Melonhead and the We-Fix-It Company is a part of the Melonhead collection.
“Melonhead and his friends inhabit a world . . . where inventiveness and camaraderie reign supreme.” —Kirkus Reviews
For fans of Judy Blume's Fudge titles as well as Carl Hiaasen's Hoot.
Anybody who is eleven needs an allowance! My parents don’t agree. Neither do my friend Sam’s parents. You would think they would because due to a snafu, Sam and I have to raise some money. So we started the We-Fix-It Company and requests started pouring in. Pruning (the gardening kind, not the gross-food kind), birdhouse making, shoe fixing, food delivering—we were hired! Then we received the request that changed everything…
An Excerpt fromMelonhead and the We-Fix-It Company
I was going to call my invention Melonhead's Courage Detector.
My best friend, Sam Alswang, double nixed that idea. "The Beast is a better name because it sounds terrifying, which it is."
"Like Man versus the Beast," I said. "Who will win?"
"More like Boy versus the Beast," Sam said.
"True," I said. "You have to be a certain age to enjoy this contest. And luckily, we are."
So far, we've challenged the Beast six times. And so far, Sam and I have equal courage.
THE RULES OF THE BEAST
The Beast is always liquid.
One week you are the Beast Maker. The next week you are the Beast Drinker.
If it doesn't make you gag, it's not the Beast. It's just gross.
Every formula is different. Every Beast gets its own nickname.
The most ingredients the Beast can have is six. The least is two.
The Beast must be safe to swallow.
The Beast must be made of food.
Boogers are safe to swallow. They are not food.
The Beast is only served on Saturdays.
One serving equals two gulps.
When you're done, you have to slam down your cup and scream "The Beast!"
My last Beast recipe was prune juice, pickle juice, one drop of Tabasco, a spoonful of caramel topping, and a pinch of pulverized peppermint Altoids. I named it the Gag-O-Matic. It was. Believe me. If you don't, ask Sam.
Last week Sam mixed grapefruit juice, soy sauce, anchovies, melted mint chocolate chip ice cream, and two drops of Tabasco. You don't have to use Tabasco, but we always do. Sam named his formula Last Month's Garbage. I said, "Good name, because that's exactly what it tasted like."
After my first swallow Sam told me anchovies are small fish.
"I don't know how anchovies look in the sea," he said. "But the ones that come in a can have bones that look like hair. You already swallowed some."
Knowing about the hairy bones made the second gulp worse than the first. I congratulated Sam for that.
This week's Beast was made by me. I call it Destructionator.
Brainflash of Brilliance
Sam yelled from the sidewalk. "What's up, gorilla butt?"
"I need a BOB," I told him.
BOB stands for Brainflash of Brilliance.
"About the Beast?" Sam said.
"I already had a major BOB about the Beast," I said. "The Brainflash I need is how to get my mom to give me an allowance. She says not until I'm a better spender. Also she's afraid if I have money I'll buy trouble."
"Did she bring up the X-ray glasses?" Sam asked.
"That is exactly what she brought up," I said.
"It doesn't matter how long you wear them, you can't see through people's clothes," Sam said.
"Two months is a lot of trying," I said.
"Did you remind her that we learned from our mistake?" Sam said. "She appreciates that."
"She said the mistake wasn't buying X-ray specs. It was telling all the fifth-grade girls that the X-specs worked. There were complaints."
"Mothers of girls are sensitive," Sam said.
"Incoming mini-BOB," I said.
A fact about BOBs: You can't control when you'll get one.
"What is it?" Sam asked.
"You ask your parents for an allowance. If they say yes, my parents might give in."
"I'd like to get free money," Sam said. "I'll ask tonight. But now I must face the Destructionator."
I bowed like I was a butler from London, England. "Your bread is on the windowsill, Bill."
Before you Challenge the Beast, you have to eat a wad of bread. It puts a pillow in your stomach. Then the Beast has something to land on besides your guts.
Sam dusted ants off two slices of white bread, mashed the slices into one bread ball, and bit it like an apple.
"The Beast is waiting in the kitchen, My Duke."
"Lead the way, Jay."
"After you, Sue."
We cannot stop ourselves from rhyming.
On Capitol Hill, where we live, Sam and I are known for being rhymers. Lately our fame has been spreading all over Washington, D.C. Sam's cousin Ella told kids at Temple Mica about the hilarious rhyme that got Sam and me sent to the school counselor for a talk called Inappropriate Words. His name is Mr. Pitt. He is annoying times infinity.
I kicked the kitchen door open. I didn't mean for it to hit the wall so hard. Sometimes I'm shocked by my own strength.
"Where's your mom, Tom?" Sam asked.
