2002 draft - chapters 21-30
By Eric Nakao
(bgn sp 4, 02/sp 5, 02)
Lulu, Wendy and Technita walked down the hallways of Schlicter Valley High. Barelle was not with them. She had been banished from the group by Lulu for treason and insubordination. And Lulu? She was feeling good. For though they were now one member short, she had maintained discipline, had set the boundaries between a smooth running operation and anarchy. Barelle would never be allowed back into the group as far as Lulu was concerned. She couldn't be trusted, couldn't be tolerated. For she had proved herself disloyal to her leader, her friend, and was thus relegated to the unenviable status of enemy alien outsider.
Yet at the same time, it was kind of quiet without Barelle around. She and Lulu had been friends since the second grade and had always stuck up for each other when things got rough. Wendy and Technita were her friends, too. Loyal, trustworthy, did what they were told, but they weren't quite all there when you needed to bounce an idea or two off of someone. That was Barelle's job. They hadn't always agreed, mind you, but that was OK. For a strong leader, even a self-proclaimed one, needed someone like that to keep things in perspective, to keep things fresh.
"Whadaya say, Wendy?" said Lulu after awhile.
Wendy shrugged, giggled and kept on walking.
"Yeah, gonna miss that Barelle," thought Lulu. "But it had to be done."
The three friends walked a little while longer, then Lulu stopped. She had an idea. She took a dollar out of her pocket and handed it to Wendy.
"Hey Wendy, why don't you and Technita go to the candy machine and buy yourselves something good. I got business to take care of."
Wendy's bright green eyes lit up even more and she took her big hulking friend by the hand to go on their latest mission.
Lulu watched the two go happily off to candy land. It gave her such joy to bring pleasure to others. Why couldn't others see that in her? "Oh well," thought Lulu. "Thems that got, got. And thems that don't, don't." But she had a plan to change all that. Soon, it wouldn't just be Wendy and Technita who would appreciate her for her kind and generous spirit. Soon, everyone would see, would appreciate. And all Lulu had to do was convince that young boy reading the flier taped to the wall to play along. Actually, he wasn't that young. He was Lulu's age. It was Miguel, from civics class. But whenever Lulu thought of bringing someone into her world, she had a tendency to think of them as being younger than her, more innocent, impressionable, in need of guidance and a steady hand. And now Lulu saw Miguel as someone worthy of being brought into her world and he would thank her for it some day.
Lulu sidled up next to Miguel, looked at the flier for awhile, then spoke.
"Hey Miguel, whadaya say?" she said.
"Oh, hey Lulu," said Miguel. "Nothin' much."
"Sure you do," said Lulu appearing to read the text more closely. "Student elections. You gonna do it?"
"Nah," said Miguel, a little embarassed.
"You should. You'd be good," said Lulu with her version of a smile. "You know, I really liked what you said in class today. About the Pie Theory."
Miguel nodded and smiled back. What did Lulu want? She had never really talked to him before and now here she was being all chatty and friendly. He would have to be careful.
"Hey, you said some nice things, too. Maybe you should run."
"Me? I don't think so," said Lulu making a little face. "No one would vote for me. You, though. They'd vote for you."
She nodded encouragingly.
"Me? No. Same thing," said Miguel. "I'm just looking."
"Yeah, yeah," said Lulu. "Same thing. Just looking."
Lulu was beginning to get a little impatient. This wasn't working out quite as she hoped and she was beginning to tire from the strain of being pleasant.
The two stood silently for awhile. Miguel was wondering if he should leave when he heard two girls giggling their way towards him. Miguel looked to his left and saw two laughing girls stumbling in his direction, the pretty skinny one leaning hilariously against the big hulking one for support. Miguel recognized them. They were from his civics class, too, and they always hung out with Lulu and some other girl.
"Hey," Lulu called out to her friends. "What's so funny? Where's your candy? Technita, show me your Ho Ho."
The two girls renewed their laughter, Wendy her high-pitched giggle and Technita her low-pitched husky imitation of a giggle.
"Can't," said Wendy between breaths. "Candy machine got busted."
(end sp 3, 02)
"Oh, really," said Lulu, momentarily forgetting about Miguel. "Well, why didn't you go to one of the other ones instead?"
"Because Technita had to go potty," said Wendy with a squeak, then lowered her voice. "Technita's got the curse," she said in a semi-ominous croak, then burst out in another fit of high-pitched laughter.
"Is that right?" said Lulu to Technita.
Technita smiled, looked at Miguel and blushed.
"Did you take care of it?"
Technita looked down at the ground and nodded.
"You threw it away?"
Technita nodded again.
"Or did you flush it down the toilet?"
Technita was silent for a moment, then nodded again. Wendy shreiked with delight.
"Technita," said Lulu with a sigh. "You know you're not supposed to do that. It clogs up all the pipes, remember?"
Technita nodded, her wide sloping shoulders beginning to rollick with laughter.
"Technita's got the curse and now the whole school's got the curse," croaked Wendy, then burst into laughter, burying her delighted face in the crook of her hulking friend's rollicking shoulder.
"Well, why doesn't she just use one of those disposable tampons?" said Miguel suddenly feeling that he wanted to become part of this discussion.
"Can't," said Wendy, eyeing Miguel with interest. "Technita needs the special-made, super duper pads you can't flush."
"Oh," said Miguel, letting his eye linger a little on the bewitching green-eyed girl.
Lulu noticed this little exchange between Wendy and Miguel and got another idea.
"Yeah, this world ain't never seen a woman quite like Technita before," said Lulu to Miguel, then leaning in a little closer, "pretty, isn't she," she said.
Miguel shrugged. Sure, she was pretty. He assumed she was talking about Wendy. A little thin, slight, but with just the right amount of curves to make her interesting.
Wendy became aware that she was being discussed and turned solemn. Lulu went over to her, whispered something in her ear and brought her back to stand next to Miguel.
"OK, let's try this again," said Lulu. She took a worn out dollar bill from her pocket and held it up. "Wendy, who's this?"
Wendy examined the old green man with the funny hair..
"George Washington," said Wendy with a giggle.
"Right," said Lulu proudly. "And what is he?"
"President," said Wendy confidently. "And a heck of a kisser." Wendy dissolved into laughter, leaning against Miguel for support.
"That's right," said Lulu happily. "And what's this?"
