Joseph Anderson Donetti
Comes to Oregon
Joseph Anderson Donetti -- Comes to Oregon, Chapter 6
Harvey the Third
Joseph Anderson Donetti was speechless. Well, maybe he wouldn't have been speechless, but the kid next door (who turned out to be a girl!) didn't give him a chance to say much of anything.
"My name's Mac," she said. "It's really MacKenzie, but everyone calls me Mac. I know your name—it's Joseph. Joseph Anderson Donetti. It's kind of a mouthful. Joseph Anderson Donetti. It's kind of musical too. A musical mouthful!" She giggled.
"Mac!" a voice hollered from below. "I know you're up there. I would recognize that laugh anywhere!" Joseph and Mac heard footsteps coming up the stairs. "You didn't come in the front door. You didn't come in the back door. How did you get up here?" the voice continued. G.M. appeared in the doorway.
Joseph looked at G.M. He looked at Mac. Mac looked a little guilty.
"Well, Mrs. Anderson, you know I'm planning to be a firefighter. And that takes lots and lots of practice. I brought over my ladder to practice climbing in second-story windows. It's a very important skill for firefighters, you know." Mac paused.
"Oh, Mac, you're irrepressible." G.M. sighed.
"What's that, Mrs. Anderson? What's irrepressible?"
"Look it up," G.M. said. "There's a dictionary in the bookcase. And then you can show Joseph the rest of the house." She turned and left.
"Whew!" Mac breathed. "I was sure she'd be really mad at me for coming in the window. But she didn't even tell me not to do it again! That's good, you know. Because I probably will want to do it again, and if she'd told me not to, I wouldn't have been able to because I am trying to live a responsible life. And that's hard!" Mac pulled the dictionary from the bookcase and plopped herself on the bed. "I wonder how you spell 'irrepressible,'" she muttered.
Joseph took a breath. "I-r-r-e-p-r-e-s-s-i-b-l-e," he spelled slowly. "I'm a good speller, but I don't know what it means."
Mac thumbed through the dictionary pages. "Here it is. Irrepressible means uncontrollable, free, unconfined, excitable," she read. "Hummm. Uncontrollable is not a good thing." She frowned. "Free and excitable are good though. I think maybe I am excitable," she said. "Are you?"
"You talk more than anyone I know," Joseph said.
"You must not know very many people," Mac retorted. "I thought you were from the city."
"I live in a huge city!" Joseph exclaimed. "I've never even been in such a little town as this! And you still talk more than anyone I know!"
"Well, I'm irrepressible," Mac said. She slid off the bed. "Aren't you supposed to be unpacking?"
Joseph quickly unzipped the flowered suitcase. "I forgot."
"What's this?" Mac asked. She grabbed the book that was sitting on top of Joseph's folded clothes. "It's a book about lizards! Do you like lizards? I love lizards! I have a lizard at home in my old fish tank. There's no water in it now because lizards live on dry land, not in water. I've had my lizard for a long time. His name is Harvey. Actually, it's Harvey the Third because he's the third lizard I've had for a pet. I let the other two go. Do you have a lizard?"
Joseph blinked. Talking with Mac was not easy. She asked so many questions before she stopped talking that he didn't know which one to answer first. And he had the feeling that if he didn't jump in quickly with some words of his own, she would just keep going, asking questions forever.
"I don't have a lizard," he said. "But I wish I did."
"Well, when you finish unpacking, you can come over to my house and meet Harvey. He'll probably like you right away. He doesn't like everybody, but I'm pretty sure he'll like you."
Joseph carried piles of clothes from his suitcase to the dresser drawers. "This was my mother's room once," he said.
"I know," Mac answered. "She lived here all her life. And then one day she ran away. I wonder why she ran away." Mac stuck her head out the window and looked around.
Joseph stopped. He looked at Mac. "My mother ran away? Why did she do that?" he asked.
"Yes," Mac answered. She turned around. "Don't you know?"
Joseph shook his head. "She didn't tell me," he said. All of a sudden the angry feelings he had forgotten about for a while started churning again in his stomach. If his mother had run away from this very house and from his grandmother, why had she sent him here? Joseph felt tired and confused.
"Well, you can ask your grandmother. I'm sure she will tell you all about it." Mac's voice interrupted his thoughts. "Hurry up! I've got things to show you!"
Joseph dumped the last of his clothes in the dresser. He zipped the suitcase back up and set it in the closet.
"Come on!" Mac said. She darted into the hall. "I'll show you the house quickly. Then we can go play with Harvey." She pointed to the room across the hall. "That's your grandmother's bedroom. She led the way down the steep stairs, jumping two or three steps at a time.
Joseph followed more cautiously.
"Mrs. Anderson!" Mac called. "Joseph likes lizards too! Can he come to my house and meet Harvey the Third?"
"Sure," G.M. said.
Joseph and Mac followed the sound of her voice into the large room at the bottom of the stairs. The room looked like it was meant to be a living room. But it didn't look like any living room Joseph had ever been in. G.M. sat at a big table in front of the windows. She dipped her paintbrush into a glass of water and then applied a bit of paint to the tip of it. She bent over her work. "Just make sure you find your way home for supper," she said.
Joseph walked over to the table and looked over G.M.'s shoulder. She had drawn a bouquet of wildflowers in a jar, and now she was painting one of the poppies bright orange. Joseph looked back at Mac. Suddenly he understood why G.M. had described the kid next door the way she did. "If I were going to paint a portrait of the kid next door," she'd said, "I'd use a lot of red and yellow." G.M. was an artist.