Beautiful Dreamer

by Allen Morgan


no illustrations

nine chapters - 107 pages

Chapter Four (part 1)

The next morning at nine o'clock sharp, Katie picked up Mr. Waverly's puppy. She walked slowly towards Mrs. Crandell's house. She wasn't looking forward to seeing Mrs. Crandell. The puppy seemed to share her feelings. He stopped frequently along the way and smelled everything he came across.

Finally they arrived at the Crandell's. Katie tied the puppy to the edge of the hedge near the sidewalk. "Now you stay here," she told him, "Mrs. Crandell doesn't like dogs and I don't think you'd be very welcome."

The puppy wagged his tail and sniffed at a moth ball. "And don't eat the dog-don'ts," Katie added as she walked away. The puppy didn't. He ate a dandelion instead.

The door was opened just as Katie was about to ring the bell. It was Mr. Crandell. "She's here, the paper hooligan," he called to his wife. Then he turned back to Katie. "Thought you'd get away with it, didn't you, Miss Hooligan? Crime doesn't pay. Next time it's the cops."

Mrs. Crandell arrived at the door with a cloth and some cleaner. "Here you are, Miss Moore. Be sure and do a perfect job now. I don't want to have to call your father again. He was very disturbed when I told him what happened yesterday."

It didn't take very long for Katie to clean off the scuff marks, but when she tried to give the cleanser back, Mrs. Crandell wouldn't hear of it. She shook her head and pointed back at the door. "You don't call that finished, do you? Just look at the rest of the door, my dear. It's a mess."

Katie looked up at the rest of the door. It was a bit of a mess but she didn't see what that had to do with her. She'd only kicked the bottom.

"Why you must do the whole thing, Miss Moore," said Mrs. Crandell. "You can't leave just a part of it clean and the rest dirty. It doesn't match."

Katie made a sour face. Mrs. Crandell arched one eyebrow. "Well if you want to be rude Miss Moore, we'll just call your father again and see what he has to say about it."

Katie was smart enough to know when she was over a barrel. She took the cloth and wiped the molding around the bottom of the door. "When I get done with this she'll probably say the rest of the house doesn't match either and want me to do that too," she grumbled. Katie stood up to reach the top part of the door. Her foot was asleep and she stumbled a bit. Her leg felt like pins and needles so she shook it to get the feeling back again.

Mr. Crandell pointed at her from behind his wife's skirts. "Look out, she's getting ready to kick something again," he cried.

Katie gave him a disgusted took and stepped gingerly down on her foot. She limped a little as she tried to walk on it.

"Is something wrong with your leg" asked Mrs. Crandell.

Katie was about to say no but it came out yes instead. "Actually there is something wrong with my leg, Mrs. Crandell. It's the one I hurt last year in the automobile accident. It was a horrible experience; the whole leg came right off. The hospital had to put it back on again. There's only a pin holding it now."

Mrs. Crandell gasped and looked very interested. It was just the sort of thing she liked to hear about. She watched soap operas in the afternoon, but things that happened for real were always much more interesting than the soaps, as long as they were horrible enough.

"You poor dear, why didn't you say something?" she said.

"I don't often talk about it," said Katie, and that was true enough. She limped a little more for Mrs. Crandell and tried to think of what else to say. "It hurts a lot you know, especially when the pin slips. That's what happened just now. I'm trying to swing the pin back in place before the whole leg starts falling off again." She made a face to show how much pain she was in. She even threw in a few groans. Mrs. Crandell ate it up.

"Shall I call an ambulance? Do you want a doctor?" she asked.

"No, that's okay, Mrs. Crandell. I think I can pop the pin back in if I throw my leg around a little." She shook her leg and groaned a few more times. Then she swung around and gave the front door a resounding kick.

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry. I didn't mean to do that. It's just that darn pin slipping around. I don't have any control over it."

