It was a beautiful summer day. My best friends, Gordon and Paulo, were at my house helping me get my fishing tackle ready so we could go fishing in the river.
"Come on," I said when we were finally ready. "We don't want to waste any more time."
We headed outside to get our bikes, and Gordon whistled for his dog, Chopper, who had been waiting in the yard for us.
"Here, boy!" he yelled. The dog didn't respond.
"Now where could he have gotten to?" demanded Paulo. "We left him right here by our bikes."
As if on cue, Chopper came bounding across the neighbour's lawn with something furry in his mouth.
"Oh, no! I'll bet he's been in Mr. Butterworth's garbage," I said.
The dog trotted up to Gordon and sat down in front of him.
"Hey, that looks like...OH NO!" I yelled. "DROP IT, CHOPPER!" Clenched between the dog's teeth was a rabbit. Chopper dropped the animal at his owner's feet and looked up proudly as if to say, "Hey, guys. Look what I caught!"
The rabbit was dead.
"That's Mr. Butterworth's rabbit!" I said in shock. "He loved that rabbit! Now we're really in trouble!" It was a regular sight on our street to see Mr. Butterworth filling his birdfeeders or weeding his gardens with the bunny hopping along after him.
We all scowled at Chopper. Sensing our anger, the dog slunk off and sat beside our tree fort by himself.
"That rabbit sure is muddy," commented Gordon, peering at the dead animal.
"Chopper must have chased him through the garden. Man, are you in trouble. I'll bet your parents won't let you go camping with us next weekend," said Paulo, looking at me.
"Me?" I asked in surprise. "It wasn't my fault that Gordon's dog killed a rabbit. That's what dogs do. Besides, I'm not the one who left him out here!" I glared at Gordon.
"Don't blame me," said Gordon. "Anyway, I have a plan." Paulo and I groaned, but Gordon insisted that we at least give it a try. "Unless you want to get in major trouble and have our trip canceled!" he said.
Paulo and I sighed and listened to Gordon's plan.
First, we took the dead rabbit into the house and gave him a bath in the tub. We used lots of shampoo to get all the dirt out of his fur, and then we rinsed him until all the mud and shampoo were gone. Gordon wiped the rabbit with a big towel. Next, we took my mother's blow-dryer and dried his fur. In a couple of minutes, the rabbit was dry and clean.
"Hey, he looks as good as new!" exclaimed Paulo. The rabbit did look good with his fur fluffy and gleaming.
Next, we carried the rabbit outside and I snuck around to Mr. Butterworth's garage and peered in through the window. There was no car; The coast was clear.
"Okay. Now all we have to do is put the rabbit on the old man's porch, and Mr. Butterworth will never know that Chopper killed him. He'll think he died of a heart attack or something," said Gordon.
I had to admit it was a good plan. We gently place the dead rabbit by the front door and raced back across the lawn to our bikes. We grabbed our fishing gear and pedaled off down the road toward the river with Chopper running along after us.
| "Whew!" said Paulo when we were well away from the house. "I'm glad that's over with. There's no way we can get caught!"|
"And we can still go camping," I said with a sigh of relief.
We fished unsuccessfully for several hours and at dinnertime, we each pedaled home to our own houses.
Entering the kitchen, I saw mom making dinner. When she saw me, she exclaimed,
"Have you heard the news?"
"What news?" I asked.
"Mr. Butterworth was just over. He told me that his rabbit died two days ago and he buried it in his back yard. And today, some sicko dug up the rabbit, cleaned it off and put it on his front porch!"
I gulped loudly. Chopper must have dug up an already-dead rabbit! Did mom suspect the sicko was really Gordon, Paulo and me?
"With some weirdo running around digging up dead animals, I'm going to make sure the windows and doors are all locked tonight," she continued. "And, oh, by the way. I talked to Gordon and Paulo's parents, and they feel that it wouldn't be safe for you boys to go camping by yourselves next weekend with this weirdo on the loose. I'm afraid you'll have to cancel your trip."
I opened my mouth to protest but realized that she might not know that it was Gordon, Paulo and me, and every kid knows that you never admit anything you don't have to.
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Book 1 - The Dead Bird Collection
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