John Vornholt Knock on Wood

ISBN 13: 9780671040703

Knock on Wood

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9780671040703: Knock on Wood

Spellbinding superstitions! After the Westbridge High football team wins an amazing two games in a row, the whole team becomes superstitious. But the teammates take things a little too far by refusing to shower or change their socks and underwear, thinking it will bring them more good luck. Sabrina and Dreama ask Principal Kraft to curb the boys¹ bad hygiene, but he thinks that if the football team continues to win, they can be as smelly as they want to be! So Sabrina and Dreama decide to teach the guys a lesson to show them how silly it is to be superstitious. But their plan backfires. Can Sabrina fix the problem or will the people of Westbridge have to be forever wary of breaking mirrors and walking under ladders?

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

Lights glared down on the sparkling green football field, giving it a golden glow under a dark autumn sky. The crisp air carried the gooey scents of hot apple cider, popcorn balls, and cotton candy. Fans in the bleachers talked loudly, competing with the noise on the field. The marching band blared the Westbridge High fight song, as the football players charged onto the field for a kickoff.

On the sidelines, a guy in a vegetable suit danced in front of the crowd, trying to keep in step with the peppy cheerleaders. What an embarrassing mascot, thought Sabrina; but they were the Fighting Scallions, after all. They were supposed to be the Fighting Stallions, but there was a misprint on the jerseys.

High up in the bleachers, Sabrina and Dreama crawled over people, trying to find seats. They were late as usual. Sabrina had been working at the coffee shop, and Dreama had just been late, her head in the clouds. But they had finally met at Sabrina's house and zapped themselves to the school in time to catch the fourth quarter.

There's a big crowd tonight, thought Sabrina as she plunked herself down on the hard bleachers. Harvey couldn't see them from the field, so he wouldn't know how late they had been. Now he wanted her to come to all the games, because he had been playing a lot more since scoring a touchdown a few weeks ago.

"Wow!" said Dreama, shouting over the music and noise. "I didn't see all these people when I was here before. Where did they come from?"

"The team won last week!" answered Sabrina happily. "It was the first game the football team has won in years, and now everyone wants to see if they can do it again."

"Was it really that long since they won?" asked Dreama.

"They hadn't won a single game since I've been here," answered Sabrina, "and I'm a senior. What's the score of this game?"

"We just scored another touchdown, and we're ahead!" crowed a student in front of her. "Can you believe it?"

"A miracle!" exclaimed Sabrina. "And Harvey's in such a good mood after they win, although he's too sore to do anything but sit."

After the kickoff, the teams huddled for the first play. The Westbridge players were dressed in green and white uniforms, and they were on defense against the dreaded Warren Hootowls, dressed in black and gray.

"You know,"said Dreama, "I think I'm beginning to understand how football is played. It's a very friendly game, really."

"Friendly?" asked Sabrina doubtfully. "Are we talking about American football?"

"Yes, it's so sweet!" exclaimed Dreama, clasping her hands together. "First the boys get into two groups and hug each other. Then they go line up across from the other they're going to ask them to dance. Then they all rush forward and hug each other again. Only they're so rough about it that they knock each other down. Then some of them pat each other on their bottoms."

"That's about it," said Sabrina. Dreama was a witch who had been sent to Sabrina to learn how to do magic and live in the Mortal Realm. Sabrina figured that someday she might be able to teach Dreama to do magic correctly -- maybe -- but she doubted if Dreama would ever understand mortals.

"Didn't you notice that funny-shaped thing they play with?" asked Sabrina. "It's called a football."

The other witch frowned. "I thought they were playing hot potato. They throw it around to each other, and nobody seems to want it. And when they kick it, they kick it as far away as they can.

The only thing I don't understand is why we have to sit on these hard benches."

"It's a macho sport," answered Sabrina. "Even the fans have to be tough."

Suddenly, the crowd started cheering, and everyone leaped to their feet and waved frantically.