Katie kicked the door again by way of emphasis. It felt so good that she did it a third time before turning back to the Crandells. "There. That did it. Everything feels just fine now. That pin's back in and I won't have to worry about losing my leg again for another couple of days or so." She smiled sweetly at Mrs. Crandell. "Actually, you know, that's what happened yesterday, Mrs. Crandell. The pin slipped while I was ringing your doorbell and I was just trying to get it back in place when I kicked your door by mistake. It wasn't on purpose."

"Balderdash," growled Mr. Crandell.

But Mrs. Crandell was very impressed by the whole story. "My dear. I'm terribly sorry. To think how we've misjudged you."

"Oh that's all right," said Katie. "I'm used to it."

"It's absolutely terrible making you come all this way to take care of something that wasn't your fault in the first place." She looked back at her husband. "Arthur, you finish the door. I'll walk Miss Moore down to the sidewalk. She should go home and rest."

Mrs. Crandell took Katie's arm and led her off. Mr. Crandell blinked in surprise.

"But Ethel, my back," he protested.

"You know your back isn't as bad as all that, Arthur. You're in tip-top shape compared to this poor child."

The puppy saw Katie coming down the front walk. He gave a yelp of happiness and pulled his rope free from the hedge. He ran up to her jumping and wiggling and wagging himself silly. Mrs. Crandell was horrified.

"Get away you filthy animal, get away," she cried. "Bad dog, bad dog." The puppy crouched down on the lawn and whimpered. He felt so bad he didn't even pee. He pooped instead - a great big pile of it right on top of one of the moth balls. Mrs. Crandell almost fainted.

"You horrible thing, now see what you've done. Arthur, get your sling shot."

"Please don't do that," said Katie. "I'll catch him, Mrs. Crandell. He belongs to a man down the road. I'll take him back there."

"You will? Oh thank you dear, that would be a great help," said Mrs. Crandell. She looked down at the pile of dog-doo on top of the dog-don't and wrinkled her nose. "But the damage is already done," she lamented. "And the worst part of it is I'll have to clean it up myself. I've called the animal people time and time again about coming out to clean up this sort of thing but they won't do it. You'd think somebody would."

Katie saw her chance right away. She quickly explained to Mrs. Crandell all about the Beautiful Dreamers and how they did horrible chores for people. She offered to take on Mrs. Crandell's front yard. Mrs. Crandell was interested.

"Keeping the front lawn tidy is certainly a horrible chore," she admitted.

"We could do it on a permanent basis," promised Katie.

Setting the price took a little talking. Mrs. Crandell was cheap but Katie was firm. When it was finally decided, Katie promised to keep the Crandell's lawn free of dog droppings at the rate of twenty cents per item - pay as you go.

"It may not amount to much, my dear," said Mrs. Crandell. "The moth balls do a wonderful job most of the time."

Katie and Gale had a big laugh about it over lunch. Katie had the whole thing figured out and Mrs. Crandell was in for a surprise. "We'll take the puppy over there in the evenings when we walk him and he can do it just like he did today," she explained. "The money we get from cleaning up the lawn can go toward paying Mr. Waverly's newspaper bill each week. If things work out, he won't have to remember to pay us at all. Mrs. Crandell will be paying for the both of them only she won't even know it."

"We couldn't," laughed Gale, but deep in her heart she knew that they could. Mr. Waverly was so nice and the Crandells were so rotten, it was only fair.

The more Katie thought about it the more she liked the whole idea. "You know Gale, one puppy isn't really enough. There are plenty of dogs in the neighbourhood. It seems a shame not to let them in on this too. All we have to do is buy a box of dog biscuits. It'd only cost a dollar or so and it would be a good investment. We could sneak over to the Crandell's some night after dark and spread dog biscuits all over their lawn. All the dogs would come for a free snack and they'd bring their business with them. Their business is our business. We'd make our dollar back in no time."

Gale thought it was a perfect plan. "It beats me how you keep thinking things up all the time." she told Katie. "I wish I could."

continue on to part two of Chapter Four

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