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Authors: Todd Strasser,John Hughes

Home Alone (8 page)

BOOK: Home Alone
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"Dad!" Kevin quickly shouted as loud as he could. "Can you come here and help me!?"

Outside the window, Marv quickly pulled Harry back. "Come on! If the kid's there, the parents gotta be!"

"No." Harry shook his head. "He's home . . . alone. I'm telling you, Marv. We've been scammed by a kid."

Inside Kevin raced upstairs and got the BB gun. He stopped on the upstairs landing and listened. There was no sound of breaking glass or anyone forcing their way in. Kevin went into Megan's room and looked through the window. The bad guys were standing in the backyard right below him. They were talking. Kevin quietly slid open the window and listened.

"You can't be serious," Marv was saying, "You want to come back tonight?"

"You got it," said Harry.

"Even with the kid here?"

"Yup."

"I don't think that's a real bright idea," Marv said.

"Look," Harry said intensely, "What have I been telling you since we started working this block? This house is the one, the silver tuna. I've wanted it ever since I laid eyes on it. To me this house is the difference between a good Christmas and a bad Christmas. And I ain't had a good Christmas in twenty years."

"That long?" Marv was shocked.

"That long," said Harry.

"Well, I don't want to spoil Christmas for ya," Marv said.

"Good," Harry said. "So here's what we do. We take off now for awhile, then come back tonight . . . when it's dark. Say around nine o'clock."

"Yeah," Marv said with a smile. "Kids are scared of the dark."

Upstairs in the house, Kevin slowly slid the window closed. What was he going to do? How would he stop them?

"Mom?" he whispered in a trembling voice. "Where are you?"

December 24
Logan International Airport
Boston
4:30 P.M.

Kate stood in the aisle of the 747 from Paris. The plane was at the gate. The layover seemed to be taking forever. A stewardess came by and Kate stopped her.

"Shouldn't we be leaving soon?" Kate asked.

"There's a snowstorm over the eastern Great Lakes," the stewardess said. "We just heard that they may have to shut down Detroit Airport."

"What would that mean?" Kate asked.

"That you'd be having Christmas in Boston," the stewardess replied, and moved on.

Kate moved back to her seat and wearily pressed her forehead against the seat in front of her. She'd been living on catnaps for nearly three days.

"Please," she whispered "I didn't come this far to be stopped now.
Please!
"

And then, as if someone had heard her, the plane jolted backward from the gate and headed for the runway.

December 24
Oak Park
5 P.M.

Kevin hurried toward Santa's Village. He'd been so involved in preparing for the "visit" he expected from the robbers that he'd forgotten what time it was. Now he was afraid he'd miss Santa altogether.

Ahead he saw a woman in an elf's suit locking the door to Santa's hut.

"Excuse me," Kevin said hastily. "Is he gone?"

"Santa?" the elf said. "Yeah. We're all done here. Elves gotta celebrate Christmas, too."

"But it's really important that I speak to him," Kevin said.

"Well . . ." the elf sighed. "He's around back getting into his car. If you hurry you can catch him."

Kevin ran around the back of the hut in time to see Santa pull a parking ticket off the windshield of a beat-up old car.

"How do you like that?" Santa grumbled. "It's Christmas Eve and Santa gets a parking ticket. What's next? Rabies shots for the Easter bunny?"

"Excuse me," Kevin said. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

"If you make it quick," Santa said. "Just because I'm Santa Claus doesn't mean I don't celebrate Christmas, too."

"Okay, look," Kevin said' "I know you're not the real Santa Claus. . . ."

"What makes you say that?" Santa asked. "I mean, just out of curiosity."

"I'm old enough to know how it works," Kevin said.

"Oh, yeah?" said Santa.

"Yeah. I know you only work for him," Kevin said. "But do you think you could get him a message?"

"Sure." Santa smiled.

"I'm Kevin McCallister and I live over on Rivard Street. Now this is really important. Would you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year I just want my family back?"

Santa frowned. "I'm not sure I understand."

"Don't worry," Kevin said. "He'll know. Tell him no toys. Just Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie and Jeff and my cousins and Aunt Leslie . . . and I guess if he has room, Uncle Frank, too. Okay?."

