BUD, NOT BUDDY CHRISTOPHER PAUL CURTIS WINNER OF THE NEWBERY MEDAL Chapter 1 HERE WE GO AGAIN. We were all standing in line waiting. noncommercial purpose, except it may not be posted online without permission. BOOK SUMMARY: Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan. Bud, Not Buddy: End of Unit Test. Part 1: Vocabulary A. Choose the word from the box above to replace the underlined words. telegraph depression devoured.
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BUD, NOT BUDDY. CHRISTOPHER PAUL CURTIS. WINNER OF THE NEWBERY MEDAL. Chapter 1. HERE WE GO AGAIN. We were all standing in line. #—Instructional Guide: Bud, Not Buddy. Introduction. How to Use This Literature Guide(cont.) Vocabulary. Each teacher overview page has definitions. Credits: Cover: Jacket cover for BUD, NOT BUDDY by Christopher Paul Curtis. Used by permission of Random. House Children's Books, a division of Random.
Todd's next punch crashed into the side of my ear and I fell on the floor and pulled my knees up to my chest and crossed my arms in front of my head like a turtle in a shell. When she used to tell me about it her eyes would get big and bunny, like the whole thing happened the day before yesterday instead of all those years ago. He peeked underneath his right hand to see and a big smile cracked his face. All they're eating is dandelion greens soup, they're broke, their clothes are falling off of them, their baby's sick but when someone took them some food and blankets, the man said, 'Thank you very much, but we're white people. The line closes at seven o'clock. I'd spent the whole day reading. There were five white people sitting at this fire, two kids, a man, and a woman holding a little wrapped-up baby.
I poured some of my milk into it so it wouldn't be so lumpy and mixed it all together. My pretend mother opened her pocketbook and took out a little brown envelope. She reached inside of it and sprinkled something on my pretend brother's and sister's oatmeal, then said to them, "I know that's not as much as you normally get, but I wanted to ask you if you minded sharing some with Clarence.
My pretend mother said, "Good," and emptied the rest of the envelope over my oatmeal. Brown sugar! Shucks, I didn't even mind them calling me Clarence anymore.
I said "Thank you, Momma, ma'am. After we'd finished all our food we put our bowls up and I thanked my pretend family again, I asked them, "Are you going to be coming back for supper? But you make sure you get here plenty early, you hear? I watched them walking away. My pretend brother looked back at me and stuck out his tongue, then reached up and took my pretend mother's hand.
I couldn't really blame him, I don't think I'd be real happy about sharing my brown sugar and my folks with any strange kids either. The air in the library isn't like the air anywhere else, first it's always cooler than the air outside, it feels like you're walking into a cellar on a hot July day, even if you have to walk up a bunch of stairs to get into it. The next thing about the air in the library is that no other place smells anything like it.
If you close your eyes and try to pick out what it is that you're sniffing you're only going to get confused, because all the smells have blended together and turned themselves into a different one. As soon as I got into the library I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I got a whiff of the leather on all the old books, a smell that got real strong if you picked one of them up and stuck your nose real close to it when you turned the pages.
Then there was the smell of the cloth that covered the brand-new books, the books that made a splitting sound when you opened them. Then I could sniff the paper, that soft, powdery, drowsy smell that comes off the pages in little puffs when you're reading something or looking at some pictures, a kind of hypnotizing smell. I think it's that smell that makes so many folks fall asleep in the library.
You'll see someone turn a page and you can imagine a puff of page powder coming up really slow and easy until it starts piling on the person's eye- lashes, weighing their eyes down so much that they stay down a little longer after each blink and finally making them so heavy that they just don't come back up at all.
Then their mouths come open and their heads start bouncing up and down like they're bobbing in a big tub of water for apples and before you know it, That's the part that gets the librarians the maddest, they get real upset if folks start drooling in the books and, page powder or not, they don't want to hear no excuses, you gotta get out.
Drooling in the books is even worse than laughing out loud in the library, and even though it might seem kind of mean, you can't really blame the librarians for tossing drooly folks out 'cause there's nothing worse than opening a book and having the pages all stuck together from somebody's dried-up slobber. I opened my eyes to start looking for Miss Hill. She wasn't at the lending desk so I left my suitcase with the white lady there. I knew it would be safe.
I walked between the stacks to see if Miss Hill was putting books up. Three doggone times I walked through the library, upstairs and down, and couldn't find her. I went back up to the librarian at the lending desk. I waited until she looked up at me.
