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Unformatted text preview: oved between one pair of those cans. (Tommy Müller was
finally set free, despite being the most useless soccer player Himmel Street had ever seen.)
It all went nicely for a while, until the fateful moment when Rudy Steiner was upended in the snow by a
Tommy Müller foul of frustration.
“What?!” Tommy shouted. His face twitched in desperation. “What did I do?!”
A penalty was awarded by everyone on Rudy’s team, and now it was Rudy Steiner against the new kid, Liesel
He placed the ball on a grubby mound of snow, confident of the usual outcome. After all, Rudy hadn’t missed a
penalty in eighteen shots, even when the opposition made a point of booting Tommy Müller out of goal. No
matter whom they replaced him with, Rudy would score.
On this occasion, they tried to force Liesel out. As you might imagine, she protested, and Rudy agreed.
“No, no.” He smiled. “Let her stay.” He was rubbing his hands together. Snow had stopped falling on the filthy street now, and the muddy footprints were gathered between them. Rudy
shuffled in, fired the shot, and Liesel dived and somehow deflected it with her elbow. She stood up grinning,
but the first thing she saw was a snowball smashing into her face. Half of it was mud. It stung like crazy.
“How do you like that?” The boy grinned, and he ran off in pursuit of the ball.
“Saukerl,” Liesel whispered. The vocabulary of her new home was catching on fast.
SOME FACTS ABOUT RUDY STEINER
He was eight months older than Liesel and had
bony legs, sharp teeth, gangly blue eyes,
and hair the color of a lemon.
One of six Steiner children, he was
On Himmel Street, he was considered a little crazy. This was on account of an event that was rarely
spoken about but widely regarded as “The Jesse Owens Incident,” in which he painted himself charcoal
black and ran the 100 meters at the local playing field one night.
Insane or not, Rudy was always destined to be Liesel’s best friend. A snowball in the face is surely the perfect
beginning to a lasting friendship....
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- Winter '13