"Out back, Jack. She's getting revenge on the slugs."
"Where's your dad, comrade?" he asked.
"In Florida, helping Congressman Buddy Boyd get reelected," I said.
"Egg-zee-lent," Sam said like he was a vampire. "Zee Beast needs pry-ves-cee."
My mom can't know about the Beast. It's for her own protection. She is a huge worrier with a giant imagination. Her main worry is Dangerous Things That Could Happen to My Son, Melonhead. Only she calls me Adam or Darling Boy. I'm trying to break her Darling Boy habit. Step One is switching to DB.
Not telling is also for my protection. If my mom knew about the Beast it would lead to her calling Dr. Stroud to see if drinking disgusting things is normal behavior for eleven-year-old boys. My mom does not think courage needs to be tested.
My dad understands the ways of boys. But if he knew about the Beast, he'd tell my mom out of loyalty. In one shake of a rattlesnake the Beast would be out of control, because my parents are in a pact with Sam's parents. Whenever we get in a situation, they tell each other. Even though most of the situations are unpredictable and a shock to Sam and me, we get a consequence. Plus, my dad and I have to discuss the Melon Family Guidelines for Life. His top Gs for L are If in Doubt Ask an Adult and Why This Was Not a Freak Accident and Could Have Been Avoided and Think Before Doing.
But from now on, situations and incidents, as my mom calls them, are in our past. The code name for our plan is OZ. That stands for Operation Zero. For the next thirty days we are following the G for Ls. We are thinking before we act. We have our reason. Her name is Aunt Traci.
Four days ago Aunt Traci brought my mom a book called From Wild to Wonderful: Transform Your Child in Thirty Days! My mom gave it back because: 1. It was one of Aunt Traci's books that caused the last incident; 2. My mom likes me the way I am; 3. I am not wild, I am spirited.
I was thinking Yay, Mom! until I found out that Transforming Your Child means bribing your child. Only, the book calls bribes "rewards."
"I'll do it," I said.
Aunt Traci said, "Try it, Betty."
"No," my mom said in a firm way.
Aunt Traci acted like my mom said "Please sign him up this minute."
"Of course, it's no good making Adam wonderful if you don't put Sam on the program," Aunt Traci said.
My mom said that Sam is not her child.
"Wild to Wonderful inspires children and is a gift to parents," Aunt Traci said. "I can prove it."
Later, when we were out back helping Uncle Ben grill corn, Aunt Traci asked Sam and me if we wanted to be in a secret experiment.
I was about to say we're wild for experiments.
"We're spirited for experiments," I said.
"Some of ours are secret," Sam said.
"If you boys can go thirty days without getting into a situation, I'll reward you with a trip to Follies amusement park in Pennsylvania," Aunt Traci said. "Thinking about Follies Park will keep you on track."
"It will?" Sam asked.
"It's foolproof," Aunt Traci said. "And painless. You'll have fun. Your mom will see that I was right. Everybody wins."
"My mom's against Wild to Wonderful," I said.
"And Mr. Melon likes people to listen to his wife," Sam said.
"Honey, your mom and dad are going to be thrilled with the new, tamed you.
"And, Sam, your parents will thank me. Betty tells me your baby sister is quite a handful," Aunt Traci said.
"Only if a handful is a good thing," Sam said.
In case it wasn't, I said, "Julia's not even two and she's already hilarious."
"Handful means Julia's, um, energetic," Aunt Traci said. "My baby sister was a handful."
"Your baby sister's my mom," I said.
"She was wild before she was wonderful," Aunt Traci said.
I nearly lost my balance. "My mom was spirited?"
Aunt Traci laughed.
"OK," I said. "We'll take the bribe."
"Bribe?" Aunt Traci said. "My word. I'd never bribe anyone. When I do a good job at work I am rewarded with financial benefits. Why shouldn't kids get the same thing?"
"We're getting finances! Like allowance?" I double socked Sam's arms. "Hot diggity, ziggity dog!"
"Goodness, no," Aunt Traci said. "Wild to Wonderful says children don't understand money."
"Maybe newborn babies don't," I said. "If I didn't understand money, I wouldn't have spent the whole summer begging for an allowance."
"Ditto," Sam said. "I keep telling my parents, an eleven-year-old needs money."
"We know a measly nine-year-old who gets allowance," I said.
"Allowance is your parents' decision," she said. "I'd be overstepping if I gave you money."
Overstepping what, I don't know.
"Rewards, treats, and presents are all aunt territory," Aunt Traci said.
"Roller coasters are my kind of reward," I said.
"I have an idea," she said. "Since my friend Myrna gave me a pile of half-off admission coupons for the Follies, I think it would be okay to let you spend some of what we save on souvenirs. Wild to Wonderful doesn't have anything against coupon savings."
