"Phoney… can't *pant* run as fast as you!" Fone Bone struggled to keep up with his cousin, who was sprinting down the busy sidewalk of the Boneville Town Center. Bones bustled around like ants, scurring from place to place, their arms full of shopping bags, children, or food. Fone dodged in and out of legs, trying to follow his cousin's pattern, who was gliding through the shoppers like a fish.

"C'mon Fone, we gotta get away before Ol' Lady Johnson Bone catches us! Not like she will anyway, the old bat. Haha!" Phoney laughter carried to Fone Bone and his third cousin Smiley Bone, who was taller then him and was running almost as smoothly as Phoney. "He sure is full of himself isn't he?" Smiley says to Fone Bone. Fone rolls his eyes.

"I just can't *pant* believe he took another pie from her windowsill. She's caught him *pant* more than once!" Fone Bone was having trouble breathing now. Why did Phoney have to bring him and Smiley on his little sprees? Why? "Do you want me to carry you Fone? You're face is kinda purple…" Smiley points to Fone Bone's usually bone white face. "No Smiley *pant* I'm not gonna *pant*slow you down."

Smiley shakes his head. "Here we go!" Smiley scoops Fone up onto his back and sprints to catch up with Phoney. Several shoppers grumble and mutter as Smiley pushes them out of his way. Phoney glances up at Fone on Smiley's back. "Loose your wind cousin?" "Shut up Phoney." Fone Bone mutters, embarrased that he wasn't as athletic as his cousins.

"You Bones ain't seen the last on Lady Johnson Bone! Next time you youngsters steal a pie from my widow, you're going to the courthouse!" The old lady shouts from across the street. Phoney sticks his tounge out at her and skitters down a side alley and pushed open a hidden door in the wall. Smiley ducks his head and enters the small room, Fone still on his back. Phoney follows and yanks the door shut, bolting it behind him.

Smiley plops down on the bare concret floor. Fone Bone clombs off his back and goes to scoop a handful of water out of a basin that sits in the corner of theroom. Phoney wipes his hands on the front of his shirt that is black with a gold star on the front. His hands leave small purple markings on the fabric. It's the juice from the pie he had tried to steal.

When Fone is done, he crawls to the middle of the dak room and sits besides his taller cousin. Phoney doesn't glance at the two. "What were you thinking?" Fone accuses. He hadn't ment to sound annoyed, but it came out anyway. "I was gettin' food to keep us alive!" Phoney replies. "Really Phoney? Or were you trying to prove to us that you won't get caught all the time? Cause if you were, it was a fail."

"I wasn't… I'm just trying to keep you guys well fed and healthy. Isn't that what family does?" Phoney questions. Fone Bone falls silent. Phoney Bone was right. "Thanks fer trying Phoney." Smiley tells his older cousin quietly. Phoney glances at the tall Bone. "You're welcome kid." Fone Bone says nothing. He lays down on his sleeping mat and closes his eyes.

When Fone Bone opens his eyes again, he opens them to see Phoney tying an apron around his waist. "Phoney? What are you doing?" He asks. Without glancing up, Phoney replies, "I got a job." Fone Bone is astonished. "When? Where? How?" he asks. "Fone, you should get a job as a reporter." Smilry Bone jokes, sitting up and rubbing his face.

"At the supermarket. Early this mornin'. Figured stealing was no good. Thought I'd try earning money. Try." Phoney replies. Fone's mouth bursts into a mile wide smile. He jumps up and hugs his cousin. "Hey, hey, no need for the squishy, lovey stuff alright? I'm just trying. I don't know if I'll like it. But if I do, I'll keep the job and earn money instead of stealing." Phoney says, pushing Fone Bone away.

"Ok, Phoney. We got everything covered here ok? Go." Fone says, motioning to the door. "Right. I'll be home at four." Phoney says. He opens the door and marches towards the supermarket. Fone shuts the door behind him and looks at Smiley. "Well, he certainly had a change of heart didn't he?" Smiley says. Fone Bone nods and begins to clean the small room. Phoney may act tough, but he's a good guy. All he wants to do is keep us alive. Fone thinks to himself. Whatever happens, I hope we have Phoney with us when it does.