The boy who lost his fac.., p.1
The Boy Who Lost His Face, p.1Louis Sachar
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Published by Yearling, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books a division of Random House, Inc., New York
Text copyright © 1989 by Louis Sachar
Illustrations copyright © 2004 by C. F. Payne
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Other Books by This Author
“SHE’S SO ugly!” whispered Roger.
Scott and Randy laughed.
David laughed too, even though he didn’t think it was funny. Mrs. Bayfield wasn’t ugly. She was just a lonely old lady who dressed kind of weird.
“Is someone there?” Mrs. Bayfield called out.
The smile left David’s face. The boys crouched down behind the bushes next to the rusted iron gate leading to her yard. They became very quiet.
Mrs. Bayfield was sitting in a rocking chair in front of her large though quite dilapidated three-story house. She wore a yellow and white flowered dress and a red cardigan sweater. A floppy red hat covered her long gray hair. On her feet were red high-top sneakers and purple knee socks. Her snake-head cane lay across her lap.
They had come to steal her cane.
The cane was carved to look like a snake wrapped around a stick. The snake had two heads facing back to back. They formed the handle. Embedded in each snake head were two sparkling green eyes. One of the heads had its mouth open, with a tiny gold tongue sticking out.
“Look at her hair,” said Scott. “I don’t think she ever washes it.”
The boys laughed, including David.
“I don’t think she’s ever taken a bath!” said Roger. “Have you ever smelled her?”
“I can smell her from here,” said Scott, holding his nose. “She smells like a pig!”
Roger and Randy laughed, and again David laughed along with them, but not because he thought anything was funny. In fact, he liked the way Mrs. Bayfield smelled. He thought she smelled like Chinese tea.
He once stood behind her in line at the post office. The whole time he kept trying to figure out what that smell was, and finally decided it was like very sweet Chinese tea. That was also when he had gotten a good look at the cane.
He knew better than to tell Roger and Randy that he thought Mrs. Bayfield smelled like tea. It was one of those things that Scott would say was uncool.
“Okay, Scott,” said Roger. “When I give the signal, you grab the cane. Randy and I will take care of Old Lady Buttfield.”
“What do you want me to do?” asked David.
Roger didn’t answer him. He just looked at David like he didn’t know what David was doing there.
David didn’t know what he was doing there either. He certainly didn’t want to help steal a poor old woman’s cane. Still, he felt disappointed not to be included in Roger’s plans.
“You just be ready, David,” said Randy. “Do whatever needs to be done.”
David nodded. He was glad that at least Randy was willing to include him.
“But be careful,” warned Randy. “She’s a witch.” He smiled at David.
David smiled back, although he had no idea what he was smiling at.
“She stole her husband’s face,” said Randy.
David snickered, but stopped abruptly when nobody else laughed. Scott gave him a dirty look.
“She waited until he was asleep,” said Randy, “and then she peeled it off his head. It’s hanging on the wall of her living room. She talks to it.”
“Weird!” said Scott.
“What happened to her husband?” asked David.
“He’s dead now,” said Randy. “But for a long time he just walked around without a face. He lived up there, in the attic, so nobody could see him.”
David looked up at the window just below the roof. “Wow,” he said. He wondered if Randy or anybody else really believed any of that nonsense. He knew Scott didn’t. Scott couldn’t.
Scott and David had been best friends since the second grade. Then, this year, Scott managed to get in with Roger and Randy.
“You’re holding me back,” Scott had told David. “If you want to hang around with Roger and Randy, you got to be cool.”
“I’m cool,” David told him.
“Well, just try to be cooler, okay?”
“See, that’s what I mean,” said Scott. “You say stuff like that around Roger or Randy and they’ll think you’re a jerk. And then they’ll think I’m a jerk for being your friend.”
Now David felt a little angry as he looked at Scott. Scott had talked him into coming along—to prove he was cool. But when they met up with Roger and Randy, Scott completely ignored him. He made David feel like Scott’s kid brother who just tagged along.
Roger stood up and pushed open the iron gate.
“Hello?” Mrs. Bayfield called out.
“Hello, there,” replied Scott, entering the yard behi
David was the last one through the gate. He started to shut it, but Randy turned and whispered, “Leave it open.”
The yard was overgrown with weeds except for a small rectangular patch of flowers in front of the porch.
