The Zippy Fix

The Zippy Fix by Graham Salisbury Read Free Book Online

Book: The Zippy Fix by Graham Salisbury Read Free Book Online
Authors: Graham Salisbury
Tags: Age 7 and up
listen to Stella.
    “So what was so good about today?” Julio asked.
    I patted my back pocket, where one day I would have a wallet filled with money. “We got rich.”
    “Rich, like money. I have to buy Stella a birthday present.”
    When we reached the dried toad, Julio kicked it, and it clacked farther up the street. “How rich?”
    “Fourteen dollars and sixty-six cents rich.”
    Julio whistled.
    I stopped and grabbed his arm. “Hey, you got any pop cans at your house?”
    “Let’s go look.”
    Four. They were in a grocery bag in Julio’s garage. Rinsed. Clean. No roaches, no ants.
    “Twenty cents’ worth,” Julio said. “You can have them.”
    We headed back to Kalapawai Market to cash them in. Just before we got there I stopped. “Julio, go inside and see if Tito’s there. If he’s not, wave us in. If he is, tell him to have a nice day and run.”
    I shoved him toward the store. “Be brave.”

    “T he next day, Sunday, I got up around noon. Luckily, Tito hadn’t been at Kalapawai, and my pile of cash had grown twenty cents higher.
    I yawned and stretched. Making money sure took a lot out of you. I went into the house.
    Mom was in the kitchen peeling a tangerinefor Darci. “Well,” she said. “I was just about to go out and see if you were still on this planet.”
    I scratched my head and grabbed the orange juice from the fridge.
    “Use a glass.”
    I found one on the counter.
    “That one’s dirty.”
    I looked into it. A curve of dried milk edged the bottom. Clean enough. I poured juice into it and gulped it down.
    “When was the last time you took a shower, Cal?”
    I sniffed my T-shirt.
    “Not your shirt. You.”
    I shrugged. “Where’s Darci?”
    “Watching cartoons.”
    “Where’s Stella?”
    “She went to her friend Tina’s house. What is this, the Inquisition?”
    “What’s the Inquisition?”
    “Are you hungry?”
    “Yeah, but Mom … do you have any jobs I can do to make money?”
    Mom studied me. It wasn’t a question I made a habit of asking. “Well, you can clean your room for a start. I shouldn’t have to pay you for that, but if you do a good job I’ll consider it.”
    “What else?”
    “Mow the lawn. Pull weeds. Clean the garage. Wash out the garbage can. Fold laundry … no, not that. I’ll just have to do it again.”
    I considered my options. I sure didn’t want to mow the lawn, and cleaning my room was out of the question. The garbage can was so disgusting I’d probably pass out just by taking the lid off, and the garage would take all day.

    “I guess I’ll pull weeds.”
    Mom put a fist on herhip and looked at me. “Fine. You can start with the flower bed out front… but only after you eat something.”
    I grabbed the Frosted Mini-Wheats out of the pantry and shook the box. Scraps. I reached in for the last few. “How much will you pay me?”
    “You’re snacking, not eating. Get a bowl and add milk.”
    I got a bowl. There were seven Mini-Wheats. I poured milk on them. Mom rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Write it on my grocery list.”
    “So how much?”
    “That depends on how much work you do and how well you do it.” Mom leaned against the sink and crossed her arms. “What’s this all about, anyway? I mean, this sudden desire to make money.”
    I didn’t want to tell her, because it was supposed to be a surprise. I shrugged. “I might need it… someday.”

    Mom snorted. “Isn’t
the truth.”
    Ten minutes later I was kneeling on the hard, sun-baked dirt under our front window. Mom’s flowers looked like starving prisoners in a chain gang, guarded by an army of wiry weeds.
    I pulled one.
    It broke off. The bottom part stayed in the dirt, like it was cemented there. The stub looked up at me like, That’s all you got?
    “Whatcha doing, Calvin?”
    I sat back on my heels. “Pulling weeds.”
    Darci knelt beside me. “Is it fun?”
    “Sure, lots. Want to

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