"I'll see what I can do," Santa said.

"I really appreciate it," Kevin said, starting to back away. "Sorry to take up your time."

"Hey, hold on," Santa said, reaching into his pocket. "My elf took the last of the candy canes for her stepkids."

"That's okay," Kevin said.

"Don't be silly," said Santa. "Everyone who sees Santa has to get . . . something."

Santa pulled out a Tic Tac box and shook out two tiny white mints. "Merry Christmas, son. Don't spoil your appetite."

"Merry Christmas to you, too," Kevin said.

Kevin started to walk home. The houses on the street near Santa's Village weren't as big or fancy as the houses in his neighborhood, and it seemed like more of them had real live people inside instead of mannequins. Kevin looked in at the families sitting around their tables eating dinner. They looked happy. Outside on the sidewalk Kevin felt like he was the only kid left on earth.

He turned the corner and started to pass the church. It was all lit up and he could hear a choir singing inside. Kevin knew he had a little time before the crooks came back. He cut across the lawn and pulled open the church doors.

The church was lit with candles and filled with people. Up front a choir of kids was singing and a man was playing the big organ. Kevin pulled off his hat and pressed it tight against his belly. Some people were standing along the back wall of the church and Kevin stood next to them. For a while he just listened to the music.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" the man next to Kevin said between songs.

"Yeah," Kevin said. "For a bunch of kids, they sing really well."

"Yes, they do," the man smiled.

Kevin looked up. His eyes went wide and he bit his lip in terror. It was old man Marley!

"See that little red-haired girl up there?" Marley pointed toward the choir. Kevin wanted to run, but he also wanted to see what Marley was pointing at.

"She's my granddaughter," Marley said. "About the same age as you. You know her?"

Kevin shook his head slowly. Old man Marley seemed awful friendly for a snow-shovel murderer.

"I know you," Marley said. "Live across the street from me, right?"

Kevin nodded. He was still trembling a little.

"You don't have to be so scared," Marley chuckled. "All that stuff you hear about me . . . none of it's true. Just the product of someone's overactive imagination. . . . So, have you been a good boy this year?"

"I . . . I think so," Kevin stammered.

Marley gave him a look. "You just
think
so?"

Kevin had to shake his head.

"I had a feeling," Marley said. "This is the place to be when you're feeling bad about yourself."

"It is?" Kevin had never thought of church that way. "Are you feeling bad about yourself?"

Marley looked surprised. "No, I came to hear my granddaughter sing."

They both paused to listen to the choir.

"The truth is, I've been kind of a pain lately," Kevin admitted. "I said things I shouldn't have said and did some stuff, too. It's bothering me because I really like my family even though sometimes I say I don't . . . and sometimes I even think I don't. Do you know what I mean?"

"Yup," said Marley. "How you feel about your family is a complicated thing."

"Especially when you have four older brothers and sisters," Kevin said.

"Deep down you always love them," Marley said. "But sometimes you forget and then you hurt them and they hurt you."

"Maybe it's because I'm a kid," Kevin said.

"Oh, no, I don't think so," said Marley. "Actually, it's the reason I'm here right now, too."

"It is?" Kevin was surprised.

"I have to see my granddaughter here because I can't go to her house," Marley said.

"Why not?" Kevin asked.

"A few years back I had an argument with my son," Marley said. "He's a grown-up, mind you, but just the same we both lost our tempers and said we never wanted to see each other again. . . . Unfortunately, we've both stuck to it."

"Why don't you call him?" Kevin asked.

"Well, I think about it," Marley said, "But I'm afraid he won't talk to me."

Kevin stared up at his old wrinkled face. "Aren't you too old to be afraid?"

"You can never be too old to be afraid, son," Marley said.

Kevin thought for a moment. "I was always afraid of our basement," Kevin said. "It's dark and there's weird stuff down there and it smells funny. But I made myself go down and do some laundry. If you turn on the lights, it's no big deal."

Marley squinted at him. "Are you trying to tell me something?"

"Maybe you should call your son," Kevin said.

"What if he won't talk to me?" Marley asked.