“Good afternoon, boys,” said Mrs. Bayfield from her rocking chair in the middle of the front yard. Next to her was a little table with a tall glass and a pitcher.
“Good afternoon,” said Roger. “How are you today?”
“Quite well, thank you.”
“Glad to hear it,” said Roger. “My name is Frank. And this is George and Joe,” he said, pointing to Randy and Scott. “And that’s David,” he said, pointing at David.
David’s face flushed.
“A pleasure,” said Mrs. Bayfield. “I’m Felicia Bayfield.”
David wasn’t worried that Mrs. Bayfield knew his real name. As long as she didn’t know his last name. It was just that Roger had done that on purpose.
“Would you boys like some lemonade?” asked Mrs. Bayfield.
“Why, thank you, Felicia,” said Roger. “We just love lemonade. Don’t we?”
“I love lemonade,” said Randy.
David shrugged. “Sure,” he muttered, hoping that they’d change their minds and just drink the lemonade, then leave.
“Nothing like a cool glass of lemonade on a hot day,” said Scott.
It wasn’t a particularly hot day. They were all wearing jackets.
“There are some cups on the porch, if you would be so kind,” said Felicia Bayfield.
Roger and Randy headed for the porch, directly behind Mrs. Bayfield. David watched as they stomped through her small flower bed, crushing the flowers. He smiled at Mrs. Bayfield, trying to show her that he really didn’t mean her any harm.
“I hope the lemonade’s not too sour for you,” she said. “It’s homemade.”
“I like it sour,” said David, still smiling. He watched Roger whisper something to Randy as they got some Styrofoam cups out of a plastic bag on top of an ice chest.
Roger returned with four cups and set them on the small table. “I’ll pour,” he said, and picked up the pitcher of lemonade.
Randy remained behind Felicia Bayfield.
“I hope there’s enough,” she said. Her eyes were bright green and sparkling like the green eyes on the snake-head cane resting on her lap.
Randy took hold of the back of the rocking chair with both hands.
“Oh, there’s plenty,” said Scott.
“Now!” shouted Roger.
Scott grabbed the cane while at the same time Randy pulled the rocking chair all the way over.
Mrs. Bayfield cried out as she fell on her back in the chair. Roger poured the pitcher of lemonade over her face, turning her cries into sputters.
Her legs were sticking up in the air and pointed right at David. He found himself staring at the strangest underpants he’d ever seen—black-and-white-striped with red ruffles. They extended from above her waist down almost to her knees.
Roger hurled the empty pitcher at the porch. It crashed through her front window.
“C’mon, David,” yelled Randy, standing by the gate. “Before she puts a curse on us!”
Mrs. Bayfield slid backward out of the chair. She propped herself up on her elbows and looked at David looking at her.
He wanted to help her or at least tell her he was sorry, but he didn’t.
He flipped her off.
Her green eyes flashed at him. In an angry, crackling voice she shouted: “Your Doppelgänger will regurgitate on your soul!”
David couldn’t really get what she said, but he wasn’t particularly worried about it. He didn’t believe in witches or curses or any of those kinds of things. He never heard of a Doppelgänger.
Little did he know that someday his face would be hanging on her living room wall.
He ran toward the gate, which was now closed.
ROGER WAS limping around on the snake-head cane. “Would you boys like some lemonade?” he asked in a crotchety old voice that sounded nothing like Mrs. Bayfield.
Scott and Randy laughed.
David hurried up behind them. “Whew,” he said. “We did it!”
“All right!” said Randy. He held up his hand for David to slap.
David slapped at it but almost missed. Only his last two fingers hit Randy’s hand. He’d never been very comfortable with high-fives.
“There are some cups on the porch, if you would be so kind,” whined Roger. “I’d get them myself, but I’m too ugly!”
Randy and Scott laughed.
David smiled. “Well, I gotta go,” he said with a half-shrug, half-wave. “Homework.”
“Later,” said Randy.
“Yeah, see ya, Ballinger,” said Scott. For the last week or so Scott had only called David by his last name.
“Simpson,” he replied.
David walked home feeling miserable. He felt worried, too. What if she called the police?
Well, at least he wasn’t the one who pulled her rocking chair over. He didn’t pour lemonade on her head. He didn’t step on her flowers or break her window. He didn’t steal her cane.
All he did was flip her off.
