It was Eddys birthday, so of course it should have been a good day.
And for Eddy it was a good day, because his birthday present was a bicycle, a new Timuri bike in Killer Tomato Red with rock shocks and compression damping and rear derailleur and rapid-fire shifters and twenty-one combinations of gears that worked with handlebar grips.
It was the bike he had hardly dared hope for, it was so expensive. But Uncle Freddy and Aunt Alex had found the money somewhere. When Eddy came running down in the morning, there it was in the front hall, shiny and red and beautiful.
He took it out before breakfast and raced up Walden Street to the center of Concord, whizzed around the corner of Main Street to the library, veered left on Sudbury Road, and sped home by way of Stow Street and Everett.
All the way around he hoped to see admiring glances from the sidewalk, but the only person who noticed him was his old friend Oliver Winslow. Oliver saw Eddy on his new bike and whistled through his teeth.
But of course there was another reason why it was a good day. The other reason began in the middle of the afternoon, when the telephone rang.
Aunt Alex had been waiting and waiting. Her voice trembled as she said, "Hello?" And then she gasped, "Oh, thank you, thank you. Im so glad."
And then she dropped the phone because Uncle Freddy himself was walking in the front door.
Aunt Alex threw her arms around him. "You won, you won!"
Uncle Freddy beamed and kissed her and said, "Well, as a matter of fact, I guess I did."
Eddy ran in from the back porch, where he had been tinkering with his bike. "You won, Uncle Freddy? You beat old man Preek?" He dropped to his knees and threw up his arms. "Bow down, ye nations! Bow down before Selectman Frederick Hall!"
"Oh, Eddy, dont be stupid," said Eleanor, clattering down the stairs. But she was grinning too. "Oh, Uncle Freddy, congratulations."
It was true. Uncle Freddy had beaten the other candidate for the office of Concord selectman. He would now be a member of the board that ran the town.
But it had been a fierce and nasty campaign. His opponent, Ralph Preek, had accused Uncle Freddy of everything awful.
The most dangerous was that he wouldnt know how to handle the town budget of forty million dollars, whereas he, Ralph Q. Preek, was the manager of a bank and an expert on financial affairs.
Mr. Preeks attacks had not worked. Yesterday most of the voters had gone quietly into the Hunt Gym and all the other Concord voting places and chosen Frederick Hall as their new selectman.
"Oh, Fred, Im so glad," said Aunt Alex, her eyes wet with tears.
But then Uncle Freddys smile faded, and he said solemnly, "He wont forgive me, you know. Hell get back at us somehow, just wait and see."
"But what could he possibly do?" said Aunt Alex.
"I dont know. Hell think of something."
The bad thing didnt happen until everyone in the house was sound asleep.
Eddys new birthday bike was gone.
Horrified, he stared around the front porch. Last night he had left it leaning against the railing. This morning it wasnt there.
There was nothing on the porch but the electric lawn mower with its coil of orange cable and a bag of chicken feed and a bamboo rake with missing teeth.
Eddys new Timuri bike with rock shocks and compression damping and rear derailleur and rapid-fire shifters and twenty-one combinations of gears was gone, all gone.
He went rampaging through the house, looking for Aunt Alex and Uncle Freddy. Or Eleanor! Maybe Eleanor had taken it. He wouldnt put it past her.
The Time Bike, Copyright (c) 2000 by Jane Langton. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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