Lulu traced her finger around the oval frame of George's familiar portrait. Wendy studied the lines and came up empty. She slipped her hand in Miguel's and leaned her head against his shoulder, a little sad.
Lulu turned her attention to Miguel.
"Miguel, what's this?"
"I don't know," he said, feeling Wendy's cool soft hand in his. "A line? A border?"
"No," said Lulu growing excited. "It's a pie."
A little pop of laughter escaped from Wendy. She tightened her grip on Miguel's hand and then relaxed.
"A pie," said Miguel.
"Yes," said Lulu. "Remember? The Pie Theory? Your theory?"
Miguel shook his head.
"It's not my theory," he said.
Lulu leaned in real close to Miguel. "Sure it is," she said in an almost cooing manner, but there was nothing soothing about it. In fact, Miguel was beginning to feel a little threatened. He instinctively tightened his grip on Wendy's hand and she let out a little yelp. Miguel tried to relaxed.
"You brought it up, so it's your theory," Lulu continued. "And this," she said pointing to the green-tinted portrait on the dollar bill, "is you."
"I'm George Washington?"
Wendy buried her face in Miguel's shoulder, her own slender shoulders shaking with laughter.
"No," said Lulu, tightening her own grip, though she held no one's hand. "President. Of the Pie Theory Party."
"President of the Pie Theory Party," said Miguel, a little confused.
"Right," said Lulu. "President of the Pie Theory Party. President of Schlicter Valley High."
Miguel was beginning to see where this was leading and wasn't sure he liked what he saw.
"But why me?" he said, attempting a deflection. "Why not you? Or Wendy?"
Wendy smiled and began tracing her finger up Miguel's arm.
"Because nobody likes us," said Lulu.
Wendy smiled, then frowned.
"Sure they do. Everybody likes you," said Miguel.
"No they don't," said Lulu. "Everybody likes you though."
"No no no," said Miguel. "Everybody does not like me."
"Yes," said Lulu. "Everybody likes you. I could see it in class when you were talking about the Pie Theory and everyone was agreeing with you."
"That doesn't mean they like me," said Miguel. "Besides, you were talking about the Pie Theory, too."
"Yeah, and you could feel the temperature drop about 90 degrees."
"Well, that's because you're so scary sometimes," said Miguel.
A staticky smirk came from Wendy's direction.
"I mean, not scary, but…"
"No no, you're right," said Lulu. "I'm scary, but you're not. So…"
"No no, I can be scary," said Miguel.
"No, Miguel, you could never be scary," said Lulu. "That's why we need you. Someone everyone can relate to, can feel good about. But when you're running for office you need something more. You need strategy. You need focus. You need ambition. And that's where we come in. You put your big friendly face out there and shake people's hands and me and Wendy…" Technita waved to Lulu. "…and Technita will do whatever it takes to drive you and the Pie Theory Party to the top of the Schlicter Valley Student Government display case. What do you say, Miguel?"
Miguel wasn't sure what to say. He wasn't seriously considering running for office, let alone having someone driving him there in a potentially scary kind of way. On the other hand, it might be kind of fun and it would certainly look good on his college applications. And there was Wendy, too, of course, even though she didn't seem to be quite all there. And Lulu? Well, it seemed to Miguel that she needed him more than he needed her, so maybe that wouldn't turn out so badly either.
Miguel took a breath and assumed a thoughtful expression.
"Well, Lulu," he said. "Your offer is certainly intriguing, but can I have some more time to think about it? I kind of have a lot on my plate right now."
Lulu glared at Miguel in disbelief. People usually accepted or rejected her right away. But here was Miguel saying that he needed more time, to think, no less.
"Come on, Miguel, don't play hard to get. We both know what you want," said Lulu, cocking her strangely shaped head in Wendy's direction.
"I want more time," said Miguel.
Wendy giggled again.
"No you don't," said Lulu.
"Yes I do," said Miguel.
"No you don't," said Lulu.
"All right. What do I want then?" said Miguel.
"You want, you want a girl!" sputtered Lulu. "You want Wendy! Wendy! Am I right?"
Wendy looked expectantly from side to side with her big green eyes.
"Well, I like Wendy. That's true," said Miguel. Wendy relaxed a little. "But Wendy's her own person. You can't just pass her around like a, like a…" Wendy whispered in Miguel's ear. "…bag of licorice whips."
Wendy wrapped her skinny arms around Miguel's neck and peered out at Lulu with a mischievous smile on her big cartoony mouth.
"I don't!" cried Lulu. "Wendy makes her own decisions and she's decided to do whatever I tell her for the good of the group, isn't that right, Wendy?"
Wendy's face turned pensive as she thought over what Lulu had just said. She shifted her weight from leg to leg, putting a bony-thin finger to the side of her mouth and furrowing her brow in concentration. Then, in a moment of clarity, her face turned alluringly knowing and shrewd and she whispered something to Miguel.
"Are you sure?" said Miguel. Wendy giggled and nodded.
"What? What? What did she say?" cried Lulu.
(bgn sp 21, 02)
"Wendy says I should run," said Miguel. "So I guess I'm in."
Wendy giggled again. Lulu calmed down.
"Oh, all right," she said, looking a little deflated.
(end sp 4, 02)
Friendship can be a precarious thing sometimes. You can be sailing happily along when suddenly, your ship hits a rock and starts filling with water. You start to panic, then realize that your crew is counting on you to lead them to safety. "Man the life-boats!" you cry as your ship slowly begins to sink. But as you, yourself, enter a lifeboat, you notice that your crew is happily boarding another ship. "Hey, what about me?" you cry. "Oh," they say, looking down on you in your little lifeboat. "Sorry." And they throw you a line and haul you on board the new ship, still their captain, but not quite the same as before.
(end sp 21, 02)
"So, how's your plan to change the social and academic fiber of Schlicter Valley High coming along?" said Tsu as she ate lunch with Amelia in Amelia's office.
"Well, I've given it a lot of thought," said Amelia, "and I've come to the conclusion that the problem with this school is that it has no direction, no purpose."
"Oh," said Tsu. "So what direction would you like the school to take and why?"
"The direction is up and the why is because I'm sick of this place, that's why."
"Why don't you just leave?" said Tsu.
" I already told you that East Nareen wouldn't take me."
"Go to some other school."
"Other schools aren't much better than Schlicter," said Amelia. "I've got seniority here. I've got connections. I can do more here than anyplace else."
"So what are you gonna do?"
"I'm gonna lift this school up."
