|For beginning of the story click here|
I was reading Fun With Dick and Jane to Bird when the green and black Ford rumbled up our drive. Pop pulled on his boots and went out to meet our unexpected guest while I carefully peeled back a corner of the oiled paper over the window to have a look. Most folks our way drove cars that were held together with baling wire, rope, pitch, or just about anything else that would keep the parts together. Sometimes the McCully's drove around in a half-car, half-truck contraption with all seven kids hanging out the windows, lumber or cotton bales on the roof, and a goat tied to the running board, bound for market. So I knew that this particular vehicle, all of one piece and mostly the same color, carried someone special.
The first fellow who climbed out was one of the biggest men I'd ever seen. And when he turned to shake hands with Pop, the sun glinted off a star over his pocket. He wasn't dressed like the police I'd seen chasing Rico in Little Caesar; instead, he was just wearing plain clothes and a hat that looked like a dog might have worried it some. Still, I felt a little shiver of excitement. Maybe there were some gangsters hiding out in the area and they were going to ask for our help in finding them! I knew all of the good spots, and I was pretty sure that I could handle a machine gun. The gangsters would be so surprised that a girl was brave enough to hunt them down that they'd come out with their hands up. Then I'd coolly tell the sheriff to "lock 'em up till it's time for them to get their necks stretched". I wasn't really sure what that meant, but it sounded tough. Then there would be a parade, and I...
Pop was reading a bunch of papers the sheriff handed to him, and the look on his face wasn't good. Trouble was brewing. Then the other car door opened, and a skinny man unfolded himself like a jackknife and leaned up against the car. He was looking straight at me, so I dropped to the floor and belly-crawled over to where Bird was spitting on a book page and drawing designs in it.
"You cut that out." I snatched Dick and Jane away - Jane's face looked like a candle had melted it - and got out Ma's tin can full of buttons.
"Shake it." He grabbed it from me and shook it, turning it over and over and then shaking it some more.
The voices outside went up and down, so that I could pick out a few words but couldn't make sense of the whole thing. Then I heard "windmill" and "feeble-minded" and it felt like falling and hitting the ground all over again. Somebody had seen us, and now we were in big trouble. It might even be one of the few times that Pop would have to take a switch to me. I concentrated on playing with Bird and not throwing up.