"What are you
eating?" Rubber Boots asked Jet, who was sitting on the front steps of the
school delaying the inevitable.
"Looks more like potato
"Same difference," Jet
"Yeah man, the breakfast of
"More like the breakfast of
people who can't face oatmeal, cinnamon toast, or cold cereal on a Monday
morning," Jet said.
"So that's breakfast?"
"No," Jet said holding
up the potato chip bag, "This is breakfast."
Rubber Boots reached in and
pulled out a chip. Boys and girls walked by, some hurrying but most taking their
"You oughta come over my
house for breakfast some morning," Rubber Boots said. "My mom'll treat you
"Let me guess. Breakfast is
the most important meal of the day, right?"
"How'd you know?"
"I hear it every
morning," Jet said.
"Yeah, but do you get eggs
any way you want them, bacon or sausageboth if you tell her how good she
lookstoast or English muffins, hash browns, and pancakes?"
"No," Rubber Boots
said, "some mornings she makes waffles instead of pancakes and blueberry muffins
instead of English muffins."
"Bet that sucks."
"You kidding? Waffles beat
pancakes any day of the week."
Timmy Padget walked up to them.
"What happened, your mother run away and leave your father to make
breakfast?" he asked Jet.
"Yeah, you won't some?"
"The store's that way,"
Jet said, pointing down the street. Timmy stuck his hand in the bag. Jet closed his
fingers around Timmy's hand, trapping it. "What do you say?"
"I won't kick your ass if
you give me some," Timmy said.
"That's 'cause you
"Yeah, right. Oh, what the
"That's better," Jet
said as he loosened his grip on Timmy's hand, which emerged from the bag with a huge
handful of chips.
"As in 'please kiss
"Hey, how about those
break-ins this weekend?" Rubber Boots said excitedly.
"What about them?" Jet
"What about them?"
Timmy said incredulously. "This is getting cool as a moose on a hot tin
"Leave your mother out of
this," Jet said.
"Can you believe it?"
Rubber Boots asked. "Two in one weekend. Man, he's really hauling butt
"How'd ya like the one in
the church?" Timmy asked. "You know Ralph was there through the whole
"Ralph who?" Rubber
"Marconi," Timmy told
him. "He lives down the block from Jet and me. Anyway, Ralph was playing altar
boyhard to picture any preacher thinking Ralph oughta to be an altar boywhen
they discovered the Kool-Aid and crackers. Man, I wish I coulda seen the look on the
"Maybe if you went to church
once in a while you would," Jet said.
"I wish I went this
"You mean this guy Ralph was
there?" Rubber Boots asked in awe.
"So were a couple hundred
other people," Jet said.
"Yeah, but Ralph was
standing right in front," Timmy said, reaching into the bag and grabbing another
handful of potato chips. Jet's breakfast was getting smaller by the minute.
"Well, Id love to stay and chat but I gotta find someone smarter and
smaller than me who'll let me copy his history homework before first period. See you
"Not unless I see you
first," Jet said.
Rubber Boots looked at Jet in
awe. "You know this guy Ralph?"
"Yeah, we grew up together.
"You know anyone who works
at that French restaurant?"
"I mean, was that a slick
move or what?" Rubber Boots asked Jet, who shrugged and looked bored.
"You really don't get it, do you?"
Jose Rosenbloom approached with
five of his friends. Hard as it was to believe, Jose's head looked even bigger when
he was standing; his head very nearly caused a total solar eclipse.
"I don't know who the guy
is, but he sure is livening things up around here," Jose said to his friends.
"My Dad says it's some loony
who broke outta the nuthouse and he doesn't want us goin' out at night 'til they
catch the guy."
"A restaurant's one thing,
but a church? My mother says he's gone too far this time."
"A church is for
salvation," Jet interjected from the sideline, "and a restaurant's for
"That'll make my mother feel
"If not, try vitamins."
As the group started up the
stairs, Jose reached into Jet's bag of potato chips and pulled out a big handful.
"See you in English,"
he said as he stuffed the chips in his mouth.
Jet reached into the bag and
found a small pile of broken chips and crumbs. "If breakfast is the most
important meal of the day," he said, "I can't wait to see what's for
He tipped his head back and
poured the potato chip crumbs in his mouth. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a police
car pull up to the curb. Two uniformed officers got out of the car, put their hats
on, shoved their nightsticks in their belts, and walked towards Jet and Rubber Boots.
"Shouldn't you boys be in
school?" one of them asked.
"We've still got a few
minutes," Jet said.
"If they're still here after
the bell rings we pick 'em up for truancy," the second cop said as they
continued up the steps. When they got to the top they turned and looked back at Jet
and Rubber Boots, who were still watching them. The cops started laughing and went
into the school.
"I bet they're here to
arrest Johnny for the robberies," Rubber Boots said.
"They can't be that
stupid," Jet said.
"It's not stupid to think
Johnny's doing them," Rubber Boots said, hurt and defensive.
"No," Jet corrected,
"but it is stupid to think today will be the first time in his life that
Johnny won't be late for school."
Rubber Boots laughed as Jet
stood up. "I bet you any amount of money that as soon as Johnny shows up
they take him to the police station and give him the third degree," Rubber Boots
"You seem awfully anxious to
pin the crimes on Johnny," Jet said, raising one eyebrow in mock suspicion.
"And where were you at the time of the crimes?"
"Yeah, right," Rubber
Boots said, "can you just see me doing something like that?"
Jet stopped walking and looked
his friend over from head to toe and back again. "Now that you mention it, you
do kind of look like the criminal type," he said.
"Okay wiseguy, and where
were you this weekend when the menus were taken?"
"Out of town with my
parents," Jet said as he opened the door and walked into the school.
[ Chapter 18 ]