"Yes, but how?"
"How do you lift your students up?"
"Oh," said Tsu letting out a breath of air. "I teach them."
"Well, I lecture, assign readings and papers…"
"And this lifts them up?"
"It teaches them," said Tsu. "I hope it lifts them up."
"So teaching them and lifting them up aren't really the same thing."
"Well, I guess not."
"So what do you do to lift them up?"
"Well," said Tsu, trying to think. "I try to teach them important things."
"And teaching them important things lifts them up?"
"Sure, if they're paying attention."
"And how do you make sure they're paying attention?"
"Well, by trying to make it interesting…"
"Aha!" said Amelia.
"And how do you make things interesting?"
"Well, by choosing subjects that might be relevant to their lives, by presenting the subject in a clear and compelling manner, by being fair, honest, open, engaging…"
"Aha," said Amelia. "So would you say that the burden of making a subject interesting falls on you."
"I suppose," said Tsu with a shrug. "I am the teacher and I feel that I have certain responsibilities to…"
"Yes yes. So in answer to your original question, how do I, Amelia Ablodoglio, intend to lift this school up? I intend to lift this school up by making things interesting."
"What things?" said Tsu.
"Important things. Any things. The important thing is to engage the hearts and minds and bodies of the student population and the rest will follow."
"Yes. The thing is, people wanna be engaged, physically, emotionally and spiritually. And these other things, religion, politics, society, are just the vehicles that people use to get their daily dose of the aforementioned."
"So how are you gonna engage them?"
"By giving them what they want."
"And what do they want?"
"To be engaged."
"You're losing me here."
"No," said Amelia. "You're just hung up on the idea that people want some thing like a job or a spouse."
"So what are you saying, that people could be just as happy married to a fire hydrant as they could another person?"
"If the fire hydrant engaged them as physically, emotionally and spiritually as a person, sure."
"If they did," said Tsu, emphasizing the if.
"Yes. If they did, they would," said Amelia.
Tsu looked skeptically at her friend.
"OK, look. Forget the fire hydrant," said Amelia. "Now, suppose a person is in an unhappy relationship. Why is this?"
"Because they're not engaged?"
"Yes. Now suppose another person comes along and this person is charming, attractive and spiritual."
"Yes. So does the person in the unengaging relationship remain with that first person or find fulfillment and happiness with the engagingly attractive second person?"
"Number two. Unless there are children involved or person number one has a lot of money and is out of town a lot."
"Two other engagements that we won't get into at the moment," said Amelia. "But the point is that the attraction, the motivation, is not the particular person, but rather those things that engage the person in the relationship."
"What about loyalty?"
"If loyalty truly engages that person, then remaining in that original relationship would be an acceptable option. But if that person remains in that relationship merely out of a societal paradigm that requires loyalty, then we have a person out of whack and in need of our services."
"Of the party we're going to create."
"We're gonna throw a party?"
"No. We're going to create a party. A political party."
"Why?" said Tsu. "Are you gonna run for office?"
"No," said Amelia.
"Cause I'm not running," said Tsu.
"You're too old."
"Oh yeah? Well, you've got bad hair."
"No no," said Amelia. "I'm too old, too. The political party is for the students."
"You're going to use the students as part of your plan."
"I'm liking this less and less," said Tsu.
"Who better to lift the school up than the students?"
"The students are here to learn, not to lift things."
"Agh, they'll love it."
"They could also get hurt."
"We'll make it voluntary."
"But look what they've got, a crummy education in a shitty school…"
"…that's gonna get torn down anyway."
"To each thing there is a season. And that's just a rumor."
"But I can make this place great. And they'll be the ones to benefit."
"Through what? Your cockamamie engagement party?"
"It's not cockamamie. It's the way of the world," said Amelia. "By the way, Engagement Party is a catchy name. I'll think I'll use it."
"Fine. Use the name, not the students."
"I'm not using them. I'm facilitating them. I'm counseling them. That's my job."
"Your job is to counsel them on individual problems. Not use them in some grand scheme that you don't even know will work."
"They're having student elections anyway. What's the harm? What would be the difference from my counseling them on the political direction they should take and you're teaching them about various political strategies."
"That's my job. I'm a teacher."
"But you wouldn't object to them using what you taught them in their campaign."
"No. As long as they used it to accomplish something that they themselves came up with, not for my own personal ends."
"Fine, that's what I'll do, too."
"But you just told me that you're doing this to lift the school up."
"Forget that. You've shown me the error of my ways and I repent. Instead of forming this party to lift the school up, I offer it freely and openly to any who would wish to use it for their own personal ends."
Tsu looked at her friend skeptically again.
"So, are you in?" said Amelia.
Tami and Tamika sat in front of their lockers in the cheerleader section of the girls' locker room. They had gotten Roland home safely yesterday, suffered through their half day suspension and now were ready to begin another day.
"That's not gonna look good," said Tami shaking her head as she began unlocking her locker.
"What. Brown top with white shoes?"
"No," said Tami annoyed. "Our suspension yesterday. On our records. The worm of iniquity nibbles quietly along the borders of my once pristine consciousness."
"Oh," said Tamika. "Well, didn't Principal Nolo say we could clear our records with 200 hours of community service?"
"Community service," said Tami with a dismissive snort. "Community service is something convicted felons do to avoid spending time in the slammer."
She banged on the metal door of her locker for emphasis.
"We'd be helping people though, wouldn't we?" said Tamika. "People First, remember?"
"People First," said Tami, not at all pleased. "People First freely. People First willingly, happily. Not People First penalty. Not People First iniquity."
Tamika let Tami seeth for a few moments.
"But we've done community service before and we were happy."
"That was voluntary!" cried Tami. "We did community service before because we're a People First people who revel in our humanity! Who are humble in the face of adversity, but steadfast in our determination to overcome! Justice! Justice! My heart cries out for justice and there's not a soul to speak!" And with that, Tami flung open her locker and let out a bloodcurdling scream. She shot up and pointed at a body lying curled and lifeless inside the familiar metal box. "Roland! What are you doing in there!"
Roland lolled his pale lifeless head towards Tami and Tamika.
"Oh, hi guys. Is it morning yet?"
Tami grabbed Roland by the shirt. "You get out of there right now!" she hissed and yanked Roland out of her locker like a big dummy.
"You idiot! What are you doing in there?"
"Oh, well, you gave me your combination yesterday. I thought it was an invitation to spend the night."
