Authors: Gary Paulsen
“Look, Amos. There’s the girl who knocked you over.” Dunc pointed to a beautiful dark-haired skater in a crimson costume. “I wonder who she is.” He reached into his pocket for the program. As he did, a small gray envelope fell out.
Amos picked it up and flipped it over. “What’s this? Could it possibly be that Dunc, the boy genius, has a love letter?”
“Cut it out. It’s not mine. I must have picked it up by mistake somewhere,” Dunc said. He snatched it out of Amos’s hand and read it aloud.
Dear Brave American
You are my only hope. Please help me. Room 502
CALL ME FRANCIS TUCKET
THE WINTER ROOM
THE VOYAGE OF THE
THE BOY WHO OWNED THE SCHOOL
HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS
Robert Kimmel Smith
Robert Kimmel Smith
are designed especially to entertain and enlighten young people. Patricia Reilly Giff, consultant to this series, received her bachelor’s degree from Marymount 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.
Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers
a division of
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
New York, New York 10036
Copyright © 1997 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, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.
The trademarks Yearling® and Dell® are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries.
Duncan—Dunc—Culpepper was in his garage installing a new state-of-the-art speedometer on the handlebars of his bike.
“Pass me that wrench.”
Amos Binder, Dunc’s best friend for life, was slumped on a bench staring out the window. He let out a long, deep sigh and, without looking, handed Dunc a tool from the red box on the floor.
“I asked for a wrench, Amos, not a hammer. What’s wrong with you, anyway? You’ve been moping around all morning.”
“Melissa.” Amos rested his chin on the back of the bench and sighed again.
Dunc knew that Amos was crazy in love with a girl named Melissa Hansen. He also knew that if he asked Amos any more questions he would have to hear all about her—for the ten zillionth time. Dunc fished the wrench out of the toolbox and continued working.
“She called me last night,” Amos said.
“Hand me the pliers.”
“At least I’m pretty sure it was her. I can always tell by the cute way her phone makes my phone ring,” Amos said, not moving.
Dunc rolled his eyes and got the pliers himself. Amos had this funny idea that deep down Melissa wanted to be his girlfriend and was just hiding her true feelings. Amos was also convinced that even though she had never so much as breathed in his direction, at any moment she was going to break down and call him.
Dunc put the tools back in the box and wiped his hands on a rag. “Well, that about does it. Want to take it out for a test ride?”
“She’s probably heartbroken.”
Dunc threw one leg over his bike and started to push off. “You coming?”
Amos didn’t move. “It’s really too bad I disappointed her like that. Maybe I should send her flowers or something. What do you think?”
The bike wheels rolled back and forth. Finally Dunc stepped off, leaned his bike on its kickstand, and sat down on the bench. “All right, Amos. I’m positive I’ll regret asking this—what happened?”
“Like I said, Melissa called me last night. Only I didn’t quite make it to the phone and I know she’s depressed about it. I hope she doesn’t do anything drastic. It was all Amy’s fault.”
Amy was Amos’s older sister. She was constantly trying to talk their parents into moving away while Amos was down at the mall or over at Dunc’s house. Once she answered an adoption ad in the newspaper and sent the people Amos’s picture. The couple sent the picture back with a nice letter saying they had decided not to adopt after all.
“Amy had one of her stupid boyfriends over,” Amos continued. “And she told me that if I came downstairs while he was there, she’d chop me into little pieces and feed me to Scruff.” Scruff was the Binder family’s Border collie.
“Anyway, there I was, minding my own business up on the roof, when—”
“Wait a minute. What were you doing on the roof?” Dunc asked.
“How else was I supposed to hear what Amy and that geek were saying?”
“You were eavesdropping?”
“Let’s just say I was gathering incriminating evidence for use at some future date.”
“I don’t get it. How could you hear anything they were saying from the roof?”
“Easy. All I had to do was tie a rope to the TV antenna and lower myself headfirst down the fireplace chimney. The tricky part was holding the tape recorder low enough to pick up their voices.”
“Oh. Did you get anything you could use for blackmail?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t listened to the
tape yet. The recorder sort of got lost as I was flying around the living room.”
Dunc raised one eyebrow and waited.
Amos shifted on the bench. “See, just as I was all set to have control over Amy for life, the phone rang. Of course I knew it was Melissa calling to ask me if I wanted to come to her skating party.”
“Of course. The one she’s having this Saturday?”
Amos looked sharply at Dunc. “How did
know about it?”
“She sent me an invitation. Herman Snodgrass said she invited everybody in school. Didn’t you get one?”
“No. Like I said, she was calling to invite me personally.”
“Right. You were explaining why you were flying around the room.”
“Oh yeah. The phone rang that Melissa-type ring I was telling you about and I started for it because you know how she likes for me to get it on that all-important first ring.”
That statment had always baffled Dunc. He could never figure out why Amos
was so sure Melissa wanted him to answer the phone on the first ring when as far as Dunc knew she had never called Amos.
“I figured if I climbed out of the chimney, ran across the roof, slid partway down the drainpipe, crawled up the trellis and through my parents’ bedroom window, I could answer it with plenty of time to spare. Only I didn’t count on the antenna breaking off when I was halfway out of the chimney. When it busted, I dropped like a rock to the bottom of the fireplace. The antenna’s still stuck in there.”
“Did Amy catch you?”
“No, but her boyfriend, who wrestles grizzly bears for a living, did. He grabbed the rope and swung me around the living room until I barfed up everything I’ve eaten since I was four. Then he tossed me in the broom closet and pushed the bookshelf in front of it. I’d probably still be there, except my dad needed his snow boots.”
“That’s rough. Did anybody answer the phone?”
“Amy did. She told my parents some ridiculous
story about the principal of our school calling to say I’d won two tickets to the Winter Junior Championships. She’ll do anything to get rid of me.”
“Amos, I entered your name in that ticket contest.” Dunc sat up. “You must have won!”
“This is so great.” Dunc stared out the window of the bus. “I’m glad my parents decided I could go with you. Almost every country in the world will be represented at the Junior Championships.”
“Hrummp.” Amos folded his arms and slid down in the seat.
“What’s the matter with you? This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Aren’t you happy you won the contest?”
“No. I would much rather be back home at Melissa’s skating party.”
“I hate to bring this up, Amos, but you never actually got an invitation.”
“Are you trying to make a point?”
Dunc decided to take a different approach. “Think of it this way, Amos. In the future, Melissa won’t wait until the last second to invite you like she obviously did this time. Maybe she’ll stop taking you for granted.”
Amos thought about it. “You think that’s what she’s doing?”
“I’m sure of it. Your going to the Junior Championships instead of her party will teach her a lesson. When you get back home, she’ll probably grovel at your feet for forgiveness.”
Amos’s face brightened. “You think?”