Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the Invisible Inventor
One Big Happy Family
USUALLY DINNERTIME AT my house isn’t something to look forward to. My dad likes to make all kinds of wacky dishes. My mom travels a lot for work, so she’s often not around. And my sister, Emily . . . let’s just say she’s not the nicest person in the world, all the time.
But tonight, dinner is different. That’s because my family—and my best friend—are gathered around the kitchen table, eating the best take-out pizza in the whole wide world!
For those of you who may not have heard of me, my name is Billy Sure. I am one half of
SURE THINGS, INC., an invention company that I share with my best friend—and current pizza-eating pal—Manny Reyes.
About a week ago Manny, my dad, Emily, and I returned from an unplanned adventure at the Really Great Movies studio. Manny, Emily, and I got to play zombies in a new movie, Alien Zombie Attack! It’s funny to think about it, because this all started when Emily stole my latest invention, a hovercraft, and crash-landed at the studio. We had to rescue her.
While at the movie studio, we sold the hovercraft—renamed the REALLY GREAT HOVERCRAFT—to the film’s director, so he can use it in his movies.
But Manny, being the super businessman that he is, kept all the hovercraft’s merchandising rights for Sure Things, Inc. That means profit from any products related to the hovercraft gets to stay ours. Pretty smart, huh? Because he sweats the fine print of every business deal is reason #934 why I’m glad that Manny is my best friend and business partner.
Although this happened a week ago, it still feels like just yesterday. On the actual “just yesterday,” my mom came back from her latest work trip. I say “work trip,” but it’s much cooler than that—my mom is a spy. She’s away on different missions a lot.
For her current mission Mom is able to work remotely from home. I really miss her when she’s not around, so it’s great having her here, for lots of reasons. One of those reasons is that, unlike my dad, Mom loves to order in food—like this super-awesome TWELVE-CHEESE PIZZA!
“I didn’t even know there were twelve different kinds of cheeses,” Mom says, biting into her slice.
Dad munches happily, pausing every so often to smile and say “yum!” These days, Dad seems to have a permanent smile on his face. And for good reason.
“I can’t believe my art show is just a few days away,” Dad says through a mouthful of cheese. “But I wonder if I need another painting
of Philo’s paw for the show. . . .”
Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. Dad may be a terrible cook, but he’s a terrific artist. I think. I guess I don’t know much about art. His latest series of paintings is going to be displayed at a gallery. They are mostly paintings of my dog Philo’s tongue, Philo’s paws, and oddly enough, Philo’s butt.
Dad also has a few paintings of some of the food he’s made, like tomato pancakes and cherry and kiwi lasagna. The paintings may just be tastier than the food itself—though I’ve never taken a bite out of one.
I’ve finished my first slice of pizza when I hear Manny’s voice.
“Ready for another one?” he asks from across the table.
“Thanks, partner, but I can get it myself,” I reply. “You don’t have to get up.”
“Who said anything about getting up?”
Manny pulls out his smartphone and taps the screen. From across the room, a slice of pizza comes flying through the air, right at me!
“Manny!??” I cry. “Did you invent FLYING PIZZA?!”
Before Manny can answer, I snatch the slice out of the air. There, hanging in the air, is a small, perfectly accurate model of the Really Great Hovercraft! The pizza had been resting on the model.
“I didn’t invent flying pizza, but I did come up with a remote controlled model of the hovercraft,” Manny explains. “I control it right from my smartphone.”
Manny swipes his phone, and the tiny hovercraft turns around and speeds back to the pizza boxes on the counter.
“Awesome,” I say. “I think this toy is going to be a huge hit!”
“I’d like some flying pizza too,” says Mom.
“Sure,” Manny says.
With Manny tapping and swiping his phone, the tiny hovercraft slides under another slice, turns around, speeds back through the air, and deposits a slice of pizza onto Mom’s plate.
Bam! That’s when the front door bursts open. You might have noticed that my sister Emily has been absent from dinner so far. (Okay, I kind of forgot too.) That’s because she was walking Philo, who scurries in, pulling hard on his leash.
“Easy, Philo!” Emily says. “Slow down!”
Are you surprised that Emily is the one walking Philo, and not me? Well, you should be. Before we returned from our trip to the Really Great Movies studio, I could count on two hands the number of times that Emily had volunteered to walk Philo.
Uh, now that I think about it . . . make that one hand.
But as punishment for stealing my hovercraft, Dad grounded Emily FOR LIFE. He was probably exaggerating about the lifelong sentence part, though, because he made a deal with her. If Emily is as nice and helpful as she possibly can be, and does one nice big thing for each member of our family, she will be ungrounded.
