Authors: Gary Paulsen
, Gary Paulsen
Robert Kimmel Smith
Robert Kimmel Smith
are designed especially to entertain and enlighten young people. Patricia Reilly Giff, consultant to this series, received her bachelor's degree from Marymount College and a master's degree in history from St. John's University. She holds a Professional Diploma in Reading and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University. She was a teacher and reading consultant for many years, and is the author of numerous books for young readers.
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Copyright Â© 1994 by Gary Paulsen
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DuncanâDuncâCulpepper was in his driveway washing his dad's car. His best friend for life, Amos Binder, was helping him. Actually, Amos was holding the water hose over the top of the car while Dunc did all the work. Amos had more important things on his mind. He was rereading an article from the entertainment section of last week's newspaper.
“The rock band Road Kill will be appearing two nights only, at the civic center.” Amos forgot about the hose in his hand and pulled the article closer. “This is perfect.”
“Hey, watch what you're doing. You're drowning me.” Dunc grabbed the hose. “Who cares about a sick rock band with a gross name like that, anyway?”
“Melissa,” Amos said dreamily.
When it came to Melissa Hansen, Amos lost all sense of reason. He was head over heels in love with her, and if Melissa liked something, Amos made a valiant effort to like it too. Except in the case of her favorite food, liver and onions. He just couldn't quite bring himself to put liver to his lips, no matter how hard he tried. He finally gave up and figured that he would fake it until after they were married.
Dunc turned off the water. “Those guys in Road Kill are warped. They dress like they raided a Dumpster, and they can't even write a real song. Their last hit repeated the same line over and over all the way through the whole song. I don't know about you, but I get a little tired of hearing âWhatcha gonna do about it' after about the twenty-fifth time.”
“Correction.” Amos lowered the paper.
“They only repeat that line twenty-three times, and then they say âuh-huh' twice, right before they end the song.”
“Whatever.” Dunc touched up a spot on the windshield. “I don't know what Melissa sees in those guys. The lead singer, Raunchy Roy, looks like a porcupine with his hair sticking up like that.”
“Melissa thinks the band is misunderstood. She thinks their songs have a deeper meaning than just the words.”
Dunc stared at him. “Melissa told you that?”
“Not exactly. I heard it from Tracy Stevens, who heard it from Lori Johnson, who heard it fromâ”
“Amos. How do you know it came from Melissa?”
“Simple. Heather Thomas heard it from Rachel Lackey, and she heard it straight from Buffy VanGilder.” Amos folded his arms, satisfied.
Dunc scratched his head. “I know I'll probably regret asking, but what does all this have to do with Melissa?”
Amos rolled his eyes in unbelief. “Everybody knows that Buffy VanGilder is Melissa's third-best friend.”
“So if Buffy likes the band, then it follows that Melissa probably does too.”
“Amos, sometimes your logic astounds me.”
“Me too. Now what are we going to do about my problem?”
“Gee, Dunc, for a smart guy, you're sure making me explain a lot of stuff to you today.”
“So humor me.”
“It's like this. Road Kill is going to be in town for two shows. If Melissa really likes these guys and if I can get tickets, wellâthe rest will be history.”
“So what's the problem?”
“I called the ticket office. Tickets are going fast. They'll probably be sold out soon.”
Dunc frowned. “I still don't get it. If you want tickets, why don't you go buy some?”
“That's just it. I can't. You see, I loaned all my money to my sister.”
“Since when do you loan money to Amy? I thought you said she never pays you back.”
“She doesn't. But there was this little matter of the flood in my mom's bedroom.”
“What did you do this time?”
“It was mostly Amy's fault. She was ironing her cheerleading uniform in my mom's room when I heard the phone ring. I figured it was Melissa calling to see if I knew about the concert. I was in a hurry, because you know how she likes me to get it on that all-important first ring?”
Dunc nodded. He had given up arguing with Amos about Melissa. It was hopeless. Amos was convinced that the law of averages was in his favor. Melissa couldn't go on ignoring him forever.
“You should have seen me, Dunc. I was really moving. I made it to my mom's bedroom door by the middle of that first ring, jumped for the center of the bed, and flattened out to reach the phone with my right
hand. My fingertips were touching it. I almost did it this time.”
“Just as I started my jump, my toe caught the electric iron cord and jerked it out of the plug. The whole iron landed on the bed with me. You know, they really don't make those rubber waterbed mattresses like they used to. That iron melted a hole in it so quick, I nearly drowned.”
“Did you answer the phone?”
Amos shook his head. “Amy got to it first. She said it was an encyclopedia salesman and hung up. I think she's just jealous.”
“So you had to pay off Amy to keep her quiet?”
Amos nodded. “Yeah, we agreed to blame the whole thing on Scruff. She says the money's just a loan. Of course she lies.”
Dunc rubbed his chin. “Let me see if I understand your problem correctly. You've got to have two tickets to a concert that takes place this weekend, they're selling out fast, you don't have any money or any possible
hope of getting any, and you want me to help.”
Amos nodded again. “That about covers it. Got any ideas?”
“This isn't exactly what I had in mind. I was hoping you were going to be a little more creative.” Amos stepped off his bike and pushed it down the sidewalk behind the civic center.
“You said you needed money.” Dunc pushed his bike behind Amos. “When I heard that Mr. Whitman, the manager of the civic center, had broken his leg and could use some help to get the place ready for the upcoming concert, I called and offered our services.”
“I know. But I wasn't thinking about getting
a job where you had to do work and stuff. Do you realize how big this place is?”
“What did you have in mind? Robbing a bank?”
“No, better. I thought maybe we could stand on the sidewalk by a busy intersection with a sign that said âDonate to a Worthy Cause' or something like that.”
Dunc stopped in front of a little white house in back of the civic center where Mr. Whitman lived. “Somehow I don't think getting you and Melissa tickets to a weirdo rock concert would qualify as a worthy cause.”
“You're really too hard on these guys. Sure they have a disgusting name, they paint their faces green and black, and their songs are awful, but other than that, they're okay.”
Dunc raised his hand to knock on the door. A little man with bushy white hair and a cast on his right leg pulled it open. “What can I do for you, sonny?”
“Hi, Mr. Whitman. It's Dunc. Dunc Culpepper.
I'm the one who called you about the job cleaning the civic center.”