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Old Mac – Now You See Him, Now You Don’t, Continued

This is the completion of the first chapter, which I promised to post later. If you missed the first part, you can read it here.  If you are a fan of children’s literature, I would love to know what you think. Thank you!

Old Mac - Now You See Him, Now You Don't | Toni Umbarger | Children's Mystery

Chapter One, continued:

Old Mac Waverly had lived in Sunflower longer than anyone could remember. Being the oldest citizen in Sunflower, he was an expert on the town and everyone who lived there. Anyone who wanted historical information about Sunflower turned to Old Mac. He was a sort of self-confessed walking encyclopedia.

Old Mac’s knowledge about his hometown was similar to the community’s understanding of him. Numerous stories about Old Mac had been handed down from generation to generation. Old Mac had been central to so many strange occurrences over the course of so many years, involving so many different people, that he had become nothing less than notorious.

News traveled faster than the speed of light in the small town of Sunflower. The entire populace became aware of each turbulent event almost as soon as Old Mac created it, and he somehow managed to create such events daily; sometimes hourly. For many years, the townspeople had told and retold tales about his recycled Green-Sheen banana peels; about the pick-up truck he rigged to drive from its bed; about his alarming attempt to smoke his own ham; and about his perilous creation of snow angels on his rooftop, which almost cost him his life. Thanks to Old Mac, the people of Sunflower continually fluctuated between being in stitches or in a state of anxiety.

People also circulated sundry rumors and suspicions about Old Mac. Odd things often happened in Sunflower, and of course, most of them were traced back to Old Mac. When something strange happened, they assumed that he must be responsible. For instance, most people blamed him for the bubble incident at Gertrude Hosley’s pond. Gertrude awoke one morning to find the pasture behind her home engulfed in a foamy mess. Although it brought a great deal of notoriety to Gertrude and to Sunflower, it took nearly a year for the bubbles to completely clear away. Apparently, no one saw Old Mac near the pond, and he never confessed to causing the frothy affair. However, the question on everyone’s mind remained, “Who else would do such a thing?”

Old Mac’s wild unpredictability began to be recognized as hazardous. The townspeople, in order to protect Old Mac and the community, set up what they called the “Old Mac Watch.” Seemingly unaware of their watchful eyes, Old Mac went merrily about his daily business. The participants of the “Old Mac Watch” believed they were preventing catastrophes.

Miss Alice Penderson, who lived across the street and down two houses south of Old Mac’s, had the special honor of being on Old Mac Watch early on that particular Monday morning. She paused in the middle of her breakfast preparations to perform her scheduled Old Mac duties.

From the bay window in her living room, she watched him through the petite, chrome-plated telescope she had bought by mail order for this specific purpose. She saw nothing out of the ordinary as Old Mac skipped out his front door and down his sidewalk, retrieved his newspaper, turned, and danced back to his door in his familiar way, kicking the bunny slippers high in the air and clicking his heels together at every “Hyee hah!” Miss Penderson marveled at the old man’s agility.

Her windows were open to the fresh air, and she couldn’t help hearing Old Mac’s ditty echoing throughout the neighborhood. He seems to be in exceptional spirits, she thought. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, inhaling the fresh morning air, and said aloud, “Understandably so on such a splendid morning.” Then, she watched Old Mac dance safely back into his house. Finally, Miss Penderson returned to her own morning routine, unconsciously humming “She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.”

She had less than one hour to have breakfast and make her way across town to open the library. In her twenty years as librarian, she had never been late opening the library doors, and she was determined the Sunflower Library would open promptly at 8:00 AM once more.

While he ate his breakfast at home, Mayor Brooker made a phone call to Old Mac. Old Mac had once presented the mayor with a gift of one of his unique inventions. He had made a set of special boots for the mayor’s mare; his reasoning being that no one held in such high esteem as the mayor should ride a horse with muddy hooves.

The mayor rode the boot-shod horse a couple of times just to humor Old Mac. It also “humored” the rest of the community to the extent that the mayor thought he would never live it down. After that, it was the mayor’s habit to give Old Mac a phone call at 8:00 each morning before going to his office.

“Good morning, Old Mac! How are you this beautiful morning? Any special plans for the day?”

“I’m fantabulous, Mr. Mayor. As a matter of fact, I’m working on a surprise that’s going to be a real wower. As soon as I finish breakfast, I’m going to get right back on it.”

For about ten minutes, they chatted about Old Mac’s plans for the day. It finally became disappointingly clear to the mayor that Old Mac was not going to give out any details about his “surprise.”

“Old Mac, I hate to end our discussion, but I have to get to the office. I’m meeting with the city commission first thing.” The mayor couldn’t help feeling uneasy as he said goodbye. It was usually comforting to the mayor to find out what Old Mac was up to, especially to know that he was not up to trying to help the mayor. However, by the time he had ended this conversation, he did not feel so reassured. Old Mac’s mention of a special surprise project made him edgy and apprehensive. The secrecy about this new project added to the mayor’s overwhelming fear of receiving another gift like the horse-galoshes. Had he known Old Mac’s actual purpose, he might have welcomed such a gift instead.

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