Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull (9 page)

Alex’s dad came back in the house. “Hey! Quiet down, all of you!” he said. “Go to sleep!”

And we did.

24
The Squid Delivers

The next morning, Alex’s parents made us pancakes.

Mom picked me up around ten o’clock. I was pretty tired when I got in the car.

“Did you have fun?” Mom asked.

“Uh-huh,” I said.

“Did you get a lot of candy?”

“Nope,” I said. “Hardly any.”

“Why not?” she asked.

“We didn’t get to go to very many houses,” I muttered. “And it seemed like the bigger the house, the smaller the candy bars. It was the least candy I ever got.”

“Hmmm,” Mom said. Then she drove for a while without saying anything.

I looked out the window. “Did Mabel get a lot of candy?” I asked.

“She did pretty well,” Mom said. “She wanted to come with me to pick you up, but I had some errands to do first, so she stayed home. She’s waiting for you.”

“Probably to show off her candy,” I grumbled.

“Probably,” Mom said. “Did you watch a movie?”

“Yeah,” I said. “
Space Gremlins.
Remember when we saw it?”

“I think so. Was it scary?”

“Not really,” I said.

“So you were okay?” she asked. “Nothing too horrifying?”

“No. Not at all,” I said. That was all I wanted to say—I didn’t want to talk about the Long-Fingered Man.

When we turned into the driveway, Matt was shooting baskets. Mom got out of the car and went in the house.

“Hey, Chickenmeister!” Matt said. “Did you freak out?”

“No,” I said.

“I told you. The Long-Fingered Man did his job.”

“I hate the Long-Fingered Man,” I said.

“That’s okay. He still did his job,” Matt said, dribbling the ball back and forth.

“Did you scare anybody?” I asked.

“Just Jared,” Matt said. “He screamed his butt off.”

I wished I could have seen that.

“The only problem was he had his little brother with him, and I scared him, too. Mom made me call up their parents and apologize.”

I smiled at him, and he gave me his evil older brother smile right back.

Matt bounced the ball a couple of times. “Did you have fun?”

I thought about that. Matt was really asking me like he was an older brother who wanted to know, not an older brother who wanted to prove I was an idiot.

“It was okay,” I said. “But I like it better around here.”

Matt smirked and shot a basket. “That’s because I’m here.”

I didn’t tell him he was partly right.

“Charlie!” The Squid was standing at the back door holding a big grocery bag. “Look what I have!”

“I know what it is, Squid,” I said. “I don’t want to see it.”

“Yes, you do,” she said. “It’s a lot!”

“I know it’s a lot. Don’t rub it in. I don’t want to see all your candy.”

“It’s not mine.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Mine’s in my room,” she said. “I counted it all up and there are eighty-seven pieces. This is yours!”

“What do you mean?”

“I told people that my brother couldn’t come trick-or-treating with me and I wanted to surprise him. I took along an extra bag, so everybody gave me some extra candy for you. This is for you, so you’re not mad about Brady being the rabbit bat.”

My mouth opened but no words came out. I couldn’t believe it. I walked up the steps and looked in the bag. It was filled with candy.

“Wow, Mabel,” I mumbled. “Thanks a lot.”

“You’re welcome,” she said with a huge grin that showed her two new front teeth.

Matt came over and looked in. “Whoa,” he said. “The Squid delivers.”

“I know,” I said.

“Are you still mad?” the Squid asked.

I shook my head. I wasn’t mad.

I had survived Halloween. And the Shrieking Skull.

And I had tons of candy.

And that was pretty good.

C
HARLIE
B
UMPERS

Don’t miss the other books in the Charlie Bumpers series—

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year,

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome,
and

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Perfect Little Turkey.

Also available as audio books.

And watch for the fifth book in the series, coming up soon!

HC: 978-1-56145-732-8

PB: 978-1-56145-824-0

CD: 978-1-56145-770-0

HC: 978-1-56145-740-3

PB: 978-1-56145-831-8

CD: 978-1-56145-788-5

HC: 978-1-56145-835-6

CD: 978-1-56145-893-6

BILL HARLEY is the author of the award-winning middle reader novels
The Amazing Flight of Darius Frobisher
and
Night of the Spadefoot Toads.
He is also a storyteller, musician, and writer who has been writing and performing for kids and families for more than twenty years. Harley is the recipient of Parents’ Choice and ALA awards, as well as two Grammy Awards. He lives in Massachusetts.

www.billharley.com

ADAM GUSTAVSON has illustrated many books for children, including
Lost and Found
;
The Blue House Dog
;
Mind Your Manners, Alice Roosevelt!
; and
Snow Day!
He lives in New Jersey.

www.adamgustavson.com

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