The Election-Day Disaster

BOOK: The Election-Day Disaster
2.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

For Simon and Tansy


Halloween Trouble

“Marshall, I don’t think you should be up in that tree,” KC said. She glanced down at the small sign stuck in the White House lawn. “This tree was planted by President Truman. It’s very valuable!”

“I’m not hurting it.” Marshall’s voice came from the branches. “I’m just making my spiderweb look more spooky.”

KC and her friend Marshall were in the White House rose garden. It was Halloween, and in an hour, the garden would be filled with kids and grown-ups in costumes. Even though the leaves were changing color, it was warm for the end of October. Kids wouldn’t need their hats
and jackets to go out trick-or-treating.

President Zachary Thornton was KC’s stepfather. Since KC’s mom had married the president, KC and her mother had been living in the White House.

“It already looks spooky,” KC said. She glanced around the garden at the jack-o’-lanterns, “ghosts” made out of sheets, and fake tombstones.

Marshall dropped to the ground. He was dressed as a tarantula. To make the legs, he’d stuffed long black socks and tied them to his black T-shirt and black jeans. He’d drawn a spider face on his own, using face paint.

Marshall Li was an animal lover. But he especially liked creatures with six or more legs. His pet tarantula, Spike, lived in a cage next to his bed.

“How does it look?” he asked, pointing up into the tree. His “spiderweb” was really white knitting yarn he’d gotten from his mother. He had strung the yarn in the tree branches to look like a large web.

“Pretty nice,” KC admitted. “And the web goes with my costume.”

“You’re not coming as a spider, too!” Marshall yelped.

“No, I’m coming as Wilbur,” KC said.

“Who’s Wilbur?”

“He’s the pig in
Charlotte’s Web,”
KC said. “My favorite book.”

“I hate to break the news,” Marshall said, “but in the book, Charlotte built a spiderweb, not a pig web.”

“I didn’t say Wilbur sat in the web,” KC said. “Besides, how would you know? You only read Spider-Man comics.”

“I saw the movie.” Marshall grinned.

“Sweet web, Marsh,” a voice said. It was almost dark in the rose garden, and the voice made KC jump.

Simon Tansy jogged toward the tree. He was the nephew of Yvonne, the president’s maid. Simon was visiting Yvonne for a few days.

“Thanks, Simon,” Marshall said. “Where’s your costume?”

Simon winked. “Somewhere,” he said. Simon was thirteen and thin, and had the yellowest blond hair KC had ever seen. He puffed out his chest. “I’m coming as Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

“You can’t!” KC said. “Everyone has to be some kind of animal. It says so on your invitation.”

“I know,” Simon said. He tugged on
KC’s long red hair. “I was just yanking your chain. My costume is all ready, and if you think you’ll win the costume contest, forget it. It’s gonna be mine!”

“What contest?” Marshall said. “No one tells me anything around here!”

“There’s a prize for the most creative costume,” KC said. “The president and my mom and I are the judges.”

“You’re a judge?” Simon scoffed. “So you can’t win, right?”

“I know that,” KC said. She wondered why Simon made her so angry. Since he’d arrived that morning, he’d been nothing but a wise guy.

“She’s coming as a pi—Ouch!” Marshall said as KC kicked him on the ankle.

“It’s a surprise.” KC glared at Marshall.

“Whatever,” Simon said, rolling his
eyes. “Your mom told me to tell you to come in and get the apples. You know, for the dunking.”

“Okay, thanks,” KC said. “I just want to check out the tent first.”

Marshall and Simon followed KC to another part of the rose garden. A small tent stood next to the gate. The outside of the tent was decorated with plastic bats, flying witches, and other Halloween stuff.

“Cool,” Simon said. “What’s this for?”

“Everyone who shows up has to walk through the tent and have a picture taken with their masks off,” KC said. “For security. My mom said three marine guards will be here to take their invitations. Then the guests walk out the tent’s back door into the party.”

“Why? Does the president think there
will be party crashers?” Simon asked.

“He just wants to make sure that only invited guests come,” KC explained. “He doesn’t want anyone on the grounds who doesn’t belong here.”

“Our whole class from school is invited!” Marshall said. “And my parents!”

“Great,” Simon muttered. “Little kids and grown-ups. I’ll have a terrific time!”

Simon pulled out his cell phone and loped away toward the back entrance of the White House.

