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June 27, 2010

'Young Tom Flooey'

Special thanks to Carolyn Le for her illustration. To view more of her work, visit carolynle.com.

June 27, 2010|By Daniel Maclaine
  • "Young Tom Flooey"
"Young Tom Flooey" (Carolyn Le )

Young Tom Flooey slept with one eye open. He was not afraid of monsters or maniacs; not vampires, werewolves, goblins or ghosts. Tom Flooey knew there were no boogeymen under the bed; no creatures with claws in the closet.

What made Tom lie awake was his older brother Sam.

Sam Flooey was worse than any made-up monster. Sam spied on him and took his toys. Sam did everything to make Tom's life miserable.

If Tom had a secret to keep — Sam would spill it. If Tom had candy to eat, Sam would steal it. Yesterday, Tom dropped a strawberry donut he saved all day. Sam had squished and squashed it.

What made Tom Flooey maddest of all, what caused his teeth to grind and his nose to crinkle, was that Sam was the fastest big brother around. Sam darted and dashed on lightning legs — even the Flooey family feline 'Furball' had no chance of catching Sam.

So, one day when a special letter addressed to Mr. Tom Flooey arrived, Tom watched in dismay as Sam snatched it from the postman's hand.

"Give it!" Tom yelled.

Sam stuck out his tongue. He raced around the house, under the ladder and into the cellar. Tom Flooey could only stand and watch, stamp his foot — which stomped a flower. When Mom saw it she would rant and rave. Tom would hem and haw. She would not understand that Sam caused it all.

That night, Sam slept, snuggled and snored. He kept the letter hidden. Tom lay in his bed. He stared and smiled. He snickered and schemed. Tom knew a secret. He knew something that Sam could never have dreamed.

In the morning, Tom flipped his feet to the floor. Sam's bed was empty so he ran to the door.

"I'll be out back, Mom," Tom yelled over his shoulder.

Mom called from the kitchen, "You remember your chores, Tom Flooey!"

Tom scampered around the house where he saw Sam coming from the cellar carrying a box. The yard was already filled with stacks and stacks. Tom smiled and Sam sweated. This was too good to be true.

Tom stuck his head out from behind the hedge. "Whatcha doin', Sam?"

"Mind your business!" Sam snapped. He wiped his brow and sat in the middle. The tower of boxes teetered and almost toppled. Sam looked up, holding the letter. "I don't understand! I can't do any better!"

Tom and Sam's mom came into the back. She held up her hands and said with a shriek. "Oh Tom Flooey, you did what I asked!"

From her apron pocket she took out a twenty. She gave it to Tom. "You earned it because you sure worked plenty!"

Tom snapped the bill and put it in his pocket. He pointed at Sam. "Look what I got for cleaning the cellar!"

Sam scowled and pulled out the note, "But…but….the letter I stole?"

Tom thrust out his chest. "Oh you mean, the letter I wrote?"

Sam threw it to the ground and stomped away. Tom picked it up and read his masterpiece:

Dear Tom Flooey,

In the cellar there is a special box. It has no label and no locks. In it Grandpa put dollars, dimes and two-bits. To claim it as yours, just use your wits. Move the boxes one by one and never despair. I promise you the treasure is there!

From that day forward, Tom's life was more fun. Sam's teasing and torment were finally done. There was a spring in his step as the weeks and months passed — because young Tom Flooey had finally laughed last.

Special thanks to Carolyn Le for her illustration. To view more of her work, visit carolynle.com.

Special thanks to Carolyn Le for this week's illustration. To see more of her work, visit carolynle.com.

For more Kids' Reading Room visit latimes.com/kids.

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