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Authors: Erica S. Perl

Aces Wild

BOOK: Aces Wild
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Also by Erica S. Perl

When Life Gives You O.J
Vintage Veronica


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2013 by Erica S. Perl
Jacket art copyright © 2013 by David Goldin

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Perl, Erica S.
Aces wild / Erica S. Perl.—1st ed.
p. cm.
Summary: Eleven-year-old Zelly Fried’s parents will not allow her to have a slumber party until she teaches her mischievous puppy, Ace, to behave, but with Grandpa Ace around nothing is ever simple.
eISBN: 978-0-307-97547-8

[1. Dogs—Training—Fiction. 2. Family life—Vermont—Fiction. 3. Grandfathers—Fiction. 4. Jews—United States—Fiction. 5. Slumber parties—Fiction. 6. Vermont—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.P3163Ace 2013


Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.


To “Ace’s kids”

“A-ce! Ace?”

I shook a box of dog biscuits. The sound never failed to produce the skittering noise of toenails on wood floors, and always resulted in my puppy hurling his whole body—from his long flapping ears to his short stump of a tail—straight at me.

. “Aaaa-aace!”


Don’t panic
, I told myself. But how could I not? I had spent my entire eleven years trying to get a dog, and now—
—I’d lost him.

In the hall closet, I found a jumble of boots, but no sign of my spaniel mix’s small freckled snout. Calling his name, I wandered through the house, opening doors, looking under furniture, and glancing outside in hopes of seeing a furry brown and white streak race past.

Through the kitchen window, I could see my mom raking leaves. It was only the second week in October, but already it seemed like everyone was talking about snow and trying to predict when the first flakes would fall. I waved frantically to get her attention, which resulted in her making the
Just a sec
sign, patting the air with one of her gloved hands. The car was gone, so I figured my dad was out at the store getting more salt or sand or other snow-busting materials. This being our family’s first winter in Vermont, my parents weren’t taking any chances.

Could Dad have taken my puppy with him? No way. Ace had had too many accidents in the car for that to happen. I had already checked every possible spot upstairs, and I was starting to feel pinpricks of worry. It was strange enough waking up and not finding Ace standing over me, chewing his beloved squeaky-toy banana (which I won for him at the Champlain Valley Fair) inches from my nose. But it was truly bizarre not to find him in any of his next-favorite spots: on my little brother Sam’s bed, or on my parents’ bed, or in the sunny spot on the bath mat. Ace’s own dog bed was empty, but that was no surprise. He seemed to view the fuzzy green rectangle as his mortal enemy, so his only contact with it was full-on attack mode, shaking it from side to side until I tried to take it away, at which point the game would change to keep-away.

There was no way to explain it. My puppy was just plain

The front door opened, and my mom blew in with a loud “Wow! It’s nippy out there!” She stomped her boots on the mat and stripped her gloves off.

“Mom, have you seen Ace?” I asked her.

“Ace-the-dog or Ace-the-grandpa?” she asked.

I held up the box of dog biscuits.

“Right,” said my mom. “Ace-the-dog.”

I never would’ve named Ace Ace if I had realized this would be the standard response to the question. The thing is, when I got Ace-the-dog, my grandpa—who is, yes, also called Ace—claimed he was going to retire the name. According to him, the nickname Ace represented his old self: the loud, kvetchy, tell-you-what-to-do-y guy he left behind when he had a heart attack (and almost died). The plan was that Ace-the-dog would be the only Ace. Ace-the-grandpa would be just plain Grandpa.

Unfortunately, with Ace-the-grandpa around, things don’t usually go as planned.

“I haven’t seen Ace-the-dog yet this morning,” said my mom. “Come to think of it, I haven’t seen either Ace.”

There was one place left to check: Ace-the-grandpa’s room. A no-dogs-allowed zone if ever there was one. Ace’s door was shut, so it seemed unlikely, but I needed to rule it out. Cautiously, I knocked.

“Grandpa?” I said, cringing in anticipation of Ace’s booming “WHA?”

But it didn’t come. This was starting to feel like an old episode of
The Twilight Zone
, Ace’s second-favorite show after
Star Trek
. Had aliens come in the night and taken
Aces? I pushed the thought out of my mind and knocked again, louder this time.

“Ace?” I tried.

, as Ace would say. No response.

Ace-the-grandpa was probably sleeping. That is, I hoped he was sleeping. Ever since his heart attack, I was a lot more nervous that something bad was going to happen to him. Every coughing fit that forced him to sit down made my heart race like I was going to have a heart attack of my own. But each time he turned out to be fine, I would tell myself,
Still, I couldn’t seem to stop worrying in the first place. So getting no answer at Ace’s door did not feel good at all. Even his usually annoying response of yelling “WHA?” would have been reassuring.

I was turning to go back to the kitchen when I heard a very soft whining noise:

Now, that sound, I’d know anywhere.

“Ace!” I exclaimed happily. Slowly, I turned the handle and opened the door a crack.


The telltale smell hit me first. Holding my nose, I stumbled in, fumbling for the light switch, and stepped in something squishy.

. I found the switch. The ceiling light came on, revealing:

Yup, that’s what I stepped in.

And, yup, another mushy pile right next to it.

And, yup, total chaos in all directions.

My mom often says that my room looks like a cyclone hit it, which is just plain not true. But Ace’s room actually did. Several issues of
Golf Digest
magazine had been shredded,
and clothing was everywhere, like a basket of laundry had been tossed in a blender with the cover off. For good measure, there was a big dark stain on the throw rug beside Ace-the-grandpa’s bed. The bed itself was, thankfully, the only thing that appeared to be undisturbed.

And guess who was wagging his whole body excitedly?
You’re here!
his happy expression and thumping stubby tail seemed to say.
It’s about time! Now the party can really begin!
He was standing over a pair of Ace-the-grandpa’s beloved golf shoes. Which looked like maybe his favorite pair, the ones with the tassels. Or maybe it was another pair, which, thanks to a good gnawing, now looked tasseled.

“Oh no! Acey …,” I groaned, covering my face with one hand.

Yup. Good news! I found Ace-the-dog.

The bad news?

Ace-the-grandpa—assuming he hadn’t been abducted by aliens—was going to have another heart attack when he saw this disaster.

Or kill me. Or both.

“I don’t get it,” I told my mom as we tackled Ace’s floor together. She had already cleaned off my slippers and Ace’s newly “tasseled” golf shoes and put them outside to “air out”—though, this being Vermont, I was pretty sure that meant “freeze stiff.” She was on her knees with a spray bottle of Nature’s Miracle, which my dad said we should get stock in since Ace-the-dog joined our family. “How did he end up in Grandpa’s room?”

“Beats me,” she said, wadding up more paper towels. “I let Ace out last night right before I turned in.”

“Weird,” I told her. “Grandpa wouldn’t have let him in. And I’m pretty sure Ace was in here for a long time. I mean, seriously,” I added. “It usually takes him a while to make this much of a mess.”

My mom nodded sympathetically. Ace seemed to see it as
his personal quest to attack, destroy, and pee on everything he came into contact with. From what I’d read in
Your New Puppy
, a lot of this could just be his puppy energy. Though when something like this happened, I got nervous that my parents might lose their patience. And might conclude that Ace was Too Much Trouble after all—as they had always insisted a dog would be—and start looking for a new home for him. A girl in my class last year said her mom did that when her dad got stationed overseas.

“Maybe he woke up early and drank all the coffee,” suggested my mom. This was a reference to a cartoon my dad had put on the refrigerator. It showed a couple of dogs lining up at a coffee dispenser, and underneath it said: “How nervous little dogs prepare for their day.” My dad changed it so it now says: “How Ace prepares for his day.”

BOOK: Aces Wild
12.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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