Sonia Easton ran a very successful lemonade stand and donated the money she earned from it to the hospital. Encyclopedia and Sally stopped by her stand to cool down on a hot summer day. They stuck around to shoot the shit with Sonia for a while. Sonia talked about how good business was for her that summer, even going so far as to pointing out a stack of cash that she had earned. Things were going so well, she was able to leave town for a week to visit family in Tallahassee. Sally grew concerned and asked why all that money – more than $300 – was lying around and wasn’t in a bank. Sonia explained that a television news crew had been by earlier that day to do a story about her. I suppose the news crew wanted a shot of the cash itself, though I don’t understand why.
While they were hanging out, Bugs Meany appeared. Sonia gave him a scornful glance, saying that he hadn’t bought lemonade from her once, but tried to elbow his way on TV once the news crew showed up.
A bit later, Sonia’s mother came out to tell Sonia to pack the stand up. The two detectives helped her carry her supplies into her house, lock up the stand’s shutters and close the side door. They went on with their day, and Encyclopedia didn’t think about Sonia until he got a strange phone call the next morning.
The caller identified herself as Sonia, though it didn’t really sound like her. In a panicked voice, the caller – I think we all know where this is going, it was Bugs pretending to be Sonia – told Encyclopedia that money had been left in the stand and that it wasn’t safe. The caller said Sally had already been called and that (s)he wanted them to take the money and keep it safe until she returned to town.
Sally and Encyclopedia rushed to the stand and they discovered that “Sonia’s” concern was legitimate. While the front shutters were padlocked shut, there was no lock on the stand’s side door. They opened the door and the money was still inside. When they went inside to retrieve the money, a fisherman’s net fell onto them, trapping the both of them. Then Bugs appeared from behind the stand and yelled for the police. In a stunning coincidence, a patrol car had just happened to pass Sonia’s house at that exact moment. At that point, Encyclopedia realized that he and Sally didn’t get a call from Sonia, it was Bugs pretending to be Sonia.
Bugs told Officer Muldoon his delusional side of the story. Bugs had heard the two detectives plotting to steal the money from the lemonade stand the previous night, so he decided to set a trap to catch them in the act. As far as Bugs was concerned, he “caught them red-handed.” To show that Bugs was the good guy in all of this, he added a dime to the stack of cash that was sitting on the shelf in the stand.
Muldoon had heard enough, and he was about to take the two downtown, but Encyclopedia was able to “prove” that Bugs was lying. And with that, Muldoon took Encyclopedia and Sally to the bank to deposit the money in Sonia’s account.
What was the proof that Encyclopedia had? Bugs had said that they had been “caught red-handed.” For that to have been true, the money would have been on them; either in their hands or their pockets. Since the money was still on the shelf when Bugs added his dime, Encyclopedia and Sally weren’t exactly “caught red-handed.”
Basically, Encyclopedia’s entire argument was whether or not Bugs was using the phrase “caught red-handed” 100% correctly. For them to have been caught red-handed, Encyclopedia or Sally would had to have had already taken some of the money. Since they did not take the money (yet), Bugs used the phrase improperly and therefore his entire version of the story should have been rendered void. That was all Muldoon needed to hear. Apparently, Idaville has a strict rule about semantics; if you witness a crime, but misuse a phrase while reporting it to the police, the suspects get set free.
I don’t understand how Bugs’ misusing this phrase proves anything; especially because Encyclopedia and Sally were there specifically to take the money. Had the net fallen onto them a minute later, Encyclopedia and Sally would have picked up the money, so they really would have been “caught red-handed.”
And was Bugs’ plan really to set up a net, call the two detectives over and then hope the police would show up at the right time? Why didn’t any of this look suspicious to Muldoon? Bugs was claiming that he knew that there was money in this lemonade stand and that he learned of someone’s plan to take the money. Instead of alerting the authorities, or hiding the money from the would-be thieves Bugs decided to play vigilante. Only, not really, because it seemed that big step in the process was to have the police show up. Though, it didn’t seem all that important, because Bugs didn’t actually call the police; he was just lucky that one happened to pass by at the right time.
But the one thing that makes the least sense in this story is how Sonia managed to leave the money in the stand that didn’t lock. First of all, why bother even putting a padlock on the front shutters when there was no way of locking the stand’s side entrance? Secondly, Sonia just completely forgot that she had over $300 sitting out in plain sight in the stand? It wasn’t just Sonia who goofed up; we learned that Encyclopedia and Sally both helped Sonia move supplies from the stand to inside her house. That means that three people were gathering objects and moving them elsewhere, and when almost everything was moved out, they all asked themselves, “Anything else?” did a quick scan of the inside of the booth, saw the money and said, “Nope.”
Even Sally, who just earlier voiced her concern about that much cash being in the booth let that shit go. She didn’t like the idea of $300+ being in the booth while Sonia was there, but $300+ unattended in a small structure that doesn’t even lock? That was fine with her.
And Sonia’s mom let that go as well. Granted, Mrs. Easton could have had taken a hands-off approach to her daughter’s lemonade stand in the good name of giving Sonia a sense of responsibility, but there comes a point where laissez-faire parenting becomes simply negligent. She should have known that her daughter was being interviewed by a television news crew, and she should have known that, because of that interview, her daughter was going to have a lot of cash in the lemonade stand that day. Did Easton just assume that her daughter walked herself to the bank carrying over $300 in cash without telling her?
I’d hate to say it, but between Sonia’s forgetfulness, Sally’s inconsistent concern for Sonia’s money, Encyclopedia’s insane logic and Muldoon’s piss-poor police work, the one character that ended up looking best in this story was Bugs. Yeah, he lied to the police – AGAIN – and pulled his normal bullshit of doing a really bad job at trying to frame Encyclopedia, but he actually ended up accidentally being the good guy in all of this.
Sonia and her mom left town, not giving the cash another thought. Encyclopedia and Sally were off in their own worlds. Although Bugs’ intentions were messed up, he’s the one that alerted the authorities about the money being in the stand, and it was because of him that the money ended up being deposited in Sonia’s bank account.