Will, Middle Name Trouble
Will, Middle Name Trouble
by Buffy Andrews
Genre Middle Grade
Tags middle grade humor, sibling, school, missing money, mystery
Release September 22, 2014
Content Editor Rosalie Skinner
Line Editor Nicole Zoltack
Cover Designer Charlotte Volnek
Sometimes we find more than we’re looking for…
Will Moran is always getting into trouble. But this time, Will, who cleans and cooks and takes care of his younger twin sisters while his mom works, didn’t do it.
Will’s class is collecting donations to benefit the local soup kitchen. Every time his teacher catches Will earning a buck from a bet, it ends up in the donation can. When the money goes missing, Will’s the prime suspect. After all, most of the money came from him.
Will and his eclectic group of friends set out to find the thief and prove his innocence, but they end up finding so much more.
After lunch, I waited for an opening, sort of like when I play guard in basketball and look for an opening to push through and score. I didn’t have to wait long.
Mr. Mock was talking about the Pilgrims, and I raised my hand.
“Yes, Mr. Moran?”
“Did they have dandruff shampoo?”
Mr. Mock’s face turned candy apple red. He took a deep breath, the kind my mom takes when she’s about to fire her to-your-room-and-don’t-come-out-until-I-say-so missile. That’s when I went for the point.
“Cause if they didn’t have dandruff shampoo, their clothes would look like yours.”
Half of the class laughed. The other half looked like they had swallowed their tongues. Fuzz leaned over and handed me a crumpled dollar bill.
Mr. Mock wobbled back to my desk. He held out his chubby hand, rubbing his sausage fingers together and making a sandpaper sound. “I’ll take that.”
His beady eyes narrowed and his eyebrows, which looked like bushy caterpillars crawling across his forehead, touched in the middle. “The dol-lar you just stuffed into your pocket.”
He emphasized the “dol” and then the “lar.” I had to mash my lips together so I wouldn’t laugh. “It’s mine.”
“And now it’s mine.” Mr. Mock shoved his doughy hand closer.
I wiggled my hand into my jeans pocket and pulled out the crumpled bill. Mr. Mock snatched it, smoothed it out, and stuffed it in the can on his desk. The coffee can had been covered with blue construction paper and was labeled “Soup Kitchen Thanksgiving Fundraiser.” Someone had added in black marker, “Will’s winnings.”
“Mr. Moran,” said Mr. Mock, sparks flying from his coal black eyes. “I think you’ve donated more to help the needy than anyone else in the class.”
He was right, except I didn’t do it intentionally. Every time I made money off a bet, it ended up in that stupid can. Mr. Mock always seemed to catch the passing of the buck, even if he was turned around facing the white board. The dude was like an Indian Cobra with eyes in the back of his head, always alert and ready to strike.
By the time I got home, Mock had already called my mom and she was waiting for me at the front door. She sent my two younger sisters, four-year-old twins, to watch TV. Mom pinched my right earlobe and held onto it while she dragged me into the kitchen.
“Ouch! I’ll come. Just stop pinching my ear. It’s already longer than the other one from you pulling it so much.”
“I wouldn’t have to pull it if you’d behave.” She stopped pinching.
I followed her into the kitchen.
Mom threw her hands in the air. “Will, your middle name’s Trouble. From now on, that’s what I’m going to call you—Will, middle name Trouble. What am I going to do with you? Making fun of the teacher’s dandruff.”
“Fuzz bet me to do it, and I knew we needed the money.”
She shook her finger at me. “That’s not how we get it. Besides, that was your excuse last week when you told the teacher in front of the class he had a booger hanging out of his nose.”
“Well, he did.”
Mom clenched her teeth, and her nostrils flared. “Or the week before when you poured water on his chair when he got up to get a drink during reading time. Poor man ended up with a wet butt.”
“I didn’t think—”
“That’s the problem. You never think.” She sliced the air with her arm. “You always have a million excuses for why you do the things you do, and none of them are any good. You’re going to grow up being hated. No one’s going to want to be your friend. Is that what you want?”
I looked at the kitchen floor, which needed a good washing. “No. And I’m not hated. Everyone laughs. Well, most everyone. They like me.”
Mom stretched her giraffe neck and got in my face. Her breath tickled my nose. “Until they become the victim of one of your pranks. Good Lord, boy. How many friends have you been mean to?”
“Krup and Fuzz are still my friends. We’re best friends.”
“That’s because you haven’t made fun of them.”
She cut me off again by karate chopping the air. “Look, Will, I’m tired of putting up with all of your nonsense. I’m doing the best I can for us, but you’re not helping.”
“I do, too, help. I watch the girls when you’re at work.”
“Believe me, I’d much rather be here than killing my back and my feet cleaning office buildings all night long, but it’s a job and helps me put food on the table and pay the bills.”
I chewed on my bottom lip. “Maybe he’ll come back.”
“He’s not coming back, Will.” Mom’s tone softened a bit. “Your dad’s gone for good. You might as well face that. We haven’t heard from him in four years. But that’s not what this is about. This is about you and your badness.” She looked at her watch. “I gotta go. There’s a can of spaghetti on the counter. Make your sisters that for dinner. And think about what I said.”