Chapter 3

Bud is in the shed and the only sound he can hear is his breath, which is so loud that it sounds like there are six scared people locked up. He concentrates on breathing more slowly and conquering his fear. He gets to the “getexcited-and-want-to-move-around kind of scared.” His eyes become accustomed to the dark and he sees that Mr. Amos has stored many common objects in the shed. He decides he’ll try the doorknob to see if Mr. Amos actually left it open for him. However, he goes from calm to “being in that stand-on-one-place-with-spitdrooling-down-the-front-of-your-shirt kind of scared.” He sees on the door knob three little flat monster heads with two little staring eyes and a sharp set of pointy teeth. He calls them the doorknob guards. Soon, he discovers that they are three dried fish heads that have been nailed to the door. He takes some old rags and covers them.

Then, Bud has to decide where he’ll sleep. He knows there’s no way he wants to sleep on the floor where a cockroach might climb into his ear. He remembers the experience of Bugs, a boy who had also lived at the Home. Bugs had gotten a cockroach in his ear and had to be held down while four grown-ups tried to remove it with a pair of tweezers. The adults only succeeded in pulling off the cockroach’s legs while Bugs screamed bloody murder. He eventually was taken to the emergency room where the insect was removed. He told Bud when he returned that he hadn’t screamed once at the hospital, but he had screamed at the home, because he could hear the cries of pain and fear from the cockroach. Bud had never forgotten this experience. So now, Bud decides spread his blanket on the woodpile. He sits in front of the one small window and plays shadow puppets against the yellow paper the Amoses had put over it. He can see the light in the Amoses’ bedroom, and it calms him enough that he falls asleep.

He awakens awhile later and notices that the light in the bedroom is out. Then, he sees the vampire bat Todd had warned him about, hanging in the corner of the shed. He knows that he must kill it by following Rules and Things No. 328: “If you make up your mind to do something, hurry up and do it . . .” So, Bud picks up a rake and slashes the bat in two. Unfortunately, it’s not a vampire bat at all, but a hornet’s nest. They fly out and begin to sting him, fulfilling Todd’s warning that he might come out all swollen like another boy who had lived at their house. The only thing he thinks to do is to jump on the woodpile and go out the window. The window is hard to open, but Bud manages to do it and finds himself on the ground in front of the Amoses’ back door. Now Bud “starts getting madder and madder . . . at the Amoses . . . but most of all at himself for believing there really was a vampire in the shed and for getting trapped like this where there wasn’t anybody who cared what happened to him.” Now he is thinking about getting revenge, even to how he might shoot the gun the Amoses have in their kitchen. The only thought he has now is, “Aha, you doggone Amoses, that hurt, but now I get my revenge!”


This chapter is an example of abuse at its most cruel. The Amoses have definitely done the same thing to other boys that they are doing to Bud. Telling him about the blood stain and the vampire bat terrifies Bud and they have to have known that the hornet’s nest could have been dangerous to him. This family is totally the opposite of what they think of themselves. They call him a beastly little brute, but they are actually describing themselves.