Illustrated by Marla Frazee
Cover design or artwork by Marla Frazee
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Waylon thinks most problems can be solved with science. But when it comes to having to share a dog with Baxter Boylen, science may not be very helpful. Baxter is the closest thing to a juvenile delinquent Waylon has ever met. He's always getting called to Principal Rice's office, and now he's even having meetings with the chief of police. At least the two boys can visit their dog, Dumpster Eddy, while they're at the station. Eddy is behind bars in the Stray Animals' Lock-up. When a new Animal Control officer takes over, it looks as though the dog's days are numbered. Waylon comes up with a science-y plan to save Eddy, but can he trust Baxter to help him carry it out?
Text copyright © 2017 by Sara Pennypacker
Illustrations copyright © 2017 Marla Frazee
Cover illustrations © 2017 Marla Frazee
A special thank-you to Daniel Shintaku for hand-writing our endpapers
All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information, address Disney • Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10023.
To Caleb, for plugging me back into science.
One look at Baxter’s face, and Waylon knew. “Dumpster Eddy was picked up again.”
Baxter nodded miserably. He stamped slush off his boots and stepped inside Waylon’s front hall. “About an hour ago. In a Dumpster behind Pizza Palace.”
“Is he okay?”
Baxter nodded again—this time with a little smile. “I was hanging out with my dad in the police station when they brought him in. He practically wagged his tail right off! It took me ten minutes to calm him down enough so I could dig the pepperoni out of his ears.” Baxter sniffed the air. “What’s cooking?”
“Vindaloo,” Waylon answered, pulling his coat off the hook. “Let’s go see Eddy.”
Baxter sniffed again. “Is it good? It smells good.”
Vindaloo was good. So good that Waylon made an exception from his No Spicy Foods! rule for it. But he didn’t tell Baxter this. “Let’s go,” he said instead, shooting his arms into his coat sleeves.
Baxter leaned into the kitchen. “Hi, Mr. Z. That smells great.”
Waylon’s dad saluted Baxter with his spoon and went back to stirring. Just then, a timer buzzed. Mr. Zakowski dropped the spoon and tore into his writing studio.
“What’s with him?” Baxter asked.
“He’s a little nuts these days. He’s waiting to hear if he sold his screenplay. He cooks nonstop, except every fifteen minutes, when he checks his email. He says that if he didn’t set a timer, he’d check his email every three seconds, and he’d never get anything done.” Waylon pulled on his gloves. “Come on. I want to see my—our—dog before they close up.”
Baxter took a last longing sniff before letting Waylon drag him to the door. They ran the whole twelve blocks to the police station, never mind the ice and slush. Well, Waylon ran, and Baxter kept up.
But just before they reached the station, Waylon drew up short. He pointed to the sign above him. “This Pizza Palace?” he panted.
“They nabbed him here?”
Baxter doubled over, hands on his knees. “Yep. This. Pizza. Palace,” he puffed.
“But it’s so—”
“Close. To the station. I know.”
“And last time, they got him behind Rosie’s Bakery. Which is…”
Baxter nodded. “Only two blocks from the station. The other direction.”
Waylon looked at Baxter. He could tell Baxter was thinking the same thing he was. They took off even faster than before, ran up the steps to the police station, and spilled into the lobby.
When the dispatcher caught sight of them, she pulled out a ring of keys. “You two look like you need to see a dog right away.” She chuckled as she unlocked the big door next to her desk.
Waylon and Baxter flew in. Midway down the hall of cages, a scrappy brown dog began barking in a higher pitch than the rest. Baxter stepped away—he always seemed to know when Waylon needed alone time with Eddy—and Waylon lifted the latch on the door. Eddy flew into his arms and knocked him over.
Waylon laughed as he let Eddy lick his whole face, every square inch. Dumpster Eddy was a thorough dog. When Waylon could finally sit up, he put Eddy in his lap and shook his finger. “What were you thinking? How come you don’t run far away when we bust you out of here?”
Baxter dropped down beside Waylon. He gave Eddy a head scratch, and Eddy gave him a chin slobber in return. “Maybe he doesn’t know where he is.”
Waylon shook his head. All the science in him (which was a lot—Waylon was as science-y as Dumpster Eddy was thorough) rejected that possibility. “Dogs have great navigation skills. Scientists think they sense the earth’s magnetic fields, like a compass. No, Eddy knows just where he is.”
“Well, then, maybe he wants to get caught. Sometimes criminals who have spent a long time in prison don’t feel comfortable on the outside anymore. When they get released, they commit another crime to get back in.”
