Phineas Cole called Encyclopedia and asked him to come to the First Church Summer Carnival as a preventative measure. He was expecting some sort of trouble from the Tigers, though he didn’t know in what form.
First a little background information. Phineas runs the “Be Your Own Dentist” booth. For two tickets, children with a loose tooth try their luck at the game AND have their tooth removed. The child ties a string around the loose tooth on one end and at the other end is a pool cue. The child shoots the cue ball and tries to get the 8-ball into one of the pockets. If the child gets it in, they get a prize. If not, well then they can take solace in the fact that their loose tooth is out, which means a visit from the tooth fairy.
I have a few problems with the “Be Your Own Dentist” game. First off, that just sounds all sorts of unsanitary. Even if it’s a new piece of string each time, no one knows where that string has been. Secondly, there’s no guarantee that the tooth will actually be pulled out. Third, and most important, this booth has a very limited customer base – children (actually, anyone) with a loose tooth. That’s like running a game that can only be played by people name Leroy. The goal for the booth is maximize the number of tickets they get, but this one keeps to a specific market, thereby drastically cutting down on the ticket income.
When Encyclopedia and Sally got to the booth, they watched a girl try for a prize. She concentrated on the ball, but at the last second, she lost her concentration and missed.
Phineas reminded Encyclopedia of what Bugs had done the previous year. Apparently, he stood by the booth and sold fake painkillers for a dime each to the children about to play the game. Though the pills were fake, it made the children not worry about the pain of having the tooth pulled out, which meant that they were more likely to win.
Actually, I’d really have to hand it to Bugs. That’s a pretty smart idea. In fact, I have less of a problem with Bugs selling the fake pills than I do with Phineas. In telling that story, Phineas was admitting how unfair the game was because it plays on the players’ fear of pain. Bugs just took that fear away, made a little money doing so and he did so without stealing. Yes, he was fraudulently selling the children something, but in the end, most of the children who bought the pills walked away with a prize.
Bugs was eventually escorted away from the booth that year, and he wanted revenge the following year. At around the time of the carnival, the Tigers had an opening. The buzz around town was that the boy who did something to Phineas without getting caught would be in the Tigers.
As Phineas was telling this story, a parade of children in costumes walked down the pathway between the lines of booths. All of them were wearing some sort of costume. The parade was to build interest in the amateur talent contest later that day, though some of the children in the parade were expected to lose their nerve and not audition.
All of them seemed to have been sporting some sort of minor injury, as well. Kitty Bly, the ballerina, had a bandaged leg. Hank Ives, the magician, had a cut from his elbow to the bottom of his sleeve. Ted Carter, the hog caller, had his arm in a sling. You get the idea.
Phineas explained that earlier that day, the office tent collapsed unexpectedly when all of the parade participants were meeting there. Tent collapsing plus injured children sounds like a lawsuit to me, but whatever.
As the parade was going by, Mrs. Garcia, the carnival chairwoman, called Phineas. She told him that a roll of tickets was missing and that she had just received a call from someone claiming that they saw him steal the tickets. Phineas denied the accusation, but Garcia found the roll hidden in the pool table.
This was obviously the work of someone trying to get into the Tigers, but who?
Encyclopedia theorized that it was Hank Ives. To him, it was clear that Hank caused the tent to collapse, stole the tickets while everyone was distracted and hid the tickets in the pool table while Phineas was helping with the downed tent. Why Hank? Encyclopedia reasoned that a magician hides things in his sleeves for his act, but Hank was wearing short sleeves. So Hank was going to pose as a magician to get into the tent, but then not audition of the show.
I do not think there is enough evidence to accuse Hank, just because he’s a magician who wears short sleeves. There are plenty of tricks a magician can perform without pulling things out of their sleeves. I think there would be a terrible injustice in Idaville if this got pinned on Hank based on that alone. Encyclopedia should be ashamed of himself.