She smiled and said, "Yes? Would you like to retrieve your suitcase? I said, "Not yet, ma'am, could I ask you a question? My goodness, hadn't you heard? It seems like the answer to "Haven't you heard" always has something to do with someone kicking the bucket. And not kicking the bucket in a calm, peaceful way like a heart attack at home in bed either, it usually is some kind of dying that will make your eyes buck out of your head when you hear about it, it's usually the kind of thing that will run you out of a room with your hands over your ears and your mouth wide open.
Something like hearing that your grandmother got her whole body pulled through the wringer on a washing machine, or something like hearing about a horse slipping on the ice and landing on some kid you went to school with.
I answered, "No, ma'am," and got my stomach ready to hear about Miss Hill biting the dust in some way that was going to give me nightmares. The librarian said, "There's no need for you to look so stricken. It's not bad news, young man.
Unless you had matrimonial plans concerning Miss Hill. I said, "No, ma'am, I didn't plan that at all. Chariemae Miss Hill is currently living in Chicago, Illinois.
You mean she got married, ma'am? She thumbed through a couple of pages and said, "Here we are. Let's check the distance. She showed me how to find Chicago on the line that was running across the page and Flint on the line that was running down the page and then to look at the number that was writ where the two of them joined up. It said She pulled a pencil out and said, "OK, this is how one figures the amount of time required to walk to Chicago. Now—" She pulled a third book out.
Shucks, this is one of the bad things about talking to librarians, I asked one question and already she had us digging through three different books. She thumbed through the book until she said, "Aha, it says here that the average male human gait is five miles an hour. OK, assuming that you could cover five miles an hour, all we have to do is divide two hundred seventy by five. Much too long to be practical. No, I'm afraid you'll simply have to wait until Mrs.
Rollins comes back to Flint for a visit. Chicago might as well be a million miles away from Flint and Miss Hill might as well be a squashed, crunched-up mess in a washing machine when it came down to helping me now.
I thanked the librarian for the bad news and went to sit at one of the big heavy tables so I could think what to do next. Going back to the Home was out, it used to be that we'd get a new kid every once in a while, but lately it seems like there's a couple of new kids every day, mostly babies, and they're most always sick.
It's not like it was when I first got there, shucks, half the folks that run it don't even tell you their name and don't remember yours unless you're in trouble all the time or getting ready to move out. After while I got my suitcase and walked into the regular air and stinking smells of Flint.
That library door closing after I walked out was the exact kind of door Momma had told me about. I knew that since it had closed the next one was about to open.
I went back under my tree and before I knew it I was asleep. As soon as the twig cracked my eyes snapped open and I was wide awake. I held my breath and kept as still as I could. Whatever it was that was sneaking up on me knew I'd woked up 'cause it stopped moving and kept as still as it could too. Even though my head was still under my blanket, I could feel two eyes staring at me real hard, and I knew these weren't critter eyes, these eyes made the hair on the back of my neck raise up the way only human beings eyes can do.
Without wiggling or jiggling around too much under my blanket I got my fingers wrapped around my jack- knife. Right when I was ready to push the covers off of me and start running or stabbing, whoever it was that had been watching jumped right on top of me. I was as frapped as a roach under a dishrag! I tried to guess the exact spot that the person's heart was at, then pulled my knife back. A voice said, "If you ain't a kid called Bud from the Home I'm really sorry about jumping on you like this!
When I tried to talk it felt like I had to suck all the air out of Flint, I finally got breathing right and said, "Doggone it, Bugs, it is me! You nearly scared me to death! He said, "I'm sorry, Bud, I didn't mean to scare you, but everybody knows how you like to sleep with that knife open so I figured I'd best grab hold of you so's you wouldn't wake up slicing nobody. I asked, "How come you aren't back at the Home?
I'm going back to riding the rails. When I heard about you beating that kid up so bad that you had to take off I figured it was time for me to get going too.
I thought you might be hanging around the library so I come down to see if you wanted to go with me. There's supposed to be a train leaving sometime tomorrow. Did you really beat that kid up in the foster home? How long's it take to get out west? Was he really two years older than you?
Is it fun to hop a train? We heard he was kind of big too, was he? I can't see how we can hop on a train, they look like they're moving pretty doggone fast. Did the guy cry after you whupped him? They even said I was a hoodlum. Will we be sleeping on the train and everything? Some of the time the train don't stop for two or three days.
