Authors: John Paulits
Tags: #humor, #childrens, #child, #superstition, #gypsy shadow, #superstitious, #john paulits
Philip butted in. “Suppose
rabbits’ feet. Then he’d get the luck.” Philip didn’t believe
in any of this rabbit’s foot/good luck stuff, but he wanted Emery
to win this battle.
Leon gave a loud yuk. “Then I’d buy two more
and have five.”
Yeah,” Emery argued,
more and have six.”
So, I’d get
Then I’d get
Philip nodded, urging Emery on.
You couldn’t,” Leon
Why not?” Emery
Because it would cost you
too much money.”
It would cost you money,
too,” Emery snapped back.
Leon smiled and his chipped tooth caught
Philip’s eye. Leon had been jumping on his bed once, he had told
them, and missed.
I got lots of money. I
found it because I have my lucky rabbits’ feet.” He jangled the
feet again and then got to his knees and jangled his pocket. They
heard the tinkle of coins.
Philip and Emery looked at one another.
You found money?” Philip
How much?” Emery
Oh,” Leon started
counting on his fingers. “Two quarters, two dimes, five pennies,
and a nickel.”
Where’d you find the
money?” Philip asked.
Just looking around. The
rabbits’ feet made it be there.”
There was a nickel just
out there now.” Leon pointed.
I didn’t see any nickel,”
Leon jangled his rabbits’ feet again and
smiled. “’Course not.”
Stop shaking your feet,”
Emery said in annoyance.
Leon sat back down and waggled his own feet.
“Yuk yuk,” he laughed.
Emery moaned and Philip rolled his eyes.
Suddenly, a dog started barking. Leon’s eyes
What’s the matter?”
A dog barking. If two
dogs bark it means trouble.”
What?” Philip said,
making a doubtful face.
Leon sucked in a deep breath when a second
dog began to bark. Both dogs began barking at once.
We better not leave here
for a while,” Leon said fearfully.
You’re goofy,” said
Philip. “Let’s go, Emery. We’re not superstitious like you,
Uh, well, okay,” Emery
Philip got onto his hands and knees to crawl
through the secret entrance back out into the world.
Better not,” Leon
Emery followed behind Philip.
Philip put his hand into a covering of dead
leaves and felt something stab his palm. “Yow!”
Emery heard a buzzing in his ear. “Bee!” he
cried, and crawled ahead as fast as he could.
Philip was balanced on one hand, trying to
find out what had stabbed him, when Emery crashed into his rear end
and sent him sprawling. Emery did not want the bee to sting him so
he desperately tried to climb over Philip.
Bee!” he cried again,
finally getting by his stretched out friend. When he poked his head
out of the bushes, though, he stopped abruptly. A big dog stood on
the sidewalk staring his way. “Big dog,” Emery reported and started
Watch out,” Philip cried
as Emery slithered over top of him again. “Get off me.”
Big dog, little bee,”
Emery warned, backing into the empty space in the
Told you,” Leon
Philip backed into the empty space. “You
think I’m invisible or something,” he snapped at Emery. “You kicked
me a million times and stepped on me, too.” He looked at his
injured hand and gasped. A good-sized thorn was stuck in the fat
part of his palm under his thumb. He stuck out his hand to show
Take it out,” Emery
Philip grasped the sides of the thorn and
yanked. “Argh,” he cried and began shaking his hand. When he
checked again a tiny bubble of blood had poked out of the thorn
A dog barked again.
A full minute passed by without any other
dog answering the first dog.
It’s okay now,” Leon
smiled, nodding with certainty.
Philip and Emery glared at him.
Every time he shows up,”
Philip mumbled to Emery, pronouncing each word carefully. Then to
Leon he said, “If it’s okay, you go first.”
Yeah, you go,” Emery
agreed. Under his breath he continued, “Troublemaker.”
Leon closed his eyes and grabbed his
rabbits’ feet in one hand. Philip saw Leon’s lips move
Okay,” Leon said with a
Philip and Emery followed Leon through the
bushes and stood up when they’d reached the outside world.
See,” Leon pointed to the
empty sidewalk and gave one of his yuk yuk laughs. “All clear. No
bees. No dogs. Yuk yuk.”
A whole week,” Emery
muttered, as he and Philip followed Leon onto the
Hey!” Leon cried and he
ran ahead a short distance. He bent and picked up something.
“Another nickel.” He held up the nickel and then turned and walked
happily down the street toward Emery’s house singing, “I found a
nick-el. I found a nick-el.”
Philip and Emery lagged behind, their
stomachs gathering into frustrated, angry knots. Philip put his
hands over his ears to drown Leon out and tried to imagine what
seven whole days of Leon was going to be like.
Philip and Emery stood on the path leading
to Emery’s front door and watched Leon continue down the sidewalk.
Emery had asked Leon to go right home and make sure his parents
were really starting their vacation tomorrow.
I want to know when all
the fun’s going to start,” Emery had told him. Leon was only too
happy to oblige.
Why is he always
singing?” Philip asked with a shake of his head. “Step on a crack,
break your mother’s back,” he mimicked. “He must have sung that a
million times after he got tired of the nickel song.”
Two million times,” Emery
said gloomily, thinking of what he’d have to listen to for the week
Leon was going to live with him. “Maybe I can move in with you
Philip gave an agreeable grunt, knowing that
was never going to happen.
