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Authors: Sigmund Brouwer

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BOOK: Timberwolf Chase
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Chapter Five

The Howling Timberwolves skated onto the ice to begin the third period. The score was four to three. Tom Morgan had scored all four of the Timberwolves' goals.

“Did you get lost?” Johnny said to Stu as they skated to the bench.

“Lost?”

“During the break you said you needed to ask your mom something and left the dressing room,” Johnny said. “It sure took a long time for you to get back.”

“I don't think you should worry about that,” Stu said. “You better score a goal. Otherwise Tom will never let us forget about it.”

“Me?” Johnny said. “How about you? Tom gave you five great passes. Your grandmother could have scored on those passes.”

“I'll try my best,” Stu said.

They got to the bench. Johnny sniffed the air.

“Hey,” Johnny whispered. “I think I smell a hotdog.”

“You do,” Stu whispered back. “It's in my hockey glove.”

“What!” Johnny whispered. “A hotdog!”

“After I talked to my mom, I went to the concession stand. The lineup was really long. I didn't have a chance to eat it. But I couldn't throw it away either.”

“What are you going to do?” Johnny asked.

Stu didn't have a chance to answer. Coach Smith pointed at Stu and Tom. “On the ice, guys. Have a good shift.”

Stu went on the ice with a hotdog in his hockey glove.

The referee dropped the puck to start the third period. Tom was a fast skater. He got the puck between the center line and the blue line.

“Go,” Tom shouted at Stu.

The defenseman thought Tom was going to pass to Stu. Instead, Tom cut to the outside and skated around the defenseman. Now it was a two on one.

Tom waited until the last second. He pretended he was going to shoot. But he went around the net and came around the other side. By then Stu was in front of the net all alone.

Tom gave Stu a perfect pass.

Stu stopped the puck and tried to take a shot. As he swung his stick, the hotdog fell out of the bun. It fell out of his hockey glove and landed on the ice.

The goalie caught Stu's shot.

Tom was skating in for a rebound. He saw something on the ice. He fired it quickly into the
back of the net. He raised his hands like he had scored a goal!

The referee blew his whistle.

The goalie looked in his glove. He saw a puck.

The goalie looked into the back of the net. He saw a hotdog.

Tom stopped beside Stu. Tom looked in the back of the net.

“Hey,” Tom shouted at Stu. “Where did that come from?”

“Where did
what
come from?” Stu said. He was already trying to skate back to the bench.

Tom grabbed Stu's shoulders and spun him around and pointed him at the net.

“That,” Tom said. “Look on the ice. In the net. It's a hotdog.”

“Wow!” Stu said. “Someone must have thrown it on the ice.”

Stu reached in behind the goalie with his hockey stick. He used his stick to pull the hotdog
toward him. He picked it up and bit into it.

“Not only that,” Stu said, “but it's still hot. It could use some mustard, though.”

“I can't believe this,” Tom said.

“Really,” Stu answered. He held out the hotdog. “Try it for yourself.”

Chapter Six

The next day, Johnny and Stu and the rest of the boys were running laps for gym class. Actually, for Johnny and Stu it was more like walking laps. Stu was not fast.

Tom came up alongside them.

“I thought I felt an earthquake,” Tom said as he ran past them. “But then I saw that it was just Dumbo here.”

“Hah, hah,” Johnny said.

But Tom was already gone. Stu was not fast, and Johnny was staying with Stu.

“Remember, Oprah,” Stu told Johnny.

“You mean my favorite episode?” Johnny asked. “The blond girl with the paper bag on her head?”

“No,” Stu said. “The one where she said not to let another person's insults control you. Besides, it seems when you stick up for me, I'm the one who pays the price. Ignore Tom. Please.”

It was hard for Johnny to do.

The next time Tom passed them, he said, “I could crawl faster than you, Stu. But then, so could a baby.”

“Can I give him a wedgie?” Johnny asked Stu.

“You'd have to catch me,” Tom said. “And I'm the fastest guy on the track.”

To prove it, he sped up and was gone. But only for a few minutes. Soon he finished another lap and caught up to them again.

“Oink, oink,” Tom said. “Oink, Oink.”

“I thought I smelled a stinky pig,” Johnny said to Stu. “I guess it's Tom.”

“Ignore him,” Stu said.

“Really,” Tom said to Stu. “You should think about quitting hockey. For the good of the team. I've done three laps, and you're not even finished your first.”

“We won last night,” Johnny said to Tom.

“Yes, four to three,” Tom said. “And I scored all four goals.”

“Four great goals,” Johnny said. “It really helped. That's why the team is just fine with Stu as part of it.”

“Maybe as a water boy,” Tom said. He ran fast again and left them behind.

A few minutes later, he caught up to them again.

“Four laps,” Tom said. “Hurry up and finish one, whale boy. Outrunning you is as easy as beating a blind man.”