Man, I always try to tell people that just because someone's skinny it don't mean they can't fight, you're a hero now, Bud! Well, how 'bout the toilet? How we going to use the toilet if the train doesn't stop? You get a real nice breeze.
That sounds great! Count me in, I can't wait! Now it was official, I finally had a brother! Bugs said, "We'll go down to the mission.
There's bound to be someone there that knows about where we can hop this train, then we'll be on the lam together! The only trouble was nobody knew exactly where Hooperville was.
It was dark before we found out the right direction. I'd never heard of a city that was so doggone hard to find.
We walked on a trail through some woods that run right up against Thread Crick. We could tell we were getting close to Hooperville 'cause we heard somebody playing a mouth organ and the smell of food cooking was getting stronger. We kept walking in the direction that the sky was glowing with a orangeish light.
When we could hear the music real clear, and folks talking to each other and the sound of sticks cracking in a fire, we started cutting through the trees.
That way we could peek into Hooperville first. We looked out from behind a big tree and saw that a big wind or even two or three big wolves huffing and puffing real hard could blow Hooperville into the next county. It was a bunch of huts and shacks thrown together out of pieces of boxes and wood and cloth. The Amoses' shed would've looked like a real fancy house here. Right near our tree was the big fire that had been lighting up the sky.
It looked like a hundred people were sitting around it, watching things burn or waiting for the food cooking in three big pots set up in the fire. There were two littler fires burning in Hooperville. One had a pot that was big enough to boil a whole person in it. A man was stirring things in the pot with a big stick and when he raised the stick up he'd pull some britches or a shirt out and pass it over to a white man who was hanging the clothes on a line to dry. There was a mountain of clothes on the ground next to him waiting on their turn.
The other fire in Hooperville was real small. It was off to the side, by itself. There were five white people sitting at this fire, two kids, a man, and a woman holding a little wrapped-up baby.
The baby sounded like all those new sick babies at the Home, it was coughing like it was a half-dead little animal. Bugs whispered, "Shoot, this ain't no city, this is just another cardboard jungle. We can't just go busting into this city and expect someone to feed us, can we? He rubbed it up against his britches and said, "Heads I win, tails you lose. He peeked underneath his right hand to see and a big smile cracked his face. Bugs said.
You lose. So what should 1 say? One of the white men said, "What is it you looking for? The mouth organ man said, "Naw, son, what you're looking for is Hooverville, with a v, like in President Herbert Hoover. Hoover worked so hard at making sure every city has got one that it seems like it would be criminal to call them anything else. This is exactly the Hooverville you're looking for. This was the exact same kind of circle- talking and cross-talking that Momma used to do. Bugs hadn't had that kind of practice, he came from behind the tree and said, "I don't get it, you said there were Hoovervilles all over the place, what if we was looking for the Hooverville in Detroit or Chicago, how could this be the right one to be in?
The raggedy little huts were in every direction you looked. And there were more people sitting around than I first thought too, mostly it was men and big boys, but there were a couple of women every now and then and a kid or two. They were all the colors you could think of, black, white and brown, but the fire made everyone look like they were different shades of orange.
There were dark orange folks sitting next to medium orange folks sitting next to light orange folks. This here is the right place for y'all to be 'cause we're all in the same boat. And you boys are nearer to home than you'll ever get. You might think or you might hear that things are better just down the line, but they're singing the same sad song all over this country.
Believe me, son, being on the road is no good. If you two boys are from Flint, this is the right Hooverville for you. That one looks like he ain't eaten in two or three months. But I didn't care, the food that was bubbling up in those three big pots even sounded delicious. A woman handed me and Bugs each a flat, square, empty tin can.
Please be careful not to chip it. She handed us two beat-up old spoons and said, "Don't be shy, you two just about missed supper, you'd best hurry up. It tasted great! We both even got seconds! When we were done, the woman told us, "You boys leave your bags here, it's time to do the dishes now.
I said, "You'll watch it yourself, ma'am? You'll make sure no one looks inside of it? Me, Bugs, a little white boy and a little girl loaded a whole mess of dirty tin cans and spoons and a couple of real plates and forks into a big wooden box and lugged them down to Thread Crick. The little girl had been in Hooverville the longest so she got to tell the rest of us what to do.
