魏子through wood. The tree looked lopsided and naked, and after a few minutes I had to get out of there. It was like watching someone dismember a body, and for the first time in ages, I felt like crying. Crying. Over a stupid tree that I hated.I went home and tried to shake it off, but I kept wondering, Should I have gone up the tree with her? Would it have done any good? I thought about calling Juli to tell her I was sorry they'd cut it down, but I didn't. It would've been too, I don't know, weird. She didn't show at the bus stop the next morning and didn'tride the bus home that afternoon, either. Then that night, right before dinner, my grandfather summoned me into the front room. He didn't call to me as I was walking by ?a that would have bordered on friendliness. What he did was talk to my mother, who talked to me. ?°I don't know what it's about, honey,?± she said. ?°Maybe he's just ready to get to know you a little better.?± Great. The man's had a year and a half to get acquainted, and he chooses now to get to know me. But I couldn't exactly blow him off. My grandfather's a big man with a meaty nose and greased-back salt-and-pepper hair. He lives in house slippers and a sports coat, and I've never seen a whisker on him. They grow, but he shaves themoff like three times a day. It's a real recreational activity for him. Besides his meaty nose, he's also got big meaty hands. I suppose you'd notice his hands regardless, but what makes you realize just how beefy they are is his wedding ring. That thing's never going to come off, and even though my mother says that's how it should be, I think he ought to get it cut off. Another few pounds and that ring's going to amputate his finger. When I went in to see him, those big hands of his were woven together, resting on the newspaper in his lap. I said, ?°Granddad? You wanted to see me??± ?°Have a seat, son.?± Son? Half the time he didn't seem to know who I was, and now suddenly I was ?°son?±? I sat in the chair opposite him and waited. ?°Tell me about your friend Juli Baker.?± ?°Juli? She's not exactly my friend ? !?± ?°Why is that??± he asked. Calmly. Like he had prior knowledge. I started to justify it, then stopped myself and asked, ?°Why do you want to know??± He opened the paper and pressed down the crease, and that's when I realized that Juli Baker had made the front page of the Mayfield Times. There was a huge picture of her in the tree, surrounded by afire brigade and policemen, and then some smaller photos I couldn't make out very well. ?°Can I see that??± He folded it up but didn't hand it over. ?°Why isn't she your friend, Bryce??± ?°Because she's ??± I shook my head and said, ?°You'd have to know Juli.?± ?°I'd like to.?± ?°What? Why??± ?°Because the girl's got an iron backbone. Why don't you invite her over sometime??± ?°An ironbackbone? Granddad, you don't understand! That girl is a royal pain. She's a show- off, she's a know-it-all, and she is pushy beyond ----------------------- Page 14-----------------------belief!?± ?°Is that so.?± ?°Yes! That's absolutely so! And she's been stalking me since the second grade!?± He frowned, then looked out the window and asked, ?°They've lived there that long??± ?°I think they were all born there!?± He frowned some more before he looked back at me and said, ?°A girl like that doesn't live next door to everyone, you know.?± ?°Lucky them!?± He studied me, long and hard. I said, ?°What??± but he didn't flinch. He just kept staring at me, and I couldn't take it ?a I had to look away. Keep in mind that this was thefirst real conversation I'd had with my grandfather. This was the first time he'd made the effort to talk to me about something besides passing the salt. Anddoes he want to get to know me? No! He wants to know about Juli! I couldn't juststand up and leave, even though that's what I felt like doing. Somehow I knew ifI left like that, he'd quit talking to me at all. Even about salt. So I sat there feeling sort of tortured. Was he mad at me? How could he be mad at me? I hadn't done anything wrong! When I looked up, he was sitting there holding out the newspaper to me. ?°Read this,?± he said. ?°Without prejudice.?± I took it, and when he went back to looking out the window, I knew ?a I'd been dismissed. By the time I got down to my room, I was mad. I slammed my bedroom door and flopped down on the bed, and after fuming about my sorry excuse for a grandfather for a while, I shoved the newspaper in the bottom drawer of my desk.Like I needed to know any more about Juli Baker. At dinner my mother asked me why I was so sulky, and she kept looking from me to my grandfather. Granddad didn't seem to need any salt, which was a good thing because I might have thrownthe shaker at him. My sister and dad were all business as usual, though. Lynettaate about two raisins out of her carrot salad, then peeled the skin and meat offto soar; and he makes us three darling little men on a green common, backed by old farmhouses, somewhere about May. A great mixture of blue and clouds in the air, a strong fresh breeze stirring, Tom's jacket 選擇踏上‘高端’這條路，那榴蓮還是戒了吧。rid the world of many fiends than of a few,魏子
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