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Authors: Steven Herrick

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction/Action & Adventure General

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BOOK: Tom Jones Saves the World
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Our old town
Dad's always been like that.
Original?
Unique?
Unusual?
Mad!
In our old town,
not far from here,
he had more time
to spend with me.
We'd play cricket in the backyard,
and he'd bowl these wild
spinners that seemed to
turn at right-angles.
“Here's my astronaut ball, Thomas,” he'd say.
Then he'd bowl one
really high
so high it took forever to land.
I'd smash it over
the neighbour's fence.
Mum would say,
“Another astronaut in space, dear?”
Then Dad got this new job
and we moved here.
Now he's always working.
Our old town is so close
yet
it's a million kilometres away.
Barbara
My Mum is Barbara.
She used to be an Accountant as well,
but she “retired”
to have a baby (that's me!).
Dad calls her
The Minister for Home Affairs.
And she does
spend a lot of time at home.
She loves cleaning, and cooking,
and gardening.
I try to tell her about
Feminism
and Equality of the Sexes,
but she just says
“Tom, darling,
why would I want to
be anywhere but here,
with you and Arnold.”
(Dead Parent Wish # 4?)
Shock! Horror! Belly!
Now,
that's the Barbara
that Dad knows.
And it's the Barbara
that Mum wants the world to see,
but
I know a different Barbara.
One day, two weeks ago,
I came home early from school.
As I'm unlocking the back door
I hear this really loud music—
bongos, drums, and strange wailing sounds,
coming from upstairs.
All the curtains are drawn.
I quietly close the door
and follow the sound.
I'm a little scared.
It could be a burglar
with mad musical tastes
robbing our house!
But no,
It's Mum,
dressed in some weird
Middle Eastern costume
with balloon trousers,
spangled top,
and bare
totally naked!!! stomach
belly dancing
in front of the bedroom mirror.
Luckily,
she's so involved in her dance
she doesn't see me
so I duck into the hall closet
leaving the door open
just enough to watch
Barbara
Barbara
Barbara the Belly dancer!
glide, shimmy, shake,
and gyrate through an hour
of dance.
Mum's pretty good too
and here in the dark of the closet,
I realise,
that to be this good
Mum must have been
dancing and practising for ages.
Me and Dad
never knew.
Dad would have a heart attack.
Maybe I should tell him!
(Dead Parent Wish # 5)
School
Now get this.
Our suburb is so new
it doesn't have a school.
Every morning
a bus picks up all the children
outside the gate
and drives us to
Muttaborra Primary School.
It's the oldest school I've ever seen
with three wooden buildings
surrounded by huge old fig trees
and a toilet block
that looks like it was built
a few years after Captain Cook arrived,
and smells like it too!
Muttaborra was a dairy farm
until someone had the bright idea
of building hundreds of new homes
in the meadows.
In two years the school
has gone from one teacher and twenty children
to
six teachers and one hundred and forty kids,
and one very angry snake
that lives near
the boys' toilets.
Class 6 W
I like Ms Watkins.
It's her first year as a teacher.
Each Monday she adds a prize
to her
Treasure Chest of Mystery,
which is a wooden basket
of wrapped presents on her desk.
During the week
she awards points for
Behaviour
Attitude
Correct Answers
Creativity.
All our names are on a
scoreboard near the door.
At Friday recess
Ms Watkins awards
the highest point-scorer of the week
with a wrapped present from her basket.
It's four weeks into the year
and I'm still trying to win.
Why?
I think it's because
everyone likes the mystery
of the Prize.
It doesn't matter what it is.
It's a surprise.
Bribery
When I told Mum and Dad
about wonderful Ms Watkins
and her Awards List
Dad said,
“Bribery is an outmoded
and ill-advised form of
social engineering.”
Double Dead Parent Wish # 6!
Time and motion
Yes,
my Dad talks weird.
Since his new job
it's got worse.
He's obsessed with something called
“Time and Motion”
He says,
“Maximise time.
Maximise life!”
Mum says
Dad has a lot of worries
with a new job
a new car
a new house in
a new suburb.
I think
he needs a new brain as well!
Money
We moved here
because of Dad's job.
“Appearances, Thomas.
One must look successful
to be successful.”
Over dinner
Dad goes on and on about
Share Trusts
Managed Funds
Warrants
Investment Portfolios
and Money.
Always money.
My Dad is being slowly
painfully
boringly
brainwashed.
I want my real Dad back!

