Illustrated by: Richard Williams

Published by: Harper & Row, 1989


Copyright © Marilyn Singer 1989

The Hoax On You

Chapter One

“Hey, Sam,” said Dave, glancing up from the magazine he was reading.  “Do you believe there’s life on the moon?”

“Huh?” Sam, his twin brother, looked up, holding his hands stiffly in front of him. His fingers were coated with bits of paper and glue.  He was trying to make a birthday card for his friend Rita O’Toole and not doing a very good job of it.  Dave had finished his card half an hour ago; it was perfect.  “What did you say?” Sam asked.

“I said, do you believe there’s life on the moon?”

“No.  Nobody does.”

“They did in 1835.  It says here in Funtime magazine that in 1835 a newspaper called The Sun printed a bunch of articles which claimed that a British astronomer looked through a new and powerful telescope and saw buffaloes, goats, birds, and, last, but not least, furry little winged men on the moon,” Dave told him.

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Yeah.  But people believed it–and the newspaper sold lots and lots of copies. That was one successful hoax.”

Sam shook his head.  “Wow!  I wonder how many hoaxes there have been.”

“Lots.”  Dave glanced down at Funtime. Here’s one about a guy who fooled everyone into thinking he was a wealthy lord and another about a photographer who claimed he could take pictures of ghosts and other hoaxes too.  And pretty soon, because of this magazine, there are going to be a lot more.”

“What do you mean?”

“The editors are having a hoax contest.  Whoever pulls off the best hoax wins.”

“Wow!” Sam exclaimed, clasping his knees.  “Do you want to enter it?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe.  It seems to me a pair of identical twins who also happen to be detectives should be able to come up with a pretty good hoax,” Dave said, eyes twinkling.

“Yeah!”  Sam grinned.  He picked up his hand to slap five.

“Yuck!” Dave exclaimed.

Sam looked down at his hand.  It was still covered with some paper and glue, but not as much as his knees were.  “Oh no.  What a mess.”

“Better wash your pants before Mom sees them.”

Sam nodded, but before he could even get up, he and Dave heard their mother open the front door.  Sam swallowed.  “You don’t suppose,” he said slowly, “we could pull a hoax on Mom, switch pants and pretend I’m you, do you?”

“Sam, I don’t think Mom would ever believe you’re me,” Dave said, trying not to grin.

“I was afraid you’d say that.”  Sam sighed.