Chapter 19 Summary

Victor does not have a key to the door of the Stella, but he goes to the old theater anyway. He sets his turtle carefully by the door and picks the lock. He knows that Scipio must have warned the children to run away by now, so he makes no effort to be quiet. When he finds the door barricaded with garbage, he shoves his way past it, wondering idly how a rich boy like Scipio fits in with a gang of runaways.

As he tiptoes into the auditorium, Victor uses a small flashlight to see where he is going. Something brushes past his face, and he jerks back in surprise before realizing it is just a pigeon. He stumbles on something and looks down at a row of mattresses. He takes in all the toys, stuffed animals, and comic books—as well as a childish picture of a pirate painted on the wall. Suddenly he finds himself imagining how wonderful it would feel to be a child and be free to live in such a place. Part of him wishes he could go back to being nine years old so he could move in.

Victor hears a sound behind him, and he realizes he is not alone. He laughs to himself and thinks it is silly for the children to imagine they can hide from him. He calls out into the darkness, telling the children that he will find them. “You can’t possibly think...that this could go on forever? How long is that going to last?” At that moment, Bo jumps from behind the dusty curtain. He asks if Victor has a gun. Victor says he does. When he gets out the gun to prove it, Bo frowns and says it cannot be real.

Victor keeps his eyes on Bo—he is determined not to lose him—but this is a mistake. The other five children are hidden among the theater seats, and they ambush Victor from the side. They tackle him, and each of them sits on a limb to keep him from moving. They tie him up, and Scipio shoves a rag in his mouth to gag him.

The children examine the gun and find that it is real. Hornet takes it and hides it. Scipio forbids the others to take out Victor’s gag, claiming that the man will only lie to them. They take Victor’s cell phone and identification, and then, on Scipio’s orders, they drag the man to the bathroom for safekeeping.