The On-Going,
Insanely Exciting Adventures of the Apple Valley High Gang

(Co-Starring Tobi,
the Wondrous Sleuth Dog)

Volume 1 (of 36): Free Mumia!

(Originally appeared on The Freedonian, August 21 2002)

AT THE BANANA HUT . . .

It was Friday afternoon and Cindi was once again in love.

“I’m in love,” said Cindi, softly. “I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love.”

“Really?” asked Dani sarcastically. She took a bite from a french fry and then continued: “Who is it this time? Johnny? Billy? Or how about Ricky? Take your pick!” She rolled her eyes and then absent-mindedly took a sip from her strawberry milkshake.

Tobi the sleuth dog, who had previously been asleep on the floor, suddenly awoke with a loud bark. He, too, knew Cindi’s history with men and couldn’t help but get in his own two cents. He then fell back asleep.

“None of the above!” answered Cindi. “It’s a . . . secret.”

The Apple Valley Gang, not counting Cindi, gave each other a knowing look, and then went back to their meals. School had just let out for the day, but a lot of things were still on their minds. Like what present to buy for Mr. Charles, Apple Valley High’s janitor, for his 30th birthday. Or what yummy dish to prepare for the charity dinner being thrown by the Apple Valley Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, a most worthy cause to be sure. But this? Forget about it. Like all of Cindi’s numerous crushes, this one would most likely fade . . . more quickly than Cindi probably realized.

“Can you spare all of us the suspense?” asked Sylvia, chewing grape bubblegum, as always.

Cindi thought for a short while and then sighed. “I suppose it’s no use, you’ll all find out soon enough anyway. So here goes: It’s Mumia.”

Just one name was all it took. The Apple Valley Gang groaned. Mumia? Why not pick the President of the United States or the Richest Man in the Universe? First of all, Mumia was an absolute perfect dreamboat. Secondly, he was already taken . . . he just had to be. Right?

Cindi pushed her long flowing red hair off her shoulders. Her gorgeous green eyes sparkled, and she let out a shy laugh.

“I . . . just can’t get him off my mind,” she said, poking at her pile of mashed potatoes with her fork. “What can I really say—”

“That you’re acting silly?” interjected Rachelle, between bites of apple pie and vanilla ice cream. “That there’s not a chance in Apple Valley that you’ll ever meet, let alone date, this gorgeous human being?”

Rachelle was just being honest. Within the group, she was known as the honest one. Sometimes too honest. The previous summer, while on vacation, Rachelle had inadvertently come across a pile of incriminating papers belonging to her father, a fireman. Although it had been an extremely difficult decision, Rachelle had immediately turned the papers over to a judge. Her father was subsequently arrested and three years later was still languishing in a prison somewhere in Hawaii. [Apple Valley High #13: Fire, Fire, Burning Bright.]

“She’s right,” interjected Dani, smiling. Her smile was warm and large. Over the years, it had melted many a young man’s heart, including, but not limited to, Rudolf Giuseppe, the handsome, eldest son of an Italian count. Dani had fallen madly, head-over-heels in love with Rudolf, but Rudolf had died tragically in a Jet-Ski accident a few hours after they had met, thus dashing any hope that Dani might have had for the perfect prom. And that had been that. Until a few hours later when she had met “Magic” Alex Shoumanoff, the gorgeous, brilliant son of a world-famous German opera singer. [Apple Valley High #26: Le Dreams.]

Cindi, now slightly irritated by her friend’s behavior, continued: “I need your help because it seems that Mumia needs our help.” She rushed the words out, as if in a great hurry.

“What sort of help?” asked Sylvia, blowing a huge bubble.

“Yeah,” asked Rachelle, “what sort of help could Mumia possibly need from us, the Apple Valley High Gang?”

Cindi paused, and then exclaimed: “Why don’t we just let Mumia tell us for himself?”

Sylvia let out a small gasp. As did Sara, Rachelle and Dani.

“T-t-t-talk to him?” stuttered Sylvia. “N-n-n-now?”

“Sure,” said Cindi. “If not now, when?”

“Um, okay,” replied Sylvia, nervously. “If you say so.”

“But we have to wait for him to call us,” said Cindi. “Which he will. In exactly: five seconds . . . four seconds . . . three seconds . . . two seconds . . . one!”

