'Toby, if you get twenty wickets and ten tries before the end of the year, Mum and I'll buy you a new GameBox V3.' Can you believe it? One minute I'm in trouble for double-bouncing my sister and the next Dad is telling me I've got the new GameBox V3! And it's not even Christmas. Shot! Toby thinks this will be easy - after all, he gets Player of the Day all the time. But he hasn't reckoned on Malcolm McGarvy. McGarvy is one of the biggest kids in the school and he's got a huge scar which he got in a shark attack - he wears one of the teeth around his neck. You know McGarvy is near because you get goosebumps up your arms. And he's going to make sure Toby doesn't get that GameBox V3...
|Publisher:||Allen & Unwin|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
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Shot, Boom, Score!
By Justin Brown
Allen & UnwinCopyright © 2013 Justin Brown
All rights reserved.
'Right, my boy,' said Dad, sitting heavily on my bed.
I cracked my knuckles. This did not sound good. The last time Dad came into my room and said, 'Right, my boy,' I was grounded for two weeks because I'd jumped off the water tank with an umbrella.
'Toby, I've decided to ban the double-bounce.' 'What?!' I sat up.
This was bad, bad news.
My sister Claire and I have double-bounced each other on the trampoline since forever. It's a wicked trick, especially if someone doesn't know you're going to do it. What you do is wait till you're both jumping really high, then bounce as hard as you can just as the other person is landing. When you land, they fly into space.
'But Dad, that's not fair!' I protested. 'Claire called me a dumb idiot!'
'I don't care.'
'And a no-hoper!'
'Toby, your sister has a broken arm because you were acting the fool. The double bounce is banned, period.'
Here's what happened. I was minding my own business on the trampoline when Claire came out with her friends. She jumped on without asking and then asked me loudly if I knew what a palindrome was. I said no. I mean, seriously, whoever heard of a palindrome?
'What a dumbo!' she said. 'What a complete no-hoper!' She laughed like a kookaburra, which made her friends all laugh like kookaburras too.
So I double-bounced her into infinity. Was it my fault she landed awkwardly and broke her arm?
Later, Mum told me a palindrome is a word that's the same spelled backwards.
From my bedroom I could see Claire sitting in Mum's comfy chair in the lounge room with her arm in plaster. She was watching a movie past her bedtime - and she was drinking fizzy!
'Not fair! We're never allowed fizzy!' I said to Dad.
'Correct. Especially not at this time of night.'
'But ... look at Claire,' I said. 'She's got fizzy!'
'She's allowed to,' he said. 'She's in pain.'
I pulled the sheets up and buried my head. 'Life sucks! Why can't someone break my arm?'
'But I have got an offer for you,' Dad went on.
'What kind of offer?' I asked.
'The kind of offer you might like.' He cleared his throat. 'Toby, my boy, life is about redemption.'
'Yeah, yeah,' I sighed. Dad's got all these sayings from a CD he plays in the car on his way to work. Obviously this was one of them.
'It's a one-lap race.'
'It's not about whether you get knocked down,' he continued, 'it's whether you get up. And if at first you don't succeed —'
'Try and try and try again,' I said.
'That's the one! Have you heard it before?'
'Dad, what's the offer?'
He moved closer and tried to whisper, but when Dad whispers it's like a normal person yelling.
'I remember being your age and trying to do everything at once. Schoolwork, sports.' He punched me lightly on the shoulder. 'Having to get along with your sister.'
'Hmph,' I said.
'What if we move on from what happened with Claire and give you something to aim for?'
I looked at him.
'Your mum and I have decided that if you get twenty wickets and ten tries before the end of the season, we'll buy you a GameBox V3.'
Can you believe it? One minute I'm in trouble for double-bouncing my sister, and the next Dad is telling me I've got the new GameBox V3!
The GameBox V3 is the best thing since the GameBox V2. It's so new no one in my class has got one. You can choose your players and your teams, what uniform they should wear and what ground they should play on. It's also got two-player and three-player so you can verse your friends. And I can have all this for twenty wickets and ten tries? Easy-peasy.
Mum says sport is in my blood. I get Player of the Day all the time, which is good for me, but bad for Mum because whoever gets Player of the Day takes all the team shirts home for washing.
In my cricket team, I bat at number six but I'm mainly a bowler. Coach says there are fast bowlers everywhere but leg spinners are rarer than hen's teeth, which I think is his way of saying I should learn to be a good one.
I play rugby too. I'm a fullback and my famous move is the up-and-under. Coach says I remind him of Christian Cullen, who used to play for the All Blacks. If you're wondering what an up-and-under is, it's when you kick the ball as high as the sky and run and catch it before someone on the other team tackles you. Just make sure you don't practise it in the lounge when your parents are watching the Sunday-night movie.
I could kick a ball all day if I had to. I dream about scoring goals. My best dream ever was scoring a hat trick for Manchester United against Arsenal and being on the six o'clock news in England. Then the manager of the club gave me a brand-new GameBox V3 and a Ferrari 250 GTO. (But then my best dream ever turned into my worst when his wife said she loved me and kissed me on the lips. Yuck!)
