Authors: Gary Paulsen
OTHER YEARLING BOOKS YOU WILL ENJOY
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, Gary Paulsen
THE BOY WHO OWNED THE SCHOOL
HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS
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Robert Kimmel Smith
Robert Kimmel Smith
YEARLING BOOKS/YOUNG YEARLINGS/YEARLING CLASSICS
are designed especially to entertain and enlighten young people. Patricia Reilly Giff, consultant to this series, received her bachelor’s degree from Mary-mount College and a master’s degree in history from St. John’s University. She holds a Professional Diploma in Reading and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University. She was a teacher and reading consultant for many years, and is the author of numerous books for young readers.
For a complete listing of all Yearling titles,
write to Dell Readers Service,
P.O. Box 1045, South Holland, IL 60473.
a division of
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
New York, New York 10036
Copyright © 1994 by Gary Paulsen
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.
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is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
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Duncan—Dunc—Culpepper was marking the floor in Amos’s hallway with pieces of white tape.
“That was your best run yet. You went three feet, four and three quarter inches farther than the last time,” Dunc said.
They had put together a ramp on the staircase with some plywood they found in the garage. Amos was riding his dad’s leather office chair, the new one with six wheels, down the ramp and out to the hall.
Dunc was conducting an experiment on forward momentum. And he also had this thing about breaking records. He timed
each of the runs and marked the exact stopping point with a piece of tape.
Amos was at the top of the stairs. He pushed off with one foot and started rolling. He picked up speed. Everything around him was a complete blur.
Then the phone rang.
Amos’s ears shot out like radar.
If Amos was within a two-mile radius of a ringing phone, he would try to answer it. He knew it was Melissa Hansen trying to call him.
Amos worshiped Melissa. He would have given anything if she would notice him. She never did. He was invisible to her. Once at school she hung her windbreaker on his ear, thinking he was the coat rack.
Dunc knew about Amos’s problem with phones. He jumped out of the way just in time.
Amos came barreling down the ramp headed for the hall phone. His brain calculated the hall phone to be exactly seven point three centimeters from his fingertips. He made a try for the phone with his left hand.
The chair came up on two wheels. It wobbled and came back down. He still might have been okay.
Except for the dog.
Scruff, his dog, chose that exact moment to run in from the living room. The chair hit the dog and tipped forward. It was like launching a missile.
Amos hit the front door headfirst.
When Dunc got to him, pieces of the door were everywhere. Amos’s head and shoulders had gone completely through. Scruff was growling and gnawing on one of Amos’s legs.
Dunc swung the door open so he could talk to him. “I got the phone for you. Your parents are going to be late. Someone stole their car stereo. They’re at the police station. Your mom wants you to start dinner.”
Amos was trying to shake the dog off of his leg and work his way out the door. He looked up at Dunc. “Unless you’re busy—or doing something else—
get me out of here.
Dunc grabbed him by his feet and pulled.
Amos fell out on the floor. He was a mass of splinters.
Scruff took one last bite out of his leg and jumped outside through the hole in the door.
Amos’s shirt was shredded and one pant leg was mangled. Dunc could see the neighbors across the street through the hole in the door.
Amos tried to focus. He looked at the hole in the door. “They sure don’t make doors like they used to,” he said.
“I hope your dad sees it that way,” Dunc said.
“We’ve been needing a new door anyway. That one is at least two years old. Hey, did you see that slick move I made when I got near the phone? I almost did it this time. An Olympic downhill skier probably wouldn’t have had much better style. Did you see how I corrected my form at the last minute?”
“Who did you say was on the phone?”
“Your parents. They want you to start dinner.”
“Oh. I already did.”
“I don’t smell anything.”
“That’s because it’s a cold dinner. You don’t have to cook sauerkraut and ketchup sandwiches.”
Dunc turned green.
“By the way,” Amos said, “can I eat over at your house tonight?”
Dunc was sitting at his computer deep in thought. Amos was bouncing a softball off the bedroom wall. “What are you thinking about?”
“I was wondering if the police will be able to catch the guys that stole your car stereo,” Dunc said.
“They told my parents it could take a while. There’s been a whole string of these burglaries in the last month. So far they don’t have any leads.”
“Don’t start that.”
“Whenever you make that sound, it always means trouble for me. Remember when I was stuck in that chimney? It all started with that dumb sound.”
Dunc shrugged. “I thought since it was your car, you might want to help find out who did it.”
“My dad says his insurance will cover it. I’m not worried. Besides, school starts tomorrow and I’ve got more important things to worry about.”
“Like making sure Melissa has the desk next to mine in homeroom.”
Dunc turned off the computer. Amos Binder was his lifetime best friend. He knew if he let him get started talking about Melissa, he would talk all night.
“Let’s go to the mall and see how everybody is spending their last night of freedom,” Dunc said.
Amos jumped up. “Good idea. Maybe we’ll run into Melissa.”
The Pioneer Mall was only a fifteen-minute bike ride from Dunc’s house. They took
the shortcut through the abandoned housing development.
They coasted into the parking lot of the mall. Red lights were flashing everywhere. Two police cars were parked behind a new yellow Mustang.
Dunc stopped his bike a few feet away. An officer was taking a statement from the woman who owned the car.
“I was only in the mall for a few minutes. My car was definitely locked. When I got back, my stereo was gone.” The woman stared at the hole in her dashboard.
The officers checked around for witnesses, but no one had seen anything.
Amos was in a hurry to get to the video games. He tapped Dunc’s shoulder. “Come on. We don’t have much time.”
Dunc held up his hand. “Wait a minute. I want to see what happens.”
Before the police officer left, he assured the woman that everything possible would be done to find her stereo.
Dunc walked his bike up closer. “Excuse me, ma’am. My friend here just had his
stereo stolen too. Would it be okay if we looked around? The police might have missed something.”
The woman nodded her head. “You might as well. I don’t see how it could hurt.”
Amos held Dunc’s bike while he looked around by the car. He searched like a bloodhound, but nothing seemed out of place. He was about to leave when he looked through the front window. Something shiny caught his eye. He opened the door, reached in, and picked up a silver bead.
“Does this belong to you?” Dunc asked.
She took it out of his hand. “I don’t recognize it. It might belong to my daughter. I’m not sure.”
“Do you mind if I keep it?”
The woman shook her head. “I don’t know what good it will do. But sure. Go ahead.”
Dunc put the bead in his pocket. “Come on, Amos. We better get going.”