2002 draft - chapters 31-40
By Eric Nakao
(bgn sp 16, 02)
Isn't it frustrating when you know something is true, but can't prove it? You've seen something with your own eyes. Or at least you've seen the surrounding circumstances that would appear to point to that big important something. And yet when it comes time to share your revelation with the world, you are met with only skepticism, condescension or derision. Some respond to these disappointments by questioning their own convictions or falling into an unwavering silence. While others continue in their pursuit, certain in the truth of their knowledge, unstinting against the face of the opposing viewpoint, in all its various guises.
(end sp 16, 02/bgn sp 12, 02)
"The Head First Party. What does that even mean?" said Tami.
"It means, you know, use your head, the old cantaloupe," said Roland.
"For what, plunging into toilet bowls? Is that going to be our logo? A picture of you with your head in a toilet?"
"It could also mean think first," said Tamika.
"Think about what though? It's too general. Remember what I said about ideas getting in the way of people?"
"But you should think before you act."
"Yes," said Tami. "But only after you've put people first."
"You told me stand in the toilet," said Roland. "What was so people first about that?"
"I told you stand in the toilet to show you how wrong you were."
"Aha," said Roland. "So it was a Head First kind of thing."
"For you, not us, which is fine since it involved you and nobody else." said Tami. "If I had told you to stand in the toilet to prove my own idea or if it had involved some coercion or subterfuge, it would have been wrong…"
"But you just said you did it to show me how wrong I was."
"How wrong your idea was, not mine."
"But your action was still based on an idea."
"My idea was based on your idea!" cried Tami. "Without your idea, my idea would never have existed!"
"The Nice People Party wouldn't have told him to do that," said Tamika.
"But you let him do it, too," said Tami.
"I let him, but I didn't tell him," said Tamika. "And I issued a protest."
"That's right," said Roland. "And furthermore, you didn't let me stick my head in the toilet. Wasn't that my own idea that didn't involve anybody else?"
"Sticking your head in the toilet would have caused you harm, so I couldn't stand idly by and allow you do that," said Tami beginning to doubt the continuity of her actions.
"But if it was my idea…"
"All right," said Tami exasperated. "If you really want to stick your head in the toilet, then go ahead. I'm not your keeper."
"I can go?"
"And you won't stop me?"
"My feet are welded to the floor."
Roland shuffled around in his wet sneakers for awhile.
"I don't feel like it now," he said.
Tami threw up her hands and walked off.
"I'm glad you don't feel that way anymore, Roland," said Tamika, patting him on the shoulder.
"Not now, at least. I might again later."
Tamika smiled sympathetically and began recalling how meaty Roland had looked in his emu costume. Maybe she should get it for him to wear tonight, to get him to rid himself of his head first obsession. But then Tamika thought she saw a large lumbering figure entering the girls' restroom.
"Roland, did you see that?" whispered Tamika.
"No. What?" whispered Roland.
Tamika pointed towards the bathroom. Roland nodded, then signaled for Tamika to follow him.
"Shouldn't we get Tami?" whispered Tamika.
Roland shook his head.
"There isn't time. Come on."
Tamika and Roland slowly crept into the restroom and up to the stalls. They heard rustling noises coming from one of them. Roland looked at Tamika and held up three fingers. Tamika nodded and they approached the Stall of Body and Soul. Tamika's heart was racing. She held Roland's bony hand for support. When they reached the mystery cube, Tamika peered under and saw two thick muscular legs planted sturdily into two of the biggest shoes she had ever seen. She turned to Roland in amazement and made the universally recognized signal for big feet with her hands. Roland signaled Tamika to look further. Tamika shook her head and signaled for Roland to take a look. Roland shook his head also, then signaled for Tamika to creep back out with him to the locker room.
"What is it?" whispered Tamika after they were out of the restroom.
"One of us is going to have to look inside that stall," whispered Roland.
"We can't," whispered Tamika. "He'll see us."
Roland thought for a moment.
"Not if we look down at him from above."
"How are we going to do that?"
"Well, one of us is going to have to get on the other one's shoulders and then we'll sneak back in and take a look." Roland made a pushing motion with his hand towards the floor. "Squat down," he whispered.
"Roland!" whispered Tamika.
"But you're bigger than me!"
"I don't care! I'm not going to let you sit on top of my shoulders like that," whispered Tamika.
"But People First."
"I'm a people, too, Roland."
"All right, all right. You, me." whispered Roland, squatting down.
