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Authors: Rene Gutteridge

Boo Hiss

BOOK: Boo Hiss
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Readers’ Praise for
Boo Who

“Well done! I just finished
and highly recommend it. I woke up my family when I was reading late and snorting with laughter at one of the character’s antics. Thanks for a very entertaining read!”

C, from Oklahoma

“I just finished
and can’t wait to read
Boo Who.
What a refreshing read! The character development is wonderful. My wife and I grew up in a small town in Illinois, and Skary seems so familiar to us. I’m very glad I came across this book, and I’m eager to read the next one.”

M., from Illinois

“I bought
to take on vacation. While I was reading it, my husband asked why I looked sad. I told him I was almost finished with the book and didn’t want it to end. It was delightful!”

S., from Colorado

“My wife Stella and I have really enjoyed
Boo Who.
The author has a clever way of getting good Christian principles and characters across to readers without preaching at them.”

K., from North Carolina

“I am so glad to see another book coming in the Boo series …. I have really enjoyed the first two. I manage a Christian bookstore, and I have recommended
Boo Who
to many of the book clubs that come in.”

N., from California

is now one of my top five all-time favorite books!”

T., from Ohio

the Boo series! I just finished
Boo Who
, so please tell me the author plans on writing another and another and another in the series. The characters are just grand.”

S., from Oklahoma

“Finally, a book—
Boo Who
—that’s intelligent
Christian at the same time. The story is real and entertaining with just the right touch of suspense and wackiness! I heard there were books and authors out there like this but never read one until now. Thanks so much!”

B., from Tennessee

whose friendship has spanned three decades


, lets calm down.” Mayor Wullisworth looked like he was patting the air as he tried to get everybody to sit down in the crowded community center. Martin Blarty stood a few feet away, attempting to take a pulse on why this crowd was so agitated.

It was a soccer field, for pete’s sake. Sure, it was a little mysterious, but it wasn’t like it was a crop circle or anything. And they’d had their share of those, until 1984, when a farmer named Bill Dunn had confessed to the prank, though he claimed he’d been possessed by alien serum when he’d done it. Rumors flew when Bill disappeared one night, leaving an empty farmhouse and all his belongings behind.

Turned out he was in Vegas, but it did make for some good headlines for a while.

“Where did it
come from?”
The woman’s desperate and dramatic voice hushed the crowd and everyone looked at the mayor.

Martin bit his lip. The mayor was known for his inability to mock concern or compassion, especially for those he called EGRs, or Extra Grace Required. Martin had dealt with the town’s EGRs for years, decades, and sometimes even generations. Martin’s attempt to coach the mayor on how to respond to questions that lacked sensibility had finally taught him that it was really the mayor who lacked sensibility, so Martin just let it drop.

“Well,” the mayor began, “we’ve just learned that the government
has a top secret military plan to take over the country via soccer fields.” Grumbling ensued.

Martin slid up next to the mayor and turned the mike away from him. “What the mayor is trying to say is that though we don’t know why this soccer field has seemingly popped up in Skary overnight, we’re sure there is a reasonable explanation for it.”

“What could be a reasonable explanation?” a man asked. “We don’t even have a soccer team.”

True. “Listen, were going to find out why the soccer field is there, folks. It may just take some time. But rest assured, it’s nothing to panic about.”

Martin could remember one other occasion when the town got up in arms like this, when they decided to change a street name. A century ago, someone had mistakenly named two streets in Skary Maple Street. One was on the west end, one on the east. It never confused the residents of Skary because what you were talking about determined which Maple Street you meant. You never used West Maple if you were going to the grocery store. You never used East Maple if you needed your car repaired.

But back when they were a tourist town, some tourists would get confused. One man ranted, “This is worse than Atlanta and their Peach-tree Street fiasco!” The man was also irritated that they didn’t give tours of Wolfe Boone’s home, so Martin had disregarded it as misplaced anger. But, he decided, there was no reason why they couldn’t give one of the Maple streets a new name.

No reason at all, except for the fact that the town nearly rioted over it, and nobody who lived near one of the Maple streets wanted it changed. So the two Maple streets remained, and everyone was happy.

