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Jacob and His Melting Bike

Jonathan Kravetz with illustrations by Johanna Li


Chapter 5
A Good Plan Goes Bad
link to chapter 1 2 3 4


"What are you two doing up so early?" Dad asked as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. "It’s summertime, don’t you remember? No school." Dad grinned like he’d told the funniest joke in the world. That was one thing about Dad. He was not funny. But he thought he was. I was always getting embarrassed when he tried to tell jokes.

I looked right at Michael, like I could control his mind just by staring. Please don’t, I thought. If he told on me, I was sure I wouldn’t get to ride my bike for a week.

I suddenly wished there was a dragon on the roof of our apartment. Maybe it would eat my brother.

"It's Jacob," Michael said.

He was going to tell. I slapped my hand against my forehead. And hard.

But then he said, "It was just Jacob. He couldn’t sleep. So I was sitting up with him."

I was shocked. Michael always told on me when he had the chance. And now he was letting me off the hook. What a relief! But it also meant he believed my treasure story. Now I had to figure out what to tell him when he saw there wasn't any treasure.

"That’s awfully nice of you," Dad said and then looked at me.

"Why couldn’t you sleep, Jacob?" he asked.

"I couldn’t stop thinking," I said. "I just have to find out what that new kid buried, Dad. Maybe it’s a secret weapon."

"Oh brother," Michael said and he rolled his eyes.

"Now how are you ever going to make friends with that kind of attitude?" Dad said.

"You shouldn’t assume the worst."

Did Dad want me just to march over to the new kid’s house and talk to him? Was he crazy? I could get kidnapped. I knew a kid back in Plainville who was kidnapped for a whole hour by an old lady on our street. Later, he said he was just having some homemade chocolate chip cookies, but Hali and I figured that the old lady had brainwashed him.

"We’ll talk about this later," Dad said. "I’m late for work." He shuffled into the kitchen.
Michael smirked. "I want to see that Ted Williams bat," he said, making sure to whisper Mr. Williams’ name. "Right after breakfast."

"Sure, no problem," I said.

"And if it’s not there, you’re in for it."

"No problem," I said again. There was no treasure, of course, and I knew I might still be in trouble. But I suddenly thought of a plan. I really couldn’t believe how fast I was thinking lately. I couldn’t wait to tell Hali. She had always been the fast thinker.

After breakfast Michael and I hopped on our bikes and started down the hill. Michael rode just behind me.

My plan was pretty simple. The new kid had already dug up the hole. I knew that. But Michael didn't know it! So I would just pretend that the treasure had been dug up after I told Michael about it. It was a good plan and one I'm sure Hali would have been proud of.

But it would be tough to pull off. I wasn't sure I knew how to be such a good actor. I tried to imagine what Hali's advice would be.

Jakie, she'd say. You need to act like you totally believe what you're saying. If you believe it, Michael definitely will. Then she'd probably put me in a head lock until we both started laughing.

I jumped down right at the pile of dirt I had found that morning. Michael hopped down beside me.

I stood with my mouth hanging open, like I was too amazed to speak.

"Where’s the treasure?" Michael asked.

"It’s gone," I whispered and then turned to face Michael.

"I buried it right here," I said. "There was no one around. Someone must have come and dug it up."

Michael got down on his hands and knees.

"You sure no one saw you?"

"Pretty sure. I don’t know now." I pretended I was too confused to think. I scratched my head like I was really trying to massage my brain cells.

Right then I could’ve blamed the new kid for stealing the treasure back. But I thought I’d let Michael figure it out. It would be more convincing if he thought of it himself.

"Well," Michael said. He touched his hand to his chin again to help him think.

"This is terrible," I said and pretended to start crying. Hali used to say that she wanted to be an actress someday, but I was starting to think I might be the one who had the talent.

Suddenly, Michael snapped his fingers. "I bet it was that new kid," he said, like he’d just invented the light bulb. "He probably saw you come down here this morning."

"Do you think so?" I almost started laughing out loud. But I knew that would ruin everything.

"He probably watched you from over there." He pointed into the woods. "When you left, he came and dug up the treasure."

"I guess you’re right, Michael," I said. "You’re so smart." I wiped away a fake tear. On the inside I was doing cartwheels because my plan had worked perfectly. Michael wasn’t going to tell on me about this morning. And he was convinced that the new kid had stolen the treasure. I really was off the hook. I could picture Hali rolling on the floor laughing as I told her all about it. In fact, I decided I would tell her in August when I visited Plainville. This was a story that had to be told in person.

Just then my brother pointed up the hill. His jaw dropped, practically to the dirt.

"It’s him," Michael said. I turned and looked over my shoulder. Oh no. It was the new kid! And he was walking right toward us.

"We’d better run away," I said. This would ruin everything. If Michael talked to him, he’d find out there was never any treasure and he’d tell Dad that I went outside without permission.

"We should get away before he gets us," I said and hopped on my bike. "He might be dangerous."

But Michael didn’t budge. Instead, he tightened his lips. The corners of his eyebrows pulled down. I knew he was mad when that happened.

"No way," Michael said. "I’m going to talk to this kid. He can’t just steal our treasure."

"But it was his in the first place," I yelled. My palms were getting sweaty again.

"Remember, I just dug it up and moved it."

It was no use. Michael wasn’t listening. He was taking long, angry breaths, and the new kid was almost down the hill. I was going to get in trouble, after all. For sure.


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