Tamika still wasn't sure if she liked this. Roland wasn't exactly shoulder chair material. But they had to get to find out who was in there and this was the only way. She placed a hand on top of Roland's oily head and swung a finely toned leg over Roland's spindly frame. So far, so good. Then she swung the other around so that she sat on top of Roland, his oily head wedged firmly between her legs for support. But now came the hard part. Roland grasped Tamika's velvety knees with his fingers and in a miracle of epic proportions, he began to rise. Lips pursed, eyes bulging, veins popping, Roland was determined. Sweat poured from his oily scalp, blending with the sweet nectar flowing from Tamika's velvety thighs. Higher and higher they rose, a two-person flower pushing its way towards the sun until Roland's tiny feet began to slip beneath him on the sweat-stained tiles below. But they were determined to complete their mission. Weaving and wavering, left and right, Roland and Tamika swayed like a palm tree as they slowly made their way forward. Tamika tried to maintain her center of gravity, but was having trouble finding the proper rhythm. Left, right, back, forth, went Roland. Left, right, back, forth, followed Tamika on top, but just a little too late, a little too much or a little too little for them to work as a unit. And the more Tamika tried to compensate for Roland's crazy quilt waverings, the more off-kilter they became. Roland dug his fingers into Tamika's fleshy thighs, desperately trying to move forward against increasingly impossible odds. Tamika squeezed her muscular legs together more tightly, clasping Roland's oily head in a vice-like grip of sweaty determination. Sweet showers of perspiration poured from Tamika like nectar as the oily sweat flowed from Roland's cheeks as he huffed and billowed and undulated against the heated flesh of Tamika's grasping thighs. Then Tamika hunched forward, wrapping her lovely cheerleader arms around her faltering steed, cradling him in a warm embrace of womanly palpitations, filling his hairy nostrils with the passion of her desire, engulfing him like a flame. But like a top spinning crazily towards the table's edge, the end was near. "Bombs awa-a-a-a-y!" cried Roland as he heaved forward, sending Tamika flying through the air, with a little yelp of both protest and release, towards the upper reaches of stall number three, while Roland, valiant swain, dedicated stem to Tamika's trembling flower, went crashing through the door of the self-same stall, opening for all the world to see, its harried occupant frantically flushing the contents of the watery bowl as Tamika, slender waist astride the high flown metal bar above, gasped breathlessly, "Technita, is that you?"
Roland lay at Technita's impressive feet and looked up.
"Wow," he said as Technita, standing above, quickly hoisted her lower garments to her substantial waistline and fled the stall in tears.
A low rasping sound emitted from Technita's lumbering frame as she brushed passed the entering Tami.
"What did you do to her?" demanded Tami. But before Tamika and Roland could explain, Tami turned quickly around and went after the weeping giant.
"Well, did you see anything? said Roland to Tamika who was still folded over the metal bar above.
"Well, I thought I saw her flush some papers or something down the toilet," shesaid.
"A lot of papers?"
"I think so. They seemed to be like in a package or something. Maybe like a term paper. Or a pamphlet."
"Aha," said Roland. "And they flushed. You can't flush a pamphlet down a regular toilet now, can you."
"I guess not," said Tamika with a shrug. "Did you see anything?"
Roland re-lived the sight of the hulking young woman rising hurriedly above him and hoisting her substantial lower garments to their proper positions.
"I saw what I saw," he said.
(end sp 11, 02)
(bgn sp 16, 17, 02)
Looks can be deceiving, sometimes even a little scary. This is why investigation is so important. For without investigation there would only be speculation. And while speculation may be valuable when the alternative does not exist, it can also lead to misinterpretation on the one hand or misinformation on the other. Both of which are to be avoided if, indeed, an unfractured reality is your goal.
(Jy 6) "So what do you think was in the pamphlet?" said Roland as he and Tamika made their way out of the girls' bathroom.
"I don't know," said Tamika rubbing her hand across her stomach. Hurtling into that bar had hurt, though she supposed it could have been worse if she'd fallen to the floor. Or hit a wall. "I'm not even sure it was a pamphlet. It could have been, you know, anything."
"But it looked like papers," Roland queried further.
"Then it must have been some sort of message to her cohorts in the underworld," said Roland nodding gravely.
"What sort of message?"
"I don't know," said Roland. "Look." He pointed up ahead to Tami seated next to the weeping Technita. "Tami's beating it out of her."
"Tami would never beat anyone," said Tamika.
"You don't know her as well as I do," said Roland.
"You don't know her at all," said Tamika, slightly annoyed.
Tamika hadn't noticed this about Roland before, but he seemed to be awfully sure of his opinions. Would this be consistent with the Nice People Party? Tamika had said that she would be nice enough for the both of them, but did this mean that she would have to be twice as nice to Tami after Roland's insinuating remark? For it seemed to Tamika that she was already as nice to Tami as she could be. Should she give Tami's nice to someone else and make up for Roland's not nice in that way? But then what about Tami who had been the victim in the exchange? Where was the niceness in that? Tamika racked her brain, but couldn't come up with an acceptable answer. So instead, she decided to give Roland the benefit of the doubt for now, even though she wished he wouldn't be so negative about people. Especially the people she cared for.
"Come on. Let's go see what they're talking about," she said.
As it turned out, Tami and Technita weren't talking about much of anything at this point. They sat next to Tami's locker in the cheerleader section with Technita weeping and Tami consoling.
"I hope she's not going to move in with me," whispered Roland to Tamika.
Tamika put her hand on Roland's shoulder.
"We have to help her, Roland," she said in low voice.
"Because she's unhappy," said Tamika nodding.
"But what if she's one of them?"
Tamika shook her head.
"I don't think she is," she said in a whisper.
"You can't be sure," said Roland.
Tamika was sure she was right, but before she could answer, Tami looked up and motioned towards Tamika's bag. Tamika opened her bag, took out a package of tissues and handed it to Tami who in turn offered one to Technita. Technita took one and blew her nose with a loud honking sound.
"So, are you feeling any better?" said Tami.
"Did they scare you?"
"Scare her!" cried Roland. "She scared us. We saw her big feet under the door and thought she was one of those guys!"
"Roland!" whispered Tamika sharply, hitting him on the arm.
Technita shook her head.
"We saw her flush something down the toilet," said Roland. "A message to her cohorts in the underworld."
Tami looked at Tamika.
"I saw her flush something. It looked like papers. I don't know what it was."
"Is that true, Technita?" said Tami. "Did you flush papers down the toilet?"
Technita began to cry again.
"I knew it! I knew it!" cried Roland. "She's one of them! She sent a message to her cohorts in the underworld and now we're all gonna die!"
"We're not going to die," said Tami to Roland. "Technita, did you flush something down the toilet?"
Technita sniffled through another tissue, then nodded.
"Well, what was it?" said Tami gently. "You can tell us."
Technita looked at Tami, then at Tamika who nodded supportively.
"I…I've got the curse," said Technita at last, gulping back the tears.
"She's got the curse!" cried Roland. "Oh my God, she's got the curse and now we're all gonna die!"
"Not that kind of curse, Roland!" said Tami sharply, then to Technita. "You mean you flushed a tampon?"
"Impossible!" cried Roland. "Fiction! Fantasy! Propaganda! It was too big to be a tampon! Tamika said it was the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica!"
Tami looked at Tamika again.
"Well, it did look kind of big," she said.
"Was it a tampon?" said Tami to Technita, but the lumbering girl was rolling in tears now. Big salty whales came flowing from her eyes as she nodded woefully with her enormous head hung low in shame.
Then a low moaning sound suddenly filled the locker room.
"Listen," whispered Tami.
"What was that?" whispered Tamika.
"It's Satan!" cried Roland. "Satan don't want no big tampon flushed down his god damn toilet!"
"Would you shut up!" whispered Tami. "It's not Satan."
The low moaning sound filled the room again.
"Then what is it?"
"It's pretty creepy," said Tamika, hugging herself.
"It's the pipes," said Tami.
"Satan's Hell pipes!" cried Roland.
"No," said Tami. "The pipes are beginning to clog from Technita's big tampon."
Technita began to cry again.
"You know you're not supposed to flush them down the toilet if they're not disposable, don't you?"
Technita let out a piercing howl. Roland almost jumped out of his skin.
"Oh God, look what you've done! We're goners now!"
(end sp 16, 02)
"Technita," said Tami again. "You know you're not supposed to flush them down the toilet if they're not disposable, don't you?"
Technita hung her head even lower and nodded.
"Technita's bad. Very bad," she said.
"No, you're not bad, Technita," said Tami. "But why did you do it if you knew you weren't supposed to?"
"Well," said Technita between sniffles. "I used to throw them away until one day I came in here and found a crowd of girls standing in front of my locker and laughing. I went to see what all the commotion was about and found that someone had taped one of my used tampons to the outside of my locker and written "Bigfoot lives" underneath."
Tami and Tamika looked at one another.
"Well, that's terrible," said Tami, putting her hand on Technita's arm.
"Poor Technita," said Tamika. "There are a lot of mean people around. They don't understand."
"Oh God, I'm sittin' here with Bigfoot," said Roland with a low moan.
"Roland!" whispered Tamika sharply.
"Oh no, they understand," said Technita. "So I just stood there, not knowing what to do, until someone came bursting through the crowd."
"Satan," hissed Roland in a loud stage whisper.
"No," said Technita. "It was Lulu. And boy was she mad."
Technita began to chuckle. Tami and Tamika exchanged puzzled looks.
"She pushed her way through those laughing girls, ripped my tampon off my locker and stood there screaming. "You fucking assholes!" she said. "You think this is funny? If I ever find out who did this, I'm coming over, beating the crap out of her, then shoving this down her throat!"
"Well, that was nice of her," ventured Tamika who had always thought of Lulu and her gang as something like hoodlums.
"Yeah," said Technita, still chuckling from the memory. "Those were the good old days."
"The good old days?"
"Yeah," said Technita turning sombre. "They don't like me anymore."
"Who?" said Tami.
"Lulu. Barelle. Wendy," said Technita, looking as if she might start to cry, but didn't.
"But why?" said Tami. "Why do you say they don't like you anymore?"
"Oh, they found someone they liked better. Miguel."
"Miguel," said Tami racking her brain. "Miguel of the Pie Theory?"
"Yes," said Technita. "Lulu likes Miguel for president. Wendy likes Miguel for boyfriend. So according to the Pie Theory, Miguel is in and Technita is out."
"Is that what they said?"
"Not exactly, but I could feel it. Connie used to like Technita, but now she likes Miguel. Lulu used to like Technita, but now she likes Miguel. Barelle still likes Technita, but Technita misses Lulu and especially Connie."