“It came overnight,” Mr. Runderfeld said with a grunt, clacking his cane against the floor. “I drove by there the day before, and that soccer
field wasn’t there. The next morning, it was. You got a fancy explanation for that?”

Martin stepped on the mayor’s foot, a sign he would be doing the rest of the answering. “I’m sure there is a good explanation, Mr. Runderfeld. Maybe the person who owns the land wanted a soccer field.”

“Who owns the land?” someone shouted.

“I’ll look that up in the records, and we 11 figure this out. But folks, let’s just rest assured that there is nothing strange going on, all right? It’s true we’ve never had a soccer complex or anything close to it in our town before, but there’s no reason for alarm. Now if a nuclear testing site popped up overnight, that would be cause for alarm.” Nobody else was laughing, and Martins chuckle faded. “Anyway, I’m sure there’s other business to address here today.” He looked into the crowd. “Anybody have any other concerns?”

Silent glaring answered. Then, at the back of the room, he saw someone raise a hand. “Yes?”

A teenaged boy with curly, greasy, unkempt hair mumbled something that nobody could understand.

“Could you speak up, please?” Martin asked.

The kid nodded, but went back to mumbling, this time adding gestures.

Martin waved him up front. “Why don’t you step behind the microphone so we can all hear you?”

With a slump worthy of osteoporosis, the kid padded his way up to the front of the room. Half an eye was showing when he faced the crowd. Martin recognized him as the kid that worked at the bookstore.

“Hey,” the kid said like he was waving to his surfer buddies. A couple of toastmaster sessions might do him some good. “I’m Dustin, and I’ve lost my pet.”

“Great!” Martin enthused. This was exactly the kind of thing
community meetings were meant for, and a perfect distraction for the crowd, as the citizens of Skary were always suckers for lost pets. “Why don’t you tell us about your pet. Give us a description, and I’m sure somebody will be able to help.”

“Well, it’s sort of brown and black, I guess. A little yellow mixed in. With black eyes.”

Martin glanced at the crowd. By the oohs and aahs, he could tell they were already starting to forget about the soccer field.

“What kind of breed is it, young lad?” Mr. Runderfeld asked.

Dustin’s sulky face lit up with pride. He scooted his hair out of his eyes. “It’s a rosy!”

“Is that a kind of Chihuahua?” someone asked.

“Boa,” Dustin said.



The room was so quiet, Martin could hear the water heater hissing behind the wall. “Dustin, I’m sorry. I think there’s some confusion here. Are you saying you lost a … a …”


Someone screamed in the back of the room.

Dustin looked surprised. “Oh, please, don’t be afraid. Boa constrictors are not dangerous.”

Martin needed to get this situation under control quickly. He stretched a grin across his face and said, “Well, Dustin, we’d be more than happy to help you find your
What is your cute little


“Bob. Okay. Bob.”

“Well, it’s kind of confusing. You can call him Bob, and that’s totally fine. But Bob is kind of special.”

Martin could hardly find the words to ask what made Bob the snake special, but he managed a weak, “Why?” “Well, Bob has two heads.” Another scream.

Martin felt himself grow pale along with the three already pasty looking old ladies sitting on the front row, but he kept the grin tight on his face. “Two heads?”

“Yeah. He’s a two-headed snake. A bicephalic. Pretty rare, actually. See, Bob is the more dominant of the twins. His brothers name is Fred.”

“Bob … and Fred.”

“Yeah. They’re like Siamese twins. They share a body, and have separate necks, and two separate heads. I’ve had them since they were babies.”

A trickle of sweat rolling down Martin’s temple beckoned a subject change back to the soccer field. He looked out at the startled crowd. A woman on the third row had fainted.

“Okay,” Martin said in a shaky voice, “so what we’ve got here is a lost snake … snakes, I mean … well, one snake, two heads … anyway, a snake that goes by the names Bob and Fred. A harmless snake, I might add, right, Dustin?”

“Yeah. Totally harmless.”

“So, Dustin, I guess we should probably be … aware … when we take out the trash or move some brush, as that is probably where it’s going to turn up, right?”

“Well, you would think. But actually, Bob and Fred are really domesticated. Spoiled, if you ask me.” He snickered. “What does that mean?”

