Chapter 2

Buddy is in the middle of a fight. He tells us, “There comes a time when you’re losing a fight that it just doesn’t make senses to keep on fighting. It’s not that you’re being a quitter, it’s just that you’ve got the sense to know when enough is enough.” His feeling that he would have it worse than Jerry has come true. He decides that he has to scooch under the bed to save himself. Bud is living with the Amos family, African-Americans just like him. However, color has no influence, because the mother believes that her son, Todd, can do no wrong. The twelve year old boy uses his asthma as an excuse for his behavior and takes advantage of his mother’s protective attitude by singling out all of the foster children who have come to live there. He bullies them and batters them and then finds a way to blame them for what he has started. Todd’s mother reacts toward Buddy exactly as Todd has hoped. He accuses him of wetting the bed and that he had been attacked by Buddy after he had awakened him to go to the bathroom. The truth is that Todd had awakened Buddy by shoving a pencil up his nose as far as he could shove it. Then, being bigger and stronger, when Buddy punched him, he beat the younger boy silly.

Buddy is actually impressed with Todd Amos, who he recognizes is a better liar than he is. He thinks of what he calls Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself. Rule No. 3 states that “if you got to tell a lie, make sure it’s simple and easy to remember.” Bud thinks Todd has accomplished just that. However, Todd’s accomplishment is somewhat negated by the fact that Mrs. Amos believes that her son’s mouth is a prayer book. Mrs. Amos calls Bud a beastly, little brute and decides he will not spend one more night in her house. She intends to call the Home and send him back the next morning. In the meantime, she has her husband give Bud a blanket and pillow and lock him in the shed. Todd tells him as he’s led away that there are spiders and bugs in the shed and a blood stain from the previous boy on the floor. They also will not give him back his suitcase (which they had looked through after promising they wouldn’t) as assurance that he won’t steal anything from them. Just before Mr. Amos leads him away, Mrs. Amos lectures about how he is unwilling to be uplifted and be a credit to their race. To her, he is vermin and his so-called bad behavior may prevent her from taking in any more children. She tells him that if other children fail to receive a good home, it’s all his fault.

Mrs. Amos also threatens Bud with a strapping if he doesn’t apologize to them all. Bud immediately acts contrite and says everything she wants to hear, which fulfills Rule No. 118: “You have to give adults something that they think they can use to hurt you by taking it away. . . “ Bud has learned that you have to manipulate adults to protect what is really important to you.

Bud sees his suitcase under the kitchen table, which makes him feel better. However, his entrance into the shed is a whole, different scarier kind of dark. Nonetheless, he refuses to beg Mr. Amos to keep him out of it, even though he sees what he thinks is the blood stain on the floor. The padlock snaps shut with the loudest click he had ever heard.


This chapter reinforces the abuse that Bud has experienced now in two of his foster homes. He is the one who is punished for the behavior of others. They claim to be great examples of black people, but Bud is a much better character than any member of the Amos family. Fortunately, his character grows and matures as he is exposed to such abuse.