Sneaking Stuff

"Wanna come to the store with me?" Jake asked Bobby. The two boys had been playing catch at the school playground that Saturday, and now the sun was making it too hot for a good game. Summer vacation had just begun, and they enjoyed the freedom of playing on their own.

"Sure," Bobby said, "but I need to let Mom know where I'm going. We always do that in our family."

"That's goofy!" Jake said. "What kind of summer fun is that?"

When Bobby told his mom that they were going to the store, she asked him to buy a loaf of bread and bring it home. "Sure," Bobby said, putting the money carefully in his jeans pocket. "I'll be back before too long."

The two boys sauntered down the sidewalk, tossing their ball in the air as they went. When they came to Paulson's Grocery, Jake stopped Bobby and pulled him back toward the corner of the building under the shade of the roof overhang. Holding on to his shirt front, he said, "Listen, Bobby, after you get your bread, you go down to the freezers where they keep the ice cream, see. Then you put a couple of ice cream bars inside your shirt. We're both pretty hot!"

"Yeah," Bobby agreed, "but that would be stealing to take ice cream bars that I haven't paid for."

"Naw!" Jake replied. "It's just sneaking stuff, and that's not stealing. An ice cream bar doesn't cost very much, so the store people won't mind."

"Who are you kidding?" Bobby said. "They will, too, mind if we take something without paying.'"

"You're chicken!" Jake said, his voice getting louder.

"I'm not chicken, but my dad says we should pay for what we want," Bobby said, his voice getting louder, too. "Do you want to get us in big trouble?" He jerked Jake's hand off his shirt.

"I'm not afraid!" Jake almost shouted. "My brother does it all the time, and he never gets caught!"

"Well, I don't swipe stuff!" Bobby said. "It's not right!"

"Bobby! They'd taste real good!" Jake said in despair.

"Do you boys need something?" a deep voice asked from behind them. Both boys whirled around, and there stood Bobby's dad.

"Oh hi, Dad!" Bobby said with a smile. "We were just talking about how good an ice cream bar would taste, but Mom gave me only enough money for bread."

"Well, let me treat you, then," Dad said, smiling back. "What do you want, a fudge bar or vanilla and chocolate?"

"Vanilla and chocolate!" the two boys chorused. Jake even remembered to hold the door and let Bobby's dad walk in ahead of him. After Bobby found the bread Mom wanted, Dad paid for everything at the cash register.

"You boys want a ride home?" Dad asked. "I'm headed that way."

They piled into the car and fastened their seat belts. As Dad was backing out, he said, "It's never right to sneak stuff, boys. Always pay for what you take out of the store."

"Yes, sir," Jake mumbled, looking down and fumbling with the paper on his ice cream.

"Yep! I know that!" Bobby said, licking the chocolate. He looked at Dad and smiled. Dad put the car in drive and smiled back.