"It's an interception!" blared the announcer over the loudspeaker. "Brad Alcerro has the ball and is racing for the end zone!"

The crowd screamed and punched each other as Brad scored another touchdown for the Fighting Scallions. Sabrina hated to admit it, but Brad was a good football player. He was also her nemesis, because he was a natural-born witch hunter. Even though he didn't know what he was looking for, he had come close to discovering her secret several times.

"Look! They're all hugging Brad!" exclaimed Dreama. "What a great game!"

Westbridge had just gone ahead by fourteen points, and people were celebrating as if they had won the Super Bowl. It seemed incredible, but they were about to win two games in a row! They weren't the worst football team in the country anymore. Even the mascot in the scallion suit didn't look as geeky as before.

Half an hour later, the game was over, but the party went on for a long time. Sabrina and Dreama went down to the school to wait for the players outside the locker room. Before this, only girlfriends, parents, and ambulance drivers ever waited for the players, but tonight there were little kids, sports fans, even newspaper reporters.

When Harvey, Brad, and the rest of the players came out, a great cheer went up. A bunch of kids surrounded Brad, asking for his autograph. When some cute girls rushed up to Harvey, Sabrina instantly cut in. She had broken up with Harvey for a while, and she wasn't going to lose him again.

. "He's taken! He's taken!" she shouted, pushing the girls away. Sabrina grabbed her boyfriend and gave him a big, sloppy kiss.

Normally she liked kissing Harvey, but tonight his chin was all rough from not having shaved, and he...well, he smelled bad.

"Uh, Harvey," she whispered. "I think you forgot to take a shower."

"I didn't forget," he answered cheerfully. "I'm not going to take a shower -- none of us are."


Harvey looked very serious for a moment. "You know that athletes are sometimes a little superstitious."

"No kidding," grumbled Sabrina. "Just because you eat anchovies before every game."

"Right!" said Harvey, thinking she understood.

"The players decided that none of us will change our socks or underwear, or take a bath, until we lose a game. We've won two games in a row, so it's working!"

"It's working, if you want to gross people out.

"And I thought you were smelling a little ripe last week." Sabrina crossed her arms and looked over at Brad, who was showing a girl his muddy T-shirt. "Let me guess whose idea this was: Brad's."

"How did you know?" asked Harvey in amazement. "Brad always has great ideas for team spirit. Like he suggested that we all go out for pizza at the Slicery. You girls can come, too."

Maybe greasy pepperoni would drown out the boys' reeking smell, but Sabrina doubted it. "Okay, just give me time to catch a cold."

"Oh, you're always so funny, Sabrina. "He gave her a good-natured cuff on the chin. "A bunch of us are going in Brad's car -- you want to come?"

"No," she answered quickly. "I mean, I came with Dreama, so I'd better go with her."

"See you there." Harvey joined his football buddies just as Dreama walked up to Sabrina. Dreama sniffed the air. "I think the Porta-Potties overflowed again."

"No, that awful smell is my boyfriend and all the other football players. They've decided not to take baths or change their underwear or socks until they lose a game."

Dreama looked shocked. "I didn't think mortal boys changed their socks."

"On rare occasions, they do," muttered Sabrina. "But the football players won't even do the bare minimum -- take a bath. This whole thing is just a silly superstition."

"What's a superstition?" asked Dreama.

Sabrina sighed. "How am I going to explain this without making mortals look stupid? Okay, sometimes they are stupid. You know that mortals don't have any magic, but they still believe strongly in good luck and bad luck. They think they can bring themelves good luck by doing -- or not doing -- something. Like if they find a four-leaf clover, that's good luck. But if they break a mirror, that's bad luck."

"That's not so stupid," said Dreama. "It's a really bad idea to break a magical mirror. I know, I've done it."

"They don't have magical mirrors," answered Sabrina. "They don't have anything magical -- they just think they do."

