Excerpt: Alligators Overhead

Something just a little suspicious-odd happened last week near Egret Lane. And when the Wartgob sisters told Clara Frankenhoff, Clara told Margo Stiltencranz, the meter maid, who passed it on to Lucy Thricewater at the gift shop. But word never reached Lizzy Glopp (spelled with two P’s) because she was having coffee with her friend, Gladys Neep. By the time the story had traveled the Hadleyville Whisper Circle, it wasn’t news anymore, and planning Gladys Neep’s 100th birthday party was, so everybody forgot that suspicious-odd thing. 

Too bad. 

If Lizzy Glopp had heard about the dark cloud sightings over the Ornofree Swamp, their shapes almost like —maybe exactly like— alligators she would have known there was something brewing. She might have kept a better eye on that twelve-year-old rascal of a nephew of hers, maybe she would have warned him about how much trouble was headed their way. But Pete had so many problems, an alligators-overhead-sighting would have had to take a ticket and stood in line for his attention. 
To be honest, Pete was in so much trouble that he was downright “nervous-scared.” That was how Lizzy Glopp would describe her nephew’s condition. And Pete didn’t like that nervous-scared bundle of stuff tumbling around inside him. Not one bit. So he’d devised a good system to avoid those feelings. When he was busy hatching his pranks, and then escaping blame, he didn't have time for the nervous-scared stuff. He almost forgot how much he missed his “real” home. He almost felt normal again. The problem was his good system got him into bad trouble.