Superfudge Part 41

Previous superfudge part 40.

Alex had to be home for his piano lesson at three-thirty. And by then we’d seen enough of the crew rowing, and more than enough of the bugs down by the lake. Mom and Dad were working in the garden when I rode into the driveway. And Tootsie was asleep in a lounge chair.

“Did you have a nice picnic?” Mom asked.
“It was fun,” I said. “A lot of ants, but fun.”
“Don’t forget to rinse the thermos,” Dad said.
“I won’t,” I said. “Where’s Fudge?”

“I haven’t seen him since you left,” Dad said.
“He’s probably at Daniel’s,” Mom said. “He was very angry.”
“I noticed.”

At four, the phone rang. I answered. It was Daniel’s mother. She asked me to tell Daniel it was time to go home. “He’s not here,” I said.
“Then where is he?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Wait a minute…” I put down the phone, went to the back door and called, “It’s Mrs. Manheim… she’s looking for Daniel.”

Mom ran into the house, wiping her hands on her jeans. She picked up the phone. “Mrs. Manheim… we thought Fudge was at your house… No, not since eleven-thirty or so… You found what?… Oh, no… You don’t suppose… Yes… of course, right away…” She hung up the phone.

“what is it?” Dad asked. He was standing at the door, listening.
“She found Daniel’s piggy bank… smashed… all the money is gone.”
Mom zipped upstairs to Fudge’s room. Dad and I followed.
“Bonjour,” Uncle Feather said.
“Where does he keep that bank Grandma gave him for his birthday?” Mom asked, ignoring Uncle Feather.

“Here it is!” I said, finding it on his shelf. “And it’s empty!”
“Bonjour, stupid…” Uncle Feather said.
“Oh, shut up!” I told him.
“Shut up yourself… yourself… yourself.”
“How much do you think he had in there?” Mom Asked.

“About two, fifty,” I said. “He was counting it the other night.”
“So between them, they have close to seven dollars,” Mom said.
‘Seven,” Uncle Feather repeated. “Seven… seven… seven.”
“They can’t get far on seven dollars,” I said.
“Peter, please…” Mom said.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Manheim pulled up in a red sports car. She was wearing cutoffs, a T-shirt that said Ski the Bumps, and sneakers with the toes cut out. Her hair was in one long braid that hung down her back.

“We think they might have gone to the lake,” Dad told her.
“The lake!” Mrs. Manheim said. “My god… Daniel can’t swim.”
“Neither can Fudge,” Mom said.
“Yes, he can,” I told her. “He can doggy-paddle.”
“Peter, please…”

“Anyway, why would they go swimming in the lake?” I asked. “It’s too gloopy for swimming.”
“Peter, please!” Dad said.
“Pleaase, what?” I finally asked.
“Please be quiet. We’re thinking.”

“Let’s not waste any more time,” Mrs. Manheim said. “The sooner we start looking for them, the sooner we might find them.”
“Warren,” Mom said, “You go with Mrs. Manheim… I’ll stay here with Peter just in case they try to phone us.”

When they’d left, Mom asked me to bring Tootsie inside. She was still sound asleep on the lounge chair. I picked her up and carried her into the house. She opened her eyes and when she saw it was me, she smiled and said, “Yuck.”

At five the phone rang. This is it, I thought. It’s all over. They’ve found him, splattered across the road, his bike a mangled mess. Or maybe the Princeton crew had found him. Maybe they’ve dragged him out of the lake, his face blue and swollen. I felt a big lump in my throat. If only I’d let him come on the picnic with me, none of this would have happened. If only I hadn’t wanted to kill him when he woke me this morning. Now it was too late. I pictured the funeral. Fudge and Daniel, side by side, in small white coffins.

Next superfudge part 42.