Canto Eleven – Clubhouse Craziness
Two days had passed since the magic cat had given Valerie the strange wooden statue. Now, it sat on the crate that served as a table in the middle of the Ghost House. The newly re-formed Pirates were all there.
“I think it’s called a Tiki idol,” said Pidney.
“How do you know that, Polack?” sneered Conrad Doble.
“It looks kinda like the ones in the Tiki Bird Show at Disneyland,” said Pidney sheepishly, “Mom and Dad took me there when I was twelve.”
“Didja like the show?” asked Doble. “The singing birdies and everything?”
“Yeah,” said Pidney matter-of-factly, “I have always loved everything by Disney.”
Both Valerie and Mary Philips smiled at him. Pidney was always gonna have a lot of the little boy he used to be in him.
“It reminds me of the book you were telling me about, Mary,” said Ray Zeffer.
“What book?” asked Pidney.
“Ray was there when I showed the book to Mr. Salcom. He’s in my Modern Novel Class third period. It’s the book about the last voyage to the South Seas.”
“The one your Uncle Noah gave you,” added Ray.
“Noah Dettbarn is NOT my uncle. He’s just a family friend.”
“Did your Uncle come to visit you recently?” asked Danny Murphy. “Since he came home again, I mean?”
“He’s NOT my… Oh, never mind. It came in the mail a month ago. It’s where I got those stories I was telling you about, Pid.”
“Oh, yeah. The stories that you’re gonna share with us to become the Merlin of the Pirates,” said Pidney.
Valerie admired the way Pidney’s eyes sparkled when he talked about stuff that excited him. And Mary’s stories were always something that excited him, no matter where she got them from. Mary’s eldest half-brother, Branch McMillan wrote lots of fantastic stories full of lies and jokes and other nonsense. A lot of that had rubbed off on Mary.
“So, you have a magic book after all? Like old Milt Morgan had?” Conrad Doble looked at Mary with an accusing stare that made Val want to punch him in the ear.
“Well, it’s not a magic book. It’s a ship’s log book. It has latitudes and longitudes in it, sonar readings, and some stories about what Captain Noah Dettbarn has been up to that are either huge honking lies, or the most fantastic things that ever happened to someone from Iowa.”
“Cool. You have the book with you?” asked Doble.
“Not yet. I’ll bring it to the next meeting. I have to read all the stories myself first,” Mary said.
Doble squinted at Mary. Valerie thought that must either mean that old King Leer didn’t believe her, or that his tiny brain was being squeezed too tightly by all the information Mary had just given him. Surely it was the latter thing.
“What are we gonna do with the Tiki-thing?” asked Pidney.
“You really got it from a magic cat?” Ray asked Valerie.
“Well, I don’t know if it’s a magic cat, exactly. It’s that ugly white alley cat that lives behind the Main Street businesses, by the water tower. Crazy old Miss Haire asked me to go talk to it.”
“And did it talk back?” sneered Conrad Doble.
Pidney and Ray both glared at Doble, apparently not liking the tone of voice he used with Valerie. But it was pretty much the same ugly tone he used with everybody.
“Um… It talked to me… yes.”
“But I didn’t hear it,” said Danny. “Only Val has the witch ears that crazy old Miss Haire was talking about.”
“Witch ears?” asked Mary.
“She calls it the knowing,” answered Valerie. “She says it is using all your senses to tell you more than any one thing can tell you by itself.”
“That’s real dog poop!” growled Doble.
“Miss Haire is rather eccentric,” said Mary, “but I believe she’s a good person at heart. Did she say anything about the Tiki idol?”
“We talked to her before we got the idol,” said Val. “We didn’t see her or talk to her afterwards.”
“Well, I think we should look up more about it in the library,” said Mary. “Val, isn’t your aunt the head librarian?”
“My Mom’s sister, Aunt Alice, yes.”
“Can you, Pidney, and I meet in the library tomorrow afternoon?”
“You bet!” Val liked the idea of looking stuff up with Pidney. Using his football muscles to pull books off shelves and turn encyclopedia pages really appealed to a girl who liked to see football muscles in use and up close.
So, it was settled. The Captain’s log book would be the magic book that sealed the New Norwall Pirates, and Valerie would get to do research with two of her favorite people on Earth all because of a silly little wooden-headed man in a grass skirt and a very ugly mask.