Tami threw up her hands and stalked away to blow off some steam.
"Roland," said Tamika. "You spent the night here?"
"Well, you know, I needed a place to stay."
"Tami, Tami," Tamika called out to her friend. "Did you hear that? Roland said he spent last night in your locker because he need a place to stay."
Tamika heard the sound of fists banging against metal from the far side of the room. She turned back to Roland.
"But we took you home yesterday, didn't we? Why didn't you stay there?"
"Oh. Well. They threw me out."
"Did you hear that, Tami? They threw him…" Tamika turned back to Roland. "They threw you out? Why did your parents throw you out?"
"Well," said Roland. "they're not really my parents."
"Really," said Tamika. "So you're like a, a foster child or something? Did you hear that, Tami? Roland's like a foster child or something."
"I'm not, no."
"You're not no what? You're not no foster child?"
"So what, they're like your relatives or friends?"
Roland shook his head.
"Acquaintances? Religious commune?"
Roland shook his head again.
"So, you, like, knew them, didn't you?"
"Tami, Roland says…"
"I heard him," said Tami, back from her sojourn. "So. Roland. You walked into a house of complete strangers and they threw you out, eh?"
"Remember, People First," said Tamika in an attempt to calm down her friend.
Tami took a deep breath and continued.
"So. Roland. Wandering soul. Babe in the woods. Why didn't you tell us?"
"Yes, Roland, why didn't you tell us?" said Tamika. "Remember, People First. Nice People First."
She gave Roland a sympathetic nod.
"Well, I didn't want to get you in anymore trouble, you know, after your suspension at all."
"Did you hear that, Tami?" said Tamika, tears beginning to glisten.
"I'm sitting right here, Tamika. OK, Roland, now that was very nice of you not to want to get me and Tamika in trouble, but then why did you come back here to stay in my locker? Don't you think that that could get us into trouble as well?"
Roland shook his head.
"Well, it was getting late. And you gave me your combination…"
"And you gave him your combination," said Tamika grasping her friend's arm for emphasis. "I might have done the same thing were I in Roland's position."
She nodded sympathetically at Tami who gave her a funny look.
"But it's daylight now," said Roland. "My mind is clear. I can see that I've upset you again, so I guess I'll be moving on."
Roland began to gather his things.
"Roland…" said Tami, upset at his pathetic situation.
"No no," said Roland. "I've caused you enough trouble. I'll always think kindly of you. Here." Roland handed Tami a familiar looking article of clothing. "I washed your brassiere last night and used it as a pillow. I hope you don't mind."
"It's very soft, by the way."
"Now, Tami. No, Roland, wait" said Tamika, holding out her hand to stop him. "Stay in my locker."
"What???" said Tami again.
"Stay in my locker, Roland. As long as you want. I don't mind."
Tami gave Tamika another funny look. Tamika raised the palms of her hands to show that she saw no other way.
"Oh, I couldn't. Really," said Roland.
Suddenly, a voice came from the other side of the room.
"Is everything OK over there?"
It was Mrs. Dooley, the dedicated, though slightly obtuse, girls' physical education instructor.
"Quick, quick, get back in my locker!" whispered Tami to Roland.
"But I thought…"
"Never mind what you thought, just do it!"
Tami shoved him back in her locker and slammed the door shut.
"Shut up!" hissed Tami.
"Is everything OK here, girls?" said Mrs. Dooley appearing from around the corner.
"Oh, everything's fine," said Tami cheerfully.
"Peachy keeny," said Tamika with a smile.
(Je 21) "I thought I heard something."
"Oh, it was probably just…noise," said Tami.
"Noisy noise," said Tamika laughing.
"Achoo!" said Tami quickly, doubling over and banging on her locker with her fist.
"There it is again, Mrs. Dooley," said Tamika laughing, then banging twice on Tami's locker. "Noisy noise."
"Noisy noise," said Tami laughing, with a final locker hit.
"Well good," said Mrs. Dooley, slightly flustered. "Then maybe you girls can help me unpack some boxes in my office.
Tami and Tamika exchanged quizzical glances.
"Oh sure, we'd love to," said Tami.
"We love helping," said Tamika.
And the two girls followed Mrs. Dooley into her office to help her unpack.
(bgn sp 6, 14, 17, 02)
Eppie walked towards the park. It was still fairly early, about a half an hour before school started. Mavis had said to meet her here in the morning. Would she even be there? She seemed like a flighty sort of person. Good-intentioned, well mannered, but not reliable. Eppie saw the park. And at a bench, her bench, sat a girl. It was Mavis. She had made it. She was there. She was reliable, after all. Mavis waved at Eppie and seemed happy to see her. Eppie waved back and smiled. She liked Mavis. She just didn't understand her.
"Hi," said Mavis brightly, holding out her hand.
"Hey," said Eppie, taking Mavis's hand and letting herself be drawn down again. "I wasn't sure you'd be here."
Mavis looked at Eppie as if she didn't understand.
"I mean I wasn't sure how early in the morning you meant," said Eppie.
"Oh, me, too," she said and laughed some more.
Eppie laughed too, but was beginning to feel a little uneasy.
"Uh, you said you had something to tell me?"
Mavis nodded excitedly.
"Yes. And a surprise."
"Oh?" said Eppie
"Well," said Mavis. "I…am running…for class…president!"
She clapped her hands and looked into Eppie's face for a reaction.
"Oh well, that's…wonderful!" said Eppie trying not to disappoint. "And what's the surprise?"
Mavis fixed Eppie with an expectant gaze.
"You're…running…with me!" she squealed and threw her arms around Eppie who struggled to maintain her equilibrium.
"Oh Mavis, no," she practically gasped.
"Yes!" squealed Mavis.
"But why? Why me?"
Mavis stopped hugging Eppie and looked fondly into her running mate's whirling eyes.
"Because it was meant to be," she explained. "Mavis and Eppie. Eppie and Mavis. Can't you feel it, too?"
"Oh no," thought Eppie. The signal for help she had sent out to Mavis the other day must have gotten mixed up somehow. "Oh Mavis, I can't run," she said.
"But why not?" said Mavis.
"Because…" Eppie searched for the right words. "…I don't like doing that sort of thing. I came here, to Schlicter Valley, to not do that sort of thing. You understand, don't you?"
Eppie waited for a reply, but Mavis seemed lost in thought.
