My Life and Other Stuff That Went Wrong

About the Book

Is your grandpa super-angry? Has your nan ever tried to climb Mt Everest? Have you started your own playground freak show? And have you ever risked your life to save your pet rat from certain destruction?

I have. I'm Tom Weekly and this is my life. Inside the covers of this book you'll read lots of weird-funny-gross stories and learn the secret of my strangest body part. But I guarantee that won't freak you out as much as the story of how Stella Holling, a girl who's been in love with me since second grade, tricked me into kissing her.

Praise for
My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up

‘A serious dose of pant-wetting, cringeworthy stories … and we love 'em!' DMag

‘A sort of Aussie tall-tale version of Jeff Kinney's
Diary of a Wimpy Kid.'
Booklist

‘Equal parts absurd and raucous, and sometimes a little gross.' School Library Journal

 

Hey,

I'm Tom Weekly, and this is my life. I write stuff down and draw pictures to make sense of all the crazy stuff that happens to me. Like when Jack and I started a freak show in the playground, and when Stella Holling tried to kiss me, and when my nan decided she was going to climb Mt Everest.

So here it is … my second book of weird, funny, sometimes gross stories. (Whatever you do, don't read the first book. It'll give you dumb ideas that adults will not appreciate. Like eating sixty-seven hot dogs in ten minutes. Or building a teleporter. Or pretending you have appendicitis to get out of detention with your school librarian.)

My friend Raph has a story in this book, too. If you want to send me a message or a joke or one of your own weird stories that I could stick in my next book, I'm at:

[email protected]

Giddyup.

Tom

‘Roll up! Roll up! He's the most hideous freak you have ever laid eyes on! He's disgusting! He's disgraceful! He will make you vomit!'

‘Settle down,' I whisper to Jack through the thin red curtain.

‘What?' Jack asks, poking his head inside.

‘You don't have to say they'll vomit.'

Jack rolls his eyes and shuts the curtain. ‘You will not vomit!' he announces in the same ringmaster voice. He goes on to use words like ‘gasp' and ‘horror' and, ‘This lunchtime only. Just two dollars!'

I am sitting inside a small red teepee that
Jack and I have built under the trees at the far end of the bottom playground. The teepee is made of long, straight branches and a red sheet from my house.

Jack thinks this pop-up freak show will make us wealthy beyond our wildest dreams, and I need cash to buy a birthday present for Sasha, something that will convince her to go out with me again. I want to prove to her that I'm not selfish and weird like she says.

‘You ready for the first customer?' Jack asks, poking his head back inside.

I look at my socked foot, nervous.

‘I guess,' I say.

Jack whips open the curtain and says, ‘Welcome! Welcome!'

Brent Bunder appears. He is a giant bulldozer of a kid with diggers for hands. He fills the teepee.

‘Take a seat,' I squeak.

Brent Bunder lowers himself awkwardly
onto one of the kindergarten chairs we have borrowed. It strains and moans under his weight.

‘This better be good,' he grunts. He is red-faced and sweaty, like he just guzzled a bottle of hot chilli sauce. He looks uncomfortable, crammed into the tiny space. I want to run but I can hear Jack outside dropping another coin into his lunch box.

So I slowly peel my limp, grey sock down over my ankle. Over my heel. Down my foot. Brent watches on as I close my eyes and reveal my toes.

Silence.

I open one eye.

And there it is.

My foot.

One. Two. Three. Four.

Four toes. Slightly webbed. Like a cartoon duck. It has been that way since birth. I have never really shown anyone
apart from Jack and my family. My sister says it is proof that I'm a mutant from another planet.

Brent Bunder looks on, expressionless.

‘There are only four,' I explain helpfully. Brent Bunder isn't exactly top of our year in maths.

Still nothing.

‘There are meant to be five,' I say.

He pokes my toes with one gigantic finger, like he is checking that they are real, that I haven't bought them from a magic shop.

Eventually he says, ‘So what? You're deformed. Is that what I paid two bucks for? Now I can't buy an iceblock, and I'm hot.'

‘Well …' I say, looking up at him. He does look hot. His face is speckled with tiny beads of sweat.

‘I want my money back.'

‘Sure. No problem,' I say.

Jack's face appears through the gap in the sheet behind Brent. He shakes his head and
mouths the words, ‘No way.'

I look at Brent. Angry, sweaty, bulldozer Brent. He could crush me like a can. How can I make this worth two dollars?

‘Would you believe a bear bit it off?' I say, half-joking.

‘What?'

‘Well …' My mind whirrs, scanning for ideas. ‘When I was little we lived in Canada and … I was two years old and playing down by the creek at the back of my house, and this … black bear, a big one, came along and …'

Brent Bunder looks totally suspicious.

‘And he started growling at me, but he was over the other side of the creek. And I crawled away but this grizzly –'

‘You said it was a black bear,' Brent says.

‘This black bear started swimming across the creek, and when he reached my side he … attacked me,' I explain.

‘Attacked?'

‘Well, he bit me. On the foot. Bit the toe clean off. My mum heard screaming and she ran down to the creek. When she saw the blood dripping down the bear's chin and the missing toe, she fainted and –'

‘Bears have chins?' Brent questions.

