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The shenanigans of two dwarfs as they compete for the heart of Little Little, a dwarf heiress who's tired of being treated like a pretty doll.
"Sydney,"Mr. Palmer said, "you are on your way to becoming the most famous dwarf in this country, no small thanks to me. And now I have a favor to ask you."
Those words, spoken on an ordinary August day, in the offices of Palmer Pest Control, were the beginning of my new life.
So far, age seventeen, I had two other beginnings.
One was my birth and abandonment to The Twin Oaks Orphans' Home in Wilton, New York.
One was my first appearance as The Roach, mascot for the Wilton Bombers, at halftime during the first game of the year. I was fifteen, and though I didn't know it at the time, it was to be the last year Id attend Wilton High School.
"Sydney Cinnamon," Mr. Palmer said that morning in his office, "with everything against you, you made yourself into something. You created a self for yourself You are The Roach, an entity of your own invention, and I admire you for it. I have something along the same order in mind for myself."
"What are you planning to become?" I asked him.
"I'm not planning to become anything. I'm planning on Palmer Pest Control becoming something. I want to go national, Sydney! I want to be big!" Mr. Palmer looked like an enormous bird, like the kind of huge, skinny, long-beaked bird that swooped down from the sky, poked around in the dirt, and carried away the very creatures Mr Palmer exterminated for a living.
"Sydney," he said, rubbing his palms together ecstatically, "I'm negotiating with a Japanese named Hiroyuki for a merger with Twinkle Traps, over in La Belle, New York. Together, Twinkle and Palmer could control the market. I need yourhelp, Sydney."
He knew he could ask me to do anything. Because of him, I had changed from an orphaned dwarf who picked up odd jobs jumping out of birthday cakes, or working summers at resorts like Leprechaun Village, to a TV personality who earned enough money to finally order clothes made that fit, and furniture my own size.
The commercials I made for P.P.C., as The Roach, were famous in upstate New York. If Mr. Palmer had exaggerated slightly in saying I was on my way to becoming the most famous dwarf in the country, it still did not take away from the fact I had my own little fame wherever I went,
And fame is fame. The big fish in the little pond doesn't bother its head about larger bodies of water. Thanks to Albert Palmer, I'd gone from entertaining as The Roach at halftime in high school football fields to making commercials and appearing at shopping centers, and starring at openings of everything from bowling alleys to cut-rate liquor stores.
I even had my own theme song, which was "La Cucaracha," and my own groupies, kids who congregated wherever I appeared, and waved pieces of paper at me that they wanted me to autograph.
"I'll do anything you say," I told Mr. Palmer, and he rubbed his bald head and grinned at me, then came around and sat on the front of Ins desk, facing me.
"The last week in September," he said, "the Wilton Bombers are playing the La Belle Boots, at La Belle. Sydney, I'd like you to make an appearance at halftime. It's a way to tell our home team you haven't forgotten your beginnings, and we're still in there rooting for them. And it's a way to show you off in La, Belle."
"That's easy," I said.
"And the second part isn't going to be hard, either. There's a surprise in it for you, Sydney, one I think you'll like. She's your size, Sydney."
"They call her Little Little La Belle. She's one of the little people, like you, and she's the daughter of Larry La Belle. Of course, his family is very prominent in that town, town's named for them. She's having her eighteenth birthday party that weekend, and Mr. Hiroyuki would like you to make a little surprise guest appearance at the party. His boy's a friend of the family, and that'd be his gift to this little girl."
"It's all right with me," I said.
"You'll be a surprise for the little lady, and it'll help me get Hiroyuki in a good mood when we talk merger."
I said I would and then I began wangling for the very best accommodations while I was in La Belle.
I'd learned to do that from a fellow named Knox Lionel. We'd roomed together in the employees' dormitory at Leprechaun Village, the summerwe both worked there. Knox was seventeen that summer and I was fourteen. He was a combination philosopher and con man, who loved to watch the TV preachers and imitate them. He entertained us in the dorm posing as a preacher called Opportunity Knox, a mixture of all the television preachers he'd studied. He could cry like Jimmy Swaggart. He could fret like Rex Humbard. He could beam like Robert Schuller and shake a pointed finger like Billy Graham. He stood on a box to deliver sermons on sin that had us holding our sides laughing.
But he wasn't kidding when he preached...
Little Little. Copyright © by M. E. Kerr. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.