Chris and Logan were already there when Spike arrived at the watermelon-eating contest. Gigantic watermelons had been cut up, and large slices were waiting for the contestants. “Last call for the watermelon-eating contest!” Mr. Howard, the president of the town council, shouted into the microphone. Contestants had already taken most of the seats at the table. Spike noticed Todd sitting on the far end and made his way there so he would be able to give Todd his slice of watermelon along with a big slice of revenge. Troy Fillmore was already in position, looking confident in his ability to win the contest for a second year.
“Before we begin,” Mr. Howard said to the contestants, “I’m going to go over the rules. Your hands will remain behind your back during the entire contest. You must eat all of the red portion. Emmitt Dugan here will be the judge. He will determine when you’ve eaten all of the red portion. His judgment is final. We’re just about ready to begin. Go ahead and set the watermelon in front of the contestants.”
While Mr. Howard was speaking, Spike had carefully removed the bottle of red dye from his pocket. Using the pointed applicator, he carved a groove in a watermelon slice and filled the groove with the contents of the dye bottle. Then he set the slice of watermelon in front of Todd. Spike recognized Mayor Goodwin standing nearby. He had removed his leather jacket but was still wearing the white T-shirt.
“Okay, I think we’re all ready,” Mr. Howard spoke into the microphone again. “Wait a minute, there’s an empty chair. Hey, Mayor, don’t you want to get in on this?”
“I think I’ll pass,” Mayor Goodwin said, patting his belly. “I just ate a big lunch.”
“Oh, come on,” Mr. Howard urged. “You can’t let Troy win this thing again, at least not without a challenge.”
The crowd started chanting “Go, Mayor, go! Go, Mayor, go!”
At last, the mayor relented. “Okay, I guess I’ll do it.” The chair on the other side of Todd was vacant, but because the chairs were crowded together, the mayor asked Todd to move over so he could have the chair on the end. All the contestants had bibs tied around their necks to protect their clothing from watermelon stains. Because the mayor joined at the last minute, no one thought to give him a bib. Spike watched in horror as Mayor Goodwin took the seat in front of the sabotaged watermelon slice.
Before Spike could switch watermelon slices, Mr. Howard yelled “Go!” into the microphone. Slices of watermelon were sliding around the table as the contestants plunged their faces into the red flesh of the melons. Chomping sounds could be heard as well as groans from the spectators as they saw Troy Fillmore’s watermelon slide away from him and fall under the table. Chris quickly replaced it with another slice, but Troy was now far behind the other contestants. Jennifer was jumping up and down, yelling Todd’s name. Todd was focused on eating the watermelon, but his mouth wasn’t as big as the mayor who was devouring every red speck in record time.
Spike, who had been watching the excitement, looked down at his hands. They were stained with the red dye. The empty dye bottle lay at his feet. Spike quickly picked it up and walked as fast as he could without drawing attention in the direction of the restroom. As he left, he could hear the crowd cheering.
“Here’s the winner!” Mr. Howard shouted into the microphone, holding up Mayor Goodwin’s hand. “It looks like we have a new champion this year!” he continued as the contestants were given towels to wipe their faces. “Our mayor has pulled it off for the good old red, white, and . . . red, white, and . . . bloopers! Holy moly, Mayor, what happened to your face?”
Spike quickened his pace toward the restroom. Everyone stared at the mayor, who was holding the towel in his hands. On his face was a red smile that went from ear to ear. It wasn’t a happy-clown smile but an evil, scary smile. It looked like he had been drinking blood and the blood had splattered onto his white shirt. Women nearby shrieked in terror. Toddlers in strollers and babies in their parents’ arms began to cry. People came running from every direction to see what had happened.
“Better go clean up,” Troy whispered to the mayor.
“You!” Mayor Goodwin called out as he entered the restroom. “It was you!”
Spike looked up from the basin where he was scrubbing his red hands and peered into the stained face of Mayor Goodwin. Their eyes locked for a moment, and then Spike broke away and ran for the door.
From The Handy Helpers Book 3: Red, White, and . . . Bloopers! The Handy Helpers series is available on amazon