my lap. "Is he a drinker?" Frank shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "He likes to bend an elbow
from time to time."
We locked eyes. I could feel a warm rush of passion swell in my bosom. "We'll find him," I told Frank breathlessly. "We'll
find your brother Joe." I stood up and reached for my expensive camel hair coat, cloche hat, and aviator goggles. "Come on,"
I exclaimed, looking back at Frank. "There's only one place to get an illicit drink in this town: The Green Jade Cafe. We
haven't a moment to lose!"
Frank and I sped along the country road in my custom blue Ford Roadster. We had just passed Riverside Park and the Bridle
Path when I heard a piercing scream.
I froze behind the wheel. Had I inadvertently hit someone again? The judge had let me off the first time, but a second would
be manslaughter for sure! My heart pounded in fright as I opened the car door to step out.
At that instant a shadowy figure arose from a pile of hay nearby. The attractive young man was wearing a full-length raccoon
coat, popular in those days with the college set. "Hi, Nancy," the young man greeted me bashfully.
I removed my goggles. "Ned?"
"You know this fellow?" asked Frank.
"Yes," I pouted. "Ned, what are you doing here? Are you following me again?"
Ned looked at his shoes. "I was just worried about you," he muttered. "I phoned and Mrs. Gruen told me what was going on.
I figured you were headed to the Green Jade Cafe so I thought I'd beat you there. But then my scooter ran out of gas. I was
hiding in the hay pile when a chicken startled me. That's when you drove up."
"Who is this cat?" Frank asked me.
Ned stood up a little. "I'm her special friend," he explained.
"Omega Chi Epsilon."
Frank looked at me questioningly. I shrugged.
A few minutes later Ned had strapped his scooter to my trunk and the three of us were racing toward our destination.
The Green Jade Cafe was in Dockville, a slum area near the Muskoka, the river that divides my hometown. A tributary of the
Mississippi, the Muskoka of my youth was still crystal clear and I cruised it often as a member of the River Heights Yacht
Club. Of course these days most people know the Muskoka as one of the first EPA Super fund cleanup sites in the 1980s.
"You know this fellow?" asked Frank.
The pavement in Dockville was poor, and there were rows upon rows of tenement houses punctuated by fortune-tellers and thrift
shops. The residents were mostly domestic workers, recent immigrants, petty criminals, and others down on their luck. This
was an area rarely mentioned in the River Heights
(Unlike my own exploits, which were often front-page news. With photos.)
We arrived at the Green Jade Cafe only to find it closed. As it was early evening on a weekday, using my detective prowess,
I deduced that this was suspicious.
"I guess we should just go home," suggested Ned.
But peering through the glass front door, I thought I caught the sight of movement. I tried the door. It opened.
"Nancy!" Ned gasped.
I took a step inside. Frank followed. Ned followed behind Frank.
The Green Jade Cafe was a speakeasy that specialized in plying patrons with fraudulent palm readings once they had imbibed
several ounces of malt whiskey. Everyone knew it existed, including Chief McGinnis, but it was allowed to operate due to the
protection of several members of the city council.
Inside, the walls were painted emerald green, and a dark wooden bar loomed huge on one wall. Several chairs were scattered
on the floor.
"There's been a fight!" reported Frank.
"Shh!" I ordered. "Listen!"
From deep inside the cafe came a distant moan.
"Jiminy crickets!" exclaimed Ned.
The three of us moved through the cafe toward the faint groaning noise coming from what seemed to be the kitchen area.
"There!" Frank cried, pointing to a closet at the back of the room. "The noise seems to be coming from behind that door!"
Putting my finger over my lips, I reached toward the doorknob and turned it. It was locked. I took off my hat, pulled a bobby
pin from my smart hairdo and, kneeling in my slimming skirt, quickly and expertly picked the closet lock. Then I stood, took
a step back, and opened the door.
A fair-haired young man was curled at the bottom of the closet, his arms and legs bound and a handkerchief tied across his
"Joe!" wept Frank. He quickly cut the cords that bound his brother and lifted him out of the closet, trembling, into his arms.
My momentary fright gone, I let my guard down. It was a split second later that I felt the blanket come down over my head
and wrap tightly around me.
I screamed and struggled as my assailant attempted to drag me backward toward an uncertain fate. I could hear a scuffle and
assumed that the boys were facing similar assaults.