She said, "I don't suppose neither one of you new boys knows how to do dishes the right way, do you? What's your name? Me and the girl walked a little farther up the crick and started unloading the rest of the dishes. She handed me a rag and just as soon as she'd splashed one of the tin cans in the water and give it to me I'd dry it and stick it in the wooden box.
She said, "Where you say you was from? My daddy is. Folks say there's work out west so he's going to try again. She said, "Where's your momma and daddy? I squirmed my hand a-loose and said, "That's OK too. That's why me and my momma are going to wait together for him to come back or write for us to come to him.
She always used to tell me that no matter where I went or what I did that she'd be there for me, even if she wasn't somewhere that I could see her. She told me.. I quit talking and acted like I was having a real hard time drying the tin can she'd just handed me. She told me that as long as I remembered that I'd be OK. My momma says these poor kids on the road all alone are like dust in the wind.
But I guess you're different, aren't you, Bud? I guess you sort of carry your family around inside of you, huh? Inside my suitcase, too. She said, "So you been staying in a orphanage since your momma died? You still look young. Some folks think I'm a hero. Hero, we're the same age. But you have been staying in a orphanage. Deza Malone seemed like she was all right so I came clean with her.
And I wouldn't go back to the Home even if I could. It's getting so's there's too many kids in there. That's better than being cold and hungry all the time and dodging the railroad police. I didn't answer, I just kept drying tin cans. We got to the last four or five tin can plates and Deza said, "You ever kiss a girl at the orphanage? Why, you afraid of girls?
If I didn't kiss her she'd think I was scared of girls, if I did kiss her she might blab or Bugs might see me and tell strangers about what happened. I looked down the crick to where Bugs and the other boy were still splashing in the water. It was dark enough that I didn't think they could see us too good. I scooched my lips up and mashed my face on Deza Malone's. We stuck like that for a hot second, but it felt like a long time.
When I opened my eyes and pulled back Deza kept hers closed and smiled. She looked down and stuck her hand in mine again and this time I let her keep it there. She looked out at the crick and the woods on the other side and said, "Isn't this romantic? The only thing I could see was the moon like a big egg yolk way up in the sky.
You could hear the water and the sound of the mouth organ man playing a sad song back in Hooverville. I sneaked another peek at Deza's dimple. She said, "You hear that?
That's 'Shenandoah' he's playing. Isn't it pretty? She squeezed my hand and said, "Isn't it? It's about an Indian man and woman who can't see each other for seven years. But in all that time they still stay in love, no matter what happens. It reminds me of my mother and father. I pulled my hand from hers and said, "Well, that's just about it for the dishes. We loaded all the dishes in the box and walked down to Bugs and the other kid.
We put their dishes on top of ours and headed back. Bugs said, "How come you're looking so strange, Bud? You look like you been chunked in the head with a rock.
I said, "I don't know, I guess that song is making me kind of sad. I said to Deza, "How come they're off alone, they aren't allowed to sit around the big fire 'cause that baby's making so much noise?
All they're eating is dandelion greens soup, they're broke, their clothes are falling off of them, their baby's sick but when someone took them some food and blankets, the man said, 'Thank you very much, but we're white people. We ain't in need of a handout. Deza made us turn them all upside down so's if the rain got into them they wouldn't rust. I went to the woman with my suitcase. It was in the same spot I'd left it and the knots in the twine were the kind I tie.
I said, "Thank you very much, ma'am. The mouth organ man said, "I suppose you boys are going out on that train tomorrow? It's supposed to be pulling out at five-fifteen, but you never know with these freights. Bugs was snoring in two seconds, but I couldn't sleep, I opened my jackknife and put it under my blanket. I was thinking. Deza's momma was right, someone who doesn't know who their family is, is like dust blowing around in a storm, they don't really belong any one place.
I started wondering if going to California was the right thing to do. I might not know who my family was, but I knew they were out there somewhere, and it seemed to make a whole lot more sense to think that they were somewhere around Flint instead of out west.
I opened my suitcase to get my blanket. Even though I trusted the woman who'd guarded it for me I checked to make sure everything was OK. I picked up the tobacco pouch that had my rocks in it and pulled the drawstring open. I shook the five smooth stones out and looked at them.
They'd been in the drawer after the ambulance took Momma away and I'd had them ever since. Someone had took a pen or something and had writ on all five of them, but it was writ in a code so I couldn't understand what they meant.
One of them said "kent land in. Then I pulled out the envelope that had the picture of the saggy pony at the Miss B. Gotten Moon Park. It was fine. Next I counted the flyers again, all five were there, I slid all of them back, except for the blue one. I held it up so it could catch some of the light from the big fire.
I kept looking at the picture and wondering why this one bothered Momma so much. The more I thought about it the more I knew this man just had to be my father. Why else would Momma keep these? I used a little trick to help me fall off to sleep. I pulled my blanket right up over my head and breathed in the smell real deep. After doing this three times the smells of the shack and Hooverville were gone and only the smell of the blanket was in my nose. And that smell always reminded me of Momma and how she used to read me to sleep every night.
I could hear Momma's voice getting farther and farther away as I imagined I was in the story until finally her voice and the story all mixed into one. I'd learned that it was best to be asleep before Momma finished the story because if she got done and I was still awake she'd always tell me what the story was about.
I never told Momma, but that always mint the fun of the story. Shucks, here I was thinking I was just hearing something funny about a fox or a dog and Momma spoilt it by telling me they were really lessons about not being greedy or not wishing for things you couldn't have.
I took two more breaths and started thinking about the little hen that baked the bread. I heard, "Not I," said the pig.
I was asleep. I started dreaming about the man with the giant fiddle. He was walking away and I kept calling him but he couldn't look back. Then the dream got a lot better, I turned away from where Herman E.
Calloway was and there stood Deza Malone. I told her, "I really like your dimple. I ran outside. It was still dark and the fire was just a pile of glowing sticks. The man was screaming at the top of his lungs. They've fired the engine and are fixing to take off! Bugs said, "Is it a raid? Bugs said "Come on, Bud, get your stuff, we got to get on that train! I put my jackknife in my pocket and Bugs and I ran outside. I hadn't got six giant steps away when a boy stuck his head out the door and yelled, "Hey, Slim, is this your paper?
My blue flyer! I forgot to put it back in the suitcase! There were a million men and boys running in the same direction. I didn't want to fold the flyer up so as I was running I slid it between the twine and the suitcase, I'd put it back inside once we got on the train. No one was talking. All you could hear were the sounds of a million feet smacking on the trail and the sound of a million people trying to catch their breath.
Finally a hiss sound started getting louder and louder and I knew we weren't too far away. We broke out of the woods and there in the dark sat the train. The locomotive was hissing and spitting coal-black smoke into the sky, every once in a while a big shower of sparks would glow up from inside the dark cloud, making it look like a gigantic black genie was trying to raise up out of the smokestack.
The train went as far back as you could see, there must've been a thousand boxcars, but everyone had stopped and was just standing there watching. No one was trying to get on. I pushed my way to the front to see if I could find Bugs and I saw why everyone had stopped.
There were four cop cars and eight cops standing between the crowd and the train. The cops all had billy clubs and were spread out to protect the train.
The crowd kept getting bigger and bigger. One of the cops yelled, "You men know you can't get on this train, just go on back to Shantytown and there won't be no trouble.
You go get back in your cars and you'll be right, there won't be no trouble. I got kids to feed too, and I'd lose my job. Our side was getting bigger and bigger and the other cops started looking nervous. The one who was doing all the talking saw them fidgeting and said, "Hold steady, men. Pinkerton ain't paying me enough to do this. Everybody froze when the train whistle blew one long time and the engine started saying shuh-shuh-shuh. The big steel wheels creaked a couple of times, then started moving.
Four of the other cops threw their hats and billy clubs down too. The boss cop said, "You lily-livered rats," and it was like someone said, "On your mark, get set, go! I got pushed from behind and fell on top of my suitcase. Someone reached down and pulled me up. I squeezed my bag to my stomach and ran. The train was going faster and faster. People were jumping on and reaching back to help others.
I finally got to the tracks and was running as hard as I could. I looked up into the boxcar and saw Bugs. He screamed, "Bud, throw your bag, throw me your bag! Bugs caught it and when he set it behind him the blue flyer blew out of the twine and fluttered outside the door. But it was like a miracle, the flyer flipped over three times and landed right in my hand. Bugs reached one arm out and screamed, "Bud, don't stop! The car with Bugs in it was getting farther and farther away. Finally I stopped.
Bugs was leaning out of the door and stopped reaching back for me. He waved and disappeared into the boxcar. A second later my suitcase came flying out of the door. I walked over to where it landed and picked it up. Man, this is one tough suitcase, you couldn't even tell what it had been through, it still looked exactly the same. I sat on the side of the tracks and tried to catch my breath. The train and my new pretend brother got farther and farther away, chugging to Chicago.
Man, I'd found some family and he was gone before we could really get to know each other. There were six or seven other people who didn't make the train, so we all walked back toward Hooverville. They must've lit the big fire again, the sky in that direction was glowing orange. The cop that first threw down his billy club walked over to us and said, "He wasn't lying about the Flint police coming, but they're coming to bust up the shanty-town, you all should get out of here.
We all spread into the woods and sneaked up to see what had happened. I peeked from behind a tree and could see a bunch of cops standing around with pistols out. All the men and boys and women that were left in Hooverville were bunched up on one side and the cops were on the other.
The fire had been lit and was burning bigger than ever, but now it was burning because the cops were tearing all of the shacks down and were throwing the wood and cardboard and hunks of cloth into the middle of it.
One of the cops dragged the big clothes- washing pot over to the side and stuck his pistol down in it and shot four more times. Whew, instead of shooting people they were shooting holes into all of the pots and pans.
A man was yelling, "You yellow-belly lowlifes, you waited till you knew most of the men was gone, you cowards! I tried to see if I could spot Deza Malone but there were too many people. It seemed like the only good thing that came out of going to Hooverville was that I finally kissed a girl.
Maybe someone was trying to tell me Something, what with me missing the train and the blue flyer floating back to me, maybe Deza Malone was right. Maybe I should stay here in Flint. I walked back farther into the woods and sat down. I pulled the blue flyer out of my pocket and opened my suitcase back up. I smoothed the flyer out and took another good look at it. Maybe it came floating right back to me because this Herman E.
Calloway really was my father. Wait a minute!
I sat up. The names Caldwell and Calloway are a lot alike, both of them have eight letters and there aren't too many names that have a C, a A, a L, and a W all together like that. It said a good criminal chooses a alias that's kind of close to their own name. Except I couldn't figure out who was a criminal here and why anybody needed a alias. I wanted to stay and look for Deza and her mother but it was too hard to hear all the people crying and arguing.
I was still on the lam. I started walking. If I hurried I could get breakfast at the mission. I had to eat by myself, without the brown sugar. After I was through I went back to the library and sat under my tree to wait for it to open. I couldn't stop thinking about Deza Malone and her dimple. How could her father find them now?
Finally I saw people going into the library. The same librarian was there again. I said, "Good morning, ma' am. You know, after I went home last night I finally recognized you. Didn't you and your mother used to come in here a long time ago? I remember your mother used to like mysteries and fairy tales, isn't that so? She said, "I thought so! I said, "Thank you, ma'am" but I didn't get too excited 'cause I know the kind of things librarians think are special. I went over to a table and found Flint and Grand Rapids in the lines of the book.
I looked where the two lines met and it said That was going to be a good little walk. Next I wrote down Then divided it by 5, that came up to I figured it would be easiest to do the night part first so I decided to stick around the library until it got dark, then head for Grand Rapids. I wrote down all the names of all the cities I'd have to pass through to get there, Owosso, Ovid, St. John's, Ionia and Lowell, and put the paper in my pocket. When I took the cities book back the librarian was still smiling.
She said, "Til bet you've been dying to know what your surprise is, haven't you? The book was gigantic! I didn't want to tell her that I wasn't really interested in history, it was just that the best gory pictures in the world came from the Civil War.
And this book was full of them. It really was a great book. There's another thing that's strange about the library, it seems like time flies when you're in one. One second I was opening the first page of the book, hearing the cracking sound the pages make, smelling all the page powder, and reading what battle the picture on that page was from, and the next second the librarian was standing over me saying, "I am very impressed, you really devoured that book, didn't you? But it's time to close now.
You may start up again first thing tomorrow! I'd spent the whole day reading. Her words snapped a spell that was on me, and my stomach started growling right away. I was going to be too late for the mission. When she was walking me to the door the librarian stopped at her desk and said, "Now I know that knowledge is a food, but I couldn't help noticing you never went to eat. You must be very hungry. Thank you for everything. I started eating the cheese sandwich the librarian gave me.
And then I headed out for Grand Rapids. Both of them start real, real small and then If you look at a great big maple tree it's hard to believe it started out as a little seed.