"At least you'll know and you won't have to be afraid anymore," Kevin said.

"I don't know," Marley said, but it seemed to Kevin he was considering it.

"Maybe you should do it for your granddaughter," Kevin said. "I bet she misses you."

"I sure miss her," Marley sighed. Then he put his hand on Kevin's shoulder. Kevin thought it would feel terrible, but it felt good. "You know, son, it's been nice talking to you."

"It's been nice talking to you, too," Kevin said. Suddenly he remembered the Crooks.

"Well, merry Christmas," Kevin said.

"Merry Christmas to you," said Marley.

Kevin turned and hurried out of the church. He had a house to defend.

December 24
Detroit Metropolitan
Airport
8 P.M.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. McCallister," the ticket agent in Detroit was saying, "but you can see for yourself. The weather's horrible. Every flight to Chicago is cancelled."

Kate stared out the plate glass windows of the terminal. It was snowing so hard she could barely see the planes, A few minutes earlier she had staggered off the much-delayed 747 and went straight to the counter and begged the agent to find her a flight to Chicago. She was practically ready to send herself by Federal Express.

"I'll get you a hotel room for the night," the agent said. "I'm sure there'll be an opening on a flight tomorrow afternoon."

"I can't wait that long," Kate said.

"I'm terribly sorry," the ticket agent said. "But I've done everything I can."

Kate reached across the counter and grabbed the startled ticket agent by the lapels.

"Listen to me," she yelled. "I haven't slept more than six hours in the last three days. I've gone from Chicago to Paris to Boston to Detroit, just to get home to my child, And now I'm only a few hundred miles away and you're telling me it's hopeless?"

"It's the weather . . ." The ticket agent's eyes were darting around as he looked for help. Kate pulled him closer.

"It's Christmas," Kate told him. "The season of perpetual hope. I don't care if I have to fly through a three-hundred-mile wall of solid snow. . . . I don't care if it costs me everything I own, or if I have to sell my soul to the devil himself. . . .
I am going home to my son!
"

A hand tapped Kate on the shoulder. She turned, expecting airport security, but instead she found herself facing a curly-haired man wearing blue polyester pants and a red satin jacket with the words "Gus Polinski and the Kenosha Kickers" stitched over the pocket. Kate noticed he was carrying an accordian case.

"Maybe I can help, lady," Gus said.

"Thanks," Kate said, "But I really don't see how—"

"Me and the band"—Gus pointed to half a dozen men also wearing red satin jackets and carrying instrument cases of various sizes and shapes—"just got in from a big polka festival out in Asbury Park, New Jersey, We got a Christmas gig lined up tomorrow in Milwaukee, but our flight's been cancelled so we're gonna drive. Rental car place said we got the last car left in Detroit so I figured since Chicago's on the way, maybe you'd like a lift?"

"Would I ever!?" Kate gasped.

"I just gotta warn you," Gus said. "This storm's headed for Chicago and the roads out there are real bad. It's gonna be a slow trip and we'll be squeezed in tight. All they had was a station wagon. And besides the boys and me, we got a tuba and a bass fiddle."

"Then strap me to the roof," Kate said.

December 24
Oak Park
9 P.M.

Kevin took a steaming container out of the microwave and put it on a place mat on the kitchen table. He'd set the table nicely, just like his mother would have. He sat down and said grace.

"Bless this highly nutritious microwaveable macaroni-and-cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen."

He was just about to start eating when a church bell chimed in the distance. Kevin spun around and looked at the kitchen clock. Was it 9 P.M. already? His stomach knotted and his appetite disappeared.

Kevin jumped up and quickly cleared off the kitchen table. Then he grabbed the BB gun. He crouched behind the kitchen curtains and felt his heart pounding.

"This is it," he Whispered. "Don't get scared now."

A moment later the van pulled into the driveway and Harry and Marv got out. Harry had the crowbar. In the distance the church bell chimed again.

"How do you want to go in?" Marv asked.

"May as well knock and see if he'll open up," Harry said. He started toward the kitchen door.

"Yeah," said Marv. "He's a kid. Kids are stupid. I know I was."

"You still are," said Harry.

BOOK: Home Alone
4.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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