"Connie's cute," said Roland.
"I'm sure they all still like you," said Tami.
Technita shook her massive head.
"No," she said. "Connie and Lulu like Miguel now. Lulu him for president, Connie for a boyfriend. Technita could go back, but she doesn't like being liked second best."
"Politics sucks," said Roland.
"It's not political," said Tamika.
"Yes it is," said Roland. "They took Technita in for personal reasons and crowded her out for political. It's all there, the whole sorry backstabbing story."
"Well, we're political, too," said Tami. "We've got a party that says Technita comes first."
"The Nice People Party," said Tamika.
"No. The People First Party," said Tami, "Why do you keep saying that?"
"Anyway," said Tami. "The People First Party says that people come first. Not just presidents and boyfriends, but all people at all times."
"Technita doesn't mind being second," said Technita.
"But I thought you just said you didn't like being liked second best?" said Tami.
"Oh yeah, except for that."
"Well, we like you first best," said Tamika with a reassuring smile.
"But you can't go around flushing your tampons anymore," said Tami.
"Plumbing First," said Roland.
"People First," said Tami. "Plumbing…well, plumbing is plumbing. The thing is, when you have to change tampons from now on, just stick it in my locker and Tamika or I will get rid of it later."
Technita looked slightly skeptical.
"Will it be safe?" she said.
"Sure, Roland'll be there."
"Yeah, he lives in my locker."
Technita began to chuckle.
"It happens to be very roomy," said Roland, a little offended. "And I don't know if I want to live with a used tampon. I mean I might turn into a werewolf. Or an omelet."
"You're not going to turn into an omelet," said Tami. "And the day you're covered with hair will be the day I give up cheerleading."
"Guard Technita's tampon and we'll bring you an omelet," said Tamika nodding supportively.
"Well, all right," said Roland. "No ketchup though."
"All right," said Tami. "Now Technita, do you have a place to stay?"
"She can't stay here," said Roland.
"Roland, where's your People First spirit?" said Tamika.
"Don’t worry, little man," said Technita with a chuckle. "Technita can take care of herself."
(end sp 17, 02/bgn sp 16, 22, 02)
Eppie had walked passed the park on her way home. Mavis hadn't been there. She hadn't said she would be, but Eppie was just checking. And that Ms. Frackle! Was East Nareen too exclusive for you, is that why you left? What was that all about? Eppie would have to be more careful around her. And Mavis? Even though she made her a little uneasy sometimes, Eppie decided she still liked her, still wanted to be her friend. It was more a question of how to proceed.
Eppie entered her house. She half expected to see her mother, even though she knew she wasn't there. She was at work, as usual. Paying the bills, living her life. Things that Eppie herself might do someday. Eppie looked at the letters on the kitchen counter. Bills, bills, an application from a credit card company. You are a winner! it said. Maybe Eppie would give it to Mavis. You are a winner! she would declare. I give you credit because you are a winner. Eppie opened the refrigerator. It was partially full. There was an apple. There was some juice. There was her mom's lasagna from last night. Should she eat it? Her mom wouldn't. She liked bringing home new things every night. Maybe Chinese. Or pizza. But Eppie preferred leftovers. She liked the picked-over feeling that leftover food had. People had once wanted this food, had loved it (or not) and now here was what remained: the leftovers. Eppie took the leftover lasagna and stuck it in the microwave. Five minutes and voila, you are a winner!
What was it that Ms. Frackle had said again? Something like, I would like to see you and your esteemed colleague, Mavis, in my office, tout de suite. "But why? why?" Eppie had implored, to which Ms. Frackle had calmly replied, because I want you to. That was cold. That was nefarious. Ms. Frackle could use a few minutes in the how-to-be-nice-to-Eppie microwave. And why did she want to see Eppie again? At first, she said that she wanted to see her and Mavis together. But then, when Eppie's guard was down, she had added, shrink-like, that Eppie could come in by herself, alone. But why would Ms. Frackle want to see her alone? Did she want to hug her? Did she want to run for office with her? Ms. Lemieux, I would be honored to have you as my running mate in the annual Counselor-Student competition, the Most Huggable Couple category. Or was it Eppie, herself, who wanted to hug Ms. Frackle? Oh, I'd be delighted, Ms. Frackle. But first, let's have a little practice session. Ya ha! Did Ms. Frackle think that she was in need of counseling? Eppie shook her head and laughed. "Ridiculous," she thought. For Eppie Lemieux helped others, she didn't need help.
Eppie went to her room and got the phone book from her nightstand. She opened it up and flipped through the pages. A, B, C, D, E, F, G…Ga, Ge, Gea, Gi, Go, Goo, there it was. Mavis's phone number circled in red. Eppie placed a finger on the phone's digit pad, picked up the receiver and dialed Mavis. The phone rang, a click, then a voice at the other end. Hello?
Eppie took a beat, then spoke.
"Hi Mavis, it's Eppie. Wanna come over?"
(bgn sp 17, 18, 02)
Eppie walked down Maple Street. It was late afternoon and the leaves were swirling. A pile of them would suddenly come alive and dance across the pavement like little kites across the horizon. Mavis had declined her invitation to come over (a disappointment), but had suggested that Eppie come over to her place instead (a surprise). And Eppie had accepted. "All right," she had said and was now making her way down Maple Street to the house of Mavis.
"Mavis of Maple Street," thought Eppie. It had a nice ring to it. She could write a book with a title like that. Mavis sat in her bedroom contemplating the arrival of her good friend Eppie. Though Eppie had invited Mavis to her abode first, Mavis, being of delicate constitution, had had to decline and extended her own charming invitation to her good friend instead. Eppie wondered what Mavis's bedroom was like. Probably somber, with lots of browns or deep purples with sconces lining the walls, shades drawn, of course, and maybe a fireplace. Or no. Mavis seemed more like the girly type. Frilly, with a canopy over the bed and a stuffed poodle with a rhinestone necklace around its neck.
There it was. 828 Maple Street. Mavis's place. It was brown. But a light brown. Almost white. Kind of creamy. Like Mavis.
Mavis had declined Eppie's invitation in her creamy dreamy voice, but that was all right. For the purpose of Eppie's call was to see Mavis, not to get her into her own home. The house of Mavis would be fine. Mavis had said she was alone. That would be fine, too.
Eppie rang the bell.
Ding dong it went. Like Mavis. No. Like a bell.
Eppie heard running feet. Did Mavis run? She had hugged Eppie, so she must run. The door swung open.
"Hi!" said Mavis brightly, though not loudly.
It was the happy Mavis. The huggy Mavis. The happy, huggy, running Mavis. "Come on in!" she said in her bright, whispy, girly voice.
Mavis opened the door further and waved her hand for Eppie to come in.
Eppie stood there for a moment, smiling and wondered if she should hug Mavis. Hi! Eppie would say and give Mavis a big Eppie hug. It's so good of you to invite me to your boudoir. I would have come sooner, but my horse threw a shoe and I had to hitch a ride with the local five-and-dimer. Here, I hope you like bon-bon liqueuers.
Should she have brought a gift? A bottle of Snapple? A stuffed rodent? But no, people didn't do that nowadays. At least not while they were in high school.
"Well, come on in," said Mavis again and took Eppie by the hand and pulled her inside.
"Oh yeah, thanks," said Eppie, standing next to Mavis in the inner doorway. "Mavis sure has soft hands," she thought. Eppie had soft hands, too. But Mavis. It was like holding hands with a giant marshmallow. Or not a marshmallow because marshmallows got sticky when they got hot and Mavis didn't strike Eppie as the sticky type.
"I'm so glad you called," said Mavis.
"Oh, me too," said Eppie.
"Come on, let's go to my room."
Mavis shut the door and led Eppie down the hallway.
"Nice picture," said Eppie waving at a painting of some flowers that hung on the wall.
"Oh yeah, that's my mom's," said Mavis. "She likes to paint and stuff."
"Oh, like taxidermy," said Eppie.
"Come on, it's in here," she said and guided Eppie into her room.
"So this is Mavis's room," thought Eppie. It looked normal. A bed, a desk, a lamp. Maybe a little spare, but nice.
"Nice room," said Eppie.
Mavis smiled and sat on the bed. She patted a spot next to her, and Eppie obligingly lowered herself onto the designated area.
"So, tell me why you called," said Mavis, looking patient and expectant.
Eppie hadn't told her why during their telephone conversation. She had just asked Mavis if she wanted to come over. Then Mavis had asked Eppie the same question and now here she was, sitting on Mavis's bed and wondering why, in fact, she had called. She could say she had called about the campaign or about not seeing her in class today or about Ms. Frackle. It seems like they had so much to talk about.
"Well, I wanted to see if you were all right," said Eppie.
"After yesterday, you seemed upset that I didn't want to run for office with you. And then you weren't in class today…"
Mavis laughed, clapping her hands together.
"I didn't miss anything, did I?"
"Well, no," said Eppie with a shrug. "But, were you upset yesterday?"
"Uh, I guess. A little," said Mavis furrowing her brow. "More disappointed."
"I guess I wanted, you know, I kind of saw the two of us…"
"Me, too," said Eppie, nodding with some enthusiasm. "Not yesterday though. But before, when those people were giving me a hard time, I thought of you."
"Really? In what way?"
"Oh, you know, when they were coming at me, I was thinking that you and I could have maybe knocked them around a little."
"Really? Why did you think I would be a good fighter?"
"Oh, I don't know," said Eppie, smiling and flustered. "You seemed kind of wiry or something."
"And they're so big, especially that…"
"No no. Technita." said Mavis laughing. "Maybe I could hold my own with the skinny one. But the others, I don't know."
"The skinny one!" cried Eppie. "I was gonna grab her by the ankles and use her as a weapon!"
The two girls laughed some more until Mavis spoke again.
"So does this mean you've changed your mind? You're gonna run with me?"
Eppie calmed down quickly. She had briefly considered maybe running with Mavis, but had decided against it.
"Uh, no," she said. "But like I said yesterday, I'd be happy to help you run, in fact, I have a few ideas, but I'd rather not run myself."
It seemed to Eppie that they had gone over this before. She thought about leaving, but that would have left them where they were before. And if Eppie came here for any reason, it was to not have that happen again.
"So you really don't want to run with me then?" said Mavis.
"Not not with you, but not run at all," said Eppie. "If I ran with anybody, it would be with you."
Eppie waited for a reply, but she could see that Mavis was falling into that distant distracted world of hers again. Eppie had said she wanted one friend, but Mavis seemed a little too strange sometimes. And yet Eppie still felt a connection to Mavis, the only person in her present sphere that she felt it with, except for maybe Ms. Frackle. So should she stay or should she go? Did she want a friend or would she go it alone for the next two years?
Suddenly, a woman popped her head through the doorway. Ms. Frackle? No, not Ms. Frackle. She was too old. It was Mavis, but older.
"Hi honey, I'm home."
It was Mavis's mom.
"Oh, hi, Mommy," said Mavis. "Where's Daddy?"
Eppie was surprised at how normal Mavis sounded again, except for the Mommy and Daddy part, of course.
"Oh, he's in the garage doing something with the car," said Mavis's mother. "Who's your friend?"
Mavis looked at Eppie and Eppie looked back. "Did Mavis think of me as her friend?" Eppie wondered. And did Eppie think of Mavis as her friend? How would she have answered if Mavis had come over to her house and her mother had popped her head in and asked Eppie the same question?
"Oh, this is Eppie," said Mavis, not taking her eyes off Eppie.
"Oh, what a wonderful name!" said Mavis's mother clapping her hands together. "Will she be staying for dinner?"
(end sp 18, 02)
(bgn sp 19, 02)
So Mavis is somebody's child, thought Eppie as she sat at the Googie dinner table. She supposed that shouldn't be such a surprise. After all, Eppie, herself, was somebody's child. Her mom's. And her dad's, too, though Eppie's mom and dad were divorced and Eppie hadn't seen much of her father lately. And they seemed normal, Mavis's parents. They seemed nice. Though Mavis seemed nice, too, so that shouldn't have come as a surprise. It was the normal part that threw Eppie.
"So, Eppie, what do your parents do?" said Mrs. Googie, though Eppie was going to avoid calling her that for as long as possible.
"Oh, my mom's a, uh, real estate broker and my father's in insurance."
"Oh really. Well Mr. Googie works at an insurance company, too. What company does your father work for?"
"Mom," said Mavis. "I'm sure Eppie doesn't want to get into that."
"Oh, that's OK," said Eppie. "He works for Saginaw Life."
"Saginaw Life. I don't believe I'm familiar with that one. Honey, have you ever…"
"It's in Chicago," said Eppie nodding. Why was this woman asking her all these questions? Maybe Eppie was a little quick with the normal judgment. And Mavis's dad sure was quiet. He worked for an insurance company like her father, but he was nothing like him. At least what she remembered of him. Her father was always happy and joking. That's where Eppie had gotten her sense of humor, her mother always said. But this man. He just sat there, chewing away like an old goat. No wonder Mavis was strange.
"Mom, can we go now?" said Mavis.
"Oh, sure, honey. You and Eppie go along," said Mrs. Googie.
"Uh, should we help you clean up?" said Eppie. She would help them even though they were strange.
"Oh, that's very sweet, Eppie. But you go along with Mavis, and Mr. Googie and I will clean up as soon as he's finished. Isn't that right, dear."
Mr. Googie grunted as Eppie and Mavis went back to Mavis's room.
"Your parents are nice," said Eppie as she sat back down on Mavis's bed.
"Oh yeah," said Mavis, still standing. "Mom's a little nosy and dad's not much of a talker, but they're OK." Mavis sat down next to Eppie. "So, what are your ideas for my campaign?"
"The campaign?" said Eppie, a little surprised. "So you're running then."
"With your help," she said.
Eppie felt like she had missed something. Mavis had never actually said she was still running. And it seemed to Eppie that friends should know everything about one another. They should share everything. And so far, it seemed to Eppie that she, herself, had done most of the sharing. Sure, Mavis had fed her, tonight with dinner and before with the apple. But food was not friendship. You feed the animals at the zoo, but they're not your friends. You feed prisoners in a prison, but they're not your friends either. You have to share more than food: thoughts, feelings, these were the important things. And though Eppie felt that she had feelings for Mavis and that Mavis had feelings for her, they weren't shared feelings. They were like the two ships passing in the night. Ho there, matie! Ho there, matie! I have feelings for you! And I for you! Farewell! Farewell!
Eppie looked around Mavis's room. She saw an old photograph on Mavis's dresser. Eppie went to have a closer look.
"What's this?" she asked, holding up the picture of a little girl, about six or seven, who dressed as a flapper.
"Oh, that's a picture of me in my depraved youth," said Mavis with a laugh.
Mavis got up and stood next to Eppie.
"Oh no, just a party."
"Hm," said Eppie, not quite satisfied. "And who's this?" She pointed to a young boy standing next to Mavis in a gangster costume.
"Oh, that's Al Capone," said Mavis dreamily.
Eppie waited for Mavis to continue, but nothing came. She was getting nowhere.
"Maybe I should go," she said and began to make a move for the door.
"Oh," said Mavis. "I thought you wanted to talk about my campaign."
Eppie shook her head.
"Why? What's the matter?"
Mavis looked, concerned and expectant, at Eppie who felt herself burning up inside. She felt she wanted to tell Mavis something. She felt she wanted to know Mavis more, to know something about her, something so wonderful that it would change everything between them.
Mavis came over to Eppie and led her back to the bed.
"Tell me what you want," she said in a voice so soothing that Eppie felt that she would break. "Tell me what you want and I'll be your friend forever."
(end sp 22, 02)
Roland sat in the dark, waiting. A few shafts of moonlight were shining through the slats of the converted lockers. It was a comfortable place, not as padded since Tami and Tamika had stopped leaving their underwear, but still, it was nice. He didn't feel as safe as before though, since he saw one of his attackers invading his domain and vanishing mysteriously in stall number 3. And that new girl, Technita, she was supposed to bring her used tampons for him to guard. Outrageous! As if he didn't have enough problems. And he was getting a little hungry, too. Tamika had promised him an omelet in the morning. He had requested no ketchup, but now he wished he hadn't. Some toast would be nice, too. And bacon. And a napkin. Roland rested his head against the cold metal sheeting to his left. He missed Tami's bra. He shouldn't have said anything. It was his only pillow and now he had none.
Suddenly, there was a tapping on his door. Roland stiffened and waited.
"Roland," came a soft whisper from outside. "Roland, it's me."
Roland waited some more. He didn't recognize the whisper. Though whispers were harder to distinguish than normal voices. And it seemed that people usually usually yelled at him, too.
"Roland, it's me. Technita."
"Oh no. Technita. Here with the tampon," thought Roland. "I may get my omelet sooner than I expected."
Roland slowly opened the door and peered out as the shaded figure of a giant girl loomed overhead.
"Hey, Roland," said the shadow and handed a plain brown paper bag to him. "Sorry."
Technita grinned sheepishly and started to exit.
"Uh, you don't have to go," said Roland, a little surprised at his own forwardness.
"No no," said Technita with a chuckle. "You must be tired from carrying cheerleaders on your shoulders all day."
"No no," said Roland. "Tamika was light. She had sweaty thighs though. I can still smell her perfume on my cheeks. Here. Take a sniff."
Roland offered up one of his cheeks to the lumbering girl.
"That's OK," said Technita, laughing softly. "I know what it smells like."
"Oh really? How's that?"
Technita shook her head and let a snorty little laugh blow out of her nostrils.
"Say, why do you live in that locker anyway?" she said changing the subject. "There's a whole school out here just waiting to be slept in."
Roland shrunk back a little in the metal box. He kind of liked it here.
"Oh, you know, it's comfortable. And cheap." Roland attempted a little laugh. "And it's fairly safe." He banged on the metal walls with his fist. "Heavy metal."
"So where do you sleep?" said Roland.
"Oh, anywhere. Everywhere. The chemistry lab, the cafeteria, Principal Nolo's office…"
"You sleep in Principal Nolo's office?"
"Sure, why not?" said Technita with a shrug. "I pay taxes."
"So what's it like in there?"
"Oh, it's nice. It's has a couch…"
"A little refrigerator…"
"Mmm," said Roland, still a little hungry.
"Oh ho. And what's in the safe?"
"I don't know," said Technita.
"What's in the refrigerator?"
"Little weiners and Cheez Whiz," said Technita.
"Little weiners and Cheez Whiz," said Roland hungrily. "And crackers?"
"In his drawer."
"In the cafeteria."
"OK," said Technita, helping Roland out of his little metal box and the two went to Principal Nolo's office for a little late night snack.
(bgn sp 22, 02)
Eppie walked along Maple Street, by herself, in the moonlight. It was a good meal, even though Mavis's parents were a little strange. And she had not accomplished much with Mavis either. Mavis of the soft hands. Mavis in the moonlight. Mavis in the moonlight and you. So the question was, was that going to be it? Would Eppie be going it alone for the next two years? Eppie wasn't sure. For she still felt something for Mavis. But Mavis wouldn't open up to her. She wanted Eppie to do all the opening. And Eppie wasn't sure if that was acceptable for a friend. For a counselor maybe, but not a friend. The one thing Eppie was sure of was that being with Mavis felt good. It felt bad, but it felt good because she felt that Mavis wanted to be with her, too. And wasn't that enough? For a two-year friend as opposed to a lifelong friend or a no friend? It seemed like a possibility.
There was her house. Her mom's car was not in the driveway. Late date? Open house? Eppie entered and remembered the lasagna she had heated up for herself. She had forgotten about it after talking to Mavis on the phone. She went into the kitchen and took it out of the microwave. She stuck her finger inside and was surprised to find it was still a little warm. Lasagna was like that though, the layers of noodles were like insulation. Should she eat it? Reheat it? She still had that paper to do for Ms. Min's class. And there was the Ms. Frackle thing. And there was Mavis, of course. She had asked Eppie what she wanted, but Eppie couldn't say. She had said that she would be Eppie's friend forever. Did she mean that or was that just Mavis in the moonlight talking? For no one was anything forever. Why, ten years from now Mavis wouldn't even be Mavis anymore. She'd be a different person, halfway between Mavis and Mrs. Googie. Or maybe she'd turn out more like Mr. Googie, which was tragic. Or maybe with Eppie as her friend, she would turn out different. Better. Maybe that's what friends were for, to make sure you didn't turn out like your parents. Or was it the other way around? But what if Eppie turned out to be like Mavis? For after all, it worked both ways. Eppie liked Mavis, but didn't want to be like her. She just wanted to be near her, sometimes. To be together, but different. That was it, together, but different. To share or not to share, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for the next two years. That seemed like a definite possibility.
The Googie family had fed her, but had not given her dessert. It was unfinished business, clearly. For what was a meal without dessert? It was like blowing up a balloon and forgetting to tie up the end. Was that what was missing from Eppie's life? Dessert? A tied up end? Eppie looked at the lasagna and felt like ice cream. She was ice cream as a matter of fact. Hard and soft. Cold and creamy. Sweet and delicious. The perfect ending to a wonderful meal. Maybe she would work up some ideas for Mavis's campaign, hear what Mavis had to say, then maybe ask Mavis for a hug. That would be enough for now, and not forever, she supposed.
(end sp 22, 02)
Roland and Technita walked down the hallways together. It wasn't such a bad place when the students and teachers weren't there. But was a school a school without students and teachers? If you lived there, it wasn't your school, it was your home. And which was more important, a school or a home? Technita was right. As the two walked down the hallways, Roland could see that there were lots of places he could sleep besides a locker in the girls' locker room. There was the gymnasium. The nurse's office. The cafeteria. But would he be safe? Maybe with Technita who, after all, was an awfully big girl. But could she have protected him from the three thuggies who stripped him of his dignity? Would she even want to? And besides, Roland kind of liked living in Tami and Tamika's lockers. If only he could talk Tami into leaving her bra for him again, it would be almost perfect.
There was Principal Nolo's office. A mean guy. A warlord. But if he had little weiners and Cheez Whiz in his refrigerator, what could you do? Roland and Technita entered.
"You get the Cheez Whiz and little weiners," said Technita, "and I'll get the crackers."
Roland went to the refrigerator and there they were: Cheez Whiz and little weiners. Enough to feed a small army. It must be all Principal Nolo ate. And crackers, of course.
"Got 'em," said Roland. "Get the crackers and let's get out of here."
"Can't," said Technita.
"Can't or won't?"
"Can't find 'em. We'll just have to put Cheez Whiz on the little weiners for tonight."
"I am not putting Cheez Whiz on my little weiner," said Roland. "Look some more."
Roland and Technita looked around the office. They found toy soldiers behind the bookshelves, little mousetraps lining the walls, eighty-seven cents and a used condom beneath the cushions of the couch, but no crackers.
"It must be in there," said Roland pointing to the safe.
"No way," said Technita shaking her enormous head.
"Yes. It makes sense," said Roland. "Safe. Safe cracker. Safe crackers. It's a clue."
"You're insane. But OK, but how do we get in?"
"Ah, you forget where I live," said Roland, kneeling down and pressing his ear against the cold metal door. He blew on his sensitive fingertips, placed them lightly on the rounded knob and began to twirl. Twenty-seven left, sixteen right, eighty-two left. Click.
"We're in," said Roland.
"Wonderful," said Technita who was getting a bad feeling about this. "Get the crackers and let's get out of here."
"Wait a minute," said Roland, handing a package of round crackers to Technita. "Look at this."
Roland reached into the stacks of round and square cracker packages and pulled out a cardboard tube.
"What's that?" said Technita.
Roland opened up the tube and pulled out some papers.
"OK," said Technita. "Get some more crackers and let's blow."
"No, wait," said Roland unrolling the prints. "It's blueprints of the school, but look. There seem to be passageways underneath some of the buildings. Look. Here's the girls' locker room and here's toilet number three and look, here's a passageway underneath. I was right! I knew it!"
"Shh! Shh!" said Technita in a loud whisper, even though they were alone.
"Now where does it lead?"
Roland began tracing along the dotted line with his finger.
"OK OK," said Technita hurriedly. "Get some more crackers, bring the blueprints and we'll look them over in the cafeteria."
"All right," said Roland. "I'll need some more time to figure this out anyway." Roland began handing Technita round and square packages of crackers. "Wait a minute. I think I see some sort of book or ledger underneath here. Here, hold this."
Roland handed Technita the blueprints and reached for the book at the bottom of the safe. But as he began to pull, a pair of big hairy hands burst through, grabbed Roland by the wrists, yanked him off his knees, through the stacks of crackers and down into the vast unknown that lie below.
(end sp 19, 02)
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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