“Don’t you have a curfew?” I asked after I opened my window.
James grunted and climbed in trailing in snow. When he pulled down his hood, his hair puffed out like it did earlier. “Sure I do,” he said. “It’s 7 o’clock.”
I looked at the electronic clock on my desk. The time read: 9:45 pm.
James said, “My mom never said if she meant 7pm or 7am. So the way I figure it, as long as I’m back by the time she walks in to wake me up in the morning, I’m fine.” He grinned.
I did not.
I like excitement. And I do believe that a lot of the rule’s parents make up are lame, but not this one. Kids should never sneak out of the house. It’s not safe!
James must have read my mind.
“Relax,” he said. “I’m just kidding. My mom is parked right out front.”
We both poked our heads out the window and looked at her car idling along the curb in front of my house. It was still snowing, but it wasn’t that blinding, blizzard snow like earlier. We waved.
James said, “Don’t worry, that angry look on her face isn’t directed at you. She’s mad because I was supposed to just leave this on your doorstep, not climb up a tree and knock on your bedroom window…”
“Leave what?” I asked.
He handed me a drawing of a tall, grey guy. Yes, grey. He had extremely frizzy, orange hair and matching orange eyes that glowed like coals in a fire.
“That’s him,” James said. “That’s the Idiom wizard.”
“How do you know?”
“I Googled ‘Idiom Wizard’, duh.” He laughed. “Apparently, absolutely no one believes he’s real, so there’s not much to research about him.”
“So what is there to know?”
“Um… Well, I guess he was a trickster wizard who sort of went crazy– or, um, crazier– after he learned some dark spells.”
“Grrreat,” I said. “And now we’ve released him?”
We both took a second to think about that. It was James who broke the silence. “We have to make this right. We’re going to catch him!”
I didn’t think that was the most exciting idea in the world, but we did set him loose, which meant it was our responsibility to catch him. (Man, sometimes being a big kid and making the right decision is hard work!)
I nodded then asked the obvious question. “How are we going to catch him? We don’t even know where he is.”
“According to everything I’ve read, well, all two pages of it, he’s going to want his spell book back.”
“Oh, that’s greeaaat,” I said, looking towards my bed where I hid Mr. Green’s book.
“Yup. And the Idiom Wizard is drawn to it. I guess he can sniff it out like a dog sniffs stuff out. We don’t have to find him, because he’ll find us.”
“Don’t worry,” James said as he walked back to my bedroom window. “We’re going to do this together.” He fist-bumped me. “But you’re the sidekick, of course.”
After he climbed out, I whispered, “Hey, why does your mom have you out so late on a school night?”
“It’s not a school night. Pretty sure school’s getting cancelled tomorrow.”
“You know what I mean.”
He held his tongue out so a snowflake could fall on it. Then, sounding a bit sad, he said, “Look, my dad’s not around and it’s just her raising me. She works two jobs, so sometimes she doesn’t get off work until late.”
“That’s why you’re so tired in school, isn’t it?”
He grinned. “No, I’m always tired in school because I stay up all night drawing pictures. Like that,” he added, pointing to the picture of the Idiom Wizard that I still held.
James flipped his hood on and climbed halfway down the tree before stopping. He waved at me, then pretended to lose his balance and let himself fall into the deep snow. He started to make a snow angel, but his mom whispered/yelled, “James Douglas. You get in this car, right now!”
He jumped up and trudged back through the waist-high snow using the same path he’d made to get to my house. After he was in the car, I watched his mom’s silhouette repeatedly point a scolding finger at him and chuckled. Ice crunched under the wheels of their car as they drove off and out of sight.
I closed my bedroom window and looked at the picture of the Idiom Wizard again. Great. Juuust great. At first it was only Mr. Green who wanted the book, but now this thing wanted it, too. And I had it… Ugh. As if I wasn’t already having a hard enough time sleeping!
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