Monday afternoon, the girls found Gus sitting in a chair in the lobby of the senior center. “Why did the elephant paint his toenails red?” he asked when he saw them come in.
“I don’t know,” Laura said, taking the bait. “Why did the elephant paint his toenails red?”
“So he could hide in the strawberry patch.” Gus laughed.
“That’s a good one, Gus,” Amber said, smiling.
“Yeah.” Melissa laughed. “Very funny.”
“What are you girls up to today?” Gus wanted to know.
“We’re here to check the schedule just like we do every Monday,” Laura explained.
“What are you doing hanging around here?” Amber asked Gus.
“Watching for pretty girls,” was Gus’s answer.
“Have you seen any?” Amber asked.
“Yeah.” Gus smiled. “Three beautiful girls just walked through the door.”
“Where?” Amber looked around.
“He means us, silly,” Melissa said, fluffing out her hair. “You’re sweet, Gus.”
“See you later,” Amber said, and then added, “alligator.”
“After ’while, crocodile,” Gus answered back.
Walt was just putting the schedule up on the bulletin board when the girls walked up. “We’re giving you a week off,” Walt announced. “You worked pretty hard last week. We think you deserve a break.”
“That’s really nice,” Laura said. “But we like working here.”
“There’s more,” Walt continued. “On Saturday, we’re having an appreciation lunch for you and the boys. Where are they, by the way?”
“Oh, they’ll be a little late,” Amber said. “They stayed after school for something.”
“Could you let them know about the luncheon? It’ll be at noon on Saturday.”
“Sure, we’ll let them know,” Laura assured him.
“Okay, spill the beans,” Laura turned to Amber after Walt left. “Why are the boys staying after school?”
“They’re probably waiting for Spike. He had to serve detention,” Amber said with a grin. “Ms. McGuire asked me to see her after school. When I walked in the room, I saw Spike sitting at his desk with his head down.”
“Why, what did he do?” Laura wanted to know more.
“What I heard was that he was pretending to be Ms. McGuire. You know that act he does,” Melissa chimed in.
“Yeah, I’ve seen him do that,” Laura said. “That’s why he got detention?”
“He was clapping his hands and saying, ‘Now class, settle down. Settle down. I have some great news. You’re going to get to do fifty pages of homework tonight. Isn’t that exciting?’ He didn’t see Ms. McGuire come in with two other teachers. She probably would have laughed it off, but I guess she didn’t want the other teachers to think she was a pushover, so she gave him detention.”
“What about Chris and Logan?” Laura asked. “Why aren’t they here?”
“They probably waited for Spike,” Amber said. “They’ll all show up together. They’re like the three musketeers.”
“Don’t you mean the three stooges?” Melissa laughed.
Even though they knew their names were not on the schedule, the girls walked over to the bulletin board and looked at it anyway. “I’ve got a great idea,” Melissa said excitedly as she looked down the list of jobs. “Watch this.” Melissa pulled a pencil out of her book bag and wrote something on one of the empty lines on the schedule. When she was finished, Amber and Laura saw that she had written “Three Handy Guys” next to the assignment to clean the restrooms, and then she had checked the box for Tuesday.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Laura said. “We’re going to get in trouble.”
“It’s just a joke, right?” Amber asked. “You’re going to erase it, aren’t you?”
“I am going to erase it after the guys see it,” Melissa said. “Don’t be chicken. This is going to be fun. Just wait and see what happens tomorrow.” Melissa pulled her two friends into a doorway where they wouldn’t be seen. “We’ll wait here until the boys come.”
A few minutes later, they watched from their hiding place as the Three Handy Guys came through the front door and headed for the bulletin board.
“Clean the restrooms?” Chris said with surprise. “We’ve never had that job before.”
“How hard could it be?” Spike reassured him. “We can handle that with no problem. I know where all the cleaning supplies are.”
Just then, Walt came out of his office. “Did the girls tell you about Saturday?” he asked.
“No, we haven’t seen them,” Logan said. “What’s happening Saturday?”
“We’re having an appreciation lunch for all of you,” Walt told them. “Be here at noon and enjoy a feast.”
“Thanks,” they all said. “We will.”
The girls watched as the boys left. Then Melissa took her pencil from her book bag again and carefully erased “Three Handy Guys” from the schedule.
“Ask me what happened in school today,” Amber said with excitement that night at the dinner table. “Go ahead, ask me. You aren’t going to believe it!”
“Okay, Fred, tell us what happened in school today,” John said with a chuckle. “You look like you’re about to explode.”
“You remember that big math assignment we had to do?” Amber asked her family.
“The one I helped you with?” Kyle said smugly. “Let me guess, you got a passing grade on it.”
“Well, I did,” Amber went on, “But that’s not it. In math today, Ms. McGuire told us what happened to that assignment. She took it home on Friday so she could grade the papers. On Sunday morning, she was looking out in her backyard. There was a lot of white stuff all over her yard. When she went to see what it was, she found our math papers in shreds. Her dog had dragged them out through his doggy door. He was in the backyard with some of our papers in his front paws. He was chewing on them like they were a T-bone steak. Ms. McGuire said that she never believed students who said their dog ate their homework, but now she does. After school, she told me she was giving me credit for the homework Domino ate.”
“Do you have to do the big assignment over again?” Mary asked with concern.
“No, I don’t.” Amber smiled proudly. “Fortunately, Ms. McGuire had already graded the papers and recorded the scores. She said that anyone who had at least 75 percent on the homework would not have to do it again. Anyone who had less than that was going to have to do it again anyway. I got an 88, so I’m fine.”
“Good going, sis.” Kyle patted her on the back.
“That’s quite a story,” John said. “I wonder if her dog is Domino’s brother.”
The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon