Clint McCool Needs His Cap
The clock ticks. Our teacher, Ms. Apple, talks. Kids multiply the sevens. Everything seems normal. But you can’t fool Clint McCool. I know we’re trapped here. And I know why. Someone doesn’t want school to end. The big hand of the clock is stuck. It can’t get to the twelve.
“Break free,” I whisper to the big hand.
Ms. Apple frowns at me. She thinks I’m not paying attention. But I’m the only one who is!
I tap my finger. Nothing happens. Rats. My Speed Accelerator won’t work unless I push the right button on my cap. Marco made the buttons for me. He’s very clever. That’s why he’s the best best friend ever. The buttons are amazing. They always help me save the day. That has to happen more than you’d think.
But I can’t wear my cap in school. Ms. Apple keeps it locked in her desk. My Laser Beam could cut a hole in the drawer. But its button is on the cap, too. How can Clint McCool save the day?
Zing, zong, zing. Brain flash! I jump up. “I need a remote!”
“Walter, sit down,” Ms. Apple says.
That’s right. She called me Walter. My parents named me after my grandpa. Luckily, Clint McCool decided to name himself.
I sit—on the edge of my chair. I stay ready for action. I wiggle my ears to send a message to Marco. He’s writing. Oh no. Is he doing math problems?
I crinkle my nose to send a message to M.L. Her real name is Magnolia Lynn. No one dares to call her that. Not even her own mother.
M.L. is writing, too. Did those sevens take over my friends’ brains? How can we have an escapade? M.L. and Marco are coming home with me today. School better end soon. My friends are forgetting how to have fun.
Finally, the bell rings. Kids get in line. I rush to Ms. Apple’s desk to get my cap.
Ms. Apple won’t give it to me. “I need to talk to your mother, Walter.”
Ms. Apple leads us to the school yard. The adults are waiting there. Mom smiles at me and my friends. She looks happy. Until Ms. Apple starts talking to her.
“Ready for an escapade, Clint McCool?” Marco asks.
That’s another reason he’s my best friend. He calls me by my real name.
“Will your mom take us to the park?” M.L. says.
“I drew a map of where the Gronks hid the treasure.” Marco opens up his notebook.
M.L. and I look. Marco did a great job. Especially with the crocodiles in the moat.
“At the top of the tower? Let’s go!” M.L. says.
She loves to climb. That’s why she hates wearing dresses. The fluff gets in her way.
“Before the Gronks know we’re coming!” Marco says.
I run to get Mom.
“Walter isn’t a bad boy,” Mom is telling Ms. Apple.
“He doesn’t follow rules. He can’t sit still,” Ms. Apple says. “He never thinks before he acts.”
“I’m always thinking,” I interrupt. “Aren’t ideas thinking?”
“You shouldn’t have ideas like that at school.” Ms. Apple gives the cap to Mom—not me. “Remember what I said will happen if Walter doesn’t improve.”
Mom, Marco, M.L., and I leave the school yard. We walk along Eighth Avenue.
“What did Ms. Apple mean?” I try to get my cap. I need the Translator button. Grown-ups can be hard to understand. “What’s wrong with my ideas?”
We turn the corner at Twelfth Street.
Mom sighs. “You have so many.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?” I say.
“Is Clint McCool in trouble?” Marco says.
“If Walter can’t behave, they’ll find ways to make him,” Mom says.
I gulp. “What kind of ways?”
“Ways,” Mom says again.
“I could make him a new button,” Marco says.
“I could keep him safe.” M.L. locks her arms around me.
She’s strong. But I’m slippery.
I break free. I run ahead.
A man blocks the sidewalk with his arm. “Please wait here.”
I can’t! M.L. will catch me. I run along Twelfth Street.
“Walter! This isn’t behaving!” Mom yells.
I run faster.
Then I stop.
A monster stands right in front of me. His head is an octopus. It oozes slime and ink.
I rub my eyes. I still see the monster. He carries a jar full of brains.
I scream. So does everybody else.
“Get away from Octo-Man!” I hear the man shout.
Octo-Man staggers toward me.
Oh no! Are these the ways Ms. Apple meant?