Chapter One

The Clover Street News

I’m sitting on a tightly-made bunk in a cell that smells of Pine-sol.  I’m wearing my orange jeans and a green, white, and orange striped sweater because I didn’t want to look ragged while I’m here.

I’m writing this from jail with a large pad and some pencil stubs that the deputy let me have.  Please don’t let the fact that I’m a thirteen-year-old girl who’s also a criminal influence you against reading what I have to say.

I’m not so bad as I am stupid.  And I’m not nosy.

I’m just compulsive about writing — and getting the credit for it.  I’m so eager to write that when I was nine I etched part of a poem onto my toenails with a straight pin and then wore sandals to school.  I didn’t cheat, though.  I simply couldn’t see it, because by the time it was my turn to recite I was too much welled-up in sympathy tears over Connor Thripp’s hand-mangling bicycle accident.  But I guess I had worked so carefully to inscribe the verse that every stroke of every letter was etched into my brain as well.

That episode makes me wonder whether I’ll ever write anything that a kid in the future will want to etch onto her toes and into her memory.

My jail term is for 24 hours in “solitary.”  It’s solitary mainly for my own privacy and to protect me from hearing things in the rest of the jail that might frighten poor-little-me.  Then I can go home, face the rest of my punishment, and try never to do it again.

You might say what I did is my dad’s fault.  He brought home my accomplice, the computer, in the first place.  Or you might say it’s my mother’s fault.  She is nosy, and it was her idea to publish all the news in the neighborhood.  You might say it’s Grampa’s fault, may he forgive my saying so.  Because of him, or the lack of him, we needed the computer.  It was also Grampa who laid a trap that only I could squeeze into.  Then again, you might say it was my nine-year-old brother’s fault.  He’s the one who really had me convinced that Mister and Missus Reuhausen were up to something.  They truly are weasely people, may they forgive my saying so.

About the computer: It was bound to be my undoing.  It looks innocent and inert.  But, like a child absorbing the culture of a country or a carpet absorbing grape juice, the computer assumed Mom’s eagerness, Dad’s aloofness, and my brother’s dopiness, then finally my recklessness.

I’m about to show you how it all happened.  I may as well.  I’m in jail, and I fantasize that my family is out at A&W having ice cream to celebrate my humiliation.

The Clover Street News – Chapter 1 – Chapter 2 – Chapter 3 – Chapter 4 – Chapter 5 – Chapter 6 – Chapter 7 – Chapter 8 – Chapter 9 – Chapter 10 – Chapter 11 – Chapter 12 – Chapter 13 – Chapter 14 – Chapter 15 – Chapter 16 – Chapter 17

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