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Authors: Wendelin Van Draanen

Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy

BOOK: Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy
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For more than forty years,
Yearling has been the leading name
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for young readers.

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A
LSO BY
W
ENDELIN
V
AN
D
RAANEN

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How I Survived Being a Girl
Flipped
Swear to Howdy

Shredderman: Secret Identity
Shredderman: Attack of the Tagger
Shredderman: Meet the Gecko
Shredderman: Enemy Spy

Published by Yearling, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books a division of Random House, Inc., New York

Text copyright © 1999 by Wendelin Van Draanen Parsons
Interior illustrations copyright © 1999 by Dan Yaccarino

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law. For information address Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.

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eISBN: 978-0-307-54540-4

Reprinted by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

v3.1_r1

To the woman who knocked on my door looking
for a jacket, and walked away with one … 
and a piece of my heart.

 

Special thanks to those colleagues at St. Joseph High School who have given me encouragement and support, especially Dave Siminski, Greg Sarkisian, Toni Jetter, Brenda Curlee, Phyllis Sabo, Sheila Zierman, Lanny Ahler, Susan Schmitt, Sharon Domingues, Ann Morris, Elizabeth Gregory, and Barbara Rieger. Thanks, too, to Greg, Dave, Sheila, Staci Cochiolo, and Jim Armstrong for their technical advice and help with research.

Also, thanks, as always, to Mark and Nancy. Where would I be without you?

Contents

Not to pray my way out, like most people. No, to
work
my way out. It’s a long story, but I was doing time at St. Mary’s because Vice Principal Caan thought twenty hours of community service was a good way to make up for the way I’d used and abused the school’s PA system.

And really, I didn’t mind. Helping Father Mayhew in the church after school was a whole lot better than detention. Trouble is, while I’m in the middle of scrubbing dirt off Baby Jesus’ stained-glass face, Father Mayhew discovers that something’s just been stolen.

And the only people in the church are him—and me.

Father Mayhew isn’t the kind of man you’d ever steal from. And it’s not because he’s big and blustery or mean, because he’s not. It’s because he’s priestly. Now, lots of priests walk around during the day
acting
holy, but when they’re all alone, there’s no doubt about it—they pick their noses and burp and pass gas just like you and me.

Not Father Mayhew. Well, okay, maybe he burps now and then, but you can bet he says, “Excuse me!” to God when he does it. The point is, Father Mayhew is holy. Very holy. He walks with a glow, if that makes any sense, and he never raises his voice. Ever.

I think part of the reason he never raises his voice is because of his accent. He’s Irish and his A’s and R’s kind of roll around in his mouth a bit before they come out. That, and he says lad and lass a lot, so he always
sounds
friendly, even when he’s talking about burning in Hell.

Father Mayhew has medium brown-gray hair that kind of waves back over the top of his head, and his nose and teeth are just your ordinary sniffer and chompers. It’s his eyes that are unusual. They’re speckled. I think they’re brown to begin with, but they’ve got so many green and blue and yellow spots in them that it’s hard to tell. And when you look at them, you realize that everything else
about Father Mayhew may seem ordinary, but his eyes are definitely complicated.

I first met him about two weeks after my mother dumped me at Grams’ so she could run off to Hollywood and become a movie star. Grams figured that she finally had her chance and decided to have me baptized, so she hauled me to St. Mary’s, and after a long meeting with Father Mayhew, well, there I was at the altar, getting doused with holy water while Grams sprinkled the ground with tears.

It didn’t mean a whole lot to me, but I knew it was important to Grams. Funny thing is, after I got splashed with holy water, St. Mary’s felt kind of like home. Father Mayhew started saying, “Good afternoon, Samantha,” when he’d see me walking by, and when he’d ask me, “How are you, lass?” his complicated eyes would twinkle a bit, like he really wanted to know.

So when Grams talked to Father Mayhew about having me serve my twenty hours of detention at St. Mary’s, he was very sympathetic and seemed glad to have an extra hand helping out.

When I reported to Father Mayhew’s office for my first day, I saw a bucket of white paint, a roller, and a stack of rags on the floor, and Father Mayhew, removing pictures from the wall behind his desk. “Good afternoon, Samantha,” he says, “I thought painting might be good penance.” He leans an oil painting of the pope in front of one of Jesus on the cross. “Sort of a cleansing process, eh, lass?”

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