Chapter 4

Field trip days were special, and Miss Parsnip always looked ready to lead an army into battle. Today she was dressed in khaki from head to toe, and the pockets in her mesh vest overflowed with tissues, cough drops, and other important provisions.

“Boys and girls,” began Miss Parsnip enthusiastically, “As you know Crunch & Barley is one of the largest companies in Elbow Harbor, and many of your parents work there. Who can tell me what product Crunch & Barley is best known for?”

Judy Fipple’s hand shot straight up and she cried “ooh ooh ooh!”

“Maybe she ate too much of it,” whispered Fay to Jan.

“Jolly Rogers Cereal!” shouted Judy Fipple.

“Make that new and improved Jolly Rogers Cereal,” added Fay.

“A pirate-themed cereal,” said Miss Parsnip nodding. “Elbow Harbor has always been notorious for its pirate legends. Why it’s a well-known story in my own family, that my great-great-great Auntie Bonny Patty Parsnip was a buccaneer who sailed from this very port! So today’s field trip groups will all have swashbuckling names! As I call the groups, would you please stand together?”

Anyone who’s ever been grouped for field trips knows that there are good groups, and there are bad groups. Fay was hoping earnestly for a good group, though, without her pirate coin she was afraid luck might not be with her.

Miss Parsnip cleared her throat. “In Mr. Hootsman’s group, known for today as the Cutthroats, is of course Barnaby. And also, Judy Fipple, Donny Bing, and Fay LaFarge.”

Fay’s heart did a flip and a nose-dive. There was nothing good about this. Nothing at all.  Disgustingly perfect Judy Fipple, boring Donny Bing,…and the horrific Barnaby Hootsman. The only slight, tiny glimmer of a bright spot was that she would be a Cutthroat. She didn’t listen to the rest of the groups as they were called out. She was too busy trying to make sure she stayed on the other side of Donny Bing from Barnaby. Better to be bored to death than to suffer unearthly torment.

“So, Fay,” said Mr. Hootsman, his big pumpkin face grinning, “What’s your pop do over there at the cereal plant?”

Barnaby grinned too, looking like a miniature version of his dad.
“He makes flavors!” said Barnaby, “Like Booger Banana, and Snotty Seaweed!”

“Hey,” said Mr. Hootsman, “you’re funny like your old pop, aren’t ya?”

Barnaby grinned even more grotesquely.

“Atta’baby,” said Mr. Hootsman proudly.

“He’s a chemist,” stated Fay, thinking about what she might be forced to do to Barnaby if his dad weren’t standing there.

“Well,” said Judy Fipple. “That’s nice, but my mother is a state senator and my father runs the best flower shop in Elbow Harbor, Fipple Floral.”

“Do they sell soup?” asked Donny Bing.

Judy wrinkled her nose and looked annoyed. “It’s a flower shop,” she said, “they sell flowers.”

“Oh,” said Donny, “well, I really like soup. I try to think of a new soup idea every day.”

Fay tried not to grit her teeth out loud. I will get through this field trip, she said to herself. I am a Cutthroat.

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