Chapter 21

Fay had two strong but competing instincts. The first was to lead Yellow Tooth and his mangy band as far from her house and family as she possibly could, like a bird drawing a predator away from its nest. On the other hand, if she were a spider she’d trap them in her web. Where else but in her own house did she know the territory so well?

Fay felt more like a spider than a bird, so at the crossroads of Hogan and Clover Streets, she took a speedy right, heading straight for the yellow bungalow at the end of the block.

She paused before stepping onto the front porch and turned around with a dramatic flourish.
“This is the home of Lyle LaFarge,” she announced importantly. “Creator of the the toasty-oat goodness of Jolly Rogers, and the spicy crunch of Cinnamon Rogers.”

“Who cares about him Toots,” hooted Scratchy, “where’s the vittles?” The other pirates jeered in agreement.

“Naturally,” Fay continued, ignoring the interruption, “Mr. LaFarge is constantly working to improve the crunchy goodness of Jolly Rogers cereal, so naturally, he has plenty of boxes on hand to experiment with.”

“We want FOOD!” yelled Larko, from the back of the jostling pirate mob.

“What I’m about to give you is better than food,” said Fay, trying hard not to look at Barnaby lest he be encouraged to open his mouth. She did not need interference from Hootsman as she set the stage for her spiderweb.

“I think you’ve flapped yer’ mouth for long enough Missy,” growled Yellow Tooth. “Time to show what yer’ good for. Whar’ be the Jolly Rogers?”

“If you’ll follow me inside quietly,” said Fay. “Because if Mr. LaFarge is adding just the right amount of crunch, or just the right touch of cinnamon…you don’t want to mess him up.”

“This oughta’ be good,” said Barnaby with a smirk. “What’s today’s special flavor? Snail snot?”

Fay turned and glared at him, her finger pointed accusatorially. “IT just might be,” she said, “if we throw off his concentration with comments like that Hootsman. But I want to feed my mates right!”

Fay entered the house in an exaggerated tiptoe, followed by Barnaby who mimicked her step, his face contorted by a goony grin. To Fay’s great amazement the pirates followed without their usual rude clamor, until someone shrieked.

It was Tilly, who was standing in the kitchen doorway with Lynette on her hip.
“I knew it was true!” said Tilly accusingly. “You did join the pirates!”

“Aw, we already knew that,” said Skipper, switching on the television. “Look at this.”

On the screen a reporter, standing in front of Fipple’s Florist, poked her microphone at Judy Fipple’s father Horace Fipple.
“What’s your reaction to reports that the outlaws have recruited local schoolchildren into their ranks?” asked the reporter.

“Children joining criminal gangs?” answered Mr. Fipple. “This behavior is completely inappropriate. My daughter would never do that. I’d question the child-rearing methods of those parents. Yes I would…oh…and we’re running a special on petunias–two for one low price!”

“See?” said Skipper. “Now you’re in really big trouble. Mom and Dad already got called to school to talk about you using Mr. Squibbly’s intercom without permission or something.”

“Fay!” scolded Tilly. “How could you bring them here? They’re so not hot!”

The twelve pirates turned toward Tilly as a group and said “Rrrrrrrrg!”

“Uggy yuck!” said Lynette.

“FOOD!” yelled the pirates, who were shoving each other, and completely filled the LaFarge’s living room.

“I was just getting to that,” replied Fay. “Skipper, you know where Dad keeps the special boxes of Jolly Rogers?”

Skipper looked a little confused. “The special boxes?”

“The special ones,” repeated Fay. “The ones Dad makes extra delicious with his flavor testing kit?”

“Oh yeah, the flavor testing kit we’re not allowed to touch,” said Skipper with a growing smile. “The extra delicious Jolly Rogers. They’re in the basement.”

“That’s right,” said Fay. “Right next to the flavor testing kit. Would you check just to make sure they really are extra delicious?”

“You bet,” said Skipper. He disappeared down the stairs.

Yellow Tooth focused a narrow gaze on Fay. “I hope,” he said ominously, “you’re plannin’ to feed us missy. And soon.”

“FOOD!” yelled the other pirates.

Several minutes later, Skipper’s voice rang from below. “Yum! This cereal is EXTRA delicious!”

“Maties,” said Fay, “Let’s chow down.”

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