Philip and the Superstition Kid

4 Mar

A GSP release from Author of the Week: John Paulits.

Philip and the Superstition Kid by John Paulits

Emery’s clumsy and monumentally unlucky cousin Leon is coming to visit for a whole week!  Philip and Emery, best friends, are desperate to find ways to keep Leon out of their way, but Leon’s bad luck―and disaster―follows them everywhere.  Rabbits’ feet don’t work.  Homemade remedies don’t work.  And when Emery and Philip have an extraordinary spell of bad luck themselves, they’re certain that Leon’s bad luck is contagious.  They plot and plan to convince Leon that the safest place for him is in his own home.  In a panic, Leon gets his mother to end his visit early but promises to return for a night a week from Friday, when he hopes he’ll be over his bad luck.
     Triumphant, Philip and Emery laughingly decide to circle that unlucky date on Emery’s calendar, but when they do they get a shock.  The thirteenth of the month.  Friday the thirteenth!  And they have to spend it with Leon!


Philip looked out his bedroom window and smiled. Splashes of sunshine glinted off the windows of the houses across the street. The summer breeze blew gently through the window screen, just strong enough that his hair tickled his neck a little as the breeze ruffled it. Philip usually associated good smells with chocolate and bakeries, but right now the sweet aroma of somebody’s newly mown lawn made Philip inhale deeply. Today was the first official day of summer vacation; fourth grade was a thing of the past; and the long, beautiful, wonderful-smelling summer lay ahead, day after endless joyful day.
     Below and to his right Philip saw his best friend Emery step out of his front door. Philip hurried from his room, dashed down the stairs, and bolted outside. He waved to Emery and crossed the street. Emery walked toward him.
     “Emery.” Philip smiled and opened his arms wide. “Welcome to summer vacation.”
Emery glared at him unresponsively.
Philip lowered his arms. Now what? he wondered. “Summer vacation, Emery,” he reminded his friend.
     “I dreamed a dream last night,” Emery said gloomily.
     “So what? Everybody does that.”
     “Not like this they don’t. There goes the summer.” Emery moved his hand like he was shooing away a fly.
     Mrs. Logan lived at the corner, and there was an empty space inside the thick bushes near the back of her house Philip and Emery used as a hidden clubhouse. Mrs. Logan rarely left her house—Emery insisted she was a hundred and four years old, but Philip said that was impossible—so no one bothered them when they sat in the shady coolness, unknown to the world. They were on their way there now out of habit.
     “Emery, vacation just started,” Philip said impatiently. “How could a dream spoil the summer? It’s only the first day for Pete’s sake.”
     “You know those stupid rabbits’ feet we all got at Kevin’s party last week?”
     “They’re not good luck.”
     “Whoever said they were?”
     Emery looked at Philip sadly. “Everybody knows that a rabbit’s foot is supposed to bring luck. That’s why people chop off the rabbit’s foot—to get good luck.”
     Philip winced at Emery’s description.
     “That’s just make believe,” Philip argued.
     “It’s not. Look it up. Why would people keep chopping off rabbits’ feet just for make-believe?”
     “Stop talking about chopping off feet, okay?” Philip said, his voice rising.
     “I carried my rabbit’s foot around since the party, and I didn’t have any bad luck.”
Philip waited. Then he asked, “Did you have any good luck?”
     Emery shrugged. “I got promoted,” he offered.
     Philip could feel his exasperation beginning to build as it always did when Emery started acting weird. “I got promoted, too, and I don’t even know where my stupid rabbit’s foot got to. And I didn’t have any bad luck this week either. And everybody got promoted.”
     “The babies didn’t cry as much this week,” Emery argued. Emery had two infant sisters.
     “They’re getting older. They’ll cry less anyway. What about the dream?”
     “I figured that if I got good luck during the day carrying the rabbit’s foot, then I was wasting it at night just leaving it on my bureau, so last night I decided to put it under my pillow to get good luck when I was sleeping.”
     Philip shook his head and in a loud voice cried, “What kind of good luck can you have when you’re asleep? Nothing happens when you’re asleep.”
     “I didn’t fall out of bed,” Emery said.
     “Did you ever fall out of bed before?”
     Emery thought a minute. “I don’t remember that I did.”
     “So there. You wouldn’t fall out of bed anyway. I didn’t fall out of bed. My mother and father didn’t fall out of bed. A zillion million people didn’t fall out of bed. What did the rabbit’s foot have to do with it?”
     Emery shrugged.
     “The dream?” Philip said impatiently.
     The boys had reached the corner and, with a quick look around to assure themselves that no one was watching, ducked alongside Mrs. Logan’s house and crawled into their hideaway.
     “It was weird,” Emery said reluctantly, looking at Philip. The boys sprawled on the sparse grass in the deep shade.
     Philip pressed his lips together as if he was going to burst. When Emery saw Philip’s eyes widening, he said, “Okay, I’ll tell you. I dreamed that me and you . . .”
     “I was in the dream?”
     Emery nodded. “I told you it was awful.”
     Philip frowned. “What does that mean?”
     “Me and you were somehow on a bouncing boat. I don’t know how we got there. But we were going up and down and up and down.” Emery moved his hand in time with his description.
Philip grabbed Emery’s hand and lowered it. “Up and down, yeah?”



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