MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK
FISHING FOR PETS
I never win anything. I don’t know why I even try. But I really wanted a goldfish. And you could win one at the carnival just by getting a Ping-Pong ball into one of the small bowls stacked up on a table. I tried and I tried, but they kept bouncing off the edges.
“I give up!” I shouted. I hurled my last ball at the bowls as hard as I could. It smacked one on the rim, shot straight up, smacked the top of the booth, shot back down, bounced up again, then fell into a tiny golden bowl all the way in the back.
“Winner!” the guy in the booth shouted. “You win the grand prize! Nobody has done that in ages.” He bent over and reached under the counter.
“I just want a goldfish,” I said.
Before I could explain anything more, he straightened up and plunked something warm and furry into my arms.
I stared at it. It stared back.
“That’s a monkey,” I said.
“Yes, indeed,” the man said. “And you are one lucky kid.”
I tried to think up the best way to explain that my parents would never let me bring home a monkey.
“Tell them you won it,” the man said. “We’re closing up in an hour. We’ll be gone by the time they come back. They’ll have to let you keep it.”
I wasn’t sure I wanted to trick my parents. But how could I say no to my very own monkey? I really couldn’t.
On the way home, I decided to name him Snickers, because that was my favorite candy bar. He seemed to like that.
“Look what I won!” I said as I walked into my house.
Dad stared. Mom stared.
“That’s a monkey,” Mom finally said.
“I think you’re right,” Dad said.
“Take it back,” Mom said.
“I can’t.” I looked at the clock on the wall. “The carnival is closing soon.”
“We’ll see about that,” Dad said. He grabbed my hand and headed out the door.
I clutched Snickers and raced along next to Dad. The carnival was still open when we got there.
“We want to return this monkey,” Dad said.
“Sorry, all prizes are final.” The man pointed to a sign that pretty much contained those same words.
“I don’t care what the rules are,” Dad said. “Take back this monkey.”
The man leaned forward. “I’ll tell you what. I really can’t do that. But here’s what I’ll do.” He held up a Ping-Pong ball. “I’ll give you a free play.”
Dad snatched the ball out of the man’s hand and flung it past him as hard as he could. “I don’t want a free play!”
The ball smacked into the rim of one of the bowls, shot in the air, bounced off the ceiling of the booth, smacked another bowl, and another, and then rolled around the rim of a final bowl three times before falling into the water.
The bowl was golden. So was the water.
“Winner!” the man shouted. “Wait right here.” He dashed behind the booth.
“Run,” I told Dad.
But before we could skitter away, the man came back holding hands with a small gorilla. And a small gorilla is a very big animal.
Whatever else Dad was going to say got cut off as the gorilla leaped into his arms and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
We staggered home.
Mom was not pleased.
“We’ll see about this,” she said as she stormed off toward the carnival.
“I hope it’s an orangutan,” I said as I watched her leave.
“A gibbon would be nice,” Dad said.
She came back with a goat.
The Wykowski triplets, Edith, Mercy, and Rhea, were struggling up Bard Street. Three things added to their struggle. They were the smallest kids at Chester Burnett Elementary School. Bard Street was the steepest street in town. And Bard Street was the only way to get home from school. They’d received new textbooks for all of their subjects, and had to take them home to get covered. Bent under the weight of their backpacks, they fought for every small step.
Brawler Einhorn had no trouble walking up the hill. He was the fifth-strongest kid at Chester Burnett Elementary School, and could have almost carried all three Wykowski backpacks, along with all three Wykowski kids. But Brawler wasn’t the helpful sort. Quite the opposite, he was a bit mean. (Some of his classmates felt this was caused by his failure to even make the top three when it came to strength.) He was also in a bad mood because he’d had to stay after class to get a lecture about paying more attention.
Copyright © 2020 by David Lubar