"I mean I think it's wonderful you're running and I'll do anything I can to help, but I'd rather not run myself, all right?"
Eppie studied Mavis's face for some sign of understanding, but couldn't quite get a fix on her. This seemed to be Mavis's natural state. The excited happy Mavis was nice to see, but a little scary. Eppie wasn't sure she wanted that. But she would at least need part of it if she was going to form some sort of relation with Mavis.
(bgn sp 21, 02)
"Well, it's getting late. We'd better get going," said Eppie. "We'll talk more about this in class."
(end sp 5, 14, 17, 02)
Eppie approached Ms. Min's class, her head in a cloud of pensive distraction. The way things had gone that morning was upsetting to her. She felt she had hurt Mavis again. Mavis's announcement of running for office had seemed to make Mavis happy and Eppie was happy for her. But then came the surprise that Mavis expected Eppie to run with her. And Mavis seemed even happier about this than she seemed at the thought of running herself. She had thrown her arms around Eppie and given her a hug. But then Eppie had had to turn her down and that's where Eppie's feeling that she had hurt Mavis came into play.
Eppie entered Ms. Min's class. Mavis was not there.
"Oh Mavis, Mavis, why aren't you here?" thought Eppie as she sat at a desk near the back.
Eppie had even thought up some ideas for Mavis's campaign since early this morning. And shouldn't that be enough? She was going to help Mavis with her campaign. Friends help friends and Eppie was going to help Mavis. That seemed like enough.
Eppie heard someone saying something about pies. Mavis had given Eppie an apple and a hug. Eppie had given Mavis two stories about herself. One that drew Mavis closer, the other, that drove her away. Would it be so terrible for Eppie to run with Mavis? They could run a nice simple campaign, get lost in the crowd, short concession speech, then back to the old routine. It was worth a thought.
But why did Mavis even want to run? It didn't seem like her. And President, no less. Someone else must have given her the idea.
"Frackle," thought Eppie. For she was Mavis's counselor. An agent of influence.
"Did you say something, Eppie?" came a voice.
"Oh no," thought Eppie, hoping she hadn't said Ms. Frackle's name out loud.
"Uh, no, Ms., uh…"
"Well, maybe you'd like to tell us your thoughts on what was just said," said Ms. Min.
"Could you refresh my memory a little?"
Eppie heard a snort of derision from Lulu's direction.
"The Pie Theory," said Ms. Min.
"Oh, the Pie Theory," said Eppie. "Are we still talking about that?"
(2004 note: Connie and Wendy are the same character. I was trying out different names.)
"Are we still talking about that?" said Lulu sarcastically as she slammed her books down on the bench. "That girl has to be destroyed."
"Give it up, Lulu," said Barelle morosely, sitting down. She had gotten back in the group easily enough, mostly by just showing up and putting up with Lulu's abuse for a little while.
"But she wants to die," said Lulu.
Technita sat down next to Barelle.
"She doesn't want to die. Nobody wants to die."
Technita rested her lumbering head on her friend's shoulder. Barelle patted her on the knee.
"Besides, you have your campaign to think about, remember?"
"That's right," said Lulu rubbing her fingers together. "Where's Miguel?"
Lulu looked around until she saw Miguel and Connie listing in the hallways.
"Miguel! Connie! Stop that nonsense and get over here!"
She saw Miguel and Connie look in her direction, then they whispered something to one another and Lulu heard Connie giggle.
"Don’t think I don't know what you're talking about over there because I do! Now get over here!"
Miguel and Connie whispered something else to each other then started making their way to the bench.
"OK," said Lulu. "Now that we're all here, let's get organized."
Connie giggled. Lulu grabbed Connie and sat her on the bench next to Technita and Barelle. Technita lifted her enormous cotton head from Barelle's shoulder and placed it on Connie's giggly shoulder.
"OK. Miguel. What did you think about what was said in class today?"
Miguel leaned against a pole and shrugged.
"Don't know," he said. "Wasn't paying attention."
He smiled at Connie who giggled again.
"Connie, would you stop giggling?" said Lulu.
"I thought you liked it when I giggled," said Connie.
"Not now," said Lulu. "We have to focus."
Connie brightly animated face grew still and silent as Technita heaved a heavy sigh.
"Now Miguel, what you said is just not acceptable," said Lulu sharply. "You're our Presidential candidate and it's imperative that you be up on everything. Don't know. Wasn't paying attention. Those are loser answers."
Miguel shrugged. Technita yawned.
"What about the Pie Theory?" said Barelle.
"Hey, everything flows from the Pie Theory," said Lulu. "Candy machine? A, B and C are in. D, E and F are out. School spirit? Good students and cheerleaders are in. Bad students and assholes are out."
"How do you get rid of an asshole?" said Barelle.
"Shut it down," said Lulu.
"How do you shut down an asshole?" said Miguel.
"By not feeding it."
"How do you feed an asshole?" said Connie with a giggle.
"You don't feed the asshole," said Lulu. "You feed the mouth and the mouth feeds the asshole. So when you cut off the mouth, you cut off the asshole."
"How do you cut off an asshole? Wouldn't that just make it bigger?" said Barelle.
"You don't cut off the asshole, you asshole, you cut off it's supply and the asshole withers and dies. It's basic Pie Theory."
"Does an asshole ever really die?" said Technita.
"We put it out of commission then."
"What about the mouth? The mouth is kind of a reverse asshole, isn't it?"
"When we cut off the mouth's supply, it withers and dies also."
"But the mouth has other functions also, like speech."
"And kissing," said Connie, pushing away from Technita and casting a loving gaze at Miguel.
"Well, speech's supply is thought," said Lulu.
"Food for thought."
"So we plug up the ears, pinch down the nose and shutter up the eyes."
"What about the brain?" said Miguel.
"We kill the brain."
"What about the heart?" said Connie.
"The heart goes, too."
"And that's the Pie Theory?" said Miguel.
"Only for assholes," said Lulu.
Technita tried to put her head on Connie's shoulder again, but Connie pushed her away and went over to Miguel.
"I don't know if I like that," said Miguel.
"Me neither," said Connie.
"It's not for you to like or not like. You're the candidate. I'm the brains. I think. You act. Got that?"
"I thought we killed the brains," said Barelle.
Lulu whirled quickly around.
"Only for assholes, asshole," she said angrily.
Technita, saddened by rejection, got up from the bench and slowly began to lumber down the hallway.
