1. On Monday . . .
On Monday, when Archie had been sent out to post a letter, something rather odd happened.
He was halfway down the hill that led to the post office when he heard a rumbling noise, turned round, and saw a piano coming down the middle of the road. There was nobody with it. It was just a large upright piano, trundling down the hill all on its own.
Archie was surprised, though probably not as surprised as you or I would be, because odd things happened to Archie every day. Some very odd things. As you will see.
While he watched, the piano slowed down, veered slightly over to one side of the road, and then stopped.
When he went over for a closer look, he heard a voice.
‘I don’t believe it!’ said the voice. ‘What am I supposed to do now?’
Looking round the end of the piano, Archie saw a girl about his own age, sitting in the front passenger seat of a small car.
‘I’m stuck, aren’t I!’ said the girl. ‘How am I supposed to get out?’
The car she was sitting in only had two doors and it had been parked so that one of them was right up against a lamp post. The other one was now blocked by the piano.
‘Could you move it or something?’ asked the girl.
‘I don’t think so,’ said Archie. He was not very big and it was quite a heavy piano.
‘Well, could you go and tell my mum what’s happened?’ asked the girl. She pointed to a house on the other side of the road. ‘She’s in there. Number sixteen.’
Archie thought about it. ‘You want me to go in there . . .’
‘Just tell anyone you see that Cyd is trapped in a car,’ said the girl. ‘They all know me.’
‘Right,’ said Archie. ‘OK . . .’
He crossed the road, walked up a path, and found the front door of number sixteen was open. In the hallway inside, a woman was talking on the phone.
‘But he promised to have that piano delivered by ten o’clock!’ she was saying. ‘How am I supposed to give singing lessons without a piano . . . ? Well, could you find out, please . . . ? Thank you!’
She put down the phone and saw Archie in the doorway. ‘What do you want?’ she asked impatiently.
‘I’m sorry to bother you,’ said Archie, ‘but Cyd asked me to tell you—’
‘Sid?’ the woman frowned. ‘You have a message from Sid? Is it about my piano?’
‘Well,’ Archie hesitated, ‘I suppose it could be.’ He pointed outside. ‘You see, the piano out there is blocking the—’
‘What is my piano doing in the middle of the road?’ interrupted the woman, staring out through the doorway.
‘Well . . .’ said Archie.
‘Oh, never mind!’ The woman had turned on her heel. ‘I’ll find someone to bring it inside.’ And she strode off down the hallway and was gone.
Archie went back to the girl in the car. He thought she might like to know that someone was coming to move the piano, but he found when he got there that the girl had already got someone else to help.
‘I’m just going to push the car forward a bit,’ said an elderly man in a green raincoat, ‘so that your friend can get out. It won’t take a moment!’
Archie stood out of the way on the pavement, while the man pushed the car. It rolled forward very easily and was soon at a point where Cyd could have opened either of the doors.
‘All right!’ said the man. ‘You can put the brake on now.’
‘Put it on what?’ asked the girl.
The car, Archie noticed, was still rolling forward.
‘The brake!’ said the man. ‘The handle beside your seat. You need to pull it!’
Archie could see the girl in the car reach for the brake handle and pull on it, but the car did not stop. It had got to a steep bit of the hill and was, if anything, going faster.
‘You have to pull it harder than that!’ shouted the man, running alongside the car. ‘Come on! Pull!’
‘I’m pulling it as hard as I can!’ the girl shouted back. ‘It’s not working!’
She sounded frightened and Archie could see why. The car was still picking up speed and, directly in front of it, further down the road, was an enormous lorry. If the car crashed into it . . .
Excerpted from I Don't Believe It, Archie! by Andrew Norriss; illustrated by Hannah Shaw. Copyright © 2012 by Andrew Norriss. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.