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Authors: Richard Peck

Dreamland Lake

BOOK: Dreamland Lake
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The face of death

I heard Flip say, “Shoes . . . a pair of shoes.” He was standing still, ankle-deep in the leaves. Before I caught up with him, he’d whirled around facing me. “Behind me,” he said in a funny, tight voice. I couldn’t figure out what had come over him. “Come on,” he said, “we’re getting out of here.” But he didn’t move. And neither did I.

He was swallowing air fast and breathing, “Jesus, oh Jesus.” I looked past him and saw a pair of shoes sticking up out of the leaves at a funny, splayfooted angle. They were leaf-colored and round-toed like old construction boots. They didn’t make any sense to me. I kept staring while Flip kind of half turned and tried to get another look out of the corner of his eye. Underneath the leaves, past the shoes, I saw what looked like a pile of old clothes. And farther up something else, something shiny.

There was a breeze that whisked the leaves around a little. I was staring at the shiny place, and then right away, I was looking at a grin. A big, yawning grin right down on ground level and a black eye socket. A leaf was over the other one. And some hair on the clean, white bone of a skull’s forehead . . .

OTHER BOOKS BY RICHARD PECK

Amanda/Miranda

Are You in the House Alone?

Father Figure

The Ghost Belonged to Me

The Great Interactive Dream Machine

A Long Way from Chicago

Lost in Cyberspace

Strays Like Us

The verse on
page 67
is entitled

“Frankenstein by Mary W. Shelley”

from
SHRINKLETS
by Maurice Sagoff.

Copyright © 1970 by Maurice Sagoff.

Reprinted by permission of Doubleday & Company, Inc.

The poem on
pages 131

132
is entitled “The High School Band.” Reprinted with permission of The Macmillan Company from
THE SELF-MADE MAN AND OTHER POEMS
by Reed Whittemore. © Reed Whittemore 1959.

PUFFIN BOOKS

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane, London W8 5TZ, England

Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia

Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2

Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road, Auckland 10, New Zealand

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England

First published in the United States of America by Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1973

Published by Puffin Books,

a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2000

Copyright © Richard Peck, 1973

All rights reserved

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA

Peck, Richard, date

Dreamland Lake / Richard Peck.

    p.  cm.

Summary: Best friends since grade school, thirteen-year-old Flip and Brian find that their friendship and their lives are forever changed after they discover a dead man near Dreamland Lake.

ISBN: 978-1-101-66433-9

[1. Mystery and detective stories. 2. Friendship—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.P338 Dr 2000 [Fic]—dc21 99-055400

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

Version_1

For Mary Jane
and Curt Crotty

Table of Contents

Spring

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Summer

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fall

Fourteen

Fifteen

About the Author

Spring
One

There was a dead man in the weeds up at the woodsy end of Dreamland Lake. He’d been there the better part of the winter, freezing and thawing like the lake. But, by the end of March, the trees were beginning to leaf out. The little creek that fed into the lake was almost at flood tide, which meant you had to take a running jump to clear it. The crocuses were up—purple and yellow—and the violets were on the way.

If you had all morning, you could count every tree in it, so it isn’t a real woods. Any more than Dreamland Lake is a real lake. Nowadays, people call it the
duck pond. There isn’t much you can do with it except feed the ducks. And nobody does that except the Park Department and a few little kids with bread crumbs who only come there in the summer.

Some of the old-timers around here, like Mrs. Garrison, still call the place Dreamland Park because they remember it from way back. The days when it was right out in the country. A mile from the city limits, with a streetcar track that had a turnaround at the gates. It was an amusement park in those days—with a dance palace the Baptists closed, and a race track the county closed, and a roller coaster that swooped right down level with the lake. The roller coaster had the quickest end of all. It caught fire one night in 1922 and burned right down to the water. But by then, there wasn’t much amusement park left so the fire chief let it burn itself out.

Then later, the town grew out in that direction, took the land for back taxes, and turned it into a regular city park named Marquette Park. They cleaned it up, put in picnic tables, and turned the dance palace into a clubhouse for the tennis players. And they put mallards and teals and a pair of swans in Dreamland Lake. But they left the woods up at the end of it. And a half century after the roller coaster burned, that was where Flip and I found the dead man.

I’m writing all this down pretty much like it happened. If some of it sounds like a murder mystery or something, remember, it isn’t. But that’s the way Flip and I saw it at the time. Mainly because we wanted to, I guess. And partly because somebody else wanted us to. Nobody killed the dead man as far as I know. He probably didn’t have an enemy in the world—or a friend, for that matter. We never thought about
him as being alive, ever. It was the death angle that got to us.

We were on this local history kick. Flip hated English, but he loved looking things up. He was just going into his amateur photography phase, so books on How to Build Your Own Home Dark Room drew him to the Coolidge Middle School library. It was the first good library we had entrance to. The grade school one was mainly full of dog stories by Albert Payson Terhune. And we’d been barred from the public library downtown since the time we dropped the persimmons down the stairwell and they splattered all over the Reserved Books desk. That was in fifth grade, but librarians remember.

So Flip came across this book in the school library and got wrapped up in local history. Like I said, he went through these phases, and I used to go through most of them with him. I used to, a couple of years ago, when we were kind of a team. But that was a couple of years ago. We aren’t a team anymore, and I guess that’s why I’m telling this story.

He came racing up to the bike rack after school one day waving an old, dusty, brown book. It was
A Centennial History of the City of Dunthorpe, Black Hawk County, and Environs
by one Estella Winkler Bates.

“Can you believe it?” Flip said. “Somebody wrote a book just about this county. And look, nobody’s checked it out since 1952. This is a real, undiscovered find!”

We hunkered down right there, with our backs against the bike rack, and started in to find out how Estella Winkler Bates had managed to fill three hundred and two pages with nothing but local history.

The title page said that the book was in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the first settlement. They had this big celebration back in 1929 which inspired Estella Winkler Bates to sit down and write a Cultural and Economic History. Across from the first page was a photograph of the Centennial Pageant. It showed a lot of old-fashioned, flapper-looking girls wrapped in the American flag hanging onto an old, open Buick and holding up a big banner that said:

1829—1929
A CENTURY OF GREATNESS

After that, the going was uphill because the Bates style was heavy. It seems they held the celebration in the fall of 1929 because she started out,

In this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, we point with particular pride to the pioneer perseverance that brought this metropolis of the plains and the verdure of its surrounding loam out of the rough lawlessness and the unbroken sod of its primeval period. We point, too, ahead to yet another century of promise and perpetual progress—we have come from the Conestoga Wagon to the modern automobile. From the Pony Express to the modern aeroplane and dirigible. From the. . . .

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