Jeremy stiffened his back and headed in the direction of his father's study, concealing his Super Secret Agent Extraction Tool in his stubby, grubby hand. If he could walk there without being stopped by his mother or spotted by his baby sister, he'd have a chance to finally use it on the green metal file box. The one his dad called "private"—his Private Box.
"Don't touch this box, Jeremy - it's PRIVATE."
His black hair bristled with excitement and tension, and he was annoyed to feel it bouncing like a rooster tail on the back of his head. His mother didn't notice how he squirmed with embarrassment every time she and the barber discussed what to do with the stubborn hank of hair that sprouted from the crown of his head. His father said it showed boyish manliness. Although he wasn't sure what that meant, he liked how it sounded, and now he felt ready to execute a daring, maybe even a manly, plan. While his mother was in the garden and his sister asleep in her playpen, he would open the Private Box and look inside for himself.
He walked through the parlor, down the hall, and slipped silently into the study. Returning the door to its usual almost-closed position, he approached the Private Box. Using the tool he'd made from a discarded paper clip, Jeremy slid the key from its hiding place under the paper label. Then he shoved the bit of wire into his pocket and put his sweaty hands to the task of turning the key and pushing the latch in the right direction at the same time. His mother's feet on the porch steps urged him—hurryhurryhurry—to take only the briefest look in the box before making an escape. Finally pressing the latch button in the correct direction, he threw back the lid to the sound of his mother's voice,