Chapter Two

GRANDPA JONES AND THE FUNERAL
Grandpa Jones
Last week,
I met Grandpa Jones.
It was at my Aunt's funeral,
in our old town.
What a day.
Everyone dressed in black,
in church,
listening to the Priest
talking about Aunt Ella
when we hear a bottle smash outside
followed by lots of swearing.
We all turn to see
a very old man
with long grey hair and beard
dressed in an oversized suit
holding a walking stick
and swaying.
He lifts his walking-stick
knocks on the already open door
and says
“Is this the funeral for Ella,
the old battleaxe?”
Welcome, Grandpa Jones!
Shock! Horror! Drunk!
It got better.
Lots better.
Grandpa Jones stumbled
down the aisle
singing, yes, singing,
“Here comes the bride
here comes the bride
big, fat, and wide
slipped on a banana peel
and died died died.”
He sat in the front row
next to Dad and said
in a loud voice,
“hello Arnie,
going bald, I see!”
and motioned for the Priest
to continue,
then fell asleep and snored
throughout the eulogy
and all the singing
and even when they carried
poor Aunt Ella's coffin out of the church.
Everyone stood to follow
trying to be really quiet
so as to not wake Grandpa Jones,
and we would have made it
if only Grandpa hadn't burped
really loudly in his sleep
and I couldn't help but laugh
which woke
Grandpa
who picked up his walking-stick
and followed us
still singing—
“there goes the bride
there goes the bride
with a face so ugly
she should stay inside.”
The Grandpa Jones list of things to do at a funeral
1 At the cemetery, as the coffin
was lowered into the ground,
Grandpa Jones sang,
“She was an Ella of a girl she was...
She was an Ella of a girl she was...”
2 When all the relatives threw flowers into the grave,
Grandpa walked over to a gum tree,
broke off a small branch,
and threw that onto Aunt Ella's coffin.
3 Everyone filed past the Priest and shook his hand.
Grandpa patted him on the back and said,
“Good game, son,
good game.”
4 We all slowly walked back to the cars.
Grandpa jumped into the back of the hearse
and asked to be taken to the Wake
at Aunt Pat's house.
5 At the Wake, we all sat around,
nibbling Aunt Pat's cakes,
and talking quietly about how nice Aunt Ella was.
Grandpa Jones went to the kitchen,
made himself a huge sandwich,
sat on the lounge, and sang some more.
The moon and the stars
I talked to Grandpa Jones
later that night.
I was sitting on the back steps
looking at the moon and the stars
and hoping Aunt Ella was happy,
wherever she was,
when I heard a burp
from behind the trees
in the backyard.
It was Grandpa Jones,
doing up his trousers
and looking up at the sky saying
“there's nothing like
going to the dunny
under a full moon.
It makes you glad
to be alive.”
Then he saw me,
smiled and said
“Hello, Tiger,
all the beer finished inside, is it?”
He sat down next to me.
He didn't look so scary up close.
He had big sad eyes,
and his hands shook,
even when he placed
them in his pockets.
He started telling me
about Aunt Ella.
Good stories.
Not rude ones, not mean ones,
but stories about
how nice and friendly she was.
After a while Grandpa Jones
looked at me and said
“You're Arnie's son
aren't you?
You're Tom?”
I said I was
and that he was my Grandpa
and I stood up
and shook his hand
as Dad had taught me.
“You're Arnie's son all right,”
said Grandpa
as he shook my hand.
The deal
I told Grandpa Jones
about our new house
and Dad's three-bedroom
bottle top collection.
We both laughed at that.
We sat together
on the wooden steps
for a long time
and Grandpa talked
about where he lives now
and how he's only allowed out
for funerals, weddings,
and the occasional picnic
with the other old people from the home,
which he hates,
because he's not allowed to drink.
He laughs some more,
and says,
“You've noticed I like
a drink or three
haven't you, Tom?
I'm not like your Dad.”
And even though
Grandpa is a rude old bloke
I felt sorry for him,
stuck in the Old People's Home
so I told him I'd visit
if he promises not to drink
for the day when I'm there.
He held out his hand,
still trembling,
and we shook.

Chapter Three

CLEO AND THE ESCAPE PLAN
Cleo and the pinhead parents
Why can't I be like normal kids,
with normal parents?
Parents who go off to work,
come home at night,
say, “How was your day at school, Cleo?”
Parents who lead
boring lives, like everyone else.
But no,
I have to have pinhead parents
obsessed with their work
digging up ancient bits of rubbish
from all over the world
which means
they go to China,
and leave me here
with my Aunt Ruth
and Uncle Robert
in this stupid suburb
that looks like a prison,
miles from anywhere.
Why can't my parents be bank managers,
or own a shop,
or work in an office?
Why do I have to have
archaeologists
who leave 400-year-old vases
scattered around the spare bedroom
which I'm never allowed to enter?
I tell them
if I want to look
at a pile of old rubbish
I'll go to the Council Dump.
BOOK: Tom Jones Saves the World
13.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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