"Technita! Where are you going?" shouted Lulu.
But Technita didn't answer.
"Agh, let her go," said Lulu with a wave of her hand. "We don't need her."
(bgn sp 14, 15, 16, 18, 21, 02)
Eppie walked down the hallways of the counselors' building. She had never been in here before. There was Ms. Ablodoglio's office. If Eppie was ever going to talk with a counselor she thought it would be her, but apparently not. She had come to talk about Mavis and since Ms. Frackle was Mavis's counselor, she would be the one to speak with.
There was Ms. Frackle's office. Eppie approached, stood outside and listened like a spy. Nothing. She opened the door slightly and peered in, again like a spy, and there she was, Ms. Frackle. She was younger than Eppie had expected. She could have been Eppie's older sister or younger mother, her young mom. She had an attractive face. Lovely to look at, lovely to behold. But her most attractive feature was her seeming aura of optimism, the kind of optimism where you felt that practically anything was possible as long as there was someone who cared.
(end sp 6, 02)
Juney looked up from her desk.
"Hi," she said. "Can I help you?"
Eppie was taken aback. She didn't think Ms. Frackle could talk for some reason.
"Oh no. I was just looking for someone," said Eppie.
"Oh really? Who? I know practically everyone."
"Knows practically everyone," thought Eppie. She didn't like the sound of that.
"Uh, Mavis," she said in a noncommital manner.
(bgn sp 12, 02)
"Ah," said Juney smiling to herself. For Mavis seemed to be returning to her old, sort of normal self, after their strange interlude a couple of days ago. And though there were still concerns, to have another student stop by who cared enough about Mavis to come looking for her seemed like another step in the right direction.
"Well, come on in," she said.
(end sp 12, 02)
Eppie hesitated. Maybe she had made a mistake coming here. "Just passing through," she would say with a laugh, then go on her merry way.
"Oh, I was just passing through," said Eppie. "Maybe some other time."
Eppie laughed and started to exit.
"But I'd really like to talk with you," said Juney. "About Mavis, I mean."
Eppie stopped. Wasn't that why she had come here in the first place? To talk about Mavis?
"All right," said Eppie and shuffled her body into Juney's office. "Should I shut the door?"
"If you'd like."
Eppie shut it half way.
"Should I sit?"
"If you'd like."
Ms. Frackle wasn't going to make this easy. She was going to make Eppie work. She was gonna draw her out like a shrink, make her talk about herself, deep dark personal things that even Eppie herself didn't know about. Eppie sat in the chair opposite Ms. Frackle and looked around her office. Neat, yet cluttered. Books lined the shelves. A diploma from a semi-famous university. No pictures though. "No one to call your own?" thought Eppie. "Or just a private person."
Juney sat smiling warmly at Eppie like she already knew her. Eppie felt like she was going to give her a hug like Mavis had done. And the funny thing was, Eppie felt like a hug. "What am I doing here?" she thought, beginning to panic a little. She looked over Juney's desk. If she saw Kleenex and box of bon-bons she was leaving.
"So," said Juney. "You know Mavis."
"It's kind of warm in here, isn't it?"
"Is it?" said Juney. "Let me open a window."
Juney got up and opened a nearby window. She was graceful, like a dancer. Strong clean lines. Soft supple edges. Music filled the air when Ms. Frackle opened a window. Was it springtime in Paris? Autumn in July? Juney sat back down and smiled at Eppie.
"So where do you know Mavis from?" she said.
"Uh, we have a class together. Ms. Min."
"Ah," said Juney.
"And we talked together. In the park."
"Ah," said Juney. "Are you Eppie?"
Eppie almost jumped out of her chair. Not really. But on the inside, she almost did.
"She knows who I am," thought Eppie. "She knew who I was all along. She lured me in with her bon-bons and diploma, then hit me over the head with an open window."
"Yes I am," said Eppie with a smile. Two could play this game.
"Ah," said Juney. "I thought so."
"Why does she keep saying ah," thought Eppie.
"Mavis seems to be curious about you."
"Oh really," said Eppie nodding her head. "We just met."
Ms. Frackle nodded.
Ms. Frackle smiled.
"But I like her."
Ms. Frackle leaned forward a little.
"You used to go to East Nareen?" she said.
"Why is she asking me that?" thought Eppie. She thought she had come here to talk about Mavis.
"Uh, yes," she said.
"Oh, that's a very fine school," said Juney. "Mavis said she wanted to go there."
"Really," said Eppie, beginning to feel strangely about the direction Ms. Frackle was taking this.
"Yes, but I didn't think I could get Mavis in. They're very…" Juney searched for the right word. "…exclusive over there?"
"No, not at all," said Eppie, not wanting this to be about her again.
"Is that why you left?" said Juney. "Because they were too exclusive to you or for you in some way?"
Eppie sat silently for a moment. If Ms. Frackle were her attorney, she would have fired her on the spot. If she were her counselor, she would have fired her as well. But she was neither, so all Eppie could do was sit.
"No, not at all," she said.
"A school like Schlicter Valley must be kind of a let down after East Nareen."
"Not at all," said Eppie.
"You like your classes?"
"Of course," said Eppie. "But you know, I think I should be going now."
Eppie got up to leave. She wasn't going to give Ms. Frackle any more opportunities.
"Oh, of course," said Juney. "But I'd really like to see you and Mavis here together sometime, if that's OK with you."
Eppie sat back down. Mavis and her together? Where did that come from?
"Why?" she asked.
"Oh, I don't know," said Juney. "Mavis seems to like you and you seem to like her. It's just something I do to facilitate sometimes."
"Facilitate. Facilitate what?" thought Eppie. But she didn't want to take another trip through Frackle City right now and resumed her previous plan of dignified retreat.
"Oh sure, let me think about it," said Eppie rising and beginning her exit once again.
"Oh, and Eppie," said Ms. Frackle, stopping Eppie in her tracks. "My door is always open, not for just you and Mavis together, but for you alone, too."
Eppie took another look at the mysterious Ms. Frackle, smiled, nodded slightly, then turned and exited out the door.
(end sp 18, 21, 02)
"So are you in?" said Amelia.
"Why do I have to be in?" said Tsu annoyed.
"Well, I thought we could use your class to introduce my idea."
"I don't think so," said Tsu. "My class is for teaching, not recruiting."
"You wouldn't be recruiting, you'd be teaching."
"The Engagement Party is not civics."
