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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
The ambulance and the police car pull up at the same crossroad while heading back into town. One of the paramedics mentions that he could have sworn Cooger was dead when they arrived at the circus. The policemen laugh and joke before the cars pull away from each other. Will and Jim give false names, again, as well as false addresses. The patrol cars drop them off at the false address, and the boys pretend to enter the houses while the cars drive away. Will glances at Jim and realizes that he still has his free tickets to the carnival. Will has thrown his away. He thinks about Jim hanging on to his and recognizes the fact that Jim still holds a love for the carnival, despite the problems they’ve encountered. Will suggests, to Jim, that they should consult the chief of police, because he would believe them. Jim, however, says that at this point, no one would believe them because he himself is having some difficulty believing the events of the past twenty-four hours. Will keeps trying, suggesting that they must find someone higher up, now that they know what the score is. Jim questions Will as to what the ‘score’ truly is.
The carnival has done little that cannot be explained. Jim hints that if there were a way to apologize to Cooger, they would. Will is immediately angry. He has no desire to do business with them. He goes so far as to consider them “ulmers” and “goffs,” creatures from boys’ dreams. Jim thoughtfully ruminates Will’s childish choice of words while Will continues to yell at him.
Will intimates that Jim should be very afraid of the carnival in light of what he’s seen. Jim tells him to cut it out, but Will continues. Will says he doesn’t like to be thirteen all the time either, but neither of them truly wants to be twenty (despite the fact that they’d talked of it all summer) because being twenty involves a seriously unnatural process. Further, neither of them would know what to do when they hit twenty anyway. Jim says even if he were twenty, he wouldn’t abandon Will. Will reassures him that he would. Jim protests, but Will alleges that because it’s true, he’s glad the carousel is broken. Jim gets angry and says that it’s Will’s fault that it’s broken. Will gets angry again, making fists, asking Jim if he should have just let Cooger have his ride, with or without Jim, and get bigger, meaner, and angrier. Jim tries to shush him, telling him it doesn’t matter because it’s broken now anyway. Will plays on the scenario that once it does get fixed, the carnival will be out to get them, and if Jim joins them, they’ll hunt Will down alone. Jim says he’d never do that to Will, and Will reminds him that everything must happen in its own time.
Suddenly the boys hear loud voices from the police station, and they sneak to bushes to listen to the conversation. Miss Foley and Will’s father are talking about the burglary without mentioning the nephew. Will hopes this is the evidence Jim will need to understand the entire carnival is a trap. Miss Foley continues and says she doesn’t want to prosecute, but if they boys aren’t guilty, they shouldn’t be missing. Will jumps through the open window, trying to exonerate them.
The attentiveness of the paramedics is ignored by the police officers, further indicating the ultimate stupidity of adults. Will and Jim feel trapped in a web of lies, so they continue to lie when they give a false location for their homes. Jim holds on to his carnival tickets because, much to Will’s dismay, he still hopes to be involved with the carnival and ride the carousel. Will tries, desperately, to make him see the ultimate problems with the carnival and aging before it’s time, but Jim can’t understand. He can only see the happiness of the future. Will sees the problems and being left completely alone by Jim. Will’s optimism is again demonstrated at the end of the chapter when he reveals himself to the authorities. He still thinks someone can help him out of the mess they’re involved in.