Chadwick Musselman has spent years being terrorized by Terry Vance, aka the Nile Crocodile. His luck changes when it appears that Terry has flunked the fifth gradeChadwick will swagger into sixth grade as a ruler of the school without him. Sadly, Terry has no intention of ending his reign of terror, and Chadwick decides to turn the tables and finally get revenge!
In Chadwick's Epic Revenge by Lisa Doan, a battle of wits, pranks, misunderstandings, and embarrassing moments abound in this quirky and uproarious novel.
|Publisher:||Roaring Brook Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.81(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
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By the time I heard the news, the rumor mill was at a fever pitch. Principal Horatio Merriweather had mysteriously disappeared just days before the end of the school year. Marilee Marksley, a girl with her finger firmly on the social pulse of Wayne Elementary, prepared to hold a breaking news briefing on the bleachers.
The rumors connected the disappearance of Principal Merriweather to my nemesis, Terry Vance, aka the Nile crocodile. (It is technically true that I'm the only person who calls him the Nile crocodile. I've never been able to get a nickname for him off the ground, though I've made some valiant attempts, including: the piranha, the rattlesnake, the jackal, the viper, the assassin, and the deathstalker scorpion.)
The popular kids settled themselves around Marilee like planets around a sun. I, Chadwick Musselman, was slightly farther out in the orbit — not Mercury, so close that I was bathed in Marilee's light, but not Pluto in the darkness of the outer reaches of the bleacher galaxy either. Someday soon, I planned to rocket myself closer to the sun and sit next to Mars, otherwise known as the glorious Jana Sedgewick. (Mars is the red planet and Jana has red hair. Coincidence? I think not.)
Rory took the bleachers two at a time and threw himself down next to me. "Well," he whispered, "what did she say? What happened to Merriweather?"
"She hasn't said anything yet," I whispered back.
Marilee rose and slightly bowed her head. That was the signal. The bleachers became as silent as deep space.
"I saw the whole thing," Marilee said, solemnly raising her head and gazing across her bleacher galaxy. "I saw it with My Own Eyes."
I elbowed Rory and nodded. Marilee was the acknowledged Queen Bee of rumors and gossip because she saw everything with Her Own Eyes. It was almost like she brought extra eyes in her backpack each morning and rolled them down every hallway in the school.
"Principal Merriweather pushed Terry Vance's face in a toilet bowl and flushed," she continued, acting out the movement of pushing down a handle.
"Wait," Jana of the glorious red hair said to Marilee. "That must have happened in the boys' bathroom. Were you in there?"
"Not likely," Marilee said with a sniff. "Everyone knows that your average boys' bathroom is a terrarium of germs and diseases aggressively searching for host bodies."
I glanced around to see if any guy would challenge that description of the boys' bathroom. Nobody did and, to be fair, it sounded pretty accurate.
"What I saw," Marilee continued, "with My Own Eyes was Terry Vance walking out of the bathroom with his hair wet. Merriweather came out behind him, muttering, 'I did not flush!' Now Merriweather is gone. What could be more obvious, people? One plus one equals two."
"Did Terry do something horrible?" Jana asked. "I mean, why else would Principal Merriweather flush his face in a toilet?" "Why is Jana wondering if Terry did something horrible?" I whispered to Rory. "Does she not understand the mind of the Nile crocodile at all? All the guy thinks about is doing horrible things. One false move and he'll hunt you down with relentless and horrible vengeance."
"Relentless and horrible vengeance sounds like a movie trailer," Rory said. "You act like you're a spy on the run from corrupt government officials. Which you're not, in case you were wondering."
I ignored Rory's attempt to minimize my situation. Terry Vance had been stalking me since the first grade over one extremely minor incident. So minor an incident that I have to believe that nobody was truly at fault. I suspect I exaggerate in even calling it an incident. Perhaps it was only a slight mishap. Unfortunately, that slight mishap had led to years of a deadly dance between the hunter and the hunted.
Mostly, I was the hunted. In fourth grade, I'd had a moment of wild-eyed optimism and decided I wasn't going to take it anymore. I would become a hunter myself. My first and last hunting expedition consisted of pulling out Terry's chair as he sat down. It worked — he fell on the floor — but my victory was surprisingly short-lived. He had looked up at me with an expression that made my heart temporarily stop beating. I could barely sleep that night, wondering if I would wake up and find him standing over me with a hatchet.
At our annual Scout camping trip a week later, I'd even mentioned the hatchet scenario to our den leader. I was assured there were no dangerous weapons at the campsite. There was, though. Terry didn't take his revenge by chopping me to pieces and burying me in the forest. Instead, he filled my shampoo bottle with a ladies' hair removal product. Clumps of my hair fell out while we shouted our den yell on the bus ride home. (I was nicknamed Patches until it grew back.) After that, I did my best to keep away from the crocodile's habitat, counting on my gazelle-like swiftness to keep me alive. Sometimes I was fast enough, sometimes I wasn't.
