Ramona The Brave
The Hole in the House
Although Ramona was standing with her nose pressed against the front window, she was wild with impatience. She was impatient for school to start. She was impatient because no matter how many times her mother telephoned, the workmen had not come to start the new room, and if they did not start the new room, how was Ramona going to astound the first grade by telling them about the hole chopped in the house? She was impatient because she had nothing to do.
"Ramona, how many times do I have to tell you not to rub your nose against the window? You smudge the glass." Mrs. Quimby sounded as if she too looked forward to the begining of school.
Ramona's answer was, "Mother! Here comes Howie. With bricks!"
"Oh, dear," said Mrs. Quimby.
Ramona ran out to meet Howie, who was trudging down Klickitat Street pulling his little red wagon full of old bricks, the very best kind for playing Brick Factory, because they were old and broken with the corners crumbled away. "Where did you get them?" asked Ramona, who knew how scarce old bricks were in their neighborhood.
"At my grandmother's," said Howie. "A bulldozer was smashing some old houses so somebody could build a shopping center, and the man told me I could pick up the broken bricks."
"Let's get started," said Ramona, running to the garage and returning with two big rocks she and Howie used in playing Brick Factory, a simple but satisfying game. Each grasped a rock in both hands and with it pounded a brick into pieces and the pieces into smithereens. The pounding was hard, tiring work. Pow! Pow! Pow! Then they reduced ths smithereens to dust. Crunch, crunch, crunch. They were no longer six-year-olds. They were the strongest people in the world. They were giants.
When the driveway was thick with red dust, Ramona dragged out the hose and pretended that a terrible flood was washing away the Brick Factory in a stream of red mud. "Run, Howie! Run before it gets you!" screamed Ramona. She was mighty Ramona, brave and strong. Howie's sneakers left red footprints, but he did not really run away. He only ran to the next driveway and back. Then the two began the game all over again. Howie's short blond hair turned rusty red. Ramona's brown hair only looked dingy.
Ramona, who was usually impatient with Howie because he always took his time and refused to get excited, found him an excellent Brick Factory player. He was strong, and his pounding was hard and steady. They met each day on the Q's driveway to play their game. Their arms and shoulders ached. They had Band-Aids on their blisters, but they pounded on.
Mrs. Quimby decided that when Ramona was playing Brick Factory she was staying out of trouble. however, she did ask several times why the game could not be played on Howie's driveway once in a while. Howie always explained that his mother had a headach or that his little sister Willa Jean was taking a nap.
"That is the dumbest game in the world," said Beezus, who spent her time playing jacks with Mary Jane when she was not reading. "Why do you call your game Brick Factory? You aren't making bricks. You're wrecking them."
"We just do," said Ramona, who left rusty footprints on the kitchen floor, rusty fingerprints on the doors, and rusty streaks in the bathtub. Picky-picky spent a lot of time washing brick dust off his paws. Mrs. Quimby had to wash seperate loads of Ramona's clothes in the washing machine to prevent them from staining the rest of the laundry.
"Let the kids have their fun," said Mr. Quimby, when he came home tired from work. "At least, they're out in the sunshine."
He was not so tired he could not run when Ramona chased him with her rusty hands. "I'm going to get you, Daddy!" she shouted. "I'm going to get you!" He could run fast for a man who was thirty-three years old, but Ramona always caught him and threw her arms around him. He was not a father to worry about a little brick dust on his clothes. The neighbors all said Ramona was her fathers girl. There was no doubt about that.
"Oh, well, school will soon be starting," said Mrs. Quimby with a sigh.
And then one morening, before Ramona and Howie could remove their bricks from the garage, their game was ended by the arrival of two workmen in an old truck. The new room was actually going to be built! Summer was suddenly worthwhile. Brick Factory was forgotten as the two elderly workmen unloaded tools and marked foundation with string. Chunk! Chunk! Picks tore into the lawn while Mrs. Quimby rushed out to pick the zinnias before the plants were yanked out of the ground.
"That's where my new room is going to be," Ramona boasted to Howie.
"For six months, don't forget." Beezus still felt they should have drawn straws to see who would get it first.
Howie, who liked tools, spent all his time at the Quimby's watching. A trench was dug for the foundation, forms were built, concrete mixed and poured. Howie knew the name of every tool and how it was used. Howie was a great one for thinking things over and figuring things out. The workmen even let him try their tools. Ramona was not interested in tools or in thinking things over and figuring things out. She was interested in results. Fast.
When the workmen had gone hpme for the day and no one was looking, Ramona, who had been told not to touch the wet concrete, marked it with her special initial, a Q with ears and whiskers: . She had invented her own Q in kindergarten class after Miss Binney, the teacher, had told the class the letter Q had a tail. Why stop there? Ramona had thought. Now her in the concrete would make the room hers, even when Beezus's turn to use it came.
Mrs. Quimby watched advertisments in the newspaper and found a secondhand dresser and bookcasr for Ramona and a desk for Beezus, which she stored in the garage where she worked with sandpaper and paint to make them look like new. Neighbors dropped by to see what was going on. Howie's mother came with his messy little sister Willa Jean, who was the sort of child known as a toddler. Mrs. Kemp and Mrs. Quimby sat in the kitchen drinking coffee and discussing their chrildren while Beezus and Ramona defended their possessions from Willa Jean. This was what the grown-ups called playing with Willa Jean.
When the concrete was dry, the workmen returned for the exciting part. They took crowbars from their truck, and with a screeching of nails being pulled from wood, they pried siding off the house and knocked out the lath and plaster at the back of the vacuum-cleaner closer. There it was, a hole in the house! Ramona and Howie ran in through the back door, down the hall, and jumped out the hole, round and round, until the workmen said, "Get lost, kids, before you get hurt."
Ramona felt light with joy. A real hole in the house that was going to lead to her very-own-for-six-months room! She could hardly wait to go to school, because now, for the first time in her life, she had something really important to share with her class for Show and Tell! "My room, boom! My room, !" she sang.
"Be quiet, Ramona," said Beezus. "Can't you see I'm trying to read?"
Before the workmen left for the day, they nailed a sheet of plastic over the hole in the house. That night, after the sisters had gone to bed, Beezus whispered, "It's sort of scary, having a hole in the house." The edges of plastic rustled and flapped in the night breeze.
"Really scary." Ramona had been thinking the same thing. "Spooky." She planned to tell the first grade that she not only had a hole in her house, she had a spooky hole in her house.
"A ghost couldooze in between the nails," whispered Beezus.
"A cold clammy ghost," agreed Ramona with a delicious shiver.
"A cold clammy ghost that obbed in the night," elaborated Beezus, "and had icy fingers that --"
Ramona burrowed deeper into her bed and pulled her pillow over her ears. In a moment she emerged. "I know what would be better," she said. "A gorilla. A gorilla without bones that could ooze around the plastic --"
"Girls!" called Mrs. Quimby from the living room. "It's time to go to sleep."
Ramona's whisper could barely be heard. "-- and reached out with his cold, cold hand --"
"And grabbed us!" finsihed Beezus in her softest whisper. The sisters shivered with pleasure and were silent while Ramona's imagination continued. The boneless gorilla ghost could ooze under the closet door...let's see...and he could swing on the clothes bar...and in the morning when they opened the closet door to get their school clothes he would.... Ramona fell asleep before she could decide what the ghost would do.
If you notice any typos or spelling mistakes, or any errors at all, please e-mail me and let me know. I can't spot everything, and your help would be very appreaciated. Thank you!
All characters and stories are copyright © 1975 by Beverly Cleary.