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Authors: Steven Herrick

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BOOK: Tom Jones Saves the World
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Cleo's last and absolutely final plan
Well,
it's not really a plan.
I just thought that,
seeing Tom's Grandpa
is feeling better,
we should treat him
to a day out.
A picnic.
Me and Tom, and Grandpa Jones
at Murchison Creek.
I'm sure Aunt Ruth
will help me bake a
“get well”
cake,
and Tom and I can catch yabbies.
Grandpa would love that.
Only this time
I won't leave Pacific Palms
through the escape hole.
I'll ask Aunt Ruth and Uncle Robert.
They'll let me go.
It's a picnic.
On Saturday,
for Grandpa Jones.
Perfect
Cleo has done it again.
Perfect.
I can imagine Grandpa
holding a piece of string
sitting beside the creek
saying
“Come on, you snappy little fellow,
take the meat,
come on,
I'm hungry already!”
We'll sit in the shade
of the willow trees,
the three of us,
and treat Grandpa.
I'll tell Mum
that it's a special picnic
for me and Cleo.
She'll understand.
Uncle Robert's surprise
Ruth:
Isn't it nice of Cleo to take Grandpa Jones
on a picnic with Tom?
Robert:
Yes, dear. I would have liked to go as well.
Ruth:
Oh Robert, stop it.
It's to make Grandpa Jones feel better.
He's been very sick.
Robert:
It's probably the food they serve at that
Nursing Home.
Ruth:
Yes, you're right, they can't cook like me.
Robert:
I could cook better, I reckon.
Ruth:
Well, let's not get carried away, dear.
Robert:
I'm trying to learn, Ruth.
Ruth:
You're very trying, my dear.
Robert:
I saw the cake you baked with Cleo.
Apple and Sultana—her favourite.
Ruth:
It was a special treat for her, dear.
Robert:
I might try and cook one next time.
I'm ready to bake cakes now, Ruth.
Ruth:
But is the world ready to eat them, Robert?
Strangely normal
Dad has been acting very strange lately.
Well, more than usual.
He doesn't talk the same.
He speaks normally.
Sometimes
he almost sounds like Grandpa.
Weird.
He cracks jokes.
He calls me Son, not Thomas.
He calls Mum, “Babs”, or “darling”!
Last night,
he even invited me into his study
and showed me his new bottle tops!
I acted interested.
I told him the Chinese ones
were amazing!
I kept saying how considerate Grandpa was
to send him all these bottle tops,
and, would you believe, Dad agreed!
I wasn't serious about
the Dead Parent Wishes.
I was
dreaming!
Joking.
Fooling around.
Not right in the head.
Just kidding.
Okay.

Chapter Twelve

THE TIME OF HIS LIFE
Saturday
Saturday,
bright sunshine,
a gentle breeze,
and a basket full of food.
Cleo, Grandpa, and me
hop into a taxi
and say, “Murchison Creek, please.”
The taxi-driver smiles and says,
“This is a car, mate,
not a boat!
But I'll take you to Brady Lane
and you can walk from there, okay?”
I can smell the food
in Cleo's basket.
I can't wait.
The time of his life
“Come on, you snappy little fellow.
The water's boiling.
Me and Tiger and the Queen of Pacific Palms
are waiting for a feast.
Come on, take the bite—
Gotcha!”
Grandpa jerks the line
and the yabby lands on the bank.
Grandpa's laugh booms across the field.
Me and Cleo smile to each other
and watch Grandpa, on the blanket,
having the time of his life.
Lunch, and music
The three of us
can't eat another bite.
Aunt Ruth's cake,
three slices each.
We lie back
and look up at the deep blue sky,
through the willows.
Then,
I hear music,
strange wailing music,
coming from across the field,
getting nearer.
Cleo and Grandpa
can hear it too.
We stand
to see where it's coming from,
but the grass is too high.
I'm sure it's getting closer.
I can hear the beat of the drums,
and the wail of the singer.
The three of us spin around
when we hear a twig snap
behind us,
and it's
Barbara
dressed in her belly dancer costume!
She's dancing with her hands arched
high above her head,
swinging to the rhythm of the music
coming from behind the trees.
Mum shimmies forward
and does a swirling turn near Grandpa.
Grandpa's smiling so much
I'm worried he'll have another stroke.
He takes Mum's hand
and she twirls around him.
Me and Cleo
start clapping along to the music,
still getting louder,
as Mum and Grandpa belly dance
along
the banks of Murchison Creek
on this perfect Saturday.
The music
The music fades to a stop
as Mum and Grandpa hug.
I can't help myself—
I take Cleo's hand
and give her a kiss,
a big, wet, sloppy, disgusting,
but kind of nice kiss on her lips
to thank her for another brilliant idea,
then I go to Mum and hug her—
it's sounds soppy I know but
I reckon this is the best day of my life
and
as I'm hugging Mum,
I look over her shoulder
and see
Arnold
coming out from behind the trees
holding a ghetto-blaster.
Dad is the music!
Dad walks towards us,
puts the ghetto-blaster down
on the picnic blanket
and holds out his hand
to Grandpa
“Hello, Dad, it's nice to see you,”
he says.
Grandpa takes Dad's hand
and says
“Hello, Tiger,
bloody good to see you too!”
They stand there shaking hands
and Dad wraps his arm
around Grandpa's shoulder
and gives him a hug,
a hug I know he's been
waiting to give Grandpa
for twenty years.
First published 2002 by University of Queensland Press
Box 6042, St Lucia, Queensland 4067 Australia
Reprinted 2003
© Steven Herrick 2002
This book is copyright. Except for private study, research, criticism or reviews, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission. Enquiries should be made to the publisher.
Typeset by University of Queensland Press
Printed in Australia by McPherson's Printing Group
Distributed in the USA and Canada by
International Specialized Book Services, Inc.,
5824 N.E. Hassalo Street, Portland, Oregon 97213–3640
Cataloguing in Publication Data
National Library of Australia
Herrick, Steven.
Tom Jones saves the world.
I. Title.
For children.
A823.3
ISBN 0 7022 3336 6
Booking Manager: Young Australia Workshop
332 Victoria St
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
ph: 1800 227 095
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BOOK: Tom Jones Saves the World
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