I should tell you a bit more about my family and friends. You might have figured out that my name is Toby, but you won't know my surname. It's Gilligan-Flannigan.
There, I said it. I blame my parents. Thanks to them sticking both their stupid names together, I'm stuck with the stupidest, longest name in the school. All I want is to be called Smith or White. Then I wouldn't stand out like a chicken with no head every morning when Mrs Martin-Edge does the roll call.
I'm the middle one in the family. Claire is four years older than me, and my brother Max is seven years younger. They're both annoying, but at least Max doesn't use all the hot water in the shower. Then again, Claire doesn't poo her pants. My two best friends are Terence and Sam, but I never call them Terence or Sam. None of the sports commentators on TV ever call each other by their first names. It's always Smithy or Foxy or Clarky. Terence's surname is Jones, so he's Jonesy; Sam's surname is Hughes, so he's Hughesy. My surname is more difficult to change so I stay as Toby, which we decided was fine because it sounds a bit like Jonesy and Hughesy.
We've got our own club called the CGC, which stands for Cool Guys Club. To join, you have to spit on a leaf and pass it to the next member, who has to lick it before spitting on it. In termtime, we have a meeting every day during spelling.
These holidays Jonesy, Hughesy and I have gone eeling lots of times. We wake up really early, go to the butcher and buy a sheep's heart for fifty cents. Then we go down to the creek and throw in a baited fishing line, which we tie to the jetty. Hughesy is best at this job because he's good with knots. Jonesy is worst because the only thing he likes on his hands is soap. Then we grab our spears and wait for the eels to take the bait.
Yesterday we caught an eel that was taller than Dad. Hughesy wanted to keep it as a pet, but his mum said no because he's already got a lizard, two geckos and a goldfish as big as a shoe.
Do you know the best feeling in the world? Coming home with dinner! Even though Mum says I stink and that I have to leave my clothes outside, she always smiles like crazy when she sees what we've caught.
Dad does too. When we put the eels on the bench, he always rubs his hands together and puts on his apron, the one with Eat My Cooking and Always Be Good-looking on the front, and he says, 'The hunter-gatherers are back!' Then he starts sharpening a knife. 'Good on you, boys! Let's smoke 'em!'
Dad loves fishing. He has fishing mugs, fishing T-shirts, fishing hats and fishing calendars. He's even got a smoker where he cooks the fish. We haven't got room in our garage for the car anymore because Dad's filled it up with fishing and boating gear. Dad's a part-time radio announcer on Beach FM. The 'beach' bit is important because that's where he spends most of his time when he should be emptying the dishwasher.
During dinner when Dad is grinding pepper on the smoked eel, he says things like, 'Proud of you, boy,' and 'You can be anything you want to be.'
I'm not so sure about that. I'd like to be good at schoolwork and spelling, but I'll never be anywhere near as good as Claire. She's such a nerd she could do her homework with her eyes closed. She could probably do the crossword even faster than Mum, who's an English teacher and once did the crossword in five minutes and thirty-nine seconds!
Even Dad's CD has no saying about how to be smarter than your sister or how to remember what twelve times eight equals when your head feels as if it's got bricks in it.
But at least Claire could never win a GameBox V3 by getting twenty wickets and ten tries.
Today I went to visit my grandma. She owns a shop called 'Junk and Disorderly' on the main street in town. She sells really old things, such as paintings and chairs and tables you normally only see in old photos. But she's also got cool stuff, like a wind-up monkey with wheels instead of feet, and lots of medals from the war.
There's a medal in a locked cabinet that no one is allowed to touch, not even me. It's a shiny, gold five-pointed star with a red-and-blue ribbon. It has 'GRI' written on it in big curly writing, and 'The African Star' in tiny plain writing. Grandma says the medal is worth a lot of money.
Every time I visit I go straight to that cabinet and look at the medal. It's almost my favourite thing in the shop, apart from the pinball machine with lots of girls with no clothes on.
Grandma told me she was offered heaps of money to sell her shop. The owners next door wanted to knock it down and build a mall with escalators. Dad says Grandma is crazy for not selling. He said to Mum, 'It's prime real estate! If she knew what was good for her, she'd sell it and buy a small island!'
'How much were they going to give you?' I asked. 'A million dollars?'
'No idea,' said Grandma. 'And I couldn't give a tinker's cuss!'
'So what did you say to them?'
'I told them to go and jump in the lake. I promised your granddad I would never sell.'
Granddad used to work at Junk and Disorderly, but he died the year I got my best bowling figures. For a while afterwards Grandma did lots of dusting and ate too many of her favourite red jubes, even though they're bad for her. Now all she has for company is her one-eyed cat, Clark Gable.
The reason why the red jubes are bad is that Grandma is sick. She's got diabetes and isn't supposed to eat lollies. I take things in to make her feel better. She doesn't have a DVD player, so today I took a video replay of the All Blacks winning in Sydney, when Jonah Lomu scored that try down the left wing. Normally Grandma watches old movies like The Student Prince and Gone with the Wind and Moulin Rouge!, but I thought she'd like a change.
So we watched the All Blacks match and I still jumped out of my seat when Jonah scored that try, but Grandma looked like someone who was in pain and trying not to show it.
'Toby, could you pass me the jubes?' she said.
'But ... Dad says you shouldn't, not with diabetes.'
'What does he know? I've been his age, he hasn't been mine. Besides, I know what's good for me and it's not having your dad tell me what to do!'
I passed her the jubes.
'So are you looking forward to starting school again, Toby?'
'Not much. I hate being the dumbo of the family,' I admitted.
'Toby,' Grandma smiled, stroking Clark Gable, 'everything will fall into place. You know how proud I am of you. You're my hero.'
Hearing Grandma say that made me happy and sad at the same time, even though I don't think I'm an actual real-life hero like Jonah Lomu. Happy because it made me feel good inside, and sad because what if Grandma gets sicker and sicker and one day won't be able to tell me these things anymore?
She must have been able to tell that I was a bit sad, because she said, 'Guess what? I won five big boxes of birdseed and front-row tickets to a Filthgrinder concert!'
One of Grandma's favourite things is entering competitions. She does it all the time.
'But, Grandma,' I said. 'You don't even own a bird, and Filthgrinder play really rude music! Even Claire's not allowed to go to their concerts!'
'I might enjoy it, then,' Grandma said with a wink.
When I got home, Dad was watching a fishing show. Mum came back from shopping and thanked him for mowing the lawn, which must have been a joke because the grass is almost as tall as Max.
'I'll do it tomorrow,' Dad said, and turned up the volume on the TV. Mum rolled her eyes and took his empty plate to the kitchen.
Then Max came up to Dad. 'Goose?' he asked, which is his way of saying 'juice'.
'Ask your brother,' said Dad.
'No way,' I said. 'Ask Claire.'
But Claire was still acting like a queen with her feet up on Mum's chair. She's pretty clever at making Mum and Dad believe she needs to sit down all day with her broken arm. Last time I checked, you don't need your arms to walk.
* * *
After dinner I did my favourite thing. I got my sports books down from the shelf above my bed and looked at player stats. Hughesy and Jonesy have got the same books and sometimes we look for the worst players and the best players, players with the highest averages and the funniest names. Jonesy and Hughesy have found tons of players with their surnames, but I've never found anyone called Gilligan-Flannigan. I bet even if there was a cricketer better than Ricky Ponting, or a basketballer better than Michael Jordan, the coach wouldn't let him in the side if he had a name like Gilligan-Flannigan.
I wondered how many players must have been given GameBoxes for scoring a goal at Old Trafford or a try at Twickenham.
Then I had the best thought ever. Dad says there's no 'I' in 'Team', so it must be okay for me to tell the CGC to take lots of catches off my bowling and to pass me the ball so I can score. Jonesy and Hughesy can help me get the twenty wickets and ten tries! If they do, they can play my GameBox V3 as much as they like, because once you're in the CGC you're brothers for life. We all spat on the leaf.CHAPTER 3
Yesterday was really cool, even though it was the last day of the holidays. Hughesy and his dad turned an old lawnmower into the coolest go-kart, and we took turns on it down Bunker Hill. We smashed the speed record we set last summer!
Afterwards, we went to the corner shop to spend all of Jonesy's money that his aunty visiting from overseas had given him. We bought important things like banana lollies and strawberry sherbet. We were going to buy hot chips, but Jonesy reminded me that the last time we did that I couldn't eat any dinner and Mum knew it was because I'd stuffed my gob. I tried telling her that if she cooked hot chips every night it would solve everything, but she said, 'Stop being such a smartypants.'
When I got home Dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I said I wanted a monitor lizard. I've seen them on Animal Planet. Imagine a big black lizard escaping from his cage and clawing his way up Mum's armchair! Claire wouldn't be able to run because she's so fat from drinking all that fizzy, and because she's been sitting for so long her bum is glued to the seat – the monitor lizard would eat her in one gulp. So yeah, that's what I want for my birthday.
So yesterday was awesome, but today stunk, mostly because it was the first day back at school.
Today also stunk because of the new kid, Malcolm McGarvy.
At first I thought he must have been in the wrong class, because he was as big as a grown-up and had hairy caveman legs. I told Hughesy he was probably meant to be at high school and got lost on the way.
'Toby, you idiot!' whispered Hughesy. 'Of course he's not meant to be at high school. That's Malcolm McGarvy!'
Hughesy had heard from Jonesy, who heard it from Carla Fernandez, that Malcolm McGarvy could do amazing magic tricks, like bend spoons and make cards disappear. Jordi Flynn told us he saw Malcolm McGarvy being dropped off at school in a three-tonne digger with a bulldozer blade. Ravi Patel said he'd heard that Malcolm McGarvy lived with his uncle and was allowed to stay up all night.
Excerpted from Shot, Boom, Score! by Justin Brown. Copyright © 2013 Justin Brown. Excerpted by permission of Allen & Unwin.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
MORNING, 21ST AUGUST,
NIGHTTIME, 21ST AUGUST,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,