cleaned or I won’t have a job at all.” Aldo tucked the application back in his pocket. “First, I’m going to go turn up the heat.”
Good old Aldo. He was a thoughtful guy. And a smart guy, too. I hoped his wife could talk him into going back to school.
I wasn’t sure I could do it all by myself. And I was pretty sure Og wouldn’t be any help at all.
“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”
Seneca, Roman playwright
T he next morning, Kirk hurried from the cloakroom and stuck a big piece of paper on my cage. It almost blocked my view of Og, which was not a bad thing.
Once the other students settled in their seats, they started giggling and pointing, led by Gail, of course. Mrs. Brisbane looked puzzled until she glanced over at my cage. The sign read, HELP! I’M BEING HELD PRISONER IN ROOM 26!
“And who is responsible for this, as if I didn’t know?” she asked.
Kirk rose and took a bow as everyone applauded. I joined in, though I was the only one who knew I could never be a prisoner with my lock-that-doesn’t-lock.
“Let’s all sit down now,” said Mrs. Brisbane. “And get back to poetry.”
Somebody made a very, very rude noise and Mrs. Brisbane did not like that one little bit. “I-Heard-That-Kirk. And I don’t ever want to hear it again.”
During the rest of the week, we heard a lot more animal poems. Most of them were about frogs. One was about a dog (Miranda’s). Sayeh wrote about a beautiful bird called a dove. (“Dove” rhymes with “love.”)
Nobody wrote about hamsters.
Aldo didn’t mention City College again. And Tabitha still didn’t talk to anybody except Smiley.
I was looking forward to a change of scenery by the end of the week. A relaxing getaway to one of my classmates’ cozy homes. One with plenty of heat and no frogs.
On Friday, Mrs. Brisbane said, “I can’t remember. Who asked me about taking Humphrey home this weekend?” Miranda’s hand shot up.
“Yes, Miranda. I got the note from your father. That will be fine.”
I let out a little “Eek!” I don’t think anyone heard me. Everyone knows that I have a special place in my hamster heart for Miranda. After all, her name is Golden and I am a Golden Hamster. We both have lovely golden hair.
But I have a terrible fear of her dog, Clem. I barely escaped a terrible fate the last time I went home with her, but could I do it again?
Then it hit me. “Wait a second! Did you say ‘father’?” I squeaked. Because when I went home with Miranda before, there was only her mom. And the dog, of course. And Fanny the fish.
Mrs. Brisbane chuckled. “I guess Humphrey approves.”
I puzzled over this all afternoon. Sure enough, at the end of the day, a tall man called Mr. Golden arrived to pick up his daughter. At least I wouldn’t be riding the bus with Marty Bean—that was a break! Miranda, thoughtful as ever, threw a warm blanket over my cage. As they carried me out, Mrs. Brisbane picked up Og’s cage.
“I thought you said Og stayed here on weekends,” said Miranda.
Mrs. Brisbane chuckled. “It’s a surprise for my husband. He always enjoys Humphrey, so I thought he’d get a kick out of having Og for the weekend.”
I felt COLD-COLD-COLD and we were still inside! I thought the Brisbanes were my best friends of all. Were they ready to replace me with a frog?
Once we were in the car, I didn’t have time to worry about the Brisbanes. I was too worried about facing Clem again. I could practically see his sloppy tongue and drippy nose and smell that bad breath waiting for me up in Miranda’s apartment.
What a shock it was when the car pulled up in front of a house, not an apartment building. “Here we are, Humphrey,” Miranda announced. “You’ve seen my mom’s place, but this weekend we’re staying at my dad’s place.”
A nice lady that Miranda called “Amy” met us at the door.
“Hi, honey,” said Mr.