‘Well, yeah, the furry bit just below their mouth.' Brent leans forward, looking me in the eye. ‘And my big sister picked me up and ran two k's to the hospital, and they stitched me up. That's why the toes are sort of webbed. Because of the stitches.'

Brent fixes me with a distant look, like he's replaying parts of the story in his mind. ‘What happened to the bear?' he asks.

‘Um … I d'know. It went off into the forest and … maybe it ate some other kid's toe. Maybe it wanted the complete set,' I suggest. ‘Y'know. Collect all five!'

I hold his glare, waiting for him to punch me really hard in the nose or rip the teepee
apart in a rage. But, instead, he says, ‘You're a freak, mate. I love it.' He stands and turns to go. ‘Oh, by the way, I want a third of the profits.'

‘Why?'

‘Because I'm big and you're small.'

‘Fair enough,' I say.

‘I'll be back at the end of lunch to collect.' Then he ducks outside. ‘It's awesome!' he announces to the other kids. ‘You wait till you hear how it happened.'

And that is it. From then on, I am unstoppable. I tell each kid a different story and swear them to secrecy. The tales get taller every time.

‘A shark bit it off,' I tell Morgan Brett.

‘As if. How?' he asks.

‘My dad's a fisherman. For the first two years of my life we lived on a trawler at sea, and one day he netted a shark about a metre-and-a-half, two-metres long.'

‘Get out.'

‘The shark slipped out of the net and slid across the boat's deck. I was crawling around, playing with my jack-in-the-box, and the
shark's mouth came to rest right near my foot.'

His eyes widen. I make a chomping sound and a snapping motion with my hands. Morgan is gobsmacked.

‘Next!' Jack shouts.

And so it goes.

I tell Millie Randall my toe was trapped in a piece of machinery.

Another kid, that a flesh-eating disease rotted it off.

Caught in the spokes of a motorbike.

Trampled by a horse's hoof.

Hacked off by a chainsaw.

Lost in a bet.

Jack warns me to pull back on the stories,
but I'm on a roll. By the time the last kid leaves the teepee near the end of lunch, we have fifty-eight dollars in cold, hard change. For the first time in his life, Jack was right: we are rich!

I have just started packing up the chairs when Sasha pokes her head into the teepee.

Sasha. The cutest girl in Australia. My ex-girlfriend.

‘Hey, Tom,' she says, real sweet. White jumper, hair in a ponytail, eyes like blue sky.

‘Hi,' I say.

‘What's the freaky thing that everyone's talking about?'

‘Nothin'.'

‘I want to know. I've paid my money.'

There is no way I can show Sasha my freaky foot.

‘Jack, we have to make a refund,' I call out. ‘The bell's about to go.'

Jack pokes his head through the curtain
next to Sasha. ‘It's okay. We still have time.'

‘No we don't.'

‘Yes we do.'

‘Don't.'

‘Do.' He mouths the word ‘sixty' to me.

Sixty bucks. That's how much we will have if I show Sasha my missing toe. A nice round sixty. Twenty for Jack, twenty for me, twenty for Brent Bunder, the filthy scoundrel. Four weeks' pocket money for one hour's work. Enough to buy Sasha's present.

‘Are you going to show me or not?' she asks.

‘Just give me a moment,' I say.

I slip out of the teepee to find Jack and Brent waiting for me.

‘I am not showing Sasha,' I say.

‘Show her or I'm keeping the money,' Jack replies.

‘What?'

‘It was my idea.'

‘It's my foot!'

Brent makes a throat-slitting motion with one of his giant sausage fingers and points towards the teepee.

So I scowl and go inside.

I sit down.

Me and Sasha. And the toe. The missing toe.

‘What's so bad?' she asks.

‘You'll see.'

I start to peel the sock down.

What should I tell her? The truth? Or one of my stories? I don't want to mess this up. I don't want to ruin my plan of marrying Sasha and having three kids and a Labradoodle and a house overlooking the ocean with secret passages and revolving bookcases.

Over the ankle, over the heel.

Don't do it
, I think.

Sasha looks on, fascinated.

Over the foot, over the toes and …

There they are in all their freakish glory.

Boom.

Sasha stares. Little creases appear in her forehead.

‘How did it happen?' she asks quietly.

Um
, I think. I don't want to lie to her but she deserves a good story, a better story than anyone, just for being Sasha. ‘I was born like
that' just isn't worth two dollars. So I open up my mind and the story seems to fall from the sky.

‘When I was four my sister's guinea pig escaped from its hutch,' I say, intense, serious. ‘But this was no ordinary guinea pig. It was
twice
the size of a regular one. Feral. I think she found it in the bush. I was in the sandpit playing cars one day and I heard its claws on the concrete path. I turned and saw it coming for me. I backed off into the corner of the pit. I threw a Matchbox car at the beast, but it just raised a paw and batted it away. I screamed but Mum was out front cleaning the car and didn't hear me. It climbed up on the wooden edge of the sandpit and reared up on its back legs, like a wrestler ready to launch
himself off the top turnbuckle. I freaked and ran. It chased me across the grass, up the back steps and halfway across the veranda, then it pounced, ripping my toe out of the socket with its razor-sharp teeth. I screamed and clutched my foot as it retreated to its hutch to pick the flesh off the bone and digest its gruesome meal.'

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