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Authors: Matt Christopher,The #1 Sports Writer For Kids

Tags: #JUV028000, #General Fiction

Soccer Scoop (8 page)

BOOK: Soccer Scoop
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Luckily it didn’t take long to get an answer. By the time the bell had rung at the start of school, kids were lined up for the latest issue of the
Within minutes, they were chuckling over the latest drawing smack in the center of the paper.

It showed a gorilla wearing Mac’s uniform number. The beast was standing on top of the prostrate body of the coach, beating his chest and shouting, “Me take over team! Me know more than you!”

For the first time since the cartoons had started appearing, Mac felt a grin spread over his face. Operation Payback was a success!

Now all he had to do was get a confession from his suspect.

School that day dragged by, and practice wasn’t any quicker. But finally both were over. After showering, the Cougars boarded the late-afternoon-activities bus.

The ride would give Mac the perfect opportunity to confront his man. He made sure he was seated right in front of his suspect. Dougie sat with him. When the bus started moving, he turned around to face the person sitting there: Billy Levine. Billy wasn’t alone, though. His girlfriend, Margie Lewis, was with him. But Mac didn’t care. He wasn’t about to let this chance pass by.

“Say, Billy, what’d you think of the cartoon in today’s
he asked.

Billy shrugged. “I dunno, I guess it was kind of funny. I mean, you were sort of like that at halftime Friday,” he mumbled.

“Oh, was I? Well, I’ll tell you something really funny.”

By now, others on the bus were listening.

“I’ll tell you what’s funny,” Mac repeated. “That whole business at halftime was just an act! And everyone, even the coach, knew it. Except you. And do you know why?”

Billy just blinked.

“Because I wanted to flush out the guy who’s been making fun of me in the paper, that’s why! And that’s just what I did. It is you, isn’t it? You’re the cartoonist!”

But to his amazement, Billy shook his head. “No, it’s not me!” he said angrily.
wouldn’t stab a teammate in the back like that. Guess I can’t say the same thing for the rest of you.” He glared at the other players, many of whom were hanging their heads and shuffling their feet. “Thanks a lot, guys. Nice to know how much you trust me.”

Mac was stunned. “But—but it has to be you! No one else would have known about what happened at halftime. And,” he added with more conviction, “you were there at the dance, too, when I couldn’t talk to Deanna because my mouth was so full. And then there’s Margie here—”

Mac glanced at the girl at Billy’s side, then did a double take. Margie was staring at him with narrowed eyes, her mouth a thin line of anger.

“How dare you set Billy up like that!” she cried. “That’s the meanest thing you’ve ever done to him—and from what I understand, you’ve done and said
of mean things!”

Mac couldn’t believe his ears. “What are you talking about?” he asked.

Margie imitated Mac’s voice:” ’do you think the mud on the backside of your uniform will ever come clean? ’ ’move it, Billy! Get the lead out! ’ ‘Come on, Billy! Think you could maybe give me a little help here for once?’”

Mac reddened as he recalled saying those very words to Billy—and more besides.

Margie continued, “Billys told me all about your never-ending commentary and how his playing factors into it. You’re always on his case. So I thought it was time to turn the tables. You’d ridiculed Billy long enough. I wanted you to see how it felt.”

Mac and Billy said in the same surprised voice.

Margie sat up straighter. “Yes,
me. I’m
the cartoonist.”

Dougie broke the awkward silence that followed Margie’s confession. “Say, Margie, if you’re still looking for more ammo to fire at Mac, I can help you out there,” he said in a deadpan voice. “I’ve been listening to his endless yakking for as long as I can remember.”

Jimmy started snickering. Several other boys did, too. At last, Mac and Billy had to join in. Finally even Margie cracked a smile.

“I don’t know, Dougie,” she said. “Something tells me my drawing days are over.”

“Billy, I’m really sorry if anything I said made you mad. I’ll be more careful in the future,” Mac promised.

“Then I won’t have anything to gripe about to Margie,” Billy said in a mock complaining voice.

Dougie slapped Mac on the back. “Somehow I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that,” he said. “I mean, come on. Hey, guys, who really thinks Mac will be able to keep his trap shut?”

All eyes swiveled to Mac. He opened his mouth to retort. But then, with a sly grin, he closed it triumphantly.

“Well, what do you know?” Jimmy said.
“Mac’s Mouth Made Mute!
Now that’s a front page headline for the newspaper!”

“Yeah, it’s a real soccer scoop!” Mac added before he could stop himself. As he clapped his hands over his mouth, the others crowed with laughter.

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BOOK: Soccer Scoop
10.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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