I mean if you pick up one of those maple tree seeds and turn it over a couple of times in your hand there's no way your brain will buy that this little thing can grow up into something so big you have to bend your neck back just to see the top of it. Something so big that you can hang a swing on it, or build a tree house in it, or drive a car into it and kill yourself and any bad-lucked passengers that might be taking a ride with you.
Ideas are a lot like that, that's what the idea of Herman E. Calloway being my father started as, something so teeny that if I hadn't paid it no mind it would've blown away with the first good puff of wind. But now here it was so big and important and spread out. The idea first got started when I was looking in my suitcase at one of the flyers showing Herman E.
Calloway and his band. That was like the seed falling out of a tree and getting planted. It started busting its head out of the dirt when me and the other boys at the Home were getting our nightly teasing from the biggest bully there, Billy Burns. He'd said, "I don't even belong in this place.
I been put here by mistake and it ain't going to be long before my momma comes and gets me out. She must have a real bad memory.
Seems like since she was the one what dropped you off here she'd've remembered where she left you by now. You know, I've seen lots of people who have roach-infected houses, but you're the first person I've seen who's got a roach-infected head. I wouldn't expect a little ignorant roach-head like you to know nothing about folks coming back here to get you out, you don't even have no idea who your momma and daddy is.
Any fool you see walking down the street could be them. This is a sure-enough sad collection of souls here, I said, "That's not true, I know who my momma is, I lived with her for six years.
And what about your old man? How many years you live with him? I got a nickel here and you know what it says? He pretended the buffalo was talking, it had a deep voice like you'd figure a buffalo would. The idea got bigger and stronger when I'd sit up at night and wonder why Momma'd kept those flyers. It dug its roots in deep and started spreading out when I got old enough to understand that Momma must've known she wasn't going to be around too long and was trying to leave me a message about who my daddy was and why she couldn't never talk about him.
I knew Momma must be too embarrassed about why he wasn't with us and was trying to break it to me gentle. The only trouble was she waited too long. I mean what other reason could there be for Momma to keep all these things I have in my suitcase and treat them like they were treasures, and why did I know way down in my guts that they were real, real important, so important that I didn't feel comfortable unless I knew where they were all the time?
That little idea had gone and sneaked itself into being a mighty maple, tall enough that if I looked up at the top of it I'd get a crick in my neck, big enough for me to hang a climbing rope in, strong enough that I made up my mind to walk clean across the state of Michigan.
I opened my suitcase and pulled the flyers out before it got dark. I put the blue one with the writing about Flint on it on the bottom and looked at the others. Two of them had the same picture of Herman E. Calloway and the two guys but the first was called "Herman E. The first one was a drawing of a accordion and told about a band named "H.
Just like Bugs, I was going west!
It was like one of those days that it's raining on one side of the street and not on the other. Here you have Flint and a sidewalk, you take one baby step, and here you have country and a dirt path. I jumped in and out of Flint around seven times before that got boring and I decided I'd better head for Grand Rapids.
It was already very, very dark and unless things were different in the country it wasn't going to be getting light anytime soon. One hundred and twenty miles. It didn't take too much time before I figured out that twenty-four hours' worth of walking was a lot longer than I thought it would be.
I must've only been walking for a couple of minutes when everything changed. First off there were the sounds. Flint could be pretty noisy, what with cars honking horns and trucks with no mufflers on them shifting gears and people yelling out at each other so you couldn't tell if they were happy or about to bust out fighting.
Out here in the country the sounds were loud too, but what I was hearing was the sound of bugs and toady-frogs and mice and rats playing a dangerous, scary kind of hide-and-go-seek where they rustle around and try to keep away from each other or try to find each other.
Instead of being tagged and called "it" like the way human beings play the game, out here the ones that got got, got ate up. Every step I took toward Grand Rapids I could hear the sounds of mouse bones and bug skeletons being busted up by the teeth of bigger things.
Every once in a while a couple of cats would give out the kind of howls and yowls that would make the hair on your neck jump up if you were a human being and your heart turn into a little cup of shaky yellow custard if you were a mouse.
I walked and walked and walked.
Some of the time a car would come by and I'd have to duck into the bushes and wait till it had passed, so I don't think I was doing any five miles a hour. I felt like I'd been walking all night but I'd only gone through three little towns. I was getting so tired that I started to forget to duck in the bushes when a car would roar by.
Some of the time they'd see me and step on their brakes for a second, then speed off. Most times they never noticed me. Another car bounced over the top of a hill. The lights blinded me for a second and then I ducked into the bushes again.
