Published July 19. 2009 4:00AM Updated August 28. 2009 10:37AM
The next day was the Fourth of July, and everyone but me was out having fun.
Because of what I did to Miss Stiletto, I had to stay home alone while my parents went off to a picnic. No friends. No fireworks. No Fourth of July.
I sat in my room and stared out the window. Finally, I went down to the kitchen and got myself some lemonade. I sat down in the fat red chair in our living room and stared at the ceiling.
The doorbell rang.
Who could that be? Not Eddy. He knew I was grounded.
The doorbell rang and just kept ringing. Which made Mrs. Zippy yap her face off. I stomped to the door and yanked it open.
There she stood: the girl from the parking lot. She was skinny as a spider, and she had straight blonde hair that hung all the way down to her waist. She wore a white T-shirt so short I could see half her stomach, and cut-off jeans.
She had her thumb on the doorbell and was leaning all her weight on that thumb. But as soon as she saw us, she scooped up Mrs. Zippy. “There you are, you little devil dog.” To my amazement, Mrs. Zippy, who would just as soon nip a stranger as look at her, wriggled happily in her arms and kissed her all over her face.
It was a wide face, with a nose that seemed too small for it. Her mouth was just the opposite, seeming too wide. But what really struck me were her moony gray eyes.
Those gray eyes narrowed as they looked me up and down.
“YOU'RE Walter Frimhaus?” she asked. Her voice was a growly rumble much deeper than mine.
“Yes?” I startled myself by squeaking.
“Are you sure?”
“Of course I'm sure.”
“Well,” she sighed, “It's just that I expected someone more ... sophisticated looking. You have to admit, Walter Frimhaus is a very sophisticated name.”
Before I could reply, she heaved another sigh. “But then, that's the story of my life. People never live up to my expectations. Take yourself, for example. It's not your fault you're ordinary looking. You just are.”
My face got hot. Hey, I thought, I may not look like much, but at least I don't look like a skinny freak. And who are you to tell me I'm “ordinary looking,” especially after I took the rap for your fight with Miss Stiletto?
I opened my mouth to say this, but she threw up her hands.
“Don't say it. You're absolutely right. Who am I, a skinny freak, to tell you that you're ordinary looking? Especially after you took the blame for my fight with that witch yesterday.”
What was she? A mind-reader? Those gray eyes bored straight into mine, and I felt like a bug on a pin.
“That's what you were going to say, isn't it?”
I couldn't believe it. One minute I was mad, now I felt like a total jerk.
“You don't have to lie to me. You think you're lying so you won't hurt my feelings, but you're really lying because you don't want me to punch your teeth down your throat. Am I right?” She tossed back her hair and glared at me.
“No, that's not true,” I blurted. “Actually, you're kind of pretty.” Oh no! What made me say THAT? My face was on fire. I wanted to shrink into the ground.
She just stared at me. Then, her voice dropping into a growly whisper, she asked, “Do you really think so?”