Chapter 20

“Hootsman,” Fay hissed, catching up with Barnaby as he rounded the playground swingset and took off down Hogan Street. “Where the heck are you going?”

Barnaby panted but didn’t slow down.
“Get cereal!” he huffed. “Where else?…Guy’s a freak!…he’s gonna whack my head off!”

“NO CHATTERIN’ IN THE RANKS!” bellowed Yellow Tooth. “And slow down a wee! Me men need to save a little energy for the lootin’ part of this raid!”

Barnaby did slow down. Then he stopped. Right on the front lawn of a house with green shutters, where a plastic deer gazed mutely at its reflection in a green gazing ball.

“This is your house Hootsman,” stated Fay.

“Duh,” said Barnaby. “And we eat Jolly Rogers at my house.”

“This be a storehouse for Jolly Rogers?” demanded Yellow Tooth, as several other pirates took swings at the plastic deer.

“It be,” said Barnaby, still panting. “In the cabinet next to the refrigerator,” he said.

“The what?” asked Yellow Tooth.

“The fridge!” replied Barnaby.

“The WHAT?” demanded Yellow Tooth.

“The friggy-dairy!” snapped Fay. “The big cold thing!”

“Well then,” said Yellow Tooth in a calmer, but no less menacing voice. “Lead the charge boy!”

Barnaby shrugged, then yelled “CHARGE!” Fay was right behind him as he barreled into the kitchen where Mr. Hootsman was eating a cold-cut hoagy and staring at the news on tv.

“…the band of criminals,” said the tv, “now on the loose in the vicinity of Elbow Harbor is considered armed and dangerous…”

“Need some food Dad!” called out Barnaby as he rifled through the cabinets.

“Attababy,” said Mr. Hootsman, without looking up. “Always work up a good appetite at school. You show’em!”

“…citizens are advised to stay in their homes and lock the doors…” droned the tv.

Jimbo, Scratchy, and the other pirates were clogging up the kitchen doorway until Yellow Tooth pushed his way through and snatched the three boxes of Jolly Rogers Barnaby had pulled from the cabinet.

“Three?” demanded Yellow Tooth. “Three blasted gorsh-forsaken boxes?”

Mr. Hootsman looked up from the tv and squinted at the huge, ugly man blocking his kitchen doorway. Then he looked back at the tv screen, which was currently displaying police sketches.
“Barna-baby,” he said. “You’ve joined the outlaws?”

Fay glanced at Yellow Tooth, who’s lip was starting to curl into a sneer.

“They’re hungry Dad,” said Barnaby with a shrug.

“A dang sight hungrier than three dinksy little boxes,” growled Yellow Tooth ominously. “I think we need more.” He turned his glare on Fay. “Now it’s your turn Missy Loud-mouth. Here’s hopin’ you can do better.”

For a moment, Fay looked at Yellow Tooth’s cutlass and considered her options. She could refuse. But the likely result would be a headless Mr. Hootsman, and that would not improve him much. She could run away, but one direction was blocked by a hungry band of scallywags, and the other by Mr. Hootsman who, again, would likely end up headless if she used him for cover. The thought was too gruesome to contemplate.

“Oooookay,” said Fay with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. “Let’s go troops!”

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