R. Thomas Cameron is a tough-as-nails 12-year-old who loves Bible heroes. He shares adventures with Jacob, his fast-talking 10-year-old brother. When a sweet old lady who lives next door tells the brothers a secret, they are delighted. Mrs. Withers is a famous painter with a fine collection of jewelry and paintings her greedy nephew and his wife are trying to steal. Two thugs named Fred and Shorty have been hired to do the dirty work. She asks the boys to help her protect her property. Things become dangerous as R. Thomas and Jacob dig up a diamond and sapphire necklace on Beaver Island with Fred and Shorty close behind them. But the boys continue to run the gauntlet between career criminals and their evil employers, spurred on by prayer on the run and the example of Bible greats.
1 R. THOMAS
I should tell you a bit about myself before starting the tale of adventure which began for me and my brother Jacob that monumental day early last spring. And by far the most interesting thing about me is my recent change of name. You see, I was named Ralph Thomas – or actually Ralph Thomas, Jr. – after my dad. So I went through years of Ralphie and Junior until the ripe old age of 12, at which time I decided I’d had enough. My mom suggested RT. But I knew old Joey Miscola from school, who loves giving everybody horrible nicknames, was not going to let that one slide. No. I’d be “RT the retard” or something worse. So after some serious thinking up in my old tree house, I decided on R. Thomas. It had style. It sounded professional. And I plan on being a professional some day, a businessman of some sort. “R. Thomas Cameron” would look good on my office door. I needed a name I could live up to, not live down.
Of course, getting the people who knew me as Ralphie or Junior to actually call me R. Thomas was another matter. Mom and Dad kept forgetting. You’d think the kids at school had never heard of anyone changing their name. But after a couple of months and Joey Miscola getting the bloody nose he deserved, the job was done. I simply would not answer to anything but R. Thomas.
My brother Jacob got it immediately. He got it because my parents named him Jacob Archibald after my uncle Archie. My grandma and grandpa are great people but don’t know how to name anyone. I’ve always told Jacob he was lucky to get a decent name. Then he reminded me of his middle name. So the day I changed my name Jacob became Jacob A. Cameron forever. He wouldn’t let my parents put “Archibald” on any papers (or even say the word, for that matter). On that historic day, my brother and I put away the horrid names of our childish past and began our march into the future.
Another important thing I should tell you about myself is that I love Bible greats and, in particular, David. Not that I intend on becoming a king or anything, but you never know. It took my fifth-grade Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Hoganmeyer, to get me into the Bible. She is short with lots of gray hair sticking every which way and a stomach like a plump, soggy doughnut. But the stories she tells. Her eyes get all glossy and glowing as she hits us kids with tales of battles and Bible greats that have us grabbing the seats of our chairs for support. I’ll never forget the day Molly Patterson started to cry. Actually, it was sort of a howl of fear. But just as Mrs. Hoganmeyer began to comfort her, the rest of the class yelled, “Finish the story; finish the story.” Even Molly finally joined in. That’s how David and also Moses, Abraham, John the Baptist and other Bible greats filled me with the desire to be like them. Comic book heroes – what are they? I mean, some writer made them up. But these Bible dudes are real, man. They walked the earth. I identify most of all with David because he was good-looking, young, fought a lot and became a great king. I think you get the picture.
Not to forget Jesus. After all, he is God, the ultimate, who all the Bible greats fought for. And as I am kind of a David in training, so to speak, I think about Jesus a lot and chat with him. Pray? No. With me it’s conversation. And I comfort my mother like Jesus comforted Mary, his mother. I mean, my mom is the world’s greatest wimp. No end to how that woman worries. I think Jesus understood this about mothers. He was gentle but strong enough to walk up to that cross, get his hands and feet nailed down and be lifted up to die a horrible death. Mrs. Hoganmeyer spent two Sundays on crucifixion, and it was awful. And even then he could have had an army of angels – or just several really strong ones – get him out of the whole mess.
Since I want to – well, not actually be a Bible great, but sort of act more like one, could you look for any similarities between how I handle stuff and how they did and get back to me? I can miss these things. Or else my actions get a bit off track – well, a lot off track according to Jacob, who may just be jealous. Anyway, I’d appreciate your input.
The action started one blustery day in the middle of April. We had just returned from church. My mother sent Jacob over to check on the old lady who lives next door to us. You see, she didn’t answer when the family assigned to pick her up for church went to her door. My mother, of course, wants to make sure she isn’t lying there dead or something.
“Why can’t I go?” I ask Mom.
“Because Jacob is more . . . comforting.”
“’Comforting’?” I snort.
Mom rubs her long, thin hands down her bony hips, a little habit she’s picked up lately. She uses her smoothest voice.
“Now, R. Thomas, you know she thinks you talk too loud. And she’s never forgotten it was your baseball that went through her upstairs bedroom window.”
“Will I ever live that down?” I cry. “I must have paid for that window three times over with all the work you made me do for her.” I stamp my foot for emphasis. “Jacob’s a lucky dog.”
If you’re wondering why I’m so eager to visit an old lady, it’s because this old lady pays very well for your help; unless, of course, it’s a freebie chore in payment for breaking her window. Jacob and I are always happy to help her. We come home with our pockets stuffed full of money.
So Jacob the Comforter goes next door and is back in a flash. He tells Mom Mrs. Withers is all right.
“She says she must have been sleeping when they knocked on the door. Like, she’s been tired lately.”
Mom sighs and walks back to the kitchen. Then Jacob grabs my arm.
“Tell Mom we’re going to the store or something, R. Thomas,” he whispers. “Mrs. Withers wants to see both of us quick. She says it’s a secret.”
Jacob looks serious for a change. He’s not smirking like he’s trying to put something over on me, although there’s an extra sparkle in his big, disgustingly girlish blue eyes. I’ve given up trying to figure out the many moods of Jacob. But this time I know he means business.
So I yell, “Store, Mom, Jacob and I. Back soon.”
I recommend this way of handling a worrywart mother. First, you make the message brief and get out of the door quick. Then you claim you’ve told her everything and she just didn’t hear you. Garbled words are even better. Once outside, we run straight over to Mrs. Withers’ house.