Chapter 5: the attempt of a desperate crime; the mysterious voice of mystery
Jacob was terrified after leaving the James’ house. He wasn’t at all expecting the outburst from Mrs. James. He didn’t think this was going to turn out anything like he was expecting. Jacob racked his brain to come up with a new idea.
Meanwhile, Mrs. James had turned into a basket case. She couldn’t even imagine the scandal that would follow if anyone found out where the device came from. Just think about how the town would talk if the wife of the preacher (who was as outspoken as anyone against this kind of thing) was found to have this kind of secret life! Imagine the disgrace it would bring Preacher James! No one would believe that the man who could spot a lie from across the universe could not know about it happening right under his very nose. She had to make sure that Jacob never told anyone else. Someone might suspect where it came from, and if Danny ever had to tell where he found it…. She couldn’t think about that possibility.
It was almost Danny’s thirteenth birthday. It had been three months since he found the device, and just as long since he had talked to Jacob. His family wasn’t in the habit of throwing birthday parties, but it was still a gloomy thought to him that Jacob wouldn’t be there for dinner, at least. Jacob’s aunt and uncle were still on good terms with the Dominicis, and asked if Danny would mind baby-sitting for them while they went to buy some goods in town. Danny was chasing Jephtha around the yard in a game of tag. Ruth was running the other way, Bob was hiding behind a bush, and Joseph was reading a worn copy of Homer’s Illiad. What none of them (with the exception of Joseph) knew was that behind a bush on the other side of the yard, Mrs. James was waiting with a large melon. “I’ve got one shot at this.” She thought. “A good whollop in the head might just make him forget all about finding that device…” she said to herself, almost laughing a cruel laugh that would give her away to all the children in the yard. She waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, Jephtha ran across that side of the yard with Danny chasing close behind. She waited a little longer for a good shot… three… two… one… “Hey, um, Mrs. James?” I asked. “You do realize that, 1. While your character is pretty stressed out right now, this is a little more villainous than what I had planned on, and, 2. While this book doesn’t portray the Amish sub-culture 100% accurately, the characters are mostly pretty believable. If someone goes throwing melons at kids, though, people start scratching their heads, like, ‘Wait, what?’ and then no one will take me seriously. I’m leaving this up to you, but I would advise you not to throw that. Besides, I pretty much gave your hiding place away so he can see you standing there about to throw a melon at him.” Mrs. James and the kids sat there with blank looks on their faces, trying to figure out what just happened. Well, most of them did. Joseph simply smiled his knowing smile and turned to the next page of the Illiad. Mrs. James finally recovered her senses enough to drop the melon and run for her life. Danny wasn’t sure what to do. He didn’t have any idea why Mrs. James would be hiding behind a bush about to throw a melon at him, and he couldn’t figure out who or what had just started talking out of nowhere. The kids went back to their game and soon forgot all about the strange incident. Well, except for Joseph, but you could probably guess that.
When they had run until their short legs were about to give out, they sat down and played tic tac toe on the ground. Danny quickly accumulated a large collection of tics and tacs, but Ruth held a monopoly on the toes. Danny proposed a trade, since Ruth didn’t have as many tacs as him. “No, I have enough for now.” She said, sounding a bit more like Joseph than usual. “But there is a trade I will make with you. I’ll give you two toes if you promise to let me make your wish for you when you cut your birthday cake.” Danny was taken off guard by this unusual offer, but he couldn’t think of much that he wanted right about then. Of course what he wanted most was for his family to accept his new love of rap, but he couldn’t tell anyone about that. “You have come to a fork in the road of your life.” Joseph said with his ominous smile. “You must decide whether you will fight, or if you wish to be defeated and disgraced.” “Um……” Danny again didn’t know what to say. “I guess I’ll take that trade.” He said suddenly. He immediately didn’t know why he accepted, but it was too late to take back. “Here’s your toes!” Ruth squeaked, happily. Danny just sat wondering what he had just done.
The next evening, Danny was called down for his birthday dinner. “Get down here for your birthday dinner!” his mother called. When he came downstairs, Jezebel was waiting with his parents and a stack of gifts from family and friends. Ruth was there, waiting impatiently to steal his birthday wish, and he thought he caught a glimpse of Joseph, but he wasn’t sure because when he looked again no one was there. They gathered around the table, and Danny’s family began singing “Happy Birthday” while lighting the candles. When they were done, Danny had almost forgotten his deal with Ruth, but before he had a chance to say anything she screamed “GIVE HIM CHILDREN LEST HE DIE!!!!!” Everyone stood in awkward silence for a moment before his mother asked, “How big of a piece do you want, Danny?”
Danny had a pretty good birthday. He obviously didn’t get either of his wishes. His parents didn’t give him a bus ticket to town to embark on his hip hop dream, and he didn’t get any kids. But, despite not getting any children, he didn’t die. He was definitely glad that he didn’t die, but he still felt somewhat empty. He went out into his spot in the woods to practice. He rapped about his loneliness and isolation from the world of hip hop. He rapped about love, he rapped about doves, he rapped about rubber gloves and lizzightning bugs. He rapped about anything that rhymed. For some reason, today it just didn’t feel right. He sat down on a log and thought for a few minutes. After a little while he heard a cracking branch behind him. He turned around and saw Jezebel standing there behind a bush. Danny wasn’t too surprised, and he just thought for a minute before saying, “Hey.” Jezebel walked up and sat on the log. Finally, she said, “That was really good. But you know you can’t become a rapper. What would everyone say? These things are forbidden here.” Danny sighed. “I know… what makes it wrong, though? Why can’t we rap? Just think how happy this town could be if we all embraced hip hop!” “Maybe you’re right…” Jezebel said slowly. “I still have a bad feeling about it.”