Well,” said Emery once
Leon was out of sight, “at least he didn’t bend down and pick up
more mon-ey. He didn’t pick up any mon-ey.”
Please!” Philip begged.
“Not you, too.”
He and Emery each scanned the nearby cement
and grass for any coins Leon may have missed.
Come on,” Emery said as
he walked toward his front door. When he opened it he shouted, “I’m
A groan came from the living room. The boys
went to investigate. Emery’s sister Amy, who had just learned to
walk, was climbing on the sofa. Tina, who was even younger than
Amy, lay in her bassinet making googly sounds. His mother sat on
the sofa, one hand on Amy’s back steadying her and the other hand
on her own back.
You make that noise,
Mom?” Emery asked.
My back. I think I hurt a
muscle picking up Amy. She’s getting heavy.”
Your back?” Emery cried
How many cracks did you
step on?” Philip whispered.
I don’t know. Same as
you,” Emery whispered back.
Just let me sit a
minute,” Emery’s mother said wearily. “Watch her.”
I gotta use your phone.
Okay?” Philip asked.
Emery’s mother pointed to the phone on the
end table next to the sofa.
Emery went to guide Amy along the back of
the sofa while Philip punched in his number.
Hi, Mom. It’s me. How’s
Philip listened and then said good-bye and
looked at Emery.
What’d she say?” Emery
She said ‘Fine, how’s
your foot?’” Philip shrugged.
Emery’s mother gave Philip a long look. Then
she said, “Emery, stop climbing all over the sofa in your dirty
You told me to follow
All right. All right.
I’ve had my rest. You can go now. It’s one mess after another
I didn’t make any mess,”
Emery argued, brushing a dirty footprint off a sofa
Last night it was the
cutlery. Today it’s a mirror.
broke a mirror.” She gave
Amy an accusing look.
Amy laughed and waved her arms around.
It’s a wonder she didn’t
split an artery,” Emery’s mother grumbled.
What’s cutlery?” Philip
Emery motioned Philip out of the room. When
they passed by the kitchen Emery paused.
Mom, there’s a jar of
jelly broken on the floor.” He and Philip stared at the goopy blob
of purple next to the kitchen table.
I dropped that when the
mirror went crash,” Emery’s mother called in a voice louder than
Breaking a mirror’s a bad
luck thing,” Emery whispered.
Philip nodded. “I know. What was the cutlery
Oh, that’s knives and
forks and spoons. Last night I pulled out the drawer too far and
everything spilled on the floor. The babies got scared at the noise
and started crying and nobody could eat dinner except
Let’s go upstairs,”
Philip suggested. “I got an idea.”
The boys went to Emery’s room and threw
themselves onto the floor.
Philip explained. “Look, we don’t want Leon
to be messing up the beginning of summer, right?”
Because he’s the biggest
bad luck ever, right?”
And now he’s got rabbits’
feet so he thinks he lost all his bad luck.”
Let’s find some things
that will make Leon think he’s got bad luck again—so much bad luck
that . . . that he begs his parents to take him on their
Emery shook his head. “They won’t do that.
Nope. N-O. They tried Aunt Marie and now I’m stuck with him.
Besides, there’s no time. He said they’re leaving tomorrow.”
Philip thought and then nodded. “I guess so.
Well, he’s so superstitious now maybe we can make him believe that
leaving the house is bad luck. Then he’d never leave the
He’d just buy more
rabbits feet. He’s
the money,” Emery said with some jealousy.
No, we have to find
superstitions he’ll believe are stronger than rabbits’
He’ll guess we’re trying
to get rid of him. We’re
trying to get rid of him. He knows that. He’s not
superstitious enough to believe what we tell him.”
we tell him.
Didn’t we invent that game once and he stayed in the closet for six
hours because he thought he was winning?”
Emery nodded, remembering the scolding he
got from his mother for that little trick. But it had given him and
Philip a whole day at the playground without Leon.
Suddenly, the boys heard a scream from
outside. They ran to Emery’s window and were shocked to see Leon
running along the sidewalk at top speed.
What’s he doing?” Philip
Who knows?” Emery said
disgustedly, lifting the screen so he and Philip could lean out and
When Leon reached the corner, he paused,
turned, and ran back toward them just a fast as he could.
Is he holding his nose? I
think he’s holding his nose. He
holding his nose,” Philip noticed in
Maybe he pooped his
pants,” Emery suggested.
Philip ignored Emery. “There he goes.”
Leon tore past the window, his fingers still
pinching his nose. The boys watched Leon pause at the corner, cross
the street, and start running down the other sidewalk.
Call him,” Philip
When Leon drew near, Emery shouted, “Hey,
Leon. What are you doing?”
Leon turned his head and saw his friends. He
switched the hand he was holding his nose with and waved the other
hand at the two boys. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” he cried as he kept
Philip and Emery watched Leon’s travels as
if they were hypnotized. When Leon got to the corner, he crossed to
Emery’s side of the street and started running again.
Here he comes,” said
Leon,” Emery cried
This time Leon pulled to a halt, breathing
What are you doing,
Leon?” Emery called down.
I saw a man walking with
a limp. He really had a limp. He went right past me. Up and down;
up and down. Limp, limp, limp.”