Really, when you think about it, what’s so wrong with that? All he did was point his middle finger at her. What makes the middle finger any worse than any other finger? What if he had just pointed his pinky at her? That wouldn’t have been a bad thing to do, would it?
As far as he could remember, he’d never given anyone the finger before, at least not for real. He remembered when he first learned about it in the third grade. He and Scott used to practice giving it to each other. It took a lot of practice to be able to do it quickly. They’d flip each other off all day in class, but only in fun. It was kind of like a game of tag. They’d pretend to scratch their nose, or the back of their neck, but they’d always be pointing their middle fingers at each other.
It was too bad that Scott had become friends with Roger and Randy. Actually Randy wasn’t so bad. He would probably be a good guy, thought David, if it wasn’t for Roger.
But he knew the reason he had given Mrs. Bayfield the finger was to try to impress Roger. What do I care what Roger thinks? he asked himself. Except he did care, and he knew it.
“Hi, David!” his brother greeted him when he got home.
“Hi, Rick,” he muttered.
“You want to play a game or something?” Ricky asked.
“I got homework,” said David. “I have to memorize the Gettysburg Address.”
“We could just throw the ball around,” suggested Ricky.
David smiled. “Sure. Okay.”
Ricky’s face lit up.
They threw the baseball back and forth in the backyard. In a way David felt like he was doing a good deed to make up for the bad deed he had done earlier. He knew how much Ricky looked up to him.
Ricky was in the fifth grade. Anything David did, Ricky wanted to do too. There was never an argument about what to watch on TV. Ricky wanted to watch whatever David wanted to watch. When David mentioned he liked a song on the radio, Ricky would go out and buy the record, saying it was by his favorite group. If David told Ricky a joke, he’d hear Ricky repeat it to his friends the next day, even if it wasn’t all that funny.
David caught the ball and threw it back to his brother, who was using David’s old baseball glove. David had given it to him at the end of last season. Ricky could hardly believe it. “Wow, this is the same glove you made that famous catch with,” he had said. David didn’t know what Ricky was talking about. “You know. Remember when you caught that hot smash and stepped on second base for a double play?”
David had played second base. He was okay, but to hear Ricky tell it, he was a superstar. “They should put you at shortstop instead of Scott,” Ricky said.
Scott always seemed to be a little better than David at everything. Even his grades were better. That was something David couldn’t unde
He threw the ball back to his brother. He wondered what Ricky would think of him if he knew what his life was really like. That he hung around with guys who didn’t especially like him. That he helped steal a cane from a defenseless old lady.
What if she is still lying helplessly on the ground? What if she can’t walk at all without her cane?
He imagined her having to drag herself across the overgrown yard, up the wooden stairs to the porch, and into the house. And Roger broke her front window, so all over the floor there would probably be broken glass that she’d have to crawl across. The glass pitcher probably broke, too. She could be bleeding to death at this very moment.
He tried not to think about it as he threw the ball back to Ricky.
She probably doesn’t have any family or friends, he thought. She was so happy to see us, delighted to have some visitors.
Or what if she does have a family? Will she be able to tell them what happened? Or will she just clean herself up and say nothing to anyone, because it’s too humiliating? Maybe just pretend it never happened. “How did you break the window?” her son might ask. “Oh, you know clumsy old me,” she’d answer, not wanting to talk about it.
David almost felt like crying. What if some kids did that to his own grandmother? Or to his mother, when she got old? Or to Elizabeth?
Elizabeth was his baby sister, who just had her first birthday.
Mrs. Bayfield was once one year old. She was once a cute baby girl whom everybody loved. Who would have thought then that someday she’d be a crippled, lonely old lady and some kids would knock her chair over, pour lemonade on her head, and steal her cane?
And then when she’s lying helplessly on the ground, humiliated, unable to walk, without a friend in the world, some stupid kid flips her off.
He threw the ball hard, too hard, to his brother. He hadn’t meant to throw it that hard.
Ricky caught it and beamed. “Nice throw!”
David sighed as he considered going back to see her. He wanted to make sure she was all right. Maybe he could even be her friend. At least tell her he was sorry.
He wanted to go back, but he didn’t.
What if Roger or Randy found out? He’d be the joke of the school. Besides, the police might be there waiting for him. The criminal always returns to the scene of the crime.
The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar / Young Adult have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes