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Authors: Steven Herrick

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction/Action & Adventure General

Tom Jones Saves the World (6 page)

BOOK: Tom Jones Saves the World
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Cleo's letter #2
Dear Mum and Dad,
Thanks for the bottle tops—it's the best present ever!
And I'm sure I'll get a top mark for my Project.
My friend Tom is helping me with it.
Tom says his Grandpa has been to China, long ago.
His Grandpa says the Great Wall made him stare in wonder.
I hate walls, but I'm sure it's big, and much better than the walls around here.
Uncle Robert and Aunt Ruth are well. Uncle Robert is taking cooking lessons, but it doesn't seem to be helping. Last week we had to take the dog to the vet after Uncle Robert's Chicken Surprise.
Don't worry, I didn't eat any! Aunt Ruth wouldn't let me.
Well, thanks again for the bottle tops.
If you find any more, keep sending them.
I'm sure Tom and I will find a use for them.
Love
Cleo

Chapter Nine

TOM FALLS IN LOVE ... WITH A DICTIONARY!
Cleo plan # 3
This is the month
of my brilliant plans.
Yep,
I'm in Maths,
again.
I'm thinking of Tom's Dad
and how he talks
in really strange sentences.
It's hard not to giggle
when I visit Tom.
I wonder if his Dad
knows how silly he sounds?
So,
what if Tom talks at home
the way his Dad does—
As a test?
Maybe, just maybe,
Tom's Dad will hear himself
and realise how troppo he sounds.
Simple!
Of course,
the opposite may occur
and he'll love Tom
sounding like him
and then Tom will
have to keep talking that way.
I may fail Maths,
but I deserve an
A
for ideas!
My love affair with the dictionary
All week, at lunchtime,
Cleo and I have sat in the Library
with the school dictionary.
I've learnt
vertigo
means dizziness,
trumpery
means showy but worthless
voracious
means greedy
footle
means to play the fool
and the best one so far—
twaddle
—which means to talk silly nonsense!
I'm sure Cleo's plan
isn't going to work
and, even worse,
what if I start learning
so many of these words
I can't help myself
and start using them naturally?
I'll end up like my Dad!
Dinner with Dad
“I say, Thomas,
would you consider
transporting the mashed potato
in my direction, please?”
“Certainly, Father.
The consistency and flavour
makes one positively voracious,
don't you agree?”
“Pardon, Thomas?”
“I said the taste and aroma of
Mother's cooking has me feeling
a sense of vertigo in anticipation
of the next delights. I don't wish
to footle but this cooking
certainly displays no sign of trumpery.”
“Ah, yes, quite.”
“Not wishing to indulge in
speaking twaddle, but wouldn't
you concur that “exquisite” would
be an apt word to use at this stage
in our degustation?”
“I ... I ... I...
I just wanted some potato.”
“And potato as delicate and memorable
as silk. The pure definition of heaven
can be found by treating oneself to
such an experience.”
“Yeah ... Thomas...
it's good.”
Rejoice (meaning “to celebrate, have fun, etc”)
Arnold stopped talking
for the rest of dinner.
I love Cleo!
Thomas extends his vocabulary
“Good morning Mr Smith.
Thank you for protecting
we children from the ravages
and dangers of the outside world.
You are a hero, a legend,
a colossus rolled into one.”
“What?”
“A colossus!
A giant among men.
A guard of intellect, valour,
and wisdom.”
“Yeah...
Well...”
“You should be Mayor
of Pacific Palms, not guard.
You could outlaw rubbish!
Make anyone who forgets
their Personal Entry Number
pay a toll!
Vote One, Mayor Smith!”
“Mayor?
Me?”
“Ruminate on this today, sir.
A chance awaits.
I must depart.
The bus beckons.”
“Ruminate?
Hey.
No one's allowed to
ruminate in public
when I'm Mayor!”
“Ruminate!
Not urinate!”
“Oh well.
That's different...
I think?”
Cleo
On the bus
to school,
Tom says I'm
brilliant
perfect
fantastic
splendid
illuminating
innovative
rare and treasured
invigorating
luminious
captivating
and
really really really smart!
I think he likes me!
Tom
No,
I haven't turned into Dad.
Not yet.
Poor Mr Smith.
He looked so confused.
Still,
it stopped him
going on about rubbish.
He even let
everyone sit against the wall
while waiting for the bus.
Normally
he treats
it like a palace wall.
Precious.
Ornamental.
Sacred.
Inviolable.
Oops.
Maybe I am
like Dad!
Double gobbledegook?
“Good afternoon, Dad.
A successful day?”
“Why yes, Thomas.
Thank you for inquiring.”
“A pleasure.
I wish to extend my interest
in all matters pertaining
to society and its activities.”
“Good...
And your school experience?”
“Very gratifying.
Cleo and I confided in each other
at refreshment-time and then
we perused the Library
seeking further knowledge.”
“Pardon?”
“We talked at lunch,
then we hung out in the Library.”
“Oh...
that's real...
I mean, splendid.
I best retire to my study.
Work awaits.”
“Enjoy your evening activity, Dad.
Time wasted only lessens
our capacity for industry.”
“Yeah...
sure, Thomas.
Goodbye.”
A virus
A familiar refrain
once uttered
becomes oddly attractive
and one can't help but
resort to such language
at every opportunity.
Oh no!
It's like a virus.
Once you start
you can't stop!
After three days, a breakthrough?
“Thomas,
may I enter your room
to communicate a concern to you?”
“Why yes, Father.
I would welcome the opportunity
to converse.”
“Thomas,
why are you pontificating
in such a manner?”
“I'm attempting to be as
succinct as you are, Father.”
“But Thomas,
I don't sound so pompous
and stilted. Do I?”
“Quite the contrary, Father.
You are succinct in the extreme.”
“Thomas?”
“Actually, Dad,
I'm sorry. Yeah, you do sound like that.”
“Pompous?”
“Yep.”
“Stilted”
“Double stilted!”
“Oh dear,
Barbara mentioned this
prior to my entry into your room.”
“Dad!”
“Sorry.
I mean your Mum
told me before I came up here.”
“See, Dad.
You can talk good when you want.”
“That's ‘you can talk correctly
when you want', Thomas.”
“Dad!”
“Sorry. It's my job, Thomas.
It's cluttered with such language.
I guess I transport my work
into our abode.”
“You mean you bring your work
home with you, don't you, Dad.”
“Precisely, Thomas.
An accurate summary
of my predicament.”
“Dad!”
“Sorry, Thomas.
It may take a while to change.”
“Sure, Dad.
I'm not going anywhere.”
“Why don't we have a signal,
just between you and me.
When you hear me pontificating
you make a sign,
and I'll try and stop, okay?”
“Sure, Dad. That'd be great.
How about I cough, sneeze, then burp.”
“How about a single word
instead, Thomas?”
“One word.”
“One word?”
“Twaddle!”
“Twaddle it is, son.”
Mum was right.
Dad could still surprise me.
Breakfast
This morning I woke early
and had breakfast with Dad.
It went something like this.
“Morning, Thomas.
Did you maximise your rest time
last night?”
“Twaddle, Dad.
But yes, I slept well.”
“Sorry, Thomas.
Do you require financial
assistance for lunch today?”
“Twaddle.
Yeah, I'd like lunch-money, please.”
I could see Dad
struggling over his Vita-Brits,
trying hard not to say anything.
“I might visit Cleo
this afternoon, Dad. Is that okay?”
“Certainly, Thomas.
Friendships are paramount,
and should be maintained.”
“Twaddle, Dad.”
“Sure, son. Visit Cleo.
I have to work, as usual.”

