TITLE: THE SOUL SHEPHERD
GENRE: YOUNG ADULT
He caught Bepper Brown jamming stolen strawberries into her mouth.
"Cheese and rice, dude, shine those dang lights somewhere else," Bepper said, squinting at him.
The lights on his head were made for exploring caves. The boy cut them off.
"Two nights you been over there," Bepper said. "How come you didn't bust me before now?"
"You mean you saw me?"
"Heard you! Figured you for a real weirdo or something."
The boy pointed at a house. "Me? You've practically stolen Ms. Gentry's entire strawberry crop."
"How much did the old woman pay you to bust me?"
"A dollar. What was that you said about cheese and rice?"
He was a quick talker, with one word climbing over the next. "You're sitting in a strawberry patch, stealing strawberries. What's cheese and rice got to do with that?"
Bepper Brown rolled her eyes. "Oh. Me and my pop got a deal on account of my cussing, which is, I don't do it and he don't swat me. Saying 'cheese and rice' is a lot easier on my big, fat, white butt than saying 'Jesus Christ'. Get it?" Bepper's messy, shoulder-length hair matched the dirt streaked across her face. "You sure you gotta rat me out?"
"I took Ms. Gentry's money."
"Old lady Gentry gonna kick your arse?"
"Isn't arse a--?"
"Cussing in another language is allowed..."