Bud begins this chapter by declaring, “Being on the lam was a whole lot of fun . . . for about five minutes.” After all, he knows that at the age of ten, he is in for a lot of trouble walking the streets alone, let alone bleeding from sting spots and the bite on his hand from a dried fish head. His immediate plan, then, is to walk to the north side library. He feels that Miss Hill will be able to help him, to understand what happened and tell him what to do. He also thinks he can sleep in the library basement by sneaking in through a basement window. He is frightened of the cops catching him, because it is much too late for him to be up and he’s sneaking around like Pretty Boy Floyd.
When Bud arrives at the library, he stays to the dark side of the building with the giant Christmas trees. Unfortunately, the windows have all had bars added to them. So Bud is forced to use the blanket he carries with him in his suitcase and curl up under the Christmas trees for the night. Before he does, he opens his suitcase to inspect the contents. He can tell right away that the Amoses had been fumbling through his things, because the blanket wasn’t carefully folded on top to keep the other items from mashing up against each other. He could tell, however, after looking at each item that they had not stolen anything. They were mean old nosy folks, but they weren’t thieves. He is especially glad to see that they hadn’t hurt his only picture of his mother. He reminisces about the picture as his mother explained it to him. It always agitated her to look at it and her facial expression in the picture is agitated as well. She had told Bud that her father had insisted on having her picture taken astride a miniature horse wearing an oversized, ten-gallon cowboy hat. His mother had been angry because the horse was mistreated by its owner, the photographer, and the hat was filthy. She could never understand why her father had insisted she pose for the picture when she didn’t want to. He had ruined her day and everyone else in the family as well. She always reacted to it the same way and Bud had always responded to her story in the same way. It was a conversation they had had many times always with her grabbing his arms and squeezing them to make her point. It was one of the few times his mother, with her usual tornado movement around the house, would actually slow down a bit.
Bud’s mother had four favorite things she would always tell him. One was the story of the picture. Two concerned his name: she told him to never allow anyone to call him Buddy, because she had intended him to be called Bud, like a flower-in-waiting for the just the right warmth and care to open up and be seen by the world. Third, she told him that when he became a young man, she had a lot of things to tell him. That worried him a little, because it made him think of Rule #83: “If an adult tells you not to worry, and you weren’t worried before, you better hurry up and start, ‘cause you’re already running late.” Also, this favorite saying of his mother would now never come true, because she had died before he became a young man. The last word of advice she had repeated to him was to remember that no matter how bad things looked to him, when one door closes, another opens. To Bud, however, his mother was wrong in some ways. He thinks she should have told him all the things she held back until he became a man, because now it is too late. Also, telling him about the doors just frightened him, and it’s only now that he’s seeing the truth of the saying.
Now Bud curls up and falls asleep knowing he has to be up early to get to the mission on time for breakfast, because if he is one minute late, they won’t let him in for the food.
This chapter reinforces what they reader is beginning to realize: Bud Caldwell is a fairly self-sufficient young man who seems to understand, if only semi-consciously, what he must do to survive. The rules he has set up in his imaginary book help him cope with situations that may be more than a normal ten year old could handle. His memories of his mother are also part of his psyche and even though she never told him many of things she promised, she did leave him with ideas that now are coming to bear on his survival skills.