You Have Six Messages
Yikes!" Rachel Russell hollered. She turned and called to Andy, "You're in trouble now. Real trouble. Just wait till Mom sees this mess."
Andy Russell, his sister, Rachel, and their friend Tamika Anderson had just come home from school. Rachel was standing by the open front door to the house.
"Let me see," Andy said. He hurried up the front walk to the house and looked in.
The closet door was open. Coats, hats, scarves, gloves, umbrellas, and the morning newspaper were on the floor.
"I'm not in trouble. I didn't make this mess and you know it," Andy said. "I was in school all day. We got on and off the bus together."
"Then who did?" Rachel asked.
How would I know? Andy thought, but that's not what he said. Instead he joked, "Who did? It was my teacher, Ms. Roman. She found out I was the one who spilled the doughnut holes all over her desk and she's getting even."
"Spilled doughnut holes on her desk," Tamika said. "That's funny."
"Well, this mess isn't funny," Rachel said. "Maybe a raccoon came down the chimney. I've heard they do that."
Rachel and Tamika cautiously walked in. They quietly put their book bags down, stood by the front door, and looked around.
Andy wasn't cautious at all. He walked right past them to the kitchen.
"Hey," he called. "Look in here."
The breakfast dishes were still on the table. The milk and juice containers were out. Mr. and Mrs. Russell's cups still had coffee in them.
"Mom and Dad rushed off," Rachel said. "Maybe Mom is having the baby and that's why the house is a mess."
"The baby!" Andy shouted. "My brother was born! My brother, Evan, was born!" He threw the newspaper into the air. "Two Russell boys and one Russell girl." He pointed to Rachel and laughed. "You're the odd one. It's a boys' house now."
"Maybe," Rachel said, "and maybe not. Maybe the baby is a girl."
"No it's not. I mean no he's not. The doctor said it's a boy. Mom took that test."
"The test might be wrong," Rachel explained. "We'll have to wait until the baby is born to be sure. She might be a girl. Then you'll be the odd one. You're the odd one, anyway."
"I am not odd. I'm just exuberant. Dad said so."
Tamika interrupted them. "Let's look for a note. Your parents must have left a note."
"There's nothing on the counter," Andy said.
"And nothing on the refrigerator," Tamika added.
"They were probably in too much of a rush to write a note," Rachel said. "But maybe they called from the hospital and left a message." She pushed the PLAY button on the answering machine.
Hello, the machine said. You have six messages. Then the tape began to rewind.
"This is your first message," Andy announced. Then he said "Hello" in a pretend baby's voice. "This is your new brother talking. GET ME OUT OF HERE. GET ME OUT OF THIS HOSPITAL!"
"You think a baby can talk," Rachel said. "You probably think the baby will go to school with us and help you with your homework."
"Sure he will. We Russell guys are pretty smart."
"Hello? Hello? Are you there, Anne? This is Jacob Kamen. Are you in the hospital? If I don't hear from you soon I'll get a substitute for your classes."
Mrs. Russell was a high school math teacher.
"Charles? Charles? This is Bob. Where are you? Please, call and tell me what's going on."
"He's Dad's boss," Rachel told Tamika. Mr. Russell was a carpenter.
"Carol? Carol? This is Jake. I know you're there. Please, pick up the telephone."
"There's no Carol here," Andy told the answering machine. "You have the wrong number."
Jake said, "Come on, Carol."
"Didn't you hear me?" Andy asked. "There's no Carol here."
"Poor Jake," Tamika sighed.
"And poor Carol," Rachel added. "I bet she's waiting for his call."
"I'm sorry you feel like that," Jake said. "Please, call me if you want to talk."
Text copyright © 2005 by David A. Adler
Illustrations copyright © 2005 by Leanne Franson
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