As Simon went in, Arnold, in his crisp green marine uniform, came out. Arnold was the president’s personal guard, and he had become KC and Marshall’s friend. He was carrying two large wash buckets.

“Where do these go?” he called to KC. “They’re for apple dunking.”

“Leave them by the tent,” KC said. “I don’t know where my mom wants them.”

KC and Marshall went into the tent. It was empty except for a chair where the guests would be photographed.

“Who’s taking the pictures?” Marshall asked KC. “I thought cameras weren’t allowed.”

“The president hired a photographer,” she said.

By the tent’s exit was a basket of red, white, and blue campaign buttons. In the center of each button was the face of President Zachary Thornton. Around his face were the words ZACK IS BACK.

November 4—four days away—was Election Day. KC’s stepfather was running for reelection as President of the United States.

“KC, if the president loses the election, where will you guys live?” Marshall asked. “You’d have to move out of the White House, right?”

“He’s not going to lose!” KC said. “Don’t you ever read the newspapers, Marsh?”

KC planned to be a news anchor-woman after college. She read three newspapers every day and watched the news on TV. She was training herself to notice what was going on everywhere, not just in Washington, D.C.

“I only read Spider-Man comics, remember?” Marshall said, putting on a goofy face.

“Well, all the polls say my stepfather is ahead of Melrose Jury, the man he’s running against,” KC said.

“What do you mean, poles?” Marshall asked. “Like fishing poles?”

“No, P-O-L-L-S. Polls are like samples of what people think,” KC said. “Whenever there’s an election, people get asked who they will vote for. Right now, the president is ahead of Dr. Jury in the polls.”

“The president’s running against a doctor?” Marshall asked.

“Not a medical doctor,” KC said. “Dr. Jury was a college professor before he got into politics.”

“And now he wants to be president,” Marshall summed up.

KC grinned and pointed to the campaign buttons. “Yeah, but he’s not gonna make it, because Zack is back!”

No Pictures, Please

An hour later, KC and Marshall were standing next to the two wash buckets filled with water. Apples floated on the surface.

KC had used one of her mom’s old pink sweaters to make her Wilbur-the-pig costume. She had stuffed the sweater with a pillow to make her tummy look fat. She wore a pig snout over her nose. Her red hair was tucked under a pink baseball cap with pointy pig ears.

“You look like Miss Piggy,” Marshall said.

“Well, I’m not Miss Piggy,” KC said. “I’m Mr. Wilbur.”

She looked around, checking out all the costumes. Their classmates had masks on, so she couldn’t tell who was who.

Some of the adults were standing near the water buckets. Others were lining up kids to play Pin the Wart on the Witch.

“Who’s the butterfly?” Marshall asked.

“That’s my mom,” KC said. “And the president is the lion holding his tail. People keep stepping on it.”

“My parents are the two geese,” said Marshall. “My mom ripped up a bunch of old pillows to get the feathers.”

“The vice president is the ladybug,” KC went on. “And Yvonne is the cow.”

Marshall pointed to a black gorilla who was pretending to scare kids. “I think that’s our teacher, Mr. A,” he said.

“Mr. Alubicki is the gorilla?” KC asked.

Marshall nodded. “And your buddy, Simon, is behind the president,” he said.

KC stared. Simon was dressed in dark gray long johns. A scrawny gray tail hung from the seat of his pants. Black cardboard ears stuck up from his head over a mask with a pointy nose.

“He looks like a gerbil,” KC said, trying not to laugh.

“I think he’s supposed to be a kangaroo,” Marshall said.

“Who’s that?” KC asked. A green monster walked by. Long green sausage-like things hung from the body. The head was a green motorcycle helmet. Strips of green plastic hung down over the legs, almost to the shiny black shoes.

Marshall burst out laughing. “Looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon!”

KC pointed out a short kid waiting to dunk for an apple. He or she wore a bug mask with a pillowcase for a costume. Black wings sprouted from the shoulders. Every few seconds, the pillowcase lit up. The kid glowed in the dark.

“I think that’s Amanda from our class,” KC whispered.

“What’s she supposed to be?” Marshall asked.

“A firefly,” KC said. “Pretty clever!”

It grew darker. Kids dunked for apples. Blindfolded, they tried pinning warts on a paper witch strung between two trees. Cookies and cider were gobbled up.

The president and First Lady arranged a parade around the rose garden. Everyone stumbled along, trying not to step on each other’s costumes.

BOOK: The Election-Day Disaster
2.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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