THE TOTALLY UNREMARKABLE ADVENTURES OF A WORLD CLASS UNDER-ACHIEVER
. . .Okay. . .now. . .you ready for this?. . .okay. . .you ready?. . .Uh. . .What?. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .yeah. . .Taylor’s goin’ out with Josh now. . .With Josh!. . .Can You Freakin’ Believe It!?. . .I dunno. . .uh. . .I don’t even remember her breakin’ up with me. . .ya know. . .seem I never ever remember when she breaks up with me. . .Okay, here’s the messed up thing. . .when I go “What? Since when?!”. . .Everybody act like Nothin’ Happened!. . .they be like “Dude! What’s the matter with you?!”
You know what I think?. . .uh. . .I think it be Thing Somebody just messin’ around. . .you know. . .*poof*she gone. . .*poof*she back. . .. .But, what do I know. . .Huh?. . .and ya know. . .I’m guessin’ I ought to be sad. . .or somethin’. . .but. . .uh. . .funny thing. . .I ain’t. . .it like “Oh, Hey Girl!” and she be like “Hey Harper Bailey!”. . .ya know, like that. . .like we never went out and stuff. . .
OH. . .Hey. . .Then Monica calls. . .like I EXPECT her to or somethin’. . .and she be like all “Hey Honey, we gettin’ together tonight?”. . .and I go “What?!” and she go “Can‘t wait Muffin“ . . .
. . .and I be like “Muffin?! MUFFIN???” Who the hell she talkin‘ about?. . .cuz I might be a bunch of stuff, but “muffin“ ain‘t one of them. . .so I gotta ask me, “When I start seeing her. . .Huh?” Cuz. . .I Don‘t Even Remember It, Dudes!
. . .So. . .I’m goin’ out with Monica. . .I guess. . .Zach ain’t seein’ nobody right now. . .least nobody he tellin’ about. . .Taylor’s with Josh. . .and Kirby’s seein’ Barry. . .but Kirby don’t seem so much like Kirby no more. . .don’t spike his hair, no more make-up. . .the crap you gotta do for your dude, I guess. . .Oh. . .and yeah. . .gag me. . .I gotta go to dinner with the rents. . .their freakin’ anniversary or some lame thing like that. . .gotta wear a tie. . .A Tie!. . .a freakin’ dumb tie. . .so here’s a bunch of freakin’ loser waste my time kinda crap. . .Geez. . .. . .Well, get to hang with Pepper while the rents are away for the weekend. . .that’s pretty cool. . .Hey. . .Wait!. . .Do I gotta get them a present or something?. . .Huh?. . .Do I ?. . .Cuz, damn, they got everything. . .what do I got?
“Oh. Harper Bailey! You look so nice. . .that’s a very handsome jacket. . .a little wrinkled; you want me to steam it out for you?. . .Oh, precious, you have a smudge on your cheek. . .let me get a wash cloth. . .” Mona said as she dragged Harper Bailey toward the kitchen. “Sweetie, don’t you want to take those metal things out for Mommy? You ‘d look SO much better without them!”
“What?!” squawked Harper Bailey. “No Way! These be my thing! Uh. . .you know. . .My Thing?!. . .Don’t be messin’ with my thing!”
“Oh, I’m sorry, dear. Now, you remember, sweetie. . .you’re watching Pepper for the week-end. . .Oh, Harper Bailey. . .you won’t break anything, will you?”
“Uh. . .Uh. . .No, don‘t guess so. . .Hey, where we goin’ tonight?. . .Like. . .why I gotta wear this tie?”
“Oh, Dad’s taking us to “The Little Corsican”. . .isn’t that special? Your Father’s in his den, go say hello. . .but don’t say anything about you watching Pepper. . .he doesn’t know, so, our little secret, Right?. . .Why pay a stranger when I can pay you? Right?. . .HON!. . .HONEY!. . .HARPER BAILEY’S HERE!” Mona shouted down the hallway.
