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Authors: Wendelin Van Draanen

Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man

BOOK: Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man
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A
LSO BY
W
ENDELIN
V
AN
D
RAANEN

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief
Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy
Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf
Sammy Keyes and the Curse of Moustache Mary
Sammy Keyes and the Hollywood Mummy
Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes
Sammy Keyes and the Art of Deception
Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen

How I Survived Being a Girl
Flipped
Swear to Howdy

Shredderman: Secret Identity
Shredderman: Attack of the Tagger
Shredderman: Meet the Gecko
Shredderman: Enemy Spy

Published by Dell Yearling
an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
a division of Random House, Inc.
New York

Text copyright © 1998 by Wendelin Van Draanen Parsons
Interior illustrations copyright © 1998 by Dan Yaccarino

The jumping horse design is a registered trademark of Random House, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.
For information address Alfred A. Knopf. Books for Young Readers.

The trademarks Yearling and Dell are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries.

Visit us on the Web!
www.randomhouse.com/kids

Educators and librarians, for a variety of teaching tools
,
visit us at
www.randomhouse.com/teachers

eISBN: 978-0-375-89045-1

v3.1

To Nancy Siscoe, a real treasure.

Special thanks to my husband, who continues to show good humor even when I’m acting spooky; to my family—both the in-laws and the outlaws—for cheering me on; and to Mary Lou Prohaska and Karen Macintosh, who know how to ring-and-run. Thanks, too, to Bruce Miller at Phoenix Books, who (not coincidentally) keeps his sleeves and hair quite tidy.

Contents

Cover

Other Books by This Author

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Prologue

I was just out trick-or-treating like the rest of the kids in town. But then I got the bright idea that we should go up to the Bush House. I mean, it was Halloween, and banging on the Bush House door is kind of a tradition in Santa Martina. At least it’s something everyone
else
always brags about doing, and I guess I thought it was time I tried it too.

We weren’t expecting candy. We weren’t even expecting anyone to answer the door. We were just expecting to scare ourselves half to death and then run away. Far away.

Trouble is, the door
did
open, and after what I saw inside, there was no way I could just turn around and run.

ONE

You may think I’m too old to go out trick-or-treating. Grams does. She thinks that after the fourth grade you’re too old. Period. And seeing how I’m in the seventh grade, well, according to Grams I’m
way
too old.

And usually I pay attention to what my grams says. Partly that’s because I
have
to since I’m staying with her while my mom’s run off to Hollywood to become a movie star, but mostly it’s because I’ve figured out the hard way that she’s usually right about things. What she’s definitely
not
right about though is the cutoff for trick-or-treating. I don’t know exactly when it is, but I do know it’s sometime
after
the seventh grade. Period.

Now Grams couldn’t exactly make me stay home and pass out candy. Kids aren’t even allowed in the Senior Highrise, so how can you pass out candy to them? She couldn’t let me transform into the Monster from the Marsh in her apartment, either—not with Mrs. Graybill waiting for me to slip up and give away the fact that I really
do
live with Grams. And since I didn’t want to haul a bunch of green hair and warts and stuff clear across town to Marissa’s, when Dot invited us to get ready over at
her
house, I jumped up and said, “Great!”

Dot’s new at school, and Marissa and I don’t know her
all that well, but I already like her. She’s kind of quiet and blinks a lot, and always brings root beer in her lunch. Her name’s really Margaret—or Maggie—but everyone calls her Dot because she’s got a beauty mark right in the middle of her cheek. This is no mole. It’s not lumpy or bumpy or poking out hair. It’s just this round black circle on her face that looks like it’s been colored in with a fountain pen. A dot. And when you first meet Dot, you don’t really notice that she’s got big brown eyes and teeth that kind of crisscross in front—you just come away wondering if that’s a
permanent
dot on her face, or if she was leaning on the wrong end of a marking pen.

Anyhow, I was stuffing everything I needed to transform into the Monster from the Marsh into a sack when Grams says, “Are you planning to go over
already?
” like Halloween is something you don’t want to arrive too early for.

I just nod. “Could you check the hall for me?”

She rummages through my bag a little and says, “I want you to wear a jacket.”

I look at her like she’s crazy. “A jacket? But Grams … it’s Halloween!”

Her hands pop onto her hips. “Young lady, you’re taking a jacket. It may not be that cold now, but in another hour it will be.”

I roll my eyes and mumble, “Marsh Monsters don’t wear jackets,” but I go into her room and dig my jacket out of the bottom drawer of her dresser because I know—there’s no way she’s going to let me out the door without it.

She gives me a little smile and says, “You’ve got your flashlight?”

“Yes, Grams!”

“Well then, it looks like you’re set. Be home by nine, okay?”

I give her my best “pretty please?” look. “Nine-thirty?”

She sighs. “Not one minute after. It’s a school night, Samantha.”

I give her a kiss on the cheek and say, “I know, Grams, I know. Now could you check the hallway for me? Please?”

She opens the door a bit to see if Mrs. Graybill’s got her beak in the hallway waiting for me. She signals me that the coast is clear, so off I go with my sack of Marsh Monster paraphernalia, down the fire escape, out to Broadway, past the Santa Martina Town Center Mall, and over to Tyler Avenue.

Dot lives in a skinny two-story house on Tyler, right smack-dab in the middle of a bunch of other skinny two-story houses, only Dot’s house had about ten jack-o’-lanterns on the stoop.

Seeing all those jack-o’-lanterns got me pretty excited about turning into the Monster from the Marsh. Halloween’s the best. You don’t have to worry about not having enough money to buy presents or wonder if someone’s going to remember to get
you
something. You don’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning or going to church—you just get dressed up and go out with your friends and have fun.

I raced up the steps, rang the doorbell, and kind of bounced up and down in my high-tops, waiting for someone to invite me in. And when Dot’s dad answered the door, well, I didn’t notice right away that he had big
brown eyes and teeth that kind of crisscross in front. All I noticed was that right smack-dab in the middle of his cheek was a black spot, just like Dot’s.

I stood there like an idiot for a minute, staring at Dot’s dad’s dot, and finally I say, “Hi, Mr. DeVries? I’m Sammy … Dot’s friend? Is she home?”

He smiles real big, which kind of pushes his dot up toward his eye. “So nice to meet you, Sammy. Come right in.”

So in I go, into the Land of Blue. The carpet’s blue, from about three feet down the walls are blue, and above that there’s blue-and-white checkered wallpaper with ceramic plates mounted on it.
Dozens
of ceramic plates with blue windmills and cows and kids in wooden shoes.

Mr. DeVries bends out of the way as a little girl dressed up as Snow White goes charging behind him. She’s clicking a toy gun around in the air, shouting, “Pughh, pughh!” and a second later Mr. DeVries has to jump out of the way again as another little girl in a cowboy hat and boots goes chasing after Snow White, waving a magic wand in the air. She’s shouting, “Take this back! I want my gun! Give it back, or I’ll turn you into a newt!”

BOOK: Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man
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