The Nutty Neigh­bour­hood Block Party

Chap­ter 3: Miss­ing in Ac­tion

The Hamilton Spectator - - CLASSIFIED - STORY BY STACY TORNIO IL­LUS­TRA­TIONS BY ROEL WIELINGA

The story so far: The neigh­bour­hood block party is in full swing. The staff of The Robyn Re­port news­pa­per is cover­ing the story. Rox­anne just told Robyn there’s an an­i­mal miss­ing from the pet­ting zoo.

“What do you mean there’s an an­i­mal miss­ing?” I ask. “Where did it go?”

This is not good. An an­i­mal is miss­ing from the pet­ting zoo. This could be a dis­as­ter.

“I don’t know where it went,” she says. “It was there one minute, and then it dis­ap­peared.”

Rox­anne looks like she might cry. If she does, I know she’s go­ing to be loud. That’s the only way Rox­anne could cry. I have to do some­thing be­fore that hap­pens and dis­turbs ev­ery­one.

“It’s OK,” I tell her. “Let me just …”

I think about the seed-spit­ting con­test. There are three rounds. It will prob­a­bly be a lit­tle while be­fore the fi­nal round, so I could come back and still catch the con­test. I look at Rox­anne. She still looks like she might cry. I know I have to help her. I sigh. “OK, let’s go.” Rox­anne jumps up and down in her orange shoes. “Thanks, Robyn. I knew you would know what to do.”

I fol­low Rox­anne to the Peter­sons’ back yard. This is where the pet­ting zoo is held.

The neigh­bour­hood pet­ting zoo is one of the most pop­u­lar events of the block party.

Any­one can bring a pet. I see J.P.’s lit­tle sis­ter, Al­li­son. She’s hold­ing their cat, Buster. They are in Crazy Cat Cor­ner. I look around the yard to see the other an­i­mals. There are dogs, cats, ham­sters, fish, rab­bits, two birds and even a fer­ret. I can see how an an­i­mal could go miss­ing. This back yard is … well … it’s like a zoo!

“So which an­i­mal is miss­ing?” I ask Rox­anne.

“Sh­h­h­hhh! Not so loud,” she says.

I can’t be­lieve it. Rowdy Rox­anne telling me not to be so loud.

“No one knows it’s miss­ing,” she whis­pers. “They don’t want any­one to get up­set.” “So are you go­ing to tell me?” Rox­anne pulls me into a nearby shrub.

“It’s some kind of lizard,” she whis­pers. “What?!” I ask. I love an­i­mals, but I’m not good with lizards. They re­mind me of snakes, and I do not like snakes. I won­der if my sis­ter ever had to do a story on lizards.

“Robyn, what are we go­ing to do?” Rox­anne asks.

I’d just like to for­get about the lizard, but I can’t. This is an im­por­tant story. The neigh­bour­hood de­serves to know what hap­pened to the miss­ing lizard. We have to cover it.

“We’re go­ing to find that lizard,” I say in a de­ter­mined voice. “But I’m not go­ing to touch it.” It’s time to get down to busi­ness. “Who knows that it’s miss­ing?” I ask.

“Just Ai­dan,” she says. “It’s his lizard. But he doesn’t want any­one to know it’s miss­ing. That’s why he came to me.”

I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want any­one to know it’s miss­ing, ei­ther. Lizards are creepy. I look around the yard.

“OK, here’s what we’re go­ing to do,” I say to Rox­anne. “You check the trees and shrubs. I’ll look around the flow­ers and in the grass. Lizards like nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments.”

Rox­anne and I go in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. I walk over to Mrs. Peter­son’s flower bed. I will leave no petal un­turned. Soon, a shadow tow­ers over me. I look up and see Mrs. Peter­son, glar­ing down.

“What ex­actly are you do­ing in my petu­nias?” she asks. “I…um…I…” “I’m wait­ing,” Mrs. Peter­son says, some­what im­pa­tiently.

“You see, it’s for The Robyn Re­port,” I say, think­ing al­most as fast as I’m speak­ing. “We’re con­sid­er­ing do­ing a story on your prizewin­ning petu­nias. They’re al­ways the best in the neigh­bour­hood.” That part is true.

Mrs. Peter­son smiles. “You’re do­ing a story on me?” she says. “Oh, I can’t wait. When is it go­ing to be in The Re­port?”

“In a few weeks,” I say. “I’ll give you a call next week to sched­ule an in­ter­view.”

Mrs. Peter­son is prac­ti­cally glow­ing. Note to self, I think: Must do a story on Mrs. Peter­son’s petu­nias. Some­times, you have to do things to keep read­ers happy.

“I do have a few gar­den­ing se­crets,” she says. “If you’d like, I could show you my roses, too. They are just beau­ti­ful, es­pe­cially dur­ing the sum­mer. You see, the rea­son my blooms are so beau­ti­ful …”

I can tell I could be here for a while.

“I’d like to Mrs. Peter­son, but first I have to …”

Sud­denly, we hear a scream from the other side of the yard.

“Ah­h­h­h­h­h­h­h­h­h­hhh!”

To be con­tin­ued Wednesday. Next Time: Leap­ing Lizards!

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