Study Guide

Hoot Chapter 20

By Carl Hiaasen

Chapter 20

  • The mayor, Councilman Grandy, and the city of commerce president are the first to show up for the groundbreaking. News and media outlets are next to show up on the scene since opening a pancake house is a big deal in a small down.
  • Ten minutes before the groundbreaking is scheduled to begin, Roy and Beatrice arrive. They are surprised and excited to see that kids from Roy's class and Beatrice's soccer team (and all their parents) show up as well.
  • But the one person that Roy doesn't see is Mullet Fingers.
  • The groundbreaking ceremony beings with Chuck Muckle as ringmaster.
  • Chuck isn't getting the warm reception he expected and is receiving silence from the crowd.
  • With some over-the-top (and unnecessary) gold shovels, the mayor, councilman, and city of commerce president all scoop up some sand to symbolically begin construction.
  • "It was the most bogus thing Roy had ever seen" (20.21).
  • Now it's Mother Paula's turn to speak a few words, which includes some nonsense about hoping to see the crowd at the grand opening in the spring.
  • This time, Roy shouts out that she won't.
  • It's enough for the actress to address Roy and ask why he's saying that.
  • Roy starts telling her about the owls and the burrowing holes that are all over the property.
  • The crowd starts noticing the holes while Chuck grabs the megaphone from the Mother Paula actress and tells Roy that there aren't any owls and that the holes are abandoned.
  • Nice try, Muckle. But Roy says he has proof and whips out his mom's camera.
  • Remember when we said he stashed the camera in his locker before looking at the pictures? Yeah, he should have looked at the pictures.
  • Because two pictures are completely unusable and the third is so blurry that it's almost impossible to make out the owl.
  • Chuck uses this to his advantage, saying that Roy is making it all up in his head and that the pictures aren't proof.
  • Roy's pictures are worthless.
  • But right before everyone starts to leave a voice says, "Wait, it ain't over! Not by a mile it ain't" (20.59).
  • Hurray! It's Mullet Fingers! And he has wiggled his way into one of the owl's burrows with only his head above ground.
  • In his mouth is a string that is attached to a bucket which Roy says has cottonmouth snakes in it.
  • Delinko walks over to the Mullet Fingers and asks him all sorts of questions about how he got in and if he has been the one messing with the construction site.
  • Mullet Fingers pleads the fifth on all accounts.
  • Then Delinko asks if he could look in the bucket—which worries Roy since he knows the snakes aren't real.
  • But when Chuck questions Delinko on what to do, the police officer declares, "Kid's for real. If I were you, I'd negotiate" (20.116).
  • Chuck will do nothing of the sort.
  • He grabs a shovel, heads towards the bucket and start bashing the snakes.
  • Eventually he destroys them all and realizes they're fake.
  • Now his fury is directed right at Mullet Fingers and he charges at him with the shovel.
  • Roy and Beatrice jump in front of Mullet Fingers to block Chuckie from getting to him.
  • One by one, people start joining them and creating a human fence protecting Mullet Fingers.
  • The media is loving this and the television station has started broadcasting the protest live.
  • The mayor, councilman, and city of commerce president quietly leave the scene.
  • Beatrice starts singing "This Land Is Your Land" and the Mother Paula actress asks Roy if she can join their circle.
  • The demonstration continues for an hour.
  • Eventually Mullet Fingers' mom shows up and makes a fuss over her son but Beatrice makes sure that everyone blocks her way.
  • Roy notices something flying above them and points it out to Beatrice.
  • The owl makes a spectacular landing on Mullet Fingers' head, who tells the bird that they're all safe now.

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