Poor Principal Merriweather hadn't stood a chance against Terry Vance. Merriweather was too nervous to be a school principal. He never just walked down the halls — he edged down them, sliding along the lockers with his head darting in all directions like a bird watching for cats.
One time, he collapsed in the cafeteria when a new kid named Barry slapped him on the back and shouted, "What's up, Mr. M.?" (Rory and I helped him up and got him a carton of milk to soothe his shattered nerves.)
Every day after the last bell, Merriweather sprinted to his Ford Fiesta and peeled out of the parking lot, hunched over the steering wheel, tires screeching. If I had been his guidance counselor, I would have recommended he change careers and become a monk sitting quietly by himself in a remote mountainside temple.
I could just imagine what had happened with Terry Vance. The Nile crocodile had floated patiently, his glassy eyes unblinking on the surface of the water, until poor Merriweather teetered on the riverbank of insanity. Then, in one explosive lunge, Merriweather was no more.
"I bet," I whispered to Rory, "that Vance got in trouble for something, then in retaliation he burned down the principal's house, or kidnapped his dog, or cut the brake lines on his Ford Fiesta. Merriweather went crazy and used the first weapon he could get his hands on, which just happened to be a toilet."
Rory snorted, which was his usual response to my theories. He was my best friend, but he lacked my fine-tuned imagination. Rory would only believe Terry Vance had cut the brake lines on Merriweather's Ford Fiesta if he saw Terry standing next to the car holding wire cutters and saying, "I just cut the brake lines on this Ford Fiesta."
"I don't know why Merriweather did it," Marilee said. "But I do know his likely whereabouts. I heard, with My Own Ears, my mom talking to Candy's mom on the phone. My mom said, 'Principal Merriweather was spotted at the airport?' Then she said, 'He ran through security?' Then she said, 'What does Terry Vance have to do with it?' Then she said, 'What does that mean — hiding in the backstreets of Bangkok?'
"So," Marilee said, "we now know that either Merriweather got arrested for running through security at the airport or he's hiding in the backstreets of Bangkok, Thailand. One thing is certain: our principal flushed Terry Vance's face in a toilet and fled the scene. We will never see him again."
Marilee bowed her head. The briefing was over.
I hoped Merriweather had made it to Bangkok. Once he got settled, he could go find that remote mountainside temple where the perpetually hunted take a rest. I thought I might go there myself one of these days.
Fifth grade had come to a close with a missing principal and a Nile crocodile still cruising the waters of Wayne Elementary.
* * *
"The school board had better do something about Flush Gate," my mom said, handing around the peas nobody was going to eat. Me, my dad, and my brother waited patiently for her to pass around the corn on the cob. The peas were just my mom's opening gambit — she liked to see if she could catch one of us so ravenous that we might break down and eat something disgusting. Mark sometimes cracked; he was a hulking football player and would pour all kinds of junk down his throat in pursuit of more muscles — powders, liquefied salads, protein bars that tasted like sawdust and egg yolks, to name a few.
"Nobody wants peas?" she asked, getting the bowl back untouched.
Mark and I mumbled something about maybe wanting peas later. My dad said, a little too loudly, "Hate peas."
My mom slowly set the bowl down and stared at him. My dad, seeing he was about to drown in a hurricane of nutritional facts about peas, lobbed a classic diversion in her direction. The old "agree heartily" maneuver.
"I agree heartily with you about Flush Gate," he said, grabbing two ears of corn. "The school board had better do something."
"Really," my mom said, watching my dad ruin a whole stick of butter by rolling an ear of corn across the top. "What do you think they should do?"
Mark and I looked with interest at my dad. I was pretty sure he had not spent one second thinking about what the school board should do. I was not even sure if he knew what Flush Gate was.
My dad stared down at the melting stick of butter, planning his next move like he was a Russian chess master. Then he cleared his throat and said, "The more important question is, what do you think the school board should do?"
Well played, Dad.
Though my mom was perfectly aware that my dad had just dodged her question, she usually agreed with his opinion that her own thoughts probably were more important than his.
"For one," she said, "I find that letter they sent to all the parents ridiculous. They claim there was no face flushing, but they have no explanation as to why Principal Merriweather disappeared. Or where he disappeared to. And they say nothing about the eyewitness. Marilala whatever. She saw it with her own eyes."
"Marilee," I corrected her. "Marilee Marksley."
"Number two," my mom continued, "the next principal must be firmly anti-flushing. We cannot tolerate a school principal who flushes kids' faces in the toilet. What if Chadwick says or does something annoying? Are we to expect his face will be flushed? Don't you think he would be traumatized by something like that?"
My dad, having been asked questions that aren't really questions before, did not comment on whether or not I would be traumatized.
"Merriweather only flushed one face," I said, "and it happened to be Terry Vance's face so it was totally justified. Also, I'm not annoying."
My mom smiled at me. "Of course you're not, honey. Not to us."
