Over the next day or two, Stanley and Zero continue resting and eating onions. Stanley makes the water hole very big, almost as big as the holes he used to dig back at Camp Green Lake. Zero’s health is improving; Stanley, to his surprise, does not get sick.
Zero tells Stanley about the homeless shelter. He explains that he only went there when the weather was very bad and only if he could find a woman to pretend to be his mother so the people at the shelter would not bother him about being alone. Ever since Zero was little, when he was with his real mother, the two of them had stolen whatever they needed. So one day at the shelter, Zero took Clyde Livingston’s shoes. He did not know they were special because he could not read the sign, and he figured it was better to steal old shoes than new ones. Afterward, everyone at the shelter was upset. They looked for the shoes but did not notice they were on Zero’s feet. Zero did not know what to do, so he walked out and put them on a parked car. The next day he got arrested for stealing a pair of new shoes from a store.
By the end of a week at the Big Thumb, Zero is strong enough to help dig the water hole bigger. He lines the bottom with rocks to help filter the water, then he throws down the shovel and says he will never make another hole.
Stanley assumes that Zero is wrong, that they will both have to dig many more holes. He knows they cannot live on onions forever, and that is all they have to eat as long as they stay where they are. Eventually they will have to go back to Camp Green Lake. They do not talk about this. Instead, they discuss how many onions they have eaten and how badly they must stink.
A couple of nights later, Stanley lies awake feeling happy for the first time in years. He imagines what it would be like if he and Zero filled their jars and canteen with water, took as many onions as they could carry, and snuck down to Camp Green Lake. Nobody would be looking for them anymore, so they could slip into the camp at night to steal water and food. They might get away, but they would have to live the rest of their lives as fugitives.
At first Stanley does not take the idea of running away seriously, but the more he thinks about it, the more it seems plausible. It occurs to him that if he and Zero are going to be fugitives, they should have money. They can get money if they find Kissin’ Kate Barlow’s treasure. He still knows where he found that lipstick tube, so maybe he and Zero can find the loot.
Stanley wakes Zero and asks, “Do you want to dig one more hole?”