“Oh Good God. . .what does He Want Now?! NO MONEY! YOU HEAR? NO MONEY! HE CAN‘T HAVE ANY MONEY!!!”
“Perry! Really!. . .Harper Bailey’s going to dinner with us. . .You Know That, Dear!” Mona said loudly, but happily; Her husband, what a jokester!
“I’M NOT PAYING FOR HIM!” Perry shouted as loudly as he could.
“Don’t mind him, your Father’s a bit grumpy today.” Mona said with a smile. “Of course he’s going to buy your dinner. . .now, sweetie, go say hello, Mommy’s got to finish getting ready.”
“Are you working?” Perry asked, studying the chessboard. He liked playing solitaire chess, kept everybody from bothering him. Right now, though, he just wasn’t sure what move to make.
“Uh. . .Uh. . .working. . .mmmm. . .working. . .Working?. . .uh. . .Nope!” said Harper Bailey. “Guess not. Had a gig at ‘Pit’. . .dude, it was stupid sick for a minute. . .but then it turned all bummer. . .”
“What?! What was that? Harper Bailey, I don’t understand a thing you say. . .this “gig’. . .what’s that. . .and what is ‘bummer’. . .and what in the world is ‘stupid sick’?. . .No wonder you can’t get a job--”
But Harper Bailey had stopped listening. Man, I think this tie’s like stranglin’ me! EEEW. . .this room smells like Old Lady. . .Ohmygod. . .what the hell’s he talkin’ about Now?. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .maybe Zach ain’t doin’ nothin’, maybe he can meet me at the restaurant. . .Oooh. . .I gotta give him a buzz. . .Oh, man. . .don’t he Ever SHUT UP?. . .Gripe, Gripe, Gripe. . .
“. . .so, you see young man, the world expects you to be. . .” Perry’s monotone drone went on.
Blah, blah, blah. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .Hey. . .they serve steak at this place?. . .I think I want me a big ole steak. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .no. . .uh. . .maybe a Lobster. . .yeah. . .a big ole Lobster I get to whack with a hammer. . .or spaghetti. . .sure do love spaghetti. . .mmmm. . .spaghetti. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .no. . uh. . .
“. . .So? What are your goals?” his father was asking. Well, demanding would be more like it.
“. . .Goals. . .uh. . .goals?. . .uh. . .Like soccer? Cuz. . .I don‘t play soccer. . .“
“Not Like Soccer, you moron! Goals! Something you want to achieve in life!”
“Uh. . .Oh. . .geez. . .Hey, don’t gotta get sore. . .Okie Dokie. . .uh. . .Goals. . .well. . .hmmm. . .goals. . .” ( GOALS?! Like. . .whadda I care about freakin’ goals? Better think of somethin’, Dad looks crazy peeved! ) “Uh. . .Uh. . .mmmm. . .I guess I wanna be a. . .uh. . .uh. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .I know. . .I know. . . A Master Romancer!”
“A What?! A WHAT? What In The World is that?! That Can‘t Be A JOB?!?”
“Uh. . .What?. . .A Job?. . .No Dude. . .it ain‘t no job. . .who cares about a job?! . . .Huh?. . .No. . .You know. . .Five Different People, Five Different Places. . .HEY! Whattcha Starin’ At Me for?. . .Look. . .I don’t think you gonna get it. . .you know. . .you being you and all. . .but. . .uh. . .ah, Never Mind. . .look it up; sure it be on the Web. . . Just surf, dude. Surf.”
His father shook his head, “You’re hopeless.”
Harper Bailey went to hide in the basement. First thing he did, call Zach.
