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September 25, 2023

I, Muffin 7

By Leo Siegel and Ron Singer

Chapter Seven: Binocular Spies

Of course, the embarrassment did not last long. Within a few days, they were arguing again. This time, Bagel said, "He only said that to end the argument. Who knows what he really thinks? Who knows what he even eats for breakfast?"

"Hmm," said Muffin. "You know what, B.? I have a plan." And he explained.

Two days later, when Leo sat down to breakfast in his third-floor apartment three blocks from the Bakery Building, Muffin and Bagel were ready. In the doorway of a vacant store across the street, they had set up a big telescope on a tripod. Now they watched as people left the building on their way to work. Were Leo's parents among them? Taking turns, the spies saw their friend sit down in his kitchen, the window of which faced the telescope. The moment of truth arrived. Leo began eating a big bowl of Cheerios with milk and sliced banana. But there was nothing else on the table, not a single baked good, not even a tiny cracker or a slice of dry burnt toast.

In a way, they were both glad -- and both not glad -- because no one had won yet. When Leo left the kitchen to get ready for school, they quickly packed up and went home. That afternoon, across the street again, they watched the tall boy return to his building. Quickly, they put the telescope back in place. This time, they saw him eat some Goldfish crackers with a glass of orange juice -- but no bagel, no muffin. Was it going to be a tie?

For four more days, the rest of the school week, morning and afternoon, the rivals spied on Leo. No change. On Friday evening, they returned to watch for a third time that day, thinking he would surely have a baked good for dessert after supper. But this time, just as his mother was serving the family what looked like chocolate ice cream, a doorman came rushing out of the building. Blowing a red whistle, he charged across the street like an angry rhinoceros.

"Hey, you two! Get outta here before I call the cops! What are you baked bums doing there, getting ready to rob an apartment in my building? Oh, no, you don't!"

And blowing his whistle, he charged straight at them. Grabbing the tripod, Bagel whirled off down the block. Muffin looked up at Leo's window one last time. Since he had already grabbed the telescope and was starting to spin away, he couldn't be sure, but he thought he saw Leo peep around the curtain with a big smile on his face. Did the boy wink at him? Luckily, the doorman was out-of-shape, a slow runner, so they were able to escape.

Safely back in Muffin's room, they were shaking from their narrow escape. "That's that," said Bagel. "That jerky doorman will be looking out for us now. No more spying."

"Nope," replied Muffin. "But do you know what, Bagel? The whole week we watched, Leo ate not a single baked good, except for those Goldfish every day after school."

"Maybe he has food allergies," suggested Bagel.

"No, I've seen him eating things like sandwiches before." Muffin thought about the smile and the wink. "Maybe he knew we were watching."

Muffin was right. The very first morning, Leo had peeped around the curtain of the kitchen window and seen them setting up the telescope. After that, all baked goods -- jelly donuts, toast with butter and cinnamon, and -- yes -- several kinds of muffins and bagels were consumed at the kitchen counter, out of sight of the window.

Article © Leo Siegel and Ron Singer. All rights reserved.
Published on 2020-01-13
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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