The next morning, I woke up before anybody. It was so early that I even saw the garbage man picking up trash on our street.
Im not supposed to go outside without permission. But I figured I could dig up the hole and get back in before anyone noticed I was missing. As long as Michael didnt wake up and tell on me. If he did, I knew Dad would punish me because I had shoved Gross Alex the day before. And that would mean no bike riding for a week.
It was colder outside than I thought it would be. A chill ran down my back. A few birds were chirping and an old guy, at least 30, was walking his dog.
I sped down the hill on my bike. My heart was racing like a wild horses. Its the same way I felt every time I had to stand up in school and give a report. Like I wanted to run away and hide. But I really wanted to dig up that box and find out if Michael was right about the new kid. Part of me hoped that he was wrong. After all, I sure liked the way the new kid dug a hole. Like he really meant it.
The road seemed longer than ever. I pedaled as fast as I could. I thought I saw a pair of yellow eyes watching me from the woods. Probably a hungry wolf. I just hoped he wouldn't want to eat a kid for breakfast.
When I finally got to the bottom of the hill, I rode into the clearing and started looking around for the hole. The rain must have messed up all of our footprints from the day before so it was a little hard to find the right spot.
Then I noticed a little mound of dirt and when I got closer I couldnt believe my eyes. There was a big hole next to the mound of dirt. Someone had already dug up the box! How could that have happened? Unless someone had gotten up even earlier than me.
It must have been the new kid. Maybe he had seen me yesterday and didnt want to take any chances. I knew then that Michael was right about him. This kid was up to something. And now I was even more determined to find out what. But first I had to get back home before Mum and Dad woke up.
I hopped on my bike and pedaled up the hill. A little morning dew had settled on my bike and I wanted to wipe it down when I got inside, just to make sure it didnt start melting.
When I looked up at our apartment I saw something terrible. It was worse than seeing a dragon perched on the roof, which I did see one time back in Plainville. It was Michaels round face looking down at me. And he was smirking.
I lugged my bike up the stairs, huffing and puffing as I went. I knew Michael was just waiting to tell Mum and Dad that Id been outside. That would mean I wouldnt be allowed to ride my bike for an entire week.
I almost freaked out. But then I figured there was only one thing I could do: try to talk my brother out of telling on me. Hali taught me how to do it one time. She wanted to borrow a kids wheelbarrow even though he didnt want her to. So Hali promised not to plunk the kid on the head with a baseball when we played his team. She is very accurate when she pitches and can hit a soup can from 50 feet away. The kid wasnt happy, but he let her use the wheelbarrow. He didn't know that Hali would never hit someone on purpose. At least, I dont think she would.
Hali was good at getting what she wanted. She called it "bribery."
Michael was standing near the door with his arms crossed when I came in. His hair was still messy from sleep and he was in his pajamas.
"Youre in for it when Mum and Dad get up," he said.
"Michael," I said. "Ill make you a deal." Thats what Hali always started off saying when she was going to steal the shirt off some poor kids back.
"Whatever deal it is," Michael said, "Im still telling. You know youre not supposed to be outside without permission."
I knew I had to act fast. Mum and Dad would be up any second. And I just couldnt bear not to have my bike for a whole week.
"Michael," I said, "I found some treasure in the box at the bottom of the hill. I was going to keep it all for myself..."
"What kind of treasure?" Michael interrupted. "I dont believe you."
"Lots of money," I lied. "Really, Michael. I couldnt believe it myself at first. Theres at least a hundred dollars down there."
"Youre lying," he said.
"No, honest. And some watches and a big crown with red jewels in it. And an autographed baseball bat."
"Whose autograph?" Michael asked. He scrunched the skin above his nose like he was really curious. I figured the baseball bat would get him.
"Ted Williams," I whispered. Dad always said Mr. Williams was the greatest hitter who ever lived. He made us promise to whisper every time we said his name. Out of respect.
"Really?" Michael asked. His voice went up an octave the way it always did when he was excited.
"Definitely," I said.
Then Michael shook his head. "You better not be lying. You know youre not supposed to lie. That will give me something else to tell Mum and Dad."
"Honest," I said. Then I remembered why I never tried bribing people. Because it didnt work for me. Hali was the only one good at it.
But I kept at it. It was the only chance I had.
"I re-buried the stuff in a different spot," I said. "Just so no one could find it except me. If you promise not to tell Mum and Dad I was outside, Ill share it with you. You can have the bat."
Michael held his hand against his chin, like he was thinking. I guess hed seen Dad do that a mess of times.
"Tell me where its buried first," he said. "Then maybe Ill let you off the hook."
I couldnt believe how fast I was thinking. "But if I do that, then youll have no reason not to tell," I said. "We have to make a deal."
Michael looked me straight in the eye and then he smirked.
Suddenly, the door to Mum and Dads bedroom popped open and I could hear someone shuffling out. I looked at Michael. I was scared because I didnt know what he was going to do. My chest was heaving in and out. I felt like a panting dog. It was Dad who stepped into the room.
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