Authors: Megan McDonald
“Is that the elbow that was in the paper?” Jessica asked.
Judy drew a mad face on her famous elbow and pointed it at Jessica.
“Hey, Judy? Want to come over to my house after school?” asked Jessica. “I could show you my glow-in-the-dark spelling posters.”
“Can’t,” said Judy.
“I have to feed Jaws, my Venus flytrap.”
“How about tomorrow?”
“I feed it every day,” said Judy.
“How about after you feed Jaws?” asked Jessica.
“Homework,” said Judy.
The truth: by Friday Judy was almost bored enough to go to Jessica’s. Rocky had to stay at his grandma’s after school for a week because his mom was working late, and Frank could hardly do anything with a broken finger.
Too bad she had finished operating on all the hospital dolls so quickly. Making a cast was the best!
If only she could try making a bigger cast, on a human patient. But who? Stink would not let her near him with wet oogey newspaper.
Judy looked back at Jessica Finch. Maybe she did not look like a Pinch Face. Maybe she did not look like an aardwolf. Maybe she looked like . . . a doctor’s dream. The perfect patient!
“Hey, Jessica,” Judy asked, “how would you like to get your arm in a cast?”
“It’s not broken,” Jessica said.
“Who cares?” said Judy. “It’s just for fun.”
“Sure, I guess. Does this mean you’ll come over? I can show you my spelling posters.”
“How does today after school sound?” asked Judy.
When Judy got to Jessica Finch’s house, the two girls went up to Jessica’s room. Judy looked around. All she could see were pigs. Pink pigs. Stuffed pigs. Piggy banks. A fuzzy piggy-face rug. Even Jessica’s bed looked like a pig wearing a pink skirt.
“You like pigs!” said Judy.
“What was your first clue?” Jessica laughed in her hyena way.
Judy touched the spelling bee prize ribbons Jessica had hanging on the wall. Jessica showed Judy her scrapbook, with all the times her name had been in the paper.
“Wow,” said Judy. “Did they ever spell your name wrong?”
“Once. Jessica Flinch!”
“Judy Muddy!” said Judy.
“Look! Here are all the spelling posters I made.” Jessica pointed to the wall next to her bed.
“Hey, they’re green. How come they’re not pink too?”
“Because they glow in the dark. Wait.” Jessica pulled down the shades and turned off the light.
The room lit up with glow-in-the-dark words. All the spelling words from Mr. Todd!
“What’s a breadsicle?” Judy asked. “Is that like pumpernickel?”
“Hey, you’re good,” said Jessica. “See, I make up fake words and play a game to see if I can fool myself. Want to play? Or we could play the pig game. Instead of dice you get to roll little plastic pigs.”
“What about making a cast?” said Judy.
“You’re not going to break my finger or anything, like you did to Frank, are you?”
“No! Besides, it was an accident,” Judy said.
“Okay. So. What do we need?” asked Jessica.
“Newspaper. Water. Glue.”
“This comes off, right?” said Jessica.
“Right,” said Judy.
There must be some way to get it off,
she thought. “We have to let it dry first. Then we paint it.”
“Can we paint it pink?” asked Jessica.
“Sure,” Judy said.
Rare. A pink cast.
“I’ll go get some old newspapers,” said Jessica.
When she came back, she said, “All I could find was today’s, so let’s hope my parents have already read it!”
Judy and Jessica tore the paper into strips. Judy could not wait to see the pink cast. This was her biggest operation yet!
Judy dipped paper strips into the sticky mixture and carefully placed them one by one on Jessica’s arm.
“Ooh. It feels icky,” said Jessica. “Are you sure this is going to work?”
Jessica was as bad as Stink. “Here,” said Judy, handing Jessica more newspaper. “Tear up some more strips. I’m running out.”
Jessica handed Judy a strip. At the top was the word PHANTOM. Jessica handed Judy another strip. STRIKES. A third. HOSPITAL.
“Stop!” said Judy. “Where’s the rest of this story?” She peered at Jessica’s arm. “Page B six. Where’s page B six, huh?”
“Oh. I think I already ripped it up.”
Judy tried to read Jessica’s wet, oogey arm, but all she could make out were the words
. “What did it say?” she asked in a panic.
“Phantom strikes county hospital, or something.”
“Or something, what?”
“I don’t know. What’s the big deal?”
Judy stood up suddenly, scattering paper strips everywhere. “I gotta go!”
“You what? Wait! My arm! You can’t just . . . What about my pink cast?” But Judy was already out the door.
She, Judy Moody, Doll Thief, would be famous all right. For going to jail. Just like Stink said.
“Home already?” asked Mom. “How was Jessica’s? Fun?”
“I . . . did you . . . where’s . . . the . . . paper?” Judy asked, out of breath.
“Today’s paper? Right here,” said Dad, pushing it across the table toward Judy.
Judy flipped through the paper madly. But when she got to Section B, all she saw was a giant hole.
“Who cut up the paper? Stink?” she said, shooting him her best stinging-caterpillar eyebrow look.
“Oh, I did,” said Dad. “Here, I tacked it up right here on the fridge.”
He read out loud:
PHANTOM DOLL DOCTOR STRIKES COUNTY HOSPITAL
On Saturday, October 17, Grace Porter, a member of the nursing staff at County General, noticed that several of the dolls that had been donated to the hospital for its Magic Playroom were missing.
“Funny coincidence,” said Mom. “That was the same day we took Frank to the hospital!”
“Ha. Funny,” said Judy, trying to smile. Mom would not find it so funny when she learned that her only daughter was an all-out, true-blue, I-before-E thief.
Dad continued reading:
The missing dolls created quite a stir. Young patients who use the Magic Playroom in the Children’s Wing spent days speculating as to the identity of the doll thief.
“Isn’t that where I found you two?” asked Mom. “The Magic Playroom?” Judy’s mother sounded just like a detective.
Curiously, a mysterious package was received a few days later, with all the dolls magically cleaned, scrubbed, fixed, or mended. Each one was tagged, dressed in a hospital gown, and had been properly “doctored” with fancy Band-Aids, slings, and casts.
Dad paused and said, “Hmm. Band-Aids.”
A special doll with a once-broken heart was given to patient Laura Chumsky, who recently underwent the hospital’s twenty-ninth heart transplant. On behalf of Laura Chumsky and all the young patients, the hospital staff would like to thank the anonymous donor, the Phantom Doll Doctor, for this kind contribution.
“It sounds like one of the superheroes in my comics!” Stink said.
“That’s quite a story,” said Dad, grinning.
“Let me see that,” Judy said. She had to see it, had to read it, with her very own eyes. “Phantom Doll Doctor,” she repeated, touching the words in the headline. “Rare!”
“What a thoughtful thing for someone to do,” said Mom.
“Wish I’d thought of it,” said Dad, tacking the article back up on the refrigerator with a pineapple magnet. There it was, front and center in the Moody Hall of Fame.