The guy in the car stepped on the brakes to slow down and I could see him twist his neck around. He stuck the car in reverse and pulled to a stop about thirty giant steps away from where I was hiding. His door opened and he stepped out and started walking slow toward my bushes.
He brushed his hand over his head and put on a black hat like the kind the police or some army men wear. But all the cops I'd ever seen were white so I knew this guy must be a soldier.
He stopped and put his fingers to his lips and whistled. The whistle was so loud that it made me duck down and put my hands over my ears, it felt like he'd blown it right inside my head.
All the bugs and toady- frogs shut right up, they quit chasing and biting each other 'cause this had to be the loudest whistle they'd ever heard too.
Rocks were crunching as the man in the black hat walked a couple of steps up the road, then stopped again. For the second time he blasted my ears with that whistle. The noise-making critters in that patch of road got quiet. He said, "Say hey! I know my eyes aren't what they used to be, but I know they aren't so bad that they'd lie to me about seeing a young brown- skinned boy walking along the road just outside of Owosso, Michigan, at two- thirty in the morning.
I peeked up to see if I could get a better look at this man. He came closer to me, then stopped about ten giant steps away. In fact, what is definite is that neither one of us should be out here this time of night.
He'd left the door open and I could hear the engine of the car grumbling, it was saying, wugga, wugga, wugga, wugga, wugga. I don't know and I don't care why you're out here, but let me tell you I know you're a long way from home. Are you from Flint? I wonder how grown folks know so doggone much just by looking at you. Something was telling me to answer him but I still wanted to get a better look.
He stood up. I bet if I can't get you to come out with talk I got something else that might make you show your face. Just so happens that I've got a spare baloney and mustard sandwich and an apple in the car. You interested? How did he know I was so hungry? Then he said, "Might even have some extra red pop. What do you say? I turned my head and talked sideways out of my mouth like one of those ventriloquists. And please open the bottle of pop, sir, I don't have a bottle.
He squatted back down again and said, "Oh, no, can't do that. The deal is I feed you, you show me your face. The man stayed squatted down and said, "I knew I saw something.
A deal's a deal so I'll go get your food, all right? A second later he came back with a brown paper bag and a big bottle of red pop. I walked right up to the man like I was hypnotized. I forgot all my manners and reached right out.
He raised the bottle over his head. His hat wasn't a cop hat or a soldier hat, it was the kind of cap, men wore who drive fancy cars for rich folks. And it wasn't black, it was red. He said, "I've got a problem and I need you to help me figure it out.
This was Number The man said, "My problem is I'm not quite as brave as you are. I'm feeling very, very uncomfortable standing on the side of the road just outside of Owosso, Michigan, at two-thirty in the morning, and the sooner you can put my mind at ease about what you're doing out here the sooner we both can go about our business, OK? He waited a second, then nodded too. I nodded back. He said, "Well? Did you run away from home, Bud-not- Buddy?
He must've had it sitting in ice in the car, it was cold and sweet and delicious. After a couple of seconds he pulled the bottle away from my mouth. There's plenty here. The first thing I knew was that no matter what I told him this man wasn't going to let me stay out here by myself, but the nervous way he kept looking around was making things seem so scary that not staying out here was OK.
The second thing I knew was that I couldn't tell this man about the Home or the Amoses. I wasn't about to let him take me back to either one of them. The man said, "Where's home, Bud?
Maybe this guy would feel sorry for me and put me on a bus to Grand Rapids and I wouldn't have to do any more doggone walking. He must have some money, anyone driving a car like this would have to be rich or at least know somebody who was rich.
The man scratched under the back of his hat and said, "Grand Rapids! Something about the way he said it made me nervous but I answered him. I was glad I was going to be getting a ride but I said, "Sir, I left my suitcase over in the bushes, can we please get it? We went over to the bushes and I grabbed my suitcase. Then he walked me back to the car.
When he opened the passenger's side door I could see that there was a big box sitting on the front seat. The man never let go of my arm and wrestled the box over into the backseat. If he would've let go of my arm for just one second I would've run like the devil was chasing me.
Oh, man, here we go again! My heart started jumping around in my stomach. The only kind of people who would carry human blood around in a car were vampires! They must drink it if they were taking a long trip and couldn't find any people to get blood from. Published on Sep 14, SlideShare Explore Search You. Submit Search. Successfully reported this slideshow. We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads.
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