With that, Cindi’s pink cell phone began to ring. “Hello?” Cindy answered excitedly. “Is that you, Mumia? I’m going to put you on the special speaker-phone.” Cindi pressed the “speaker-phone” button and Mumia could now be heard, his voice ringing loud and clear throughout the Banana Hut:

“Am I talking to the Apple Valley Gang? Are you all there?”

“Yes!” said the Apple Valley Gang in unison. “We’re all here!”

“Dynamite,” said Mumia, confidently. “Ladies, my name is Mumia and I am in a hint of trouble. Unfortunately, I am in no position to explain. But please, Apple Valley Gang, you must trust me on this one. Do you think that you can trust me?”

Cindi looked over to Sylvia, who looked over to Sarah, who looked over Dani, who then looked over to Rachelle. All five nodded their heads in unison. Tobi the sleuth dog, feeling slightly left out, awoke with a start and began to bark, loudly and with force. He had never met Mumia, but if he had, he would have most definitely taken an instant shine to him.

“Yes!” they all proclaimed. “We can trust you!”

“Super,” replied Mumia, his voice full and husky. “I need the Apple Valley Gang to do a bit of sleuthing.”

“Sleuthing?” asked Dani, intrigued. “Tell us more.”

“Look for the Whitey,” replied Mumia. “The Blue-Eyed Peckerwood with that look in his eye that says ‘You are going down. You are going away for good.’ Look for the Hay Eater. The Georgia Cracker who stole my life and left me here to rot. The Frosted Devil who holds the pristine bullet that was stolen from the side of the road. The Bloated Marshmallow who took that bullet and shot me right through the heart. And the Pink-Faced Charlie who laughs heartily at my misfortune. I need them all found. Apple Valley Gang, do you think that you can do that?” [My Thoughts, by Mumia Abu-Jamal, S.C.I. Greene Prison Press, Volume 14]

“The Peckerwood?” asked Dani, inquisitively.

“Yes,” said Mumia.

“The Bloated Marshmallow?” asked Cindi, curiously.

“That’s correct,” said Mumia.

“The Georgia Cracker?” asked Rachelle, perplexed.

“Bingo. And the Frosted Devil,” said Mumia. “Find them all. Do it for Mumia. It’s glorious to have you all on my side!”

Sylvia blushed. She imagined Mumia’s handsome African-American face lighting up as he said this. Perhaps Cindi wasn’t so crazy after all, she thought. Perhaps not so crazy in the least. And, in fact, perhaps she, too, was beginning to come down with a slight crush on this sexy, mysterious man. What was it about him? His wondrous smile? His charming phone manners? Sylvia did not know for sure, and yet she also did not care. She and the rest of the Gang had their work cut out for them. And it was high-time that they got busy . . .

“And we’re happy to have you on our side,” said Cindy. “We think you’re amazing!”

“Fabulous,” said Mumia. A few years earlier, while living in a small town in a different state, he had been involved in a similar sticky situation. Another group of crime-busting teenagers had worked their sleuthing magic and, subsequently, the case had been solved just in time for the annual Cowboy Hoe Down and Chili Fest. That experience had been an absolute joy. And Mumia knew that this one would be, too. [Happy Ranch High #2: Coconut Cream Dreams.]

“So let’s plan on meeting up later,” Mumia continued. “Perhaps in time for the dinner being thrown by the Apple Valley Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Associationâ„¢, a most worthy cause to be sure!”

“That sounds fantastic, Mumia! Talk to you later!” exclaimed Cindi. She pressed the “off” button on her pink cell phone and smiled.

“Now do you understand?” Cindi asked, positively glowing. “Isn’t he just the most?”

“Is he ever!” exclaimed Sara, standing up from the table. “Let’s get sleuthing. For Mumia!”

The rest of the Apple Valley High Gang stood up from the table. Tobi, the wondrous sleuth dog, also stood up. He knew it was time to go and he was growing very happy. Sylvia placed a miniature baseball cap onto his head, and he barked joyfully. This was all very exciting.

“To us!” screamed all five in unison, as they joined their hands together and then lifted them high into the air. “And to Mumia!”

Let the sleuthing begin!

Next:

Volume 2 (of 36): “At the Haunted House . . .”

Mumia Vital Statistics:

BIRTHPLACE . . . . Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
BIRTHDATE . . . . September 28
SIGN . . . . Taurus
HEIGHT . . . . 6’1″
WEIGHT . . . . 170 lbs.
HAIR . . . . Brown
EYES . . . . Brown
SMILE . . . Wide!