Read an Excerpt
My name is Robert Columbo Burnside, and I have a problem. There, I said it. Although I really should have said, “My name is Robert Columbo Burnside, and I have a lot of problems.” For starters, I’m not completely sure how to begin this book.
My sister, Libby, is another problem. She’s constantly obnoxious and usually staring at herself in the mirror.
I’m also bothered by my younger brother, Kevin. We call him Tuffin because when I was little I couldn’t pronounce his name right, so I said Tuffin. The problem with him is that my mom insists on telling everyone the story about his name. Two days ago, when our new neighbor came over to borrow some sugar, my mom went out of her way to embarrass me.
I think that’s why parents were created, to embarrass us. Not that I don’t like my mom and dad, but they’re still a problem. I mean my mom calls me Ribert, and if she’s not humiliating me, she’s sleeping.
And my dad’s a problem because he’s constantly happy, even when things seem bad. He sells playground equipment to schools and cities, and he always wears a suit and tie. He loves his job.
My pets are sort of a problem. I have a fat dog named Puck, who whines and eats a lot, and a parrot named Fred. Fred escaped from his cage years ago, and we couldn’t catch him. Now he just spends his days flying around the house and pooping on everything.
My friends are definitely a problem. For example, just last week we accidentally broke the photo booth at the mall, and my dad had to pay two hundred dollars to get it fixed.
I guess you’re not supposed to have more than three people in the booth at a time. Now my dad has me cleaning things that don’t need cleaning just to pay him back.
My neighbor Janae is a problem. Okay, she isn’t really a problem, but her not being interested in me kind of is. We’re on much better terms since the dramatic poetry contest. Still, whenever I see her, I feel like every joint in my body stops working, and I come unhinged.
I think one of my biggest problems is that I have to keep writing stuff down. It’s not something I would normally do. I mean, to be completely honest …
It’s also sort of a bummer that I’m not even getting a grade for all these words. It’s like I’m doing an extra-credit project for no reason. Still, I know I have to document what is happening to me, because someday the world will need to know about the very biggest problem of all, MY CLOSET.
My closet used to be normal. It didn’t have a door, and I used to sit inside of it and play with my homemade science lab. Then my dad found an old door at a garage sale. I think there’s a good chance it’s the heaviest door in the world—my arms get sore just opening it. It also has a gold doorknob with a small bearded man I call Beardy engraved on it.
I’m not sure I like Beardy; he’s always looking at me weird. Once when I was gazing out my window and accidentally staring at Janae riding her bike with her friends, Beardy gave me a really smug look.
These days, however, Beardy’s not the oddest thing about my closet. The oddest thing began a short while ago when my mom forced me to clean my room. To make the job easier, I just shoved everything into my closet and shut the door. The new stuff mixed with the old lab supplies and the many books my mom was always giving me to read. A short while later my closet began to make disturbing noises.
When my best friend, Trevor, and I tried to figure out what was happening, we couldn’t get the door open. We tried to bust it down and pound off the knob, but nothing worked. Finally it popped open on its own, and there was Wonkenstein, a small, half Willy Wonka, half Frankenstein creature that caused me a lot of grief but also made things pretty exciting.
As soon as Wonk came out, my closet locked up. I tried everything to get it open, but Beardy kept it shut tight. I’m not positive what happens in there. My best guess is that all the lab supplies and all the books have begun to mingle. I think science chemicals are dripping down into the books and bringing mixed-up characters to life. I call it the Drip Theory.
Trevor calls it …
As soon as Wonk helped me solve my problem, he went back into the closet and disappeared. The only thing he left behind was his small cane, which I now keep on my dresser.
I thought that would be the end of the oddness, but soon after he left, my closet opened and I was visited by a new thing. Bits of him were hairy and fuzzy like Chewbacca the Wookiee from Star Wars. Other parts of him were sort of Harry Potterish. He’s a little smaller than Wonkenstein, and he smells like a wet dog. He also showed up wearing a scarf, glasses, and a robe, and he was holding a wand. He has long hair over parts of his body. If I were a scientist I’d say …
Since I’m not a scientist, I decided to just call him something shorter—Hairy. He was friendly and interesting right from the start.
He’s also my biggest problem at the moment. And as I was riding my bike to the library to do some research on him, I had a bad feeling that things were going to get worse before they got better. Hairy wiggled in my backpack. I thought about my dad and what he always says whenever he has a problem …
If it’s true, I think I’m about to become one of the stickiest kids around.
Copyright © 2012 by Obert Skye