Read an Excerpt
Weenies on Wheels
"Would you like relish with that?"
I pulled the steel tongs out of my apron pocket and plucked a plump pink wiener out of the steaming vat of water.
"Just a smear of mustard with a few dabs of ketchup," said the businessman, glancing at his watch. "And make it fast, kid."
I rolled my eyes.
It was bad enough that I was standing in the middle of Times Square wearing a stupid wiener-shaped hat and Rollerblades. It was even worse dealing with cranky New Yorkers and picky tourists.
"Here you go, sir. That'll be a dollar twenty-five."
The businessman blinked his eyes. "A dollar twenty-five? When did the price go up?"
My brother Frank pointed at the sign on the side of the street vendor cart. "The price is listed right here, sir," he said with a polite smile. "And it's worth every penny. You can't buy a better hot dog than Weenies on Wheels. We use only the finest meat products. Absolutely no fillers."
I looked at my brother in his dorky hot-dog hat and started laughing. I just couldn't help myself.
The businessman was not amused.
"It's a rip-off, kid."
He thrust the hot dog at me and stormed off.
I looked at Frank and held up the wiener. A thick glob of mustard dripped onto the sidewalk.
My brother scoffed. "After today, I don't think I'll ever eat a hot dog again."
"I'm with you, bro."
I gave him a little shove that sent him rolling backward.
Then someone screamed.
Frank and I spun around on our Rollerblades.
Across the crowded sidewalk, a young woman with long dark hair stood screaming in front of an automated teller machine. She clutched a wad of twenty-dollar bills in her hand and shook her head back and forth.
"No! You can't have it! Get away!"
She struggled against her attackers three teenage boys wearing black knit caps and Rollerblades.
"It's them, Joe," Frank whispered. "The ATM Rollers."
I recognized them instantly from the hidden-camera footage the ATAC team had sent us. The ATM Rollers had been terrorizing New Yorkers for weeks, targeting victims at cash machines in the Times Square area. Our mission was simple: go undercover, blend into the crowd, and keep an eye on the bank machines.
Frank and I were totally psyched about the assignment. It was our chance to hunt down criminals in the streets of New York.
How cool is that?
Then we got a look at the Weenies on Wheels wagon and the ridiculous hot-dog hats we had to wear.
Not so cool.
Hey, at least we were wearing Rollerblades.
And we were ready to roll.
"Freeze!" I yelled across the sidewalk at the thieves. "You're under arrest!"
The boys looked up and saw Frank and me blading toward them.
"Run for it!" shouted the tallest boy.
The three robbers released the girl and took off down the sidewalk.
The chase was on.
Frank and I dug our Rollerblades into the concrete and zoomed off after them. Weaving back and forth, we made our way through a pack of stunned pedestrians. A woman with a baby carriage shrieked as I rolled toward her. With a fast twist, I swerved around them.
And smashed into a guy selling newspapers.
The man toppled backward, tossing an armload of New York Posts up into the air. One of the pages slapped me in the face, blocking my vision. I shook it off as quickly as I could. Then I skidded to a stop and looked around.
Where did they go?
The ATM Rollers were nowhere in sight. I glanced down Broadway, but all I could see was a mob of tourists in a long ticket line.
"Joe! This way!" my brother shouted.
Frank waved at me from across the street. Without skipping a beat, I charged after him right into the middle of traffic.
A yellow cab screeched to a halt. The front fender grazed my knee, almost knocking me down. Then a bearded cab driver stuck his head out the window and started shaking his fist at me.
"You idiot! Watch where you're going!"
"Sorry!" I shouted back.
Cars started beeping their horns at me. Traffic was backed up for blocks. Ducking down, I raced across the street and hopped up onto the sidewalk.
"Come on, Joe!" Frank yelled. "They're getting away!"
He pointed down Broadway. I caught a glimpse of the robbers' black knit caps as they bobbed and weaved through the crowds.
We took off after them.
Side by side we raced past tourists and street vendors, fire hydrants and parking meters, movie theaters and electronics stores. Faster and faster, closer and closer, we zoomed after our targets.
One of the robbers glanced over his shoulder and spotted us. His eyes widened as he realized how close we were. Then he did something that almost stopped us in our tracks.
He spun around and braced himself against a street vendor's table full of New York City souvenirs. With a loud grunt, he flipped the whole thing over.
"Here you go, wieners!" he shouted. "Stop and shop!"