“Dude. . .Zach,” he whined. Then, (in his best “Help me” voice) said, “You gotta have my back here, dude. . .my Dad got me all angritated. . .he won’t shut up. . .‘Do I got a job. . .What my goals?’ Goals, dude!. . .and he ain‘t talkin‘ soccer. . .trust me. . .you say THAT you just gonna get yelled at. . .yeah, right?. . .Dude. . .can you meet us at ‘Corsican”?. . .Please. . .PLEASE!. . .DUDE PLEASE?!!!. . .PRETTY PLEASE I’LL BE YOUR BEST FRIEND PLEASE!!! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASE WITH A. . .A. . .what that red thing called?. . .Oooh. . .A CHERRY ON TOP PLEASE!! . . .I’m just gonna keep doin’ this til you say yes. . .PLEASE!!!! PLEASE----Oh Man YOU ROCK!. . .yeah. . .8 o’clock. . .I owe you big time. . .You just tell me what you want, dude. . .Anything! . .Anything you want and you got it. . .ANYTHING!. . . Uh. . .What?!. . .What you say??. . .dude, I‘m confuzzled. . .don’t think I heard you right. . .must be the hook up on this piece of crap cheap jacked-up phone. . .cuz I thought you said. . .Pffft. . .couldn’t be that. . .Naw. . .Look. . . 8 o’clock. . .Sweet!”
And Harper Bailey flopped down on the couch, relieved but wondering; What’d He SAY?
“Hey, Harper Bailey,” Pepper said, plopping herself down on the couch next to him. “You look nice. . .hey. . .you smell nice too. . .want to play video games with me?”
“Sure, Pepper. . .hey girl. . .you look Phat! That a new dress?”
“Fat?! I don’t look fat! Why do you have to be mean?” Pepper asked, her eyes all sad and wounded.
“Mean?!. . .I ain’t bein’ mean. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .No, Pepper. . .not fat. . .Phat. . .it’s a good thing. . .you know. . .Phat. . .uh. . .with a ‘P‘. . .and a. . .a. . .’H‘ I think. . .but maybe it be a ‘F‘ . . .I don‘t really know.” Harper Bailey said with a shrug.
“Oh! Okay. . .Phat. . .well you look Phat then too. . .” she said with a giggle. “Okay, let’s play; but first the Rules. . . loser has to sit next to Dad!”
“Harper Bailey! Your bike is blocking the driveway again!” his father shouted down the basement stairs some twenty minutes later. “You have two minutes to move it or I’m running it over! Get a move on, dinner reservations are for 8!”
Gripe, Gripe, Gripe! Why don’t that man ever get off my back. . .Ahhh! Crap!. . .Now I gotta sit next to Dad!. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .no. . .no. . .I’ll get Zach to sit next to him. . .yeah. . .Zach won’t mind. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .Wonder what Zach said on the phone?. . .Hey!. . .Why don’t I got me a better phone?. . .Huh?. . .Zach got him a killer phone. . .Why don’t I got me a killer phone?. . .Huh?. . .Wish I had me a Dad like Zach’s Dad. . .man, Zach’s Dad gives him anything he wants. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .Wonder what he really said? . . .don’t think it be what I think I heard. . .dumb broke down run-over shoe raggedy cheap piece of crap jacked up phone!. . .Uh. . .What?. . .oh, yeah. . .my bike. . .
“The Little Corsican” was crowded and they had to eat outside, which didn’t make Perry Caine very happy; but Harper Bailey liked it just fine. Least here he could people-watch and he didn’t have to use a napkin, or have some stuck-up waiter speak gibberish at him about the crap on the menu.
“What’s He doing here?” Perry Caine asked when Zach strolled up and dropped himself at the table. “I didn’t invite him--”
“Chill, Dad. . .I did!” said Harper Bailey, a great big grin lighting up his face.
“Excuse me! Excuse me!” Perry cried, trying to draw attention with the wave of a finger. When that had no effect he shouted; “I’m not paying for Him!” turning heads all around the patio. “Mona, Do Something!”