Chapter Ten

QUIVERING LIPS, TREMBLING HANDS, BEATING HEARTS AND OTHER STUFF
Grandpa and the bottle tops from China
“Hi Grandpa,
I know you can't talk.
This is Cleo, my friend.
Remember? I told you
about her brilliant escape plan.
Well.
Cleo and me,
we have another idea.
A plan.
To get you and Dad talking.
To get Dad to like you.
Just think, Grandpa,
if it works,
you'll be able to visit,
and Mum and me,
and maybe even Dad,
can visit here,
and we can go on picnics together.
Sorry, Grandpa,
I know,
I shouldn't get carried away.”
“This is the plan.
Cleo and I have collected
one hundred and eighteen bottle tops.
We've even got some from China!
And we've written this letter
to Dad—
and it's from
you,
Grandpa,
and I think
that if we send these bottle tops
and this letter to Dad
he might change his mind
about you.
So, what do you reckon, Grandpa,
Will you sign it?
Please?”
Quivering lips, trembling hands, beating hearts and other stuff
I hold the letter
for Tom's Grandpa to sign
with a very unsteady hand.
He can't talk.
His top lip quivers.
It scares me a little.
I keep thinking he's going to have
a heart attack or something.
When Tom told him of our plan
I knew he understood
by looking at his eyes.
They sparkled, and he looked at me,
and winked.
It was a wink that said,
“Good plan, Cleo.”
Tom and I wave goodbye
from the door,
rush downstairs,
and run
as fast as we can
to the post office.
Thursday afternoon
It cost five dollars to send.
Tom's about to place the parcel
in the postbox
when I hold up my hand to stop him.
I lean forward
and kiss the parcel—
stupid I know,
but I want to wish it good luck.
Tom smiles
and rubs his hand over the package.
Tom's magic spell.
Then we place it
in the postbox
and walk home
in the hopeful sunshine
of Thursday afternoon.
BOOK: Tom Jones Saves the World
4.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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