My arms were pinned underneath the blanket, and I could feel my attacker's arms wrapped snuggly around my waist, holding the
blanket and my own arms in place. Unable to free myself, I bent my knees and flailed my legs in hopes of making contact. I
screamed again and a hand wrapped tightly over my mouth. Suddenly my senses were overcome with a strong odor. Chloroform,
I thought. Then I blacked out.
I awoke in a small dimly lit room that I identified immediately as a pantry of some sort. I instantly deduced that I was most
likely still in the Green Jade Cafe. My head throbbed, my tongue felt heavy, and my titian hair was mussed, but I was not
restrained. I sat up.
"Nancy, are you okay?" asked a voice in the corner.
It was Frank.
"I think so," I answered steadily. "Where are the others?"
"I don't know," he sighed glumly. "I woke up in here."
I got up and tried the door. It was locked. I fumbled for a bobby pin. They were all gone! My hair was completely undone!
I slunk over to Frank and sat down beside him.
"So who's this Ned person?" he asked.
"Oh, we've dated forever," I sighed. "He goes to Emerson. I'm always having to get him out of jams. You know, kidnapping,
quicksand, wild dogs. But he's dark haired and handsome, and he's captain of the football team."
"But do you love him?"
"I love rescuing him when he's been taken prisoner."
Frank was very near me now, and I could feel my heart race at his proximity. I cleared my throat.
"And you? Do you have a girlfriend?" I asked.
He smiled. "No one serious," he answered with a twinkle in his eye.
The he reached his hand behind my head, firmly pulled me toward him, and kissed me.
It was a full hour later when I noticed the ventilator duct above our heads.
"Frank!" I exclaimed, adjusting my blouse. "Look at that! Lift me up, and I bet I'll be able to climb out and open the door."
Frank lifted me by my hips, and I was able to reach up to the vent, remove the grate, and pull myself into the small square
duct. I shimmied several feet and found myself at another vent that exited into the kitchen of the Green Jade Cafe. After
ascertaining that the coast was clear, I carefully lowered myself to the floor and, retracing my route through the duct, found
the pantry where Frank and I had been held captive. The key was in the lock! Within moments, Frank was free and we set out
to find the others.
We found them tied to chairs in a back room behind the kitchen. They were dressed in striped shirts and wool pants, the sailor
outfits of the day. Their captors, two mustachioed gentlemen with tattooed forearms and large gold hoop earrings in one ear,
hovered over them, scowling. "Gypsy pirates," I mouthed to Frank.
Joe and Ned were being shanghaied!
Without thought to my own personal safety, I rushed in and karate-chopped one of the pirates firmly across the back of the
neck. He fell to the ground with a thud. Frank, a few steps behind me, socked the other pirate across the jaw. The pirate
stumbled for a moment and then also fell to the floor, unconscious.
Frank and I quickly untied the boys.
"Oh, Ned!" I cried, throwing my arms around him.
"They were going to sell us to a riverboat captain," cried Joe. "He was going to take us to New Orleans and then send us on
a ship to the Orient! I came here to get a drink after Helen Corning stood me up, and the next thing I knew I was in that
closet where you found me!"
"Helen didn't stand you up," explained Frank gently. "Her great-aunt Rosemary was taken ill. She called, but you didn't
get the message."
Joe looked chagrined.
Ned gaped at me gratefully, his eyes wet. "You saved me," he cried.
One of the pirates stirred on the floor.
"I'd better call Chief McGinnis," I exclaimed, heading toward the phone behind the bar.
Ten minutes later the chief and several of River Heights's finest were milling around the cafe, and the pirates were in custody.
"Nancy, you're a hero," declared Chief McGinnis. "You broke up a massive shanghai operation."
"I had plenty of help," I replied, glancing over at Frank. "I'm just happy that we could make a difference."
"What about the note?" Ned asked.
"The pirates must have found out that Frank was coming to town to look for Joe. They sent the note to my house to try to intimidate
us," I explained.
"Fat chance," Ned declared adoringly.
I walked over to where Frank was standing. "I guess we did it," I told him.
His brown eyes bored deeply into mine, and I felt my pulse quicken. "Bayport is a bit of a hoof, but I have to say I like
the cut of your jib."
I glanced over at Ned talking to the chief. "Ned needs me,"
I explained. Then I hugged Frank. "We'll meet again," I whispered into his ear.
And we did.