"Sure it is. How could it not be civics?" said Amelia. "What are you teaching now?"
"We're doing a paper on what it means to live in a civil society, though it's taking them forever."
"Maybe they're not engaged."
"Or maybe they're lazy."
"Oh, I thought you said that it was up to the teacher to make things interesting."
"I did," said Tsu, slightly defensive. "I am."
"Sounds like you're in a rut."
"I'm not in a rut."
"How do you know that talking about the Engagement Party won't give them new ideas for their papers?"
"Well," said Tsu weighing her options. "I guess I could say something like, 'is it the role of a civil society to engage its citizens?'"
"That's the spirit."
"But I'm not going to talk about the Engagement Party."
"Fine," said Amelia. "I'll talk about the Engagement Party."
"Right after you talk about whatever it was you said you were going to talk about."
"Why don't you just start your own class?"
"No no," said Amelia, already in love with the idea that was forming in her mind. "You say something like, 'and now, without further ado, I'd like to introduce that tireless bewitching pooh-bah of that engaging new phenomenon that's sweeping the nation, my dear friend and colleague, Ms. Ablogoglio.' Amelia came around and placed her hands on Tsu's shoulders from behind. "Then you lead the applause, we embrace, lift our arms over our heads like champions, then you respectfully back off, still applauding and maybe wiping away a tear." Amelia leaned down and pressed her hot little cheek against her Tsu's cooler medium-sized cheek. "Do you think you can do that, Tsu-Tsu?"
"No," said Tsu, trying not to smile at her friend's Amelia-like antics. "And don't call me Tsu-Tsu."
"Oh, whatever you say," said Amelia sliding her cheek from Tsu's and standing upright again. "So can I come to your class?"
"I'll think about it," said Tsu.
"And talk about the Engagement Party?"
Tsu looked at her good friend's smiling bulldozer of a face.
"I'll think about it," she said.
(bgn sp 21, 02)
(end sp 21, 02)
Back in the cheerleader section of the locker room, Tami tapped on her locker door with a finely manicured nail.
"Roland? It's Tami," she said in a hushed tone. "Are you…are you home?"
Tami heard some rustling from within.
"Roland. It's OK. We're alone. Just me and Tamika."
Some more rustling was heard. Tami exchanged glances with Tamika. It was Tamika's turn to try.
"Roland, it's Tamika. Listen, we're sorry that we kept banging on your door yesterday, but Mrs. Dooley was out here and we couldn't take the chance of your being seen. You can understand that, can't you?"
"I'm cracking her open," said Tami.
"But what if he's not decent?"
Tami rapped on her locker door again.
"Roland, are you decent?"
"He's decent," said Tami. "Besides, what could we see that we haven't seen already?"
Tamika thought back to everything she had seen or almost seen of Roland's. "All right," she said.
Tami placed her fingers on the lock's round little knob and gave it a few cheerleader twirls till it clicked into place, obedient as always. She then swung open the door with a quick jerk, but her locker was empty.
"Roland?" she said.
Some more rustling was heard from Tamika's locker followed by some giggling. Tami signaled to Tamika to open up her locker and when she did, there was Roland.
"Roland, what are you doing?" said Tamika.
"We thought we heard you in Tami's locker."
"You did," said Roland. "Look."
Roland slid down the metal panel that separated Tami and Tamika's lockers.
"I borrowed some tools from metal shop last night and fixed it up."
"Well, that 's very resourceful, Roland," said Tamika.
"I like living here."
"Well that's all very well and good, Roland, but you can't," said Tami.
"Because it's a locker and people don't live in lockers. They live in houses or apartments."
"This is my house. This is my apartment. This is my home."
"And there's not enough room."
"Sure there is. In fact, there's room enough for two now. Come on."
Roland waved his hand for Tami to come join him.
"I don't think so."
"I'll try," said Tamika and climbed into the locker next to Roland.
"Now this is just stupid," said Tami.
"Kinda cozy," said Tamika with a smile at Roland.
"Safe neighborhood, reasonable rates, close to school," said Roland. "Besides, I saw something here last night."
"You saw something?" said Tamika.
"Yeah," said Roland adjusting his body. "You know, maybe this place isn't so great for two people."
"Oh, sorry," said Tamika, exiting sheepishly from the metal box.
"You have nothing to apologize for, Tamika. It's your locker," said Tami irritated. "Roland, get out of there and let Tamika have her locker back."
"That's OK," said Tamika sitting next to Tami again. "Now what were you saying about seeing something last night?"
(Je 28) "Well," said Roland, "you remember those three guys who jumped me the other day?"
"You saw them?" said Tami.
"Yes. One of them."
"Well, I hope you did the sensible thing and hid in my locker till he left," said Tamika.
"Oh, I thought about it," said Roland. "But then I sez to myself, I sez, hey I ain't a-scared-a you. Sure, when there was three-a youse guys I was maybe a little fershmuggened…"
"OK OK," said Tami. "So what was he doing in here?"
"That's what I was thinking. Hey, what are you doing in here?"
"Well, what was he doing in here?" said Tamika.
"He went to the bathroom."
"Why did he go to the bathroom in the girls' locker room," said Tami. "I don't like the sound of this."
"Neither did I," said Roland. "So I followed him in there."
"Yeah? And then what happened?"
"Then I saw him go into one of the stalls."
"Oh no," said Tamika.
"Yes," said Roland nodding vigorously.
"Well, and then what happened?"
"Well, then I heard a flush."
"Nothing," said Tami annoyed.
"Yes. Nothing. Nothing, nothing."
"How could there be nothing nothing?"
"That's what I said to myself, I said, hey, what are you doing in there, you big fershmuggy?"
"Did you check?"
"Yuh huh," said Roland. "I stealthily worked my way towards his stall, carefully softening my footfalls so as not to call attention to myself, moving my hands thusly from side to side, establishing a rhythm that propelled me forward with the utmost silence."
"Wow," said Tamika.
"Yes," said Roland nodding.
"Well, what did you see?" said Tami.
"Well, when I neared the stall, I ever so gently lowered my frame, horizontal to floor, lowering my frame of vision so as to espy the machinations of the beast within."
"And what was he doing?"
"Nothing," said Roland.
"Nothing? He was just sitting there?"
"Squatting? Lying? Leaning? What?"
"No," said Roland. "He was doing nothing because he was not there."
"Wow," said Tamika.
Roland nodded in agreement.