“Well, you’re not going to find Bob and Fred out and about like other snakes, under a rock or something. They’ve gotten used to being
inside, and they especially like carpet and things like comforters and pillows. I’m sure they’re going to turn up soon because they can’t stand to be outside much. The only tough thing is that they’re probably only going to appear at night because they’re nocturnal.”

Martin could actually hear someone crying. Dustin was completely oblivious. He addressed the crowd, suddenly very comfortable with the mike.

“And listen, if you do find Bob and Fred, they’re probably going to be very hungry. They really have very healthy appetites. So if you can’t get ahold of me, I’d go ahead and feed them. Any sort of rodent is fine. They’re not into gourmet mice or anything.” Dustin was amusing the daylights out of himself with his jokes. “Anyway, please, please, if you feed them, follow my instructions very carefully.”

The room grew still. Dustin relished the attention.

“When you feed them, you must place a piece of cardboard or something between them while they’re eating. Bob is the much more dominant of the two, and if you don’t put something between them when they eat, Bob ends up swallowing Fred’s head, and let me tell you, that is a nightmare to fix.”

Martin dismissed Dustin with a feeble thank you as he ushered him off the stage. There was no use trying to get everyone under control. Hysteria reigned.

Martin turned to find the mayor. Mayor Wullisworth would surely be able to come up with some creative idea. But when he looked at him, the mayor’s eyes were wide, and his mouth was gaping open. The fact that he was pulling at strands of his own hair wasn’t helping Martin’s confidence. “Mayor! Are you okay?”

“I-I-I hate snakes. I hate them. I
them,” he whispered.

Martin pulled the mayor out the back door and into the cold out-side.
Under enormous stress, Martin had found out, the mayor had a tendency to want to go tropical on him.

“Sir,” Martin said, grasping his arm. “Sir, get ahold of yourself.”

The mayor looked around his ankles, then at Martin. “What are you going to do?”

“You’re the mayor, sir. I thought you might have some ideas.”

“Let’s pull up the protocol for evacuating the town.”

Martin directed the mayor to his car. “Why don’t you let me handle this? This is no big deal. I’m sure by the end of the day, we will have found this cute and, um, unique little critter.”

“Critters have fur. This is a bloodsucking, slimy reptile.”

“Reptiles aren’t actually slimy.”

“Handle this, Martin. And quickly.” The mayor ducked into his car and drove off. Martin turned to find an ambulance loading an elderly woman inside.

Katelyn Downey watched out the back window as her son Willem threw the baseball to her husband, Michael. Ever the athlete, Michael caught it and pitched it back while cradling his cell phone between his shoulder and chin. He glanced at the window and gave Katelyn a short wave.

She went to the kitchen and pulled out casserole number seven. She was going to miss all those cooking days with the neighborhood ladies. It was a day well spent making large batches of casseroles, then dividing them and taking them home to freeze. On the days that soccer games, Spanish class, T-ball practice, or gymnastics meets ran late, she could just pull out a casserole and add a packaged salad.

Out the kitchen window, she saw Annette across the street edging her yard for the fourth time this month. Once, Willem had kicked his soccer ball across the street and into her grass. After he retrieved the ball, she witnessed Annette walk out and actually comb the blades of grass back into place. She painted her window shutters yearly, hid all her garden hoses after each use, measured the height of her bushes with a yardstick, and actually parked her car in the garage.

Katelyn was going to miss this dreamy street with the white picket fences, but she had a higher calling. And Annette’s web wasn’t long enough to reach where she was going.

Rubbing her hands raw at the kitchen sink, she didn’t flinch when Annette looked up and into the kitchen window that perfectly framed Katelyn’s scowl. With her designer gardening gloves, Annette’s fingers rolled a wave in the air like she was strumming a harp. Her radioactive teeth glowed against her sunless tan.

Katelyn waved back. Annette’s two twin girls, Madee and Megynn, provided a thorn for each of her sides. She’d been deceived by their yellow ringlet hair and saucerlike eyes. They’d been playing soccer since they were two and could run circles around Willem and all the other boys on the team. They also had a knack for snotty one-liners that evoked visions of plotting their curls’ demise with a pair of safety scissors. They only had coed teams until eight. Three more years of this kind of torture and little Willem might go into the arts.

BOOK: Boo Hiss
13.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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