Dreama frowned. "Then they're poor, deluded fools."

"But they're still cute." Sabrina took the arm of her fellow witch and steered her toward the sidewalk. "Let's get some nose plugs, then go eat pizza."

When Sabrina and Dreama arrived at the Slicery, they found half the football team sitting out on the curb. They were eating pizza out of boxes, and a Closed sign was visible in the Slicery's window. Strangely, most of the seats in the restaurant were filled with diners.

"Hi, Sabrina...Dreama!" called Harvey, jumping to his feet.

Sabrina had a paper bag in her hand, and she quickly shoved it behind her back. "Why are you eating out here?"

"They wouldn't let us stay inside," he whispered.

"Take-out only."

Brad jumped to his feet and angrily kicked a pizza box. "I say we take our business elsewhere. We'll show this lousy place when we're city champions! Then they'll be begging for us to come back, and we'll eat at some other pizza joint."

"It may be harder in a month or two," said Sabrina. Brad approached her, his dark eyes flashing.

"Are you saying that you agree with them -- that we smell bad?"

"No, not at all,"said Sabrina. Without thinking, she brought up her hand containing the paper bag, and Brad noticed it.

"What's in the bag?"he asked suspiciously.

"Uh, just a few cans of deodorant. You didn't say anything about not using deodorant, did you? It's Right Guard!"

Brad flapped his arms and looked at Harvey with exasperation. "She's your girlfriend -- can't you talk some sense into her? Get her with the program." Brad stomped off, grabbing a slice of pizza from one of his teammates. Harvey looked disappointed as he gazed at Sabrina.

"You know, it's not just a superstitious thing. It's a solidarity thing, a way for the team to be special and stick together."

"Another few days of no bathing, and you'll stick to everything," said Dreama helpfully.

"Come on, guys, let's go!" shouted Brad, motioning to his teammates. They marched off into the parking lot, taking their pizza boxes with them. Harvey started to go with them, then he looked back at Sabrina, obviously torn about what to do.

"Go on with the team," she told him. "Enjoy your victory. I'll see you tomorrow."

"You're the greatest, Sabrina!" He smiled sheepishly and dashed after his smelly buddies. After they left, Sabrina heard rustling in the bushes, and she turned to see two more girls from school, Barbara and Jill. She wondered why they were hiding, when she remembered that they also had boyfriends on the football team.

"You can come out now," said Sabrina. "They're gone, but their scent lingers on."

Jill stepped out of the bushes, holding a small atomizer. "I wanted to squirt some perfume on Billy, but I think the deodorant is a better idea."

"They wouldn't go for it," said Sabrina. "They take real pride in smelling bad."

"It can't be legal for them not to take showers or change their underwear," complained Barbara. "There's got to be a law against it. Or maybe a school rule."

Sabrina snapped her fingers. "Right! A school rule. All we have to do is go see Mr. Kraft and tell him about it. He'll make them take showers. Didn't he used to teach hygiene?"

Jill frowned. "I hate to turn them into the principal, but do we have any choice?"

"No, you don't," answered Dreama "The drug-store was sold out of nose plugs."

Sabrina clapped her hands together. "Okay, we'll meet at Mr. Kraft's office in the morning. Tell all the other girls?bring as many of them as you can."

"Sure thing, Sabrina," said Barbara. "Thanks."

"I feel better already," added Jill, squirting perfume in the air. When the two girls had left, Dreama turned to Sabrina and whispered, "We could always use witchcraft on them."

Sabrina shook her head. "No, I don't want to try witchcraft on Brad -- he might sense something. Besides, I think Mr. Kraft will make them clean up their act."

On the restaurant door, the Closed sign suddenly flipped to Open, and Sabrina asked, "Want to get some pizza?"

"Sure! Answered Dreama. "That's one mortal custom I understand."

Copyright © 2000 by Viacom Productions,Inc. All rights reserved

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