"What do you mean he wasn't there?" said Tami annoyed.
"I mean he wasn't there," said Roland.
"He left then."
"No," said Roland. "I followed him in. I saw him enter. I heard him flush. He did not leave."
Tami and Tamika exchanged puzzled glances.
"Then where did he go?" said Tami.
"There's only one place," said Roland.
"No way," said Tami.
"Yes," said Roland nodding. "Think about it. He enters, he flushes, he's gone. Where'd he go? You tell me."
"No," said Tami. "He's too big."
"Yeah, no," said Roland. "There've been times when I've gone in a stall, made a deposit, looked in the bowl and said no way, no way is that goin' down. But you know what?"
"No way," said Tami.
"It's the swirling motion, I think," said Roland.
"You can't swirl a whole person down a toilet," said Tami. "No way. No how. No way."
"Then where did he go? Tell me."
"I don't know," said Tami. "You must have passed out from the stress or something."
"Were you stressed, Roland?" said Tamika, placing a hand on his arm. "Have you eaten lately? Do you want a Ho Ho?"
Tamika began looking through her bag.
"No," said Roland. "I have eaten. I did not pass out. I know what I saw. I was there. You weren't."
Roland got up and began to pace.
"He's cranky," said Tamika nodding sympathetically to Tami.
"I am not cranky," said Roland. "I saw what I saw. I was there and I saw what I saw."
"He's crazy," said Tami.
"I am not crazy."
"You live in a locker and you tell me you're not crazy?"
"Well, you let me live in your locker, what does that make you?"
"OK, everybody calm down," said Tamika. "Now we're all under a lot of stress here."
"I'm not under stress," said Roland.
"OK," said Tamika. "We're all under a lot of stress here except Roland who says he's not under a lot of stress here. What's say we all go over to the toilet in question and have a look for ourselves."
"I'm up for that," said Roland.
"Let's get this over with," said Tami and three began making their way from the cheerleader section of the girls' locker room to the mysterious scene of the crime.
(end sp 10, 02)
(bgn sp 11, 02)
"Well, which one is it?" said Tami.
"The third one," said Roland. "And that makes a lot of sense, too. Number one for urine. Number two for the more substantial load, the hefty
"Oh Roland," said Tamika.
"And number three for body and soul."
"Why not number three for body and number four for soul?" said Tamika.
"You can't flush the soul," said Tami, then looking at Roland. "Or the body."
"I saw what I saw," said Roland.
"OK, let's have a look," said Tami and she opened up stall number three for an examination.
It was a regular looking toilet. White and shapely with an open-mouthed bulby top. Lips of curved porcelein, topped with a friendly black lid that conformed to the contours of its distressed human inhabitants. But its most important feature, at least to the three investigators, was the slender hole at the bowl's tapered bottom.
"No way," said Tami.
"It is kind of small, Roland," said Tamika.
"Maybe it stretches," said Roland, "like when babies are born."
"Toilets don't stretch," said Tami.
"Let's test it out," said Tamika.
"Flush a Ho Ho," said Tami.
Tamika got a Ho Ho out of her bag, dropped it in the bowl and flushed. Round and round the tube-shaped pastry went and upon reaching its destination, turned upright and spun quickly round the inner rim of the hole, sinking slowly down the tapered hole until it was gone.
"You see?" said Roland.
"That proves nothing," said Tami. "People are bigger than Ho Ho's. Get in, Roland."
"Is that such a good idea?" said Tamika. "Is this a People First kind of thing?"
"I don't mind," said Roland climbing into the bowl. "I'll go down for the cause."
"He's not going down," said Tami. "We're just bringing him back to reality. An OK kind of thing to do."
"Well, at least take this," said Tami taking her cell phone out of her bag and handing it to Roland. "Just in case something happens, you be sure and give us a call, OK?"
"Roger," said Roland.
"Any last words?" said Tami.
Roland shook his head.
"Let 'er rip," he said.
"Oh, I can't watch," said Tamika covering her eyes.
Tami pushed down the metal handle and the clear clean waters came rushing in and swirled ferociously around Roland's pale thin ankles.
"Bombs away!" cried Roland as the turbulent waters formed a mighty funnel around his lower extremeties, a vortex of unstoppable suction, pulling all that dared float and bobble within its awful whirl down into the dreaded passageway that lie at bowl's tubular bottom.
"Is he gone?" said Tamika from behind trembling fingers. "Is Roland gone?"
"See for yourself," said Tami.
Tamika slowly parted her still tremblin fingers and raised her gently misted eyelids to witness a miracle. Roland was not gone.
"Roland, you've come back!"
"Come back! He never left!" cried Tami. "Roland, get out of there."
Roland stood erect in the bowl, one hand stiffly at his side, the other clutching Tamika's cell phone.
"Two out of three."
Tami shook her head.
Roland sighed, unstiffened his pale thin body and climbed out of the bowl.
"I'm sorry you had to see that," he said.
"Are you sure you had the right bowl?" said Tamika.
"Right bowl, wrong idea," said Tami.
"I saw what I saw," said Roland.
"You didn't see nothin'," said Tami. "Did you actually see the little thuggie go down the toilet?"
"Well, well, of course you didn't."
"Then where did he go?" said Tamika.
"I don't know," said Tami shaking her head.
"And where did he come from?"
"The toilet," said Roland.
"Would you get your head out of that toilet, Roland?"
"Hey, that's it!" cried Roland. "He went in head first!"
Roland made a move for the bowl.
"No way," said Tami, grabbing Roland before he could dive in.
"But it makes sense. Babies are born head first, I should have gone down head first, too."
"Roland, even I have to agree with Tami on this one," said Tamika. "I just can't stand by and let you go down head first. How will you breathe?"
"But it makes sense. Babies are born head first to facilitate the slide. If they come out feet first, then they get stuck," said Roland mimicking the actions of a stuck baby. "And besides," he continued, pointing to his lower extremeties, "I was wearing shoes."
"But even if babies get stuck, they come out a little, don't they?" said Tamika. "Did you feel yourself go down at all, Roland?"
"Again with the well," said Tami. "Come on, let's get out of here."
And the three began exiting with Roland bringing up the rear.
"The Head First Party. That's what we should call ourselves," he said.
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WTH copyright (c) 2004 eric nakao (part of the collection "WTH and Doctor, My Boy Is Cracking Up") - pending
posted: december 17, 2004
web page update: december 21, 2004