I high-fived her on the spot.
"What if my mom wants the old me back?" I asked.
"All she has to do is cut out the rewards and abracadabra, you'll be the same interesting and spirited boy that you are right now," Aunt Traci said.
"Can we go on the Fear Machine unlimited times?" Sam asked.
"It goes zero to sixty miles per hour in four seconds in the dark. The only things visible are horrors," I said. "There's an ax man and your face gets brushed by spiderwebs."
"You may stay on the Fear Machine as long as your heart desires--all you have to do is stay out of situations for thirty days."
"No problem," I told her.
"That's thirty days in a row," Uncle Ben said.
"In a row?" Sam said.
"What if there's a freak accident and we get sucked into a situation?" I asked.
"If it's not your fault, it won't count," Aunt Traci said.
"If it is our fault, do we get a consequence?" Sam asked.
"No!" Aunt Traci said. "This book's philosophy is that children should never be punished. It's bad for their self-esteem. If you get into a situation you just won't get a reward."
Now that I have Follies Park on the brain, not getting the reward would feel like the biggest punishment anybody ever got.
"Don't you worry, Aunt Traci. Sam and I have stick-to-it-tive-ness."
"Just remember, we're not telling your mom until the thirty days are up," she said. "Otherwise she won't be thrilled and surprised."
"If this works, our parents will see that we're mature enough for an allowance," Sam said.
This is Day Four of OZ. Zero situations. All we do is watch TV. Luckily, it's Shark Week. Unluckily, next week is not.
"Challenging the Beast is the first fun thing we've done since we started Wild to Wonderful," I told Sam. "Pass the glass."
Sam and I handwalked down the hall, through the dining room, and into the kitchen. We regular walked out the back door and looked over the porch railing.
"Hi, Mrs. Melon."
"Hi, Mom," I said.
She looked up. "Don't lean over so far, DB. It's a long drop."
"Who's winning the slug war?" I asked.
"The slugs," my mom said. "They ate their way through my lettuce last night. I'm setting traps."
"You're not killing them, are you?" Sam asked.
"Slugs make decent pets, Mom. Not as good as dogs, but they don't shed."
"We're not having pet slugs," my mom said.
"Okay," I said. "Enjoy staying outside."
"Bring on the Beast," Sam whispered.
When I'm the Beast Maker, I hide my concoction in the back of the fridge, behind my grandma's bread-and-butter pickles that nobody likes.
I handed the glass to Sam.
"Presenting Destructionator," I said.
He stuck his gum to the back of his hand and said, "It's day nine, Porcupine."
Sam's trying to win the world record for most days chewing the same gum.
"How does it taste?" I asked.
"Like the stretchy band on underwear," he said.
"Interesting," I said.
"Plus prickly," he said.
"Hair," he said. "Thanks to Bad Mad."
Sometimes our teacher Ms. Madison is Decent Mad. Twice she's been Good Mad. But we started off calling her Bad Ms. Mad. It stuck to her like Melonhead stuck to me.
Ms. Mad has Built-In Gum Sonar. If her BIGS goes off, it's goodbye, recess, hello Reflecting Table. During school Sam sticks his gum behind his ear. You have to figure it's going to get hairy. We don't deduct classroom time from Sam's record.
Sam smelled the Destructionator. "No stink. No sludge. It looks like V8 juice. What's in this Beast?"
"No hints," I said. "I'm completely clueless."
"Julia could drink this," he said.
"You're wrong, King Kong," I said. "I wouldn't let your baby sister in the same room with Destructionator. Too dangerous."
"Wait and see-zee," I said.
"Bottoms up," Sam said.
That's a real expression invented by adults. It has nothing to do with butts, though.
Sam snapped his head back, squinched his eyes, and dumped the Beast into his mouth.
His eyes popped.
His body shook.
He turned into a human lawn sprinkler.
Luckily, the only things in the way of the spray were the sink, the chili pot, and me.
"Yow-wow-ow!" he screeched. "No fair using straight hot sauce!"
"One: I didn't. Two: It's hot sauce plus pizza sauce and cider vinegar. Three: It doesn't count if you upchuck."
Sam wiped his tongue on his Stoddard Soccer League T-shirt. It left a light red trail across the picture of the Capitol.
"The Beast is supposed to taste repulsive," he said. "But it's cheating to make it unswallowably hot, Melonhead!"
I felt like he could be right.
"Okay, you get the credit," I said. "For courage."
"I'd better. My throat feels like a Slip 'N Slide covered with nose slime and killer bees," Sam said.
Then he sneezed.
I wiped my forehead on a dish towel. "It's mostly nose slime, I'd say."