Lionel’s Grand Adventure
Lionel and the Golden Rule
By Paul R. Hewlett
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Copyright © 2012 Paul R. Hewlett
All rights reserved
This electronic book (ebook) or any portion thereof may not be copied, sold, or reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
“Lionel, I hope you’re cleaning out your closet like I told you to, or you’ll be sorry!” Lionel paced around his room. The 1967 school year—his first in Larrystown—had ended, and he was already bored out of his mind. He wished baseball had started. He needed to find some fun, but his mom’s voice reminded him that his quest for fun would have to wait. She meant it when she said he’d be sorry. He’d been grounded for the last week because he forgot to wipe off the ketchup bottle after using it.
Lionel walked across the room, planted his hands on his hips, and looked at the mess inside the closet. He’d meant to straighten it up a long time ago, but closing the door and ignoring it seemed easier. Now he had to clean up all the junk—some that had been sitting there since before he moved in—his mom said so.
Bending over, he kept pushing his glasses back up as he inspected the pile on the floor. He stared at everything on the shelf and knew he would have to be creative to clean it up since he couldn’t reach that high. Asking his mom for help was out of the question.
Lionel looked around his room and spied his footstool. He pulled it across the worn, wooden floor. With some difficulty, he balanced his chubby frame on the edge of the stool, holding on to the clothes rod in the closet to keep steady. Standing on his tippee toes, he peeked at the shelf.
His heart sank when he got a good look at what was up there. From what he could see from the floor, he’d hoped some of the shelf might be empty, but boxes and old clothes covered every square inch of it. He pulled all the clothes onto the floor and went to work on the boxes. After he straightened those out, he took one last look to make sure everything looked okay. Satisfied, he went to step down when something in the far corner of the shelf caught his attention.
He squinted and took a closer look. Whatever it might be, it was bulky. At least part of it was bright yellow. Lionel’s imagination went into overdrive picturing what it could be.
Hmmm, what in the world is that?Maybe it’s a magic wand or maybe a magic lamp with a genie inside!Or maybe I’ve been reading too many comic books.
He inched toward the object, holding onto the doorframe with one hand and reaching as far as he could with his other hand. The treasure waited just a few inches away. Not to be discouraged, he took a deep breath and jumped from the footstool toward the unknown object.
Lionel missed his target, smacked his head on the doorframe, and landed with a thud on the floor. This not only left him with a goose egg on his head, it also caught the attention of his mom.
“Lionel, what in the heck are you doing up there?” Her loud voice echoed in his already ringing ears. His head throbbed from the bump. “You better not be wrecking anything or making a mess! If you are, so help me, I’m gonna spank you with the yardstick! Do not make me come up there!”
Lionel’s head dropped. He felt like a deflated balloon. Closing his eyes, he thought about how his mom was always yelling at him. His thoughts drifted to his dad—or what he imagined his dad was like. All he knew was, according to his mom, his dad had gone out to the store one day and still hadn’t come back. Lionel pictured him as a war hero and dreamed of him coming home with medals and ribbons.
Lionel pushed that thought from his mind, and a smile fell from the corners of his mouth. Then he clenched his teeth, set his jaw, and looked up, more determined than ever to rescue the object.
He had learned not to let his mom’s words stop him—even if they did hurt. He was happy she didn’t actually carry out her threat—this time. A light bulb went off in his head. Her threat gave him an idea. He might be able to use the yardstick to reach the object. He just had to get it without his mom knowing.
Standing up, Lionel dusted off his clothes. Then he checked his forehead in the mirror on his wall. He didn’t mind his boring brown hair as much as his haircut. Brushing his cowlicks down over the bump, he knew the disguise wouldn’t last long. If his mom saw or heard him, she would add another lump to his backside.
He sneaked down the stairs to the kitchen and peeked into the living room. His mom sat on the sofa, peering into a hand-held mirror, plucking her already pencil-thin eyebrows while listening to the TV. He crept toward the pantry door, gripped the handle, held his breath, and turned the knob.
There it is!
Lionel smiled. He grabbed the yardstick and hurried back up the stairs.
With the yardstick in his hand, he stepped back up onto the footstool with a grunt. Careful not to fall, he reached for the object with the yardstick. He moved—whatever it was—closer to the edge. Sweat formed on his forehead as his fingers slipped on the doorjamb. Uh-oh. Don’t fall. Mom will hear!
Bingo! Lionel caught himself as the object fell to the ground without a sound. It appeared to be an old rabbit’s foot, the kind used as a good luck charm. This one had an odd-looking yellow cord attached to the end—nothing too exciting. Not a bad discovery since he always needed some good luck to make up for all the things that seemed to go wrong, but it sure wasn’t as exciting as he’d imagined.
Lionel brushed his hair out of his eyes to take a better look. The object looked too big to be a rabbit’s foot unless rabbits grew in some different way in Larrystown. The foot had three very long toes about four inches long that were able to bend in either direction. He scrunched up his eyebrows as he thought about the lucky rabbit’s foot his buddy Ralph, at his old school, had. It didn’t look at all like this one.
Hmm, a good luck charm. Cool! I wonder if this thing really works? What should I try first to see if my luck has changed?
Lionel jumped as a loud banging came from the stairway. It had to be his big brother Feeney. Lionel stuffed the foot into his pocket as the footsteps reached the top step.
Feeney flung open the door. “Hey, what’s up?”
“Nothing, Feeney, just cleaning out my closet.” Lionel tried to hold back his excitement, hoping Feeney might invite him to hang out with him. He jammed his hands in his pockets and looked at the floor, trying to act cool.
“I’m going to hang out with Darren and the guys, do you want to...hey! What are you doing with Ma’s yardstick?” asked Feeney, his jaw sticking out like a cash register drawer.
Lionel bit his tongue, squeezed the foot in his pocket, and wished Feeney would vanish and leave him alone. He pictured him exploding like a paper bag.
Feeney inched closer and towered over Lionel. “I’m gonna tell her unless you—”
A very loud ripping noise filled the room as the seams in the seat of Feeney’s pants split. He looked down and gasped.
Eyes wide, face pale, he shot out of the door without a sound. Lionel stood in stunned silence. Feeney hadn’t exploded, but his pants had. The look on his face was priceless, and the rip in his pants had made him vanish. Lionel smiled.