Well, since making that deal, it’s like Emily is a whole new person. She takes out the garbage, cleans the dinner dishes, and volunteers to walk Philo every evening! I’ve been calling her SUPER NICE EMILY. I know she hates the nickname, but she has to be nice and can’t say anything about it.
I could get used to this!
“I wish Philo wouldn’t pull on his leash when I take him for a walk,” Emily says.
Before I have a chance to explain that all she has to do is say “heel” and he’ll walk nicely beside you, Philo spots the flying hovercraft toy zooming through the air.
Philo starts barking wildly at the hovercraft and takes off after it, dragging Emily through the kitchen and back into the living room. I have to admit, it’s really funny. Emily jumps over a chair, then stumbles to avoid crashing into a table.
The hovercraft turns back toward the kitchen. Philo suddenly changes direction to
keep up with it, causing Emily to knock a lamp from a table.
She spins back and catches the lamp just before it hits the floor.
This is really entertaining to watch. I consider letting it go on a little longer, but, well, that would just be mean.
“Let go of the leash, Emily!” I shout, cracking up.
She lets go. Philo continues to chase the hovercraft until Manny guides it back into his hands.
Emily joins us, trying to catch her breath. Her curly hair has flopped into her face. Her shirt has come untucked. She’s a mess, which normally would make her very upset and require extensive repair time in front of a mirror. But Super Nice Emily doesn’t complain.
“Well, I walked Philo again,” she says, forcing a smile.
“We know, dear,” says Mom. “Why don’t you have some pizza?”
“I will,” says Emily. “But first everyone
has to come outside and see the great job I did WASHING THE CAR! And since everyone rides in the car, it’s something nice I did for the whole family.”
“You washed the car?” I ask in disbelief. Even for Super Nice Emily, this is above and beyond. “Now, this I have to see!”
We all get up and hurry outside.
“Well, what do you think?” asks Emily.
I look over at the car and see that it is covered in SOAP. Bubbly white streaks drip down the doors and windows.
“Maybe Dad can paint a picture of this for his art show,” I say. Usually, I go out of my way not to give Emily a hard time. The grief I always get from her in return is just not worth the fun. But with her having to be nice and helpful to everybody, I figure I’ve got a free pass. “Dad can call the painting HALF-WASHED CAR.”
“I appreciate the effort, Emily,” says Mom, raising her eyebrows slightly at me. “But you have to rinse the soap off.”
A few minutes later everyone except Emily is back inside, and Manny is really getting into delivering pizza slices using the hovercraft toy.
“I’ll take another one, Manny,” says Dad. “I’m curious how they can stuff the cheese inside the cheese.”
Manny taps and swipes his phone, tilting it a bit left, then right. The hovercraft toy scoops up a slice of pizza, circles the living room, then comes back into the kitchen, dropping gently down until it stops, hovering in midair right above Dad’s plate.
“Thanks, Manny,” says Dad, taking the slice. He stares at the cheese-stuffed cheese. “Hmm . . . so that’s how they do it.”
Emily comes back inside. “Well, the car is clean,” she says. “All the soap is off.”
And I can see where it went. Emily’s clothes are now streaked with white bubbly soapsuds! She looks wet from head to toe. I almost feel bad for her. It’s probably not nice to be enjoying this as much as I am, but I am!
“You should change into some warm clothes,” says Mom. “Then come have a slice of pizza.”
When Emily finally sits down, Manny delivers her a slice with the mini hovercraft.
“Thank you, Manny,” she says, digging into her pizza. “And congratulations on your new toy. Another Sure Things, Inc. success!”
After every slice has been devoured Emily is the first one to jump up from the table. “Here,” she says. “Let me get those for everyone.”
She goes around the table, picking up all the plates and cups. Then she washes, dries, and carefully puts away each one.
“There, everything’s clean,” she says as a glob of soapsuds (this time, from the kitchen) drops from her shirt onto her shoes.
The doorbell. Hmm, we’re not expecting anyone. Out of habit, I start toward the door.
“Oh, no, Billy,” Emily says sweetly. “Let me answer the door.”
I better enjoy this while I can, because I have a feeling that once Emily gets out of her grounded-for-life sentence, she’s gonna make me pay for all her niceness. Big time!
Emily opens the front door.
“Hi, is Billy home?” asks a woman at the door. “I’d love to conduct an interview with him this evening.”
I immediately feel a knot forming in my stomach. I know that voice. It’s KATHY JENKINS. She’s a reporter for Right Next Door, our local hometown news website. She’s also Samantha’s mother. Samantha is a member of my inventor’s club, but she also helped me come up with the hovercraft design and used
to follow me around the halls at school.
Kathy has written articles before about Sure Things, Inc. She always focuses on me, leaving out Manny’s role in the company. And she can be nasty. She even wrote one time that Philo smells like a skunk.
What could she possibly want now?