“Johnny,” Stu said as soon as Tom was gone again, “please help me remember my own advice.”

“What's that?” Johnny said. “Never mix sardines with peanut butter?”

Stu had tried that once and didn't like it at all. He'd given it to his dog, and it made the dog throw up.

“No,” Stu said, “my advice about ignoring insults. Tom is finally starting to bother me.”

“I'm glad you said that,” Johnny said. “I have an idea.”

“What?”

“Remember he said outrunning you is as easy as beating a blind man?”

“You don't have to rub it in,” Stu said.

“That gave me an idea.”

“Your ideas always get me in trouble,” Stu said.

But it was too late. Johnny yelled loud enough for everyone on the track to hear.

“Hey, Tom,” Johnny yelled. “If Stu wanted, he could beat you in a race.”

Stu elbowed Johnny. “Are you crazy?”

“Trust me,” Johnny said. “Trust me and don't say a word.”

Tom laughed and jogged back toward them. “Beat me in a race? Let's go. Right now.”

“No,” Johnny said. “He wants two weeks of special training. And I'll name the time and place.”

“Whatever,” Tom said. “He could have five years of training. He still wouldn't have a chance.”

Other kids came closer to hear what the bet was. Johnny made sure to speak loud enough for everyone to hear.

“If Stu beats you in the race,” Johnny said to Tom, “you have to wear a dress to the next hockey game.”

“Sure,” Tom said. “As long as he promises to quit hockey when I beat him.”

“It's a deal,” Johnny said.

Tom laughed and jogged away from them again.

“Like I told you,” Stu said to Johnny, “your ideas always get me in trouble.”

“Remember the two magic words,” Johnny said.

“Johnny's crazy?”

“No,” Johnny said. “Trust me.”

Chapter Seven

Right after school that day, Johnny and Stu went straight to Veteran's Park in the middle of town.

A creek ran through the park. There was a narrow twisting path through the dense woods that grew alongside the creek.

Johnny took Stu to one end of the path.

“Remember I told Tom that I would name the time and place you would race him?” Johnny asked Stu.

“I'm trying to forget,” Stu said.

Johnny pointed at the narrow twisting dirt path. Roots from trees stuck out of the ground in different places.

“This is the place,” Johnny said. “What do you think?”

“Two things,” Stu answered.

“Yes?”

“The first thing is that I think I will be lucky to make it to the other end without hurting myself,” Stu said. “I'm chubby and wide. Tom is skinny and fast. I'll never beat Tom if we race on this path.”

“We have two weeks to practice,” Johnny said. “What is the second thing?”

“That I want to squeeze your throat until your eyeballs pop from your head,” Stu said. “Everyone in the school knows about the bet you made. And now you want me to race that fast and skinny new kid on this path?”

“Trust me,” Johnny said. “You might be chubby, but you are smart.”

“Don't forget charming too.”

“Yes. Smart and charming. But it's the smart part that will end up making Tom wear a dress to a hockey game.”

“It would be nice if you started making sense,” Stu said. “I may be smart, but my brain is stuck in a body that is big and slow.”

“This afternoon we are going to run down the path slowly,” Johnny said. “I want you to count how many steps it takes between each turn.”

“Count.”

“And memorize the count.”

“Count and memorize? This is a race, remember, not a math class.”

“Does anybody in the class get better grades than you in math?” Johnny asked.

“No.” Stu said. “That's not bragging. It's just true.”

“Then if we could turn the race into a math class,” Tom said, “you would win, right?”

“Remember earlier I said my brain is stuck in a body that is big and slow?” Stu asked.

“Yes.”

“And remember earlier I said it would be nice if you started making sense?” Stu asked.

“Yes.”

“Now would be a good time to begin.”

“Sure,” Johnny told Stu. “I'll be happy to explain.”

And he did.

Chapter Eight

Two weeks later, Johnny saw Tom in the hallway at school.

“Hey, new kid,” Johnny said.

“Hey, loser,” Tom answered. “When's that friend of yours going to lose his race so I can get him off our hockey team?”

“So you do remember the bet,” Johnny said.

Kids in the hallway stopped to listen. Everybody knew about the bet.

“I'll race him any time, any place,” Tom said. “That's the bet. When he loses, he promises to stop playing hockey for the Timberwolves. If you can call what he does on the ice playing hockey.”

“Have you noticed he's a little faster on the ice these days?” Johnny asked.

Tom thought about it. “I hate to admit it, but yes, you're right.”

“He's been working hard at his training,” Johnny said. “It's not too late to call off the bet.”

Tom shook his head. “He's still not fast enough to play the kind of hockey that I am used to. I don't want to be on the same team as a loser. Let's get the race over with so he'll quit.”

“Hang on,” Johnny said. “There is the other half of the bet.”

“That if he wins the race, I have to wear a dress to the next hockey game.”

BOOK: Timberwolf Chase
13.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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