The Nutty Neigh­bour­hood Block Party

Chapter 9: Loud and Proud

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

The story so far: A prac­ti­cal joker is try­ing to ruin the base­ball game by call­ing out the plays and con­fus­ing the play­ers and the umpire. No one can tell who the joker is. The umpire has threat­ened to can­cel the game if the guilty party doesn’t come for­ward.

I run to the con­ces­sion stand and find Rox­anne eat­ing pop­corn. “I need you,” I say. “Me?” Rox­anne says. “Are you sure?”

I grab her hand and pull her to­ward the bleach­ers.

“It sure is noisy over here,” Rox­anne says.

“Ex­actly,” I say. “I need you to get this crowd quiet.”

Rox­anne puts down her pop­corn and wipes off her hands.

“I can def­i­nitely do that,” she says.

She climbs to the top of the bleach­ers, takes a deep breath and cups her hands around her mouth. I hardly think she needs help to make her­self heard. “QUIET!” she yells. When Rox­anne yells, ev­ery­one lis­tens. I guess it can be good to be rowdy. Ev­ery­one in the crowd be­comes still. Then, I hear it again. “Strike!” This time, I know ex­actly where it’s com­ing from. I climb to the top of the bleach­ers and look into the nearby oak tree. Some­one is hid­ing in that tree. “Strike,” I hear again. I see where the noise is com­ing from. I can’t be­lieve my eyes. It’s a bird. Wait a minute, I think. A bird? “I think it’s a bird,” I say, con­fused.

“It can’t be a bird,” Rox­anne says. “Can it?”

Only one per­son in the neigh­bour­hood would know. “Where’s Mr. Har­ri­son?” I ask. “I think I saw him over by the pond in the park,” Rox­anne says.

I take off run­ning. Luck­ily, the pond is close. I’ve done way too much run­ning to­day.

Mr. Har­ri­son is known in the neigh­bour­hood as “The Bird Guy.” He’s an ex­pert on birds.

I get to the pond and see him right away. He’s lis­ten­ing to the band play.

“Mr. Har­ri­son, we re­ally need you at the base­ball field,” I say. “It’s about a bird.”

He fol­lows me back to the base­ball field.

“I think there’s a bird up in the big oak tree,” I say.

“Yes, I sup­pose there might be,” he says. “It’s prob­a­bly nest­ing.”

“That’s not all,” I say. “I think the bird is talk­ing.”

I ex­plain to Mr. Har­ri­son what I mean. When I’m done, he laughs. “Birds don’t talk, right?” I ask. “Well, not ex­actly,” he says. By this time, we’ve reached the base­ball field. Rox­anne is still stand­ing on the bleach­ers. J.P. and Corinna are there, too. Ev­ery­one is peer­ing into the oak tree. “Strike,” we hear again. “I think there’s a north­ern mock­ing­bird up there,” Mr. Har­ri­son says.

“A what bird?” I ask.

“A north­ern mock­ing­bird,” he says. “It mocks the sounds of other things. Peo­ple … an­i­mals … even an umpire.” “How?” I ask. “It’s one of the won­ders of sci­ence,” he says. “Isn’t it amazing?”

The whole neigh­bour­hood agrees. It is amazing.

“How do we make it be quiet?” the umpire asks Mr. Har­ri­son.

“Good luck with that,” he says. “Those birds have a mind of their own.”

“We can han­dle it,” the umpire says. “Now let’s play some ball.”

The game starts to get un­der way. Fi­nally, I have a mo­ment to rest.

“Let’s go check out the tal­ent show,” Corinna says to us. “It’s sup­posed to be a good one this year.”

J.P. pulls out his notebook. “Back to work for me,” he says. “I still have a game to cover.”

“I think I’ll stick around here,” Rox­anne says. “J.P., can I sit by you?”

It looks like Rowdy Rox­anne is blush­ing.

So that’s why she wanted to help with The Robyn Re­port. She likes J.P.! My re­porter’s in­stincts were right. I knew she was up to some­thing.

“Are you com­ing, Robyn?” Corinna asks.

It’s been a long day, but I’m not fin­ished yet. I just have one thing left to do. I go back to Lo­gan’s house. Sarah is still shar­ing her prize-win­ning wa­ter­melon with the neigh­bour­hood.

“I’m back for the in­ter­view you promised,” I say.

Sarah smiles. “I thought you might come back,” she says.

I pull out my notebook. Sarah hands me an enor­mous piece of wa­ter­melon. I take a huge bite of it. It’s so sweet and juicy. It was def­i­nitely worth the wait. Dur­ing my in­ter­view with Sarah, I eat three more pieces of wa­ter­melon.

Once I’m done, I start to leave when I think of one more ques­tion for Sarah.

“How did Rox­anne con­vince you to do this in­ter­view, any­way?” I ask.

Sarah takes my notebook and writes some­thing down. Then she hands it back to me. I read what it says. “Put that in your re­port,” she says.

“I think I will,” I say with a smile.

To be con­cluded on Mon­day. Next Time: The Robyn Re­port

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