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"Police suspect the boy had an accomplice, but they have no clues as to his identity," the end of the newspaper story said. "The boy has refused to name his accomplice."
Was it really possible that her own mother didn't suspect her?
I longed to see her, even just to hear her growly voice on the phone. But it was impossible. My parents never let me out of their sight.
Except, of course, when I was a slave. Every day but Sunday I had to work to make up for what I'd done. Here was my schedule:
Mondays and Fridays: Clean for Miss Stiletto, while she follows me around and yells at me whenever I miss a spot.
Tuesdays and Thursdays: Pick up the poop of the first selectman's ten toy poodles then mow his lawn and trim his hedges, while he sits on his porch and glares.
Wednesdays and Saturdays: Clean the slime out of the fish tanks and the toilets at the aquarium, while Mr. Apely stands over me with his evil grin.
Sundays: Sit in my room and watch the summer fade away.
Three weeks passed like this, and then one day my mother said, "Why don't you call Eddy?"
I couldn't believe it.
"Go ahead," she said. "But just Eddy." And she gave me a look.
My heart leapt. I ran to the kitchen and picked up the phone. And then ... I put it down. I can't call Eddy. Eddy never wants to see me again.
Still, I had to try. Slowly, my fingers trembling, I dialed the number I knew best, the first phone number I ever learned.
There was a ring and a click, and Eddy MacWeeny's voice said, "Yeah?"
"Uh ... " I cleared my throat. "Hi. It's me."
There was a long pause.
"What do you want?"
"You want to do something?"
I held my breath and waited for Eddy to hang up on me. The silence seemed to last forever.
"Yeah," he said at last. "Sure."
I hung up and looked at my mother.
"Mom, I'm going to Eddy's, OK?"
"OK, but nowhere else," she said, giving me that look again.
I ran out the door, across my yard and up the road to Eddy's house. Freedom! I felt like I was flying.
When I got to Eddy's, he was standing in the door.
"Hi, Wump," he said.
I wanted to say … I dunno … something, but all I could say was "Hi."
We glanced at each other and glanced away.
Finally, Eddy said, "You want to see the clubhouse?"
I followed Eddy into the woods. We walked until we came to a big box of splintered boards and crooked nails. A hole in one side covered with an old blanket was the door, and painted above it were the words: KEEP OUT!
We crouched and crawled into a cool, dark mustiness of earth and wood. Slivers of light shone through the cracks in the walls.
"What do you think?" Eddy said.
"It's great. It's really fine."
"Everybody thinks you're a hero."
"Yeah. David Smallweed even set up a 'Free Wumpy' Web site. Everybody says they never thought you would do something like that."
Suddenly, I had to tell Eddy the whole story. (Well, almost the whole story. I left out the part where I told Minerva I loved her.) And when I got to the part about the seals at Miss Stiletto's, Eddy laughed his old donkey laugh.
When I finished, and we lay on the cool earth chuckling and sighing, I felt a great peace come over me, like a missing part of my heart had been put back.
"Want to hear my newest disc?" Eddy asked. "It's by the 3-Day-Old Dead Clams."
Now I knew I really had come home.