Ray and Bobby were cousins and best buddies. They were both seven years old and they lived across the street from one another from the time they were born, in the small community of Sweeeney Place. Sweeney Place was a nice, friendly community with lots of kids and plenty of room to play. Ray and Bobby had lots of other friends, but the two of them spent all of their time together. They played everyday and had lots of fun. Sometimes, they would walk Ray’s dog around the neighborhood. His name was Bounce. He was very playful and liked being out with the boys.
Ray and Bobby knew lots of games to play. They especially liked to play ball. Sometimes they spent hours throwing the ball to one another in the minature ball field next to Bobby’s house. But, no matter what, they were always together. If you saw one, the other was not far behind. One day when Bobby came outside, something strange happened. Ray did not come out to meet him. “Oh well,” Bobby thought, “Maybe he’s sleeping in today.” Bobby waited. He waited and waited, and still Ray did not come outside. As Bobby walked up to Ray’s house, he thought of how dull things would be without his pal Ray nearby.
The back door was always unlocked during the day, so he let himself in. “Ray,” he called, “When are you coming outside, aren’t you dressed yet?” Ray’s Mom came down the stairs. “Hello Aunt Vikki,” Bobby said. “Is Ray ready to come outside?” he asked, his voice full of anticipation. “Ray won’t be able to come out for a while sweetie,” she replied. “I’m afraid he’s got the chicken pox.” “You mean he’s got “the bumps”?” Bobby asked, in dismay. “That’s right sweetie, you’ll have to go back outside so that you don’t get them too,” replied Aunt Vikki. “Will “the bumps” go away soon?” Bobby asked hopefully. “Not right away dear,” she answered. “But you can call him on the phone anytime you want,” she said.
Reluctantly, Bobby went back outside. “Poor Ray,” he thought. “How could he have gotten “the bumps?” Bobby played for a while with the other kids of Sweeney Place, but somehow he wasn’t having any fun. It just wasn’t the same without Ray. He sat on the bench in the ball field. He was so lonely without Ray. “What was he going to do?” he thought.
The next day Bobby decided that if Ray had “the bumps” then he wanted to have them too. If they both had “the bumps”, then maybe they could be together again, just like all the other times when they were sick. In the past, they had always had the same sickness at the same time. Ray would stay at Bobby’s house or Bobby would stay at Ray’s house. First, he had to find out how to get “the bumps.” He decided to ask his Mom. She knew everything.
“Mommy, how did Ray get “the bumps?” Bobby asked. “Well honey, first of all it’s called chicken pox, not “the bumps”, she replied. “I knew Ray shouldn’t be eating so much chicken, but I didn’t know it could make you grow “the bumps”, he blurted out. “No dear, it doesn’t come from eating too much chicken. It’s a virus that is very contagious, which means you catch it from someone who already has it, by being close to them, or even in the same house with them,” she replied, smiling to herself at her inquisitive son. She knew he was lonely without Ray, just as Ray was probably lonely without him. “That’s why you can’t play with Ray right now, because you’ll get them too,” she explained. “Now run along honey, and don’t worry, Ray will be out in a week or so,” she told him. Bobby went outside. “A week or so,” he mumbled, “That’s forever.”
Bobby knew just what he had to do. He had to move fast, because he might not get another chance later. “It’s time to put this plan into action,” he said, aloud to himself. He had talked to ray on the phone earlier. He knew that Ray’s Dad was at work now and that Aunt Vikki would be downstairs in her office. She would be busy writing or on the phone with a customer. He looked around to make sure nobody was watching. When he was sure the coast was clear, he ran to the backdoor of Ray’s house. He looked around once more and then very quietly opened the door and stepped inside. He tiptoed slowly through the kitchen and dining room and stood at the bottom of the stairs. “So far so good,” he thought. He could hear Aunt Vikki talking to someone on the phone about her business. “This is great. She’ll never hear me now,” he thought.
He made his way up the stairs quickly and quietly. As he walked down the hall towards Ray’s room, a sudden urge to giggle came over him. He covered his mouth and quickly went into the room. Ray was waiting for him. Instantly they both began to giggle, covering their little mouths so they wouldn’t be heard. Once they calmed down, Bobby asked Ray, “What’s all that pink stuff all over you?” “This is the medicine to make “the bumps” not itch so much. It’s real yukky stuff,” he replied. “Yeah,” said Bobby, “You look like a ghost or somethin.”
After the cartoons ended, Ray knew his Mom would be up to check on him and bring him some lunch. Then she’d go into the bathroom before going back downstairs to prepare dinner. They decided that Bobby would hide in the closet, and when she went into the bathroom he’d sneak back downstairs and out the backdoor. “How long will it take for you to get “the bumps” Bobby?” Ray asked. I don’t know Ray, but it better be soon,” Bobby replied. “Yeah,” said Ray, “This secret agent stuff could get dangerous.” Bobby got out without being caught and made it home just as his Mom was about to call him inside. He felt pretty confident that the plan would work.
The next morning Ray woke up excited and cheery. “Well you certainly seem to be feeling better,” exclaimed Ray’s mom, when he came down to breakfast. “Yup,” he replied, I sure do.” Right after breakfast, Ray called Bobby. “You see any bumps yet Bobby,” he asked, with hopeful anticipation. “No, not yet Ray; my Mom says sometimes it takes a week or two,” he replied. “A week or two,” Ray almost shouted. “My Mom says I’ll be over them by then.” “Yeah,” said Bobby, “I think this might have been a dumb plan anyway.” A twinge of sadness swept over the two boys. “I’ll come over later, the same as yesterday,” said Bobby. “We can’t give up now.” “Okay Bobby, I’ll see you later,” said Ray.
Ray watched a little television and looked out of his window at the other kids playing. He was so lonely. He had his dog Bounce to play with, but he hoped their plan worked; it just had to. Ray waited and waited and still Bobby did not come. “Maybe he wasn’t able to sneak into the house,” Ray thought. As he stared out the window, he thought of the many capers he and Bobby had pulled off. He had to smile to himself. They were pretty smart to be just seven years old. They weren’t really bad boys. They just liked to have fun. Absent-mindedly, he rubbed his little bottom, thinking of the few times that they had gotten caught at their mischief. “Even so,” he thought, “there wasn’t too much that the two of them couldn’t get away with.”
Finally, he fell asleep on the bed, for what seemed like hours and hours. When he woke up, he heard voices downstairs. “Ray, Ray,” he heard someone call. He got up and opened the door and there was Bobby. He was grinning from ear to ear and covered with “the bumps,” just like him. They slapped their hands together as a sign of secret victory. “Your Mom says it’s okay for me to stay over here with you, until we get over “the bumps,” exclaimed Bobby.
In no time at all they were both covered with the pink yukky stuff. This was a strange sickness they thought, as they giggled and played. They didn’t feel sick at all. The two of them were just as pleased as punch to be together again. Except for itching, having “the bumps” was great fun. That night, before they drifted off to sleep, they promised each other that they would be together through thick and thin. Nothing could keep them apart, not even “the bumps”.