“Just stay put, Zach sweetie. . .“ Mona said with a gush. The Reynolds boy made her heart go aflutter. “My, what a handsome boy you are. . .except. . .oh, dear. . .whatever have you got stuck in your lips, hon?. . .oh, your poor Mother must just be heartbroken. . .”
“Mona?! Mona!!. . .Would You Stop Staring At The Boy?!. . .Mona!! I’m Not Paying For Him.!! Is Anyone Even Listening To Me? DO YOU HEAR??! ”
“Don’t mind him, Zach,” Mona said with a blush. “Mr. Caine’s just a wee bit grumpy today. . .” and then in a loud whisper, said, “Office stuff. . .and I think he has a bit of indigestion. . .a little gas you know. . .Now you order whatever you like, Zach sweetie. . .My, my, my. . .such a good looking boy. . .”
“MONA!!!?? Oh, forget it! What’s the Use?!” Perry said, exasperated.
“Dude,” Zach said to Harper Bailey, eyebrows raised. “Why’s your Dad trippin’?”
“Got me. . .but dude, he’s a phasm. . .whattcha expect?” Harper Bailey replied.
“Yeah, a freakin’ phasm. Uh. . .Harper Bailey?. . .You look stupid sick, you know. . .don’t think I ever saw you in a tie before. . .sexy. . .” Zach said, brow raised again, but differently.
“Dude, you think. . .cuz. . .I be gaggin’. . .thing be like some chokey thing. . .what them called?. . .Them Ropey thingys. . .you know?. . .Ropey Thingys!?. . .Huh?. . .cuttin’ off my air. . .What them called?. . .like. . .like. . .ACK!!!” Harper Bailey grimaced.
But Zach just smiled and shook his head. “Nope, sexy sweet“. . .(Don’t go there, he warned himself). “SO! “ he continued loudly, pulling back on the compliment. “I’m Having Lobster! Maybe two! What’re you having?”
On hearing "Two Lobsters" Perry Caine’s forehead hit the table with a thud. “Mona. . .Mona. . .Mona. . .make it stop. . .make it go away. . .”
Eventually it did stop, but many, many simoleons later. . .while Perry, Mona and Pepper took a stroll around the grounds (alright, Mona and Pepper strolled, Perry stomped about like Godzilla, crushing make believe cities and very real restaurant bills) Harper Bailey and Zach just sat down on the deck and stared at the stars.
“You think It’s up there?” Harper Bailey asked, trying to find Thing Somebody in the sky.
“No, Harper Bailey. . .there’s nothing up there. . .just stars.” Zach said quietly, worried Harper Bailey was Never going to let go of the crazy notion he was being watched.
“HEY!” Harper Bailey gasped. “What be That?!. . .HUH?. . .” but then his hopeful expression dropped. “Dude. . .just be a cloud. . .oh well. . .”
They sat quietly, staring up into the sky.
“You just think I’m crazy. . .uh. . .dontcha?” Harper Bailey finally asked, sadder than Zach had ever seen him before. Matter-of-fact, Zach had Never seen Harper Bailey actually SAD. . .and it worried him.
“Harper Bailey; you’re my very, very best friend. . .my very, very. . .more than. . .and I. . .” ( Dammit---Don‘t say it, Zach told himself. Don’t say it. . .don’t say the “ L “ word. . .don‘t be Stupid. ) “Dude, I think you’re just angstifyed. . .Something happened to you, don’t know what. . .but. . .No. . .I don’t think you’re crazy.”
“Yeah?. . .” Harper Bailey asked, looking at the sky again to see if he could see Anything that might make him feel better. “Well. . .uh. . .uh. . .maybe I am crazy. . .but that’s okay. . .everybody gotta be somethin’. . .dontcha think?”
“Yeah,” Zach said, glancing over to catch the look on Harper Bailey’s face. Still sad. “Everybody’s gotta be something.”
“Dude. . .uh. . .you remember the last couple of weeks?” Harper Bailey asked.
“Course I do. Why?” Zach questioned.
“All of it?”
Harper Bailey gave a crooked grin. “Dude. . .I Don’t. . .Taylor breakin’ up with me; nope. . .dating Monica. . .nope. . .goin’ to Dude Barry’s. . .don’t remember that either. . .stuff just happens. . .don’t remember any of it---”
Zach thought about it a minute or two. “Well, you know Harper Bailey, maybe you just forget stuff because it ain’t worth remembering in the first place. Hmmm? Hey, look, Taylor’s okay, but she can be a pain, she‘s always breakin‘ up with you, what’s new about that to remember? And look, I dated Monica. Believe me, dude, I don’t care to remember it, why should you?. . .as for Dude Barry’s. . .why remember a trip cross town? Huh? What’s so cool about walking through town?”
“Yeah?. . .You think maybe?. . .Ah. . .Crap. . .this here stuff is a real downer. . .let’s get outta here.“
“HARPER BAILEY?! HARPER BAILEY?!” Mona called. “CAN YOU AND ZACH GIVE PEPPER A RIDE HOME?! THE BABYSITTER’S WAITING!!!” Mona winked; it was too dark for anyone to see it.
“Hey. . .you gonna crash with me?” Harper Bailey asked Zach. “I gotta watch Pepper. . .dude. . .hang out with us. . .could be fun. . .you think maybe?. . .huh?. . .right?. . .Please?. . .Please? Please, Please--”
“Oh god, whiner. . .don’t start That crap again. . .yeah. . .I’ll crash with you and Pepper. Let‘s just swing by home and get me a change of clothes first.”
It was morning, early morning; Harper Bailey cracked an eye open. Pepper was standing beside the bed looking at him and Zach was snoring very loudly.
“You want somethin’?” Harper Bailey finally managed to ask.
“Can we go on a picnic?.” Pepper wanted to know.
“Hey,” groaned Zach, waking himself up with one hugely loud snort. “Who’s making that noise?”
“You Are!” Harper Bailey and Pepper cried in unison.
“Oh. . .no use sayin’ ‘Shut Up’ then. . .hey girl! What’s up?”
“Can we go on a picnic?” Pepper asked again.
“Later. . .” Harper Bailey said, stretching. “What time is it anyway?”
“Nine. Harper Bailey, I’m hungry.” Pepper said, her stomach grumbling.
“Dude,” said Zach, now fully awake. “You better feed her.”
“Feed her? Why? She knows how to use a spoon. . .dude, I seen her--”
“Not ‘feed’ her. . .feed her, make her food. . .geez Harper Bailey. . .you gonna stay stupid your whole damn life?”
Cooking, along with many other useful skills, was not one of Harper Bailey’s talents. But, he was going to give it a try anyway.
Okay. . .uh. . .need me a bowl. . .what’s that white stuff called?. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .milk. . .some of this dry stuff. . .uh. . .what is this stuff anyway?. . .okay, got me a egg. . .hey, what that recipe say again?. . .uh. . .okay. . .stirrin’ stirrin’ stirrin’. . .uh. . .hey. . .is it suppose to look like this?. . .I ain’t eatin’ it. . .why she can’t have cereal?. . .okay. . .stick it on the stove. . .man. . .this is boring!!!. . .Uh Oh. . .don’t think that be right. . .Oooh. . .HEY. . .they suppose to be like that?. . .uh. . .Uh Oh. . .Crap. . .okay. . .Crap. . .gotta start again. . .need me a bowl. . 1 hour later
“Harper Bailey? What is this?” Pepper asked.
“Uh. . .I dunno. . .pancakes?. . .”
“Nope. Hey. . .Gimme a break here. . .just eat it, okay?”
“Not sure I should--” Pepper said, poking at the burnt thing on her plate.
“I smell smoke,” said Zach. “Did you leave something on the stove?”
“I dunno. . .why?” Harper Bailey asked with a shrug.
It was only then that they noticed the fire.
. . .“Ohmygod! Think you can lend a hand?!” shouted Zach.
. . . “Don’t spray ME, dude! Spray the fire!!” Zach cried out.
“It don’t look so bad,” Harper Bailey said, surveying the damage once the flames had been put out. “Don’t think anybody even be able to tell.”
“Dad’s going to be mad--” said Pepper, secretly thrilled. Nothing this exciting Ever happened when her parents were home.
“Oh My God, Harper Bailey! You burned up your parent‘s kitchen!” Zach exclaimed.
“Dude!. . .No I Didn’t!. . .Why it gotta be on Me? That dumb stove burned its own self up. . .I didn‘t have nothin‘ to do with it!. . .Look, let’s go play video games. . .it Stinks in here.”
“Uh. . .you‘re jokin‘, right? You’re just gonna leave it like this?” asked Zach.
“Uh. . .Sure. . .Why not?. . .told you, it don’t look so bad. . .come on. . .let’s get outta here. . .I wanna play some games--”
“Geez, dude. . .uh. . .okay. . .but I gotta shower, change my clothes. . .I’m all covered in smoke!”
“Me Too! Me Too! I want to play too!” squealed Pepper. “Wait for me! I have to shower and change too. . .Wait for me!!!” What a great way to start the morning!
Changed and showered, Zach went to find Harper Bailey in the basement.
“Look,” Harper Bailey said in his best “Don‘t rat me out” voice. “If my Dad get’s pissed, just say we don’t know what happened. . .okay?. . .like. . .uh. . .we just found it like that. . .like. . .maybe he did it. . .Huh?. . .like he did it and don’t remember it happenin’?. . .hey. . .uh. . It coulda happened like that. . .you think maybe?”
“Harper Bailey! Somebody’s bound to remember setting their own kitchen on fire!” Poor kid is straight up crazy!
“I prob’bly won’t.” Harper Bailey said with a curious look on his face.
“Dude, let’s just play some games til Pepper is ready. . .okay? I don’t like that look on your face. . .”
“Only face I got, dude. . .” “Dude!” exclaimed Harper Bailey. “This game is freakin’ stupid awesome! Why we don’t got this game?. . .Huh?. . .How come?. . .HEY!. . .Why don’t we got Any Games?. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .dude, dude. . .Ask your Dad. . .Huh?. . Ask your Dad to get us a big screen TV and a bunch of games. . .Will ya?. . .Huh?. . .Will ya?. . .I’ll be your best friend!. . .Please. . .Please. . .”
“Shut Up, Dweeb!. . .Geez, Harper Bailey, you’re already my best friend. . .besides. . .You Owe Me. . .you know. . .Anything I Want. . .OOOO! SWEET!!!! . . .man, this game is unbelievable. . .”
“OOOO!” shrieked Harper Bailey. “Did You See THAT?! Dude, Dude. . .Ask your Dad!. . .Ask your Dad!. . .PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEASE--”
“Alright! I’ll ask! Just Shut Up already!”
They were interrupted by Pepper saying, ”Hey, you didn’t wait for me!!!
After re-arranging themselves, (Pepper insisted Harper Bailey sit in the middle), they got down to some very serious game play. The stakes were high; winner got to pick where the picnic was.
“I say we go to the Butterfly Pavilion,” Pepper said, dreamily. Ah, Butterflies!
“Naw, Marine Fields,” said Zach, (better for babe/ dude watching.)
“If I win we’re all goin’ to ‘Pit’,” declared Harper Bailey. (At least there it didn’t Seem like morning.)
“Dude! We can’t take your sister to ‘Pit’! What’s the matter with you? Besides, What would Pepper do at ‘Pit’?”
‘I dunno. . .uh. . .uh. . .shoot darts. . .play shuffleboard. . .eat hot wings. . .dude, what do I care what she does? I ain’t her parent. . .shoot, she can do. . .HEY!. . .Dude!. . .You’re Cheatin’!”
“Am not!” cried Zach.
“Grow up!” said Pepper, trying her best to concentrate. Butterflies, beautiful butterflies. . .
“Cheater!” declared Harper Bailey.
“Whiner! Cry-baby Loser!” sniped Zach.
“You Cheated!” Harper Bailey whined yet again.
“Let’s ask Pepper. . .girl, you think I cheated?” asked Zach.
“ No, I don’t think you cheated,” said Pepper. “I mean. . .you’re a grown-up. . .why would a grown-up cheat a little kid?”
Of course, Zach had cheated. . .but for a pretty good reason. . .sort of. He sure as hell didn’t want to spend his afternoon hanging out with the butterflies and he just couldn’t take a little girl to ‘Pit’. So, he Had to cheat. . .Harper Bailey had been winning.
“See?!“ said Zach triumphantly. “Of Course I didn’t cheat! Thanks Pepper. . . go get in my car. . .we’re going to Marine Fields. . .hey, you’ll like it. . .they got some new playground stuff!”
“Harper Bailey; you’re okay. . .you know that, right?” Pepper said, reaching up to give her brother a hug. “Thanks for taking care of me this weekend. This is already a lot of fun! Sure am glad I don’t have to have Mrs. McGinty watching me; she’s mean.”
“You’re okay, too, Shorty. . .now, go get in the car. . .I Call Shot Gun!!”
‘Shot Gun’, like it’s some big thrill to sit in the front seat. . .“You really need to grow up,” said Pepper with a shake of her head.
When they got to the park, the first thing Pepper did was get on one of the new horses the city had installed. Had to be the blue one; it matched her outfit.
Rather be at home with my feet up, thought Zach, picturing a long afternoon on the couch watching TV; better yet, cuddled up with some new squeeze. . .or. . .Someone Else. . .
Rather be at “Pit’, thought Harper Bailey, picturing all the wonderful darkness. . .all this damn sunlight. . .too bright. . .Too Daytime. . .besides. . .sure could use a Fuzzy. . .
Best day ever! thought Pepper, glad to be anywhere other than home. I never get to go anywhere!
“Dude,” Zach said to Harper Bailey. “I’m gonna scope out the action for a minute. I see me some honey I just got to taste--”
“Ah. . .come on, Zach. . .what I’m gonna do here by myself?. . .”
“Hey Look. . .I ain’t her babysitter. . .besides, we didn’t bring any food for this picnic. . .I’ll see what I can find. . .Stop pouting, dude. . .go play on the little red horse. . .”
“Can’t!” whined Harper Bailey. “I’m Too Big!”
1 Hour Later. . .
Seated around a checkered cloth, sampling the contents of the picnic basket Zach had brought back from his excursion, (along with a pocketful of new phone numbers) the three got on with lunch.
“This is a really nice picnic,” Pepper gushed, biting down on her hot dog. “Thanks, Uncle Zach!” Said with a great big grin; a Harper Bailey grin.
“Uh. . .just call me Zach. . .that ‘Uncle’ thing don’t work for me, Shorty. . .glad you like it.” he said with a smile. Hey. . .She’s kind of like a smart Harper Bailey, he thought. Goofy, weird. . .this kid’s okay.
“Where’d you get this, anyway?” asked Harper Bailey.
“Why?” countered Zach.
“Just wonderin’. . .”
“Found it.” said Zach.
“Uh. . .’Found It’?. . .”
“Yeah,” said Zach, a bit defensively. “I Found It!”
“Yoinked it be more like it,” Harper Bailey said .
“What’s it to you? You eatin’ it, ain’t you?” snarled Zach.
“What’s ‘Yoinked’?” asked Pepper.
“Course I’m eatin’ it. . .I didn’t yoink it. . .karma’s not on me, dude. . .it’s all on you. . .”said Harper