MAD IN PURSUIT
Chapter 5 :: Maxey Goes to Rose's House
When Maxey's dad came home Tom started jumping all over him.
Dad said, "Tom, chill out. I'm only your dad, not a trampoline, you know."
"Fine, dad," said Tommy, but he walked away sadly.
"Jack!" said Grandpa, "I want you to quit that job. You can't spend much time with your kids. Now I have been sitting here for four hours -- 4 P.M. to 8 and the kids have to get ready for school tomorrow."
"No, Dad, that's not true. I spend the time I have off with them and that is Saturday and Sunday and every day from 8:30 to 9:00. I thought Maggie was supposed to be home by now."
"She is, but the poor girl is dead on her feet. She's asleep. Bye," Grandpa said.
After Grandpa left, Jack Malloy had Maxey make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the three of them. Then he gave Tommy a bath and put him to bed.
Finally, when everything was quiet, Maxey said, "Dad, I'm worried about something."
"So what's new? What is it now, Maxey?"
Just then the phone rang. The police were calling to say there had been another murder. Maggie would have to get back to work. Jack went to wake up Maggie, then started making her some coffee. Maxey made her mother a sandwich. Jack turned on the radio and made some phone calls. In the excitement, everyone forgot about Maxey's worries.
At school the next day, Maxey saw Rose in the schoolyard and she yelled, "Rose, wait up!"
She stopped and turned around.
Oh my gosh, Maxey thought to herself, Rose had a black eye.
"Rose, didn't you think homework was hard last night?"
"I don't know, really. I didn't do it."
"Oh," Maxey said. "Hey, maybe I can spend the night at your house."
"No, but you can come over after school and we can do our homework together."
"Okay," said Maxey.
"Oh, and Maxey, can I call you 'Max'?" she asked.
"Sure, can I call you 'Ro'?"
"Okay. By the way, what happened to your eye?"
"This boy hit me. And then my mother broke her arm trying to carry a weight. Well, let's get to class before we are late."
Maxey was excited about going to Rose's house. Since no one paid attention to her worries about Rose, she decided to solve the mystery herself.
When they got to Rose's house, Maxey looked around carefully. The inside was a mess. It also smelled as bad as the man she met outside. The curtains were all closed. In the living room a skinny woman with her arm in a cast laid on the couch. She was drinking whiskey from the bottle. The television was on, but the sound was low and the picture was rolling and fuzzy.
"Hello, mother," Rose said. "This is my new friend Maxey."
"Hmf. What's she here for?"
"We're going to do homework together."
"If she knows what's good for her, she won't be here when your old man gets back." Then she closed her eyes.
"Nice meeting you, Mrs. Larue," Maxey mumbled as Rose pulled her out of the room.
They went upstairs to Rose's bedroom and started their homework while they sat on the floor. But Maxey couldn't concentrate. She kept listening for Rose's "old man." Suddenly, something ran across her leg. Something gray and warm. She screamed.
"Don't worry, Max. It was just a little mouse. We have lots of them. Sometimes I lie in bed and watch them play on the floor. They're cute. It's the rats that are ugly."
"Uh, maybe I should go home now, Ro."
"But we just got started. Please stay longer."
The front door crashed open, then banged shut. Heavy footsteps pounded across the floor downstairs.
Maxey said, "Okay, Ro, I'll stay, but I have to go to the bathroom. Where is it?"
"Just down the hall."
Maxey slipped out of the bedroom and shut the door behind her. Slowly, she crept down the stairs. When she came to the landing, she peeked around the corner. Mr. Larue -- the man that Maxey had met in the yard -- was talking to Mrs. Larue.
"That Bald Billy is a skunk. Has me do his dirty work for him, then doesn't pay me off. But I showed him. I showed him. Nobody can play games with Pete Larue and get away with it."
Rose's mother groaned.
"Now get off that couch, woman, and get me some eats or I'll break your other arm."
With another groan, Mrs. Larue got up and shuffled into the kitchen. Maxey softly ran back upstairs and into Rose's room. Her heart was pounding.
They finished their science homework, then played a game of checkers. At five o'clock, Mrs. Larue called Rose down to dinner.
"You better go, Max. My father doesn't like strangers. Here, I'll show you the secret way out."
She opened her bedroom window and pointed to a rusty fire escape. "Be careful," she said. "Some of the steps are loose. At the bottom it turns into a ladder."
Maxey caught her tights on a nail on the window sill and tore a hole in the knee. Then her sweater caught on a broken part of the banister and she nearly fell off. When she finally got to the ladder, her legs felt weak and rubbery. She got on her knees and twisted around and tried to reach the rung with her foot. She found it. Then the next one. The old iron was rough and scratched her hands. When the ladder ended, she was still about four feet from the ground. Maxey jumped. She rolled into the high weeds, then got to her feet. She ran all the way home.