Waylon thought it over. Baxter was an expert in all things criminal, so maybe he had a point.
But finally he said no. “He loves to run too much,” Waylon explained. “He hates being locked up.”
“Hey, why don’t you try that grokking thing,” Baxter said. “Find out why he’s letting himself get caught.”
If anyone else had said Try that grokking thing, Waylon would have worried he was being made fun of. But Baxter wasn’t doing that. Baxter understood: grokking was a science fiction term that meant to connect with something so totally that you practically merged with it, and Baxter knew that Waylon and Eddy grokked each other.
Waylon placed his hands on Eddy’s head in mind-meld position and gazed deeply into his eyes. What he found there at the center of Eddy’s soul hit him hard.
“What?” Baxter asked. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s our fault! Yours and mine. Eddy’s letting himself get caught, so he can be with us.”
Just then, the Animal Control officer came in through the back door, dragging a sack of kibble. “Got to kick you out, boys,” she called, rubbing her back. “Visiting hours are over.”
“A few more minutes, Meg?” Waylon tried.
“Not tonight. I’ve got a ton of paperwork to do. Sorry.”
Waylon gave Eddy a final hug, and then he and Baxter left. Once outside, they drew up their hoods. Sleet needled through cones of light spilling from the streetlamps.
“So, that’s why he busted out of Desmond’s garage,” Waylon said as they turned onto the street. “It was so far away, we couldn’t visit him every day.”
Baxter nodded. Desmond was the guy who washed the windows at Waylon’s condo. He had taken Eddy for them in November, but Eddy had escaped after just a week. “Nothing I could do, boys,” the window washer had said. “That dog’s a runner.” Which Baxter and Waylon already knew, of course.
Dumpster Eddy had been in and out of the stray animals’ lockup since September. It was always the same pattern: for ten days, Eddy lived in the lockup. Waylon and Baxter took turns taking him out for walks before and after school and on weekends. For those ten days, Eddy’s life was the best they could make it.
The problem came on the eleventh day.
After ten days, Meg sent unclaimed strays off to whichever shelter in Massachusetts had room.
Eddy wasn’t the kind of dog that would get adopted from a shelter. Cute little puppies got chosen. Eddy, it had to be admitted, was homely. Plus, anyone could see he had the itch to run. What happened to dogs that didn’t get adopted was so terrible neither boy ever said it out loud.
So, by the eleventh day, they had no choice but to smuggle Eddy out of the lockup. Whenever they could, they hid him somewhere, but he never stayed long before bolting. When they didn’t have a place to stash him, they simply had to let him run free. They were always torn between relief and terror as he streaked out of sight.
Sooner or later, a call would come in about a dog scavenging in a Dumpster, and the police would go pick him up. It wasn’t hard to capture him—Eddy always sprang joyfully into the cruiser, grinning as if to say What took you so long?
“We need a place nearby this time,” Baxter said. “He won’t run if we visit him every day.”
Waylon nodded. There was nothing else to say. Waylon’s mom was allergic to dogs, and Baxter’s apartment was No Pets. They’d asked everyone they knew, but since Desmond, no one had wanted to take in a dog for them. The boys walked on in silence until Waylon’s building loomed over them.
Baxter sniffed up toward the fourth floor. “I can smell that vindaloo stuff from here,” he claimed.
Waylon turned away from the hopeful look on Baxter’s face. He kicked at a chunk of ice. “What are we going to do? About Eddy?”
Baxter shrugged. “Same as always, I guess. Bust him out ten days from now. Hope he can take care of himself until he’s caught again.”
They watched the sleet freeze onto the sidewalk. Waylon shivered. Baxter tightened his hood. The last time they’d freed Eddy, it had been a sunny December afternoon, so warm they’d peeled off their jackets. Over the last few weeks, though, winter had hit hard.
Waylon climbed the front steps to his condo. “Ten days. We have until next Thursday to figure it out.”
Wednesday morning, Waylon got to school early and stationed himself at the Pit to wait for Baxter.
The Pit was the alcove of lockers where the fourth graders kept their stuff. Arlo Brody, king of the fourth grade, had named it the Pit on the first day of school. Since he was Arlo Brody, king of the fourth grade, the name had stuck, even though the place was nothing like a pit of any kind—peach, barbecue, or arm.
PRAISE FOR WAYLON! ONE AWESOME THING
*"Whenever Sara Pennypacker writes a new book, you should start looking for room in your budget to buy it, and this is no exception. Fans of the Clementine series will love this book."—School Library Connection
- On Sale
- Oct 31, 2017
- Page Count
- 208 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers