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At the Amoses, twelve-year-old Todd doesn’t waste any time beating up on Bud, in what would be “only the beginning of a whole list of bad things” Bud would experience. Several punches and kicks later, Bud decides not to resist. He explains, “There comes a time when you’re losing a fight that it just doesn’t make sense to keep on fighting. It’s not that you’re being a quitter, it’s just that you’ve got the sense to know when enough is enough.”
Mrs. Amos appears at the door to the bedroom. She sees her son Todd hurting Bud, but when Todd pretends to be injured himself, she takes Todd’s side. Todd whines that he was just trying to help Bud get to the bathroom in time, because “this one’s got ‘bed wetter’ written all over him.” Mrs. Amos hates bed-wetting above everything else.
Bud, who considers himself to be “one of the best liars in the world,” is impressed with Todd’s lying ability. Todd, Bud thinks, must know Rule Number 3 of “Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar of Yourself”:
Number 3: If You Got to Tell a Lie, Make Sure It’s Simple and Easy to Remember.
Actually, the fight had started when Bud had woken up to Todd ramming a pencil up his nose and insisting on calling Bud “Buddy.”
Mrs. Amos and Todd leave the room, locking Bud inside. Soon after, Mr. Amos appears and informs Bud that he’ll be contacting the Home first thing tomorrow. As they head to Todd’s room for Bud to apologize, Mr. Amos grabs Bud’s suitcase. Bud doesn’t know where he’s taking it.
Bud offers a fake apology to try to avoid the Amoses hitting him with a strap. Bud would much rather be sent back to the Home than stay with the Amoses, so like Brer Fox did in one of the books his Momma read to him, Bud begs not to be sent back, in hopes that the mean Amoses will do the opposite. Bud begs for another chance, and Mr. Amos leads him through the kitchen, where, to Bud’s relief, he sees his suitcase under the table.
At the shed, where he’s been banished for the night, Bud sees a big, black stain in the middle of the dirt floor. Surely, Bud thinks, “if I was a normal kid, I would’ve busted out crying.” The blood, he figures, must be from the kid who Todd sneeringly told him had disappeared here weeks ago. Mr. Amos hands Bud a blanket and pillow and pulls the door shut, locking it.
Bud tries hard not to panic in the pitch-black darkness of the shed. The eyeballs of three dried-out fish heads stare back at him as he tries the doorknob, which he hopes Mr. Amos only pretended to lock. While deciding where to lay his blanket and pillow, he remembers the story of the cockroach crawling into his best friend’s ear back at the Home. From the story his friend, Bugs, tells, the cockroach was yelling, “My legs! My legs! Why have they done this to my legs?” while adults tried to extract it with tweezers. Bud wants to avoid any encounters with the cockroaches that are surely crawling over the shed’s floor, ready to crawl in his ears. He spreads his blanket on the top of the woodpile and climbs up.
Bud spots what he is sure is a vampire bat, and decides to follow his Rule 328:
When You Make Up Your Mind to Do Something, Hurry Up and Do It, If You Wait You Might Talk Yourself Out of What You Wanted in the First Place.
Bud attacks the bat with a rake, only to discover that he has disturbed a hornet’s nest. Hornets sting him as he grabs for the doorknob hoping for escape. In his haste, he forgets about the fish heads with their razor-like teeth. He screams as the teeth cut into him, and the hornets continue to sting. He manages to escape through a window above the wood pile and falls to the ground, slapping at the hornets still attacking him. He heads towards the Amoses’ house, set on revenge.
Bud climbs into the Amoses’ house through an unlocked window. He finds his suitcase still under the kitchen table and puts it on the back porch step. Back in the house, he grabs Mr. Amoses’ shotgun and hides it outside, so if the Amoses wake up, they wouldn’t use it on him.
Bud returns to the kitchen. He fills a glass with warm water and heads up to Todd’s room. Todd is sound asleep. Bud dips Todd’s fingers in the warm water, hoping he’ll wet his bed. When he doesn’t, Bud pours the water on Todd’s pajama pants, causing Todd to soak his sheets. Bud creeps out of the house, grabs his suitcase, and heads toward the road, now “on the lam ... just like Public Enemy Number One.”
Being a good liar is a skill Bud hones as a survival tactic. Bud considers himself to be so good a liar that he has Rules about lying, how to do it better, and how to keep it simple. At the Amos household, it’s apparent that things are not going to go well between twelve-year-old Todd Amos and Bud. Bud is impressed with Todd’s lying ability, which measures up quite well against his own. It’s comical that he has a certain amount of respect for the boy who beat him up and stuck a pencil up his nose because of his capacity to lie. Mrs. Amos, in a cowardly and cruel intervention, takes Todd’s side, giving her own son the benefit of the doubt over a child only temporarily in her care.
Bud’s life in the foster system is one where he experiences adults who constantly assert their power and authority over him. When the Amoses lock Bud in the room, he spends his alone time assessing his situation and cleverly exploring his options. The Amoses want to force an apology out of him, and if he refuses, they will exert physical force. Bud decides a fake apology is better than the belt. He has already been to two other foster homes and must believe he’ll end up back at the Home eventually anyhow.
Bud has little reason to trust the adults in his life, and this includes the Amoses. When they take Bud to Todd’s room to make him apologize, the Amoses take his suitcase from him, stripping away his only possessions. On the way out the back door as he’s led to the shed, Bud, to his great relief, sees his suitcase. The reader understands, then, the significance and meaning of the suitcase to Bud. The reader senses Bud might be a planner, and he already has a plan in motion to retrieve his belongings.
Very little has been normal about Bud’s childhood, and there is certainly nothing normal about his current circumstance. The terror of the shed would likely have brought tears and sobbing to a “normal kid,” but Bud’s not normal; he doesn’t cry. The reader senses that he wishes he were a normal kid, who had normal adults around him to console him or save him in times such as these. Instead, Bud is self-reliant and ensures his own well-being in the shed by finding a place to sleep.
When Bud is alone in the shed, he draws on special memories that help him feel not so alone. As he contemplates the bugs that could crawl in his ears if he’s not careful, he has a flashback to Bugs, his best friend from the Home, who once shared a story of having a cockroach in his ear. While the Home had never been a real home to Bud, it was the place where he experienced friendship and shared stories. Although he takes solace in memories, he longs for the presence of a friend.
Bud is resourceful and determined, first as he attempts to get comfortable in the shed, and then when he tries to escape. As he battles back wasps stinging him relentlessly, Bud perseveres and escapes the shed. On the ground outside the shed’s window, he’s driven by revenge and a bit by disappointment in himself. He should have known, he admits to himself, that he is the only one who is going to take care of Bud.
Because of the comfort and belonging the suitcase symbolizes, it's Bud’s highest priority once he’s escaped the shed. Ever the planner, when Bud breaks into the Amoses house, the first order of business is to retrieve the all-important suitcase and ensure that it will be out of the house before he is. He had already decided to hide the gun in case the Amoses wanted to use it on him, which he didn’t doubt could happen. His revenge on Todd Amos worked to perfection.