Dozens of souvenirs crashed and clattered across the sidewalk: Manhattan skyline snow globes, Empire State Building thermometers, "I ª NY" T-shirts, and green Statue of Liberty hats.
"Look out!" Frank yelled.
We roller-bladed straight toward the pile of junk at top speed.
"Jump!" I hollered.
Frank and I jumped up, up, and over soaring through the air while onlookers screamed and cheered. The sidewalk was a blur beneath me, and I braced myself for a hard landing.
We made it.
But when I looked up, I saw the robbers skate around the corner onto Forty-second Street and disappear. Frank and I raced after them.
"Where did they go?" my brother asked.
I pointed at the subway entrance.
And took off down the stairs.
"Easy, Joe!" Frank yelled.
It was too late to stop now.
K-thunk, k-thunk, k-thunk!
Our Rollerblades rattled down the stairs, banging hard with each step. I had to grab the handrail a couple of times to keep from bouncing off balance.
A little old lady shrieked as we bobbled past her. She even swung her purse at Frank but missed him.
When we reached the bottom of the stairs, we had to stop to let our eyes adjust to the darkness of the terminal. It didn't take us long to spot the ATM Rollers.
They were jumping the turnstiles and heading for the nearest train platform.
"After them!" Frank shouted.
Easier said than done. It was rush hour, after all, and the place was crawling with commuters. People rushed back and forth, blocking our path.
To make matters worse, I was still holding the hot dog. But I wasn't going to rush something as delicious as a hot dog.
Finally we managed to slip inside one of the exit gates, fighting our way through the crowd like salmon swimming upstream. I had to hold the hot dog against my apron so I wouldn't smear people with mustard and ketchup.
Within seconds we reached the platform.
"There they are," said Frank.
The three roller-bladers stood about fifty feet away, surrounded by the rush hour mob.
"We got them cornered," I said.
But I spoke too soon.
A subway train roared down the track, its brakes screeching as it stopped along the platform. Then the train doors slid open, and people started climbing aboard.
"We're going to lose them," said Frank.
"No, we're not."
I pushed Frank into one of the subway cars. The doors shut behind us, and the train started to move.
"Excuse me, ma'am. Excuse me, sir."
Slowly we crept our way toward the front of the car, careful not to roll across anyone's toes. Suddenly, without warning, the train slammed on its brakes. We rolled and pitched forward, grabbing the handrails for support.
The train pulled in to another stop. The doors slid open, and Frank grabbed my arm.
"They're getting out! Come on!"
I rolled after my brother onto the platform. I could see the ATM Rollers heading for the nearest stairway. We tried to race after them, but they were just too fast.
I was almost ready to give up. The three robbers were too far ahead of us. We'd never catch up.
But I was forgetting something: It's really hard to climb stairs in Rollerblades.
The three boys had to turn their bodies and navigate each step sideways. It was pretty slow going.
And it was our last chance to stop them.
I lifted up the dripping hot dog and hurled it as hard as I could.
It landed with a loud splat on one of the stairs.
And it tripped one of the robbers.
The boy yelped as his foot flew out from under him. Then he collapsed and slid down the stairs.
"Way to go, Joe!"
Frank cheered. Then he reached into his apron and grabbed his metal hot-dog tongs. With a quick toss, he sent the utensil flying through the air. It crashed with a metal clang into the Rollerblades of the second boy, who stumbled and fell.
Two down, one to go.
Frank and I reached the bottom of the stairs and the third thief had almost reached the top. Quickly, I ripped off my Weenies on Wheels apron. Then, swinging it in the air like a lasso, I threw the garment at the guy's left Rollerblade.
The apron strings caught on one of his wheels.
And the boy came tumbling down.
"Nice one, bro," said Frank.
The ATM Rollers lay on the concrete stairs, groaning and rubbing their bruises.
Frank and I looked up. A pair of transit cops stood at the top of the stairs. One of them pointed at the fallen roller-bladers.
"Look! It's the ATM Rollers!" he said to his partner.
The two cops reached for their handcuffs and started helping the boys to their feet.
Frank nudged me with his arm. "Let's get out of here before they start asking questions."
Then, spinning around, we zoomed off down the platform. It was time to call the ATAC team and give them our report.
But there was still one thing we had to do first: dump our dopey hot-dog hats into the nearest trash can. Copyright © 2006 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.