And so, the summer began with the questions that would consume our dinner table conversation until the fall — what had really happened in the boys' bathroom, what was the school board going to do about it, and where was Merriweather?
* * *
"Where are we going?" Rory asked.
"To our destiny," I said, showing our badges to old Mr. Clarkson at the community-pool gate.
Mr. Clarkson stared down at our badges and then held them up to the light, as if we were con men trying to scam our way into the pool with forged documents. This, I knew, would happen every day of the summer. He had no memory at all, and every time he saw us would be like the very first time.
"Destiny?" Rory said. "That sounds like we're going to die."
Mr. Clarkson, having satisfied himself that we were properly credentialed, opened the gate.
"We won't die," I said. "Just follow my lead."
It was our first day at the community pool, and I had planned out where we would put our towels. The first day would dictate how the whole summer would go. Last year, I had not been pool savvy and we had ended up with spots next to the diving board. We got cannon-balled for three months straight, and it had not gone unnoticed by the clique of popular kids that hung out at the pool. I believe, toward the end, they were even paying other people to cannonball us.
This year, I had an ambitious plan. I would not get cannonballed. Instead, I would deploy a method I had invented called "lurking and creeping" to drastically improve my social standing. Becoming one of the in crowd, or at least one of the nearby the in crowd, would lead to Jana Sedgewick of the glorious red hair noticing me. Noticing, I was sure, was the first step to liking. After noticing, the sky was the limit.
Campaign Lurk and Creep had commenced.CHAPTER 2
I dragged Rory through the pool gates and hooked my thumb in the direction of the Snack Shack. I had chosen that area of the deck for a couple of reasons. One, it was far away from the diving board and cannonballs. Two, Marilee Marksley had already established an office right next to the snack stand. She had brought her own lounge chair and she had a folding table next to it stacked with papers and sticky notes. I was sure that spot would be her official news headquarters for the rest of the summer. Being as near as possible to Marilee's chair was crucial to Campaign Lurk and Creep.
I had pretty much memorized all the cliques at school — big, small, and overlaps. Jana was in a small clique with her best friends, Bethany Belkin and Carmen Rodriguez. But that small clique was part of Marilee's bigger clique — an overlap. Me and Rory were our own small clique. So far, we didn't have an overlap. That's what I planned to change. Rory and I would slowly and invisibly drift into Marilee's bigger clique, thereby becoming members of the same overlap clique as Jana.
It was vital that I execute the maneuver over the summer, at the pool. The one place I knew I was safe from Terry Vance was the pool. You'd think a Nile crocodile would be hanging out in the water nonstop, but I had never seen him there. While I was free of that menace, I would casually lurk into Jana's overlap. Overlaps, I had figured out, were the key to everything.
Around the middle of last year, the whole fifth grade had suddenly been consumed with talking about who liked who. A rumor would go around about a couple and they would be sitting next to each other at lunch and everybody would be looking at them. As far as I could tell, being in a couple didn't involve much more than that. What I noticed, though, was that their coolness seemed to exceed the sum of their parts. It was like there was some kind of synergy in sitting next to a girl. I knew I could definitely use that kind of a boost and was determined to become one half of a power couple. That's when I looked around and noticed Jana and her fiery hair. (I would have pegged myself as a guy with a blond on his arm, so who knew?)
Just one small problem. On the savannah of elementary school, Jana was at the head of the herd and I was shuffling along in the middle. Almost immediately after deciding that I liked Jana, I noticed that there weren't any "who likes who" crossovers. All the liking was concentrated on who was nearby, in their own clique or overlaps. The answer was obvious enough — get nearby, get into an overlap.
Rory followed me as we made our way to our new spot. I walked past Marilee and casually said, "Hey."
She lowered her sunglasses to look at me, then put them back on and went back to gnawing on a frozen Snickers bar.
It could not have gone more perfectly. Her sunglasses move wasn't a "come on into my overlap clique" signal, but it wasn't a "get out of my territory" signal either. It was neutral. Step one was a success.
I picked a spot about ten feet from Marilee, not wanting it to be obvious that I was trying to creep into her group, and laid my towel down.
"Oh, I get it," Rory said, throwing his towel on the ground. "It'll be faster to get snacks from here. And we won't get wet from cannonballs. Good thinking. My mom made me swear I wouldn't eat any junk food at the pool, but I had my fingers crossed underneath the table. She doesn't know that my dad already gave me money and said, 'Ice cream until you drop — that's what summer is all about.' Between your snack drawer and the Snack Shack, it's going to be a magically sweet and salty vacation."
I didn't bother to mention that my mom has started to comment on how fast things have been disappearing out of our snack drawer. I had already hinted to her that I might have seen Mark eating three Ring Dings at a time, to throw the suspicion off Rory. I didn't know how many calories Rory took in on a daily basis, I only knew that most of the calories were coming from my house due to Mrs. Richardson's strict ideas about nutrition.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Chadwick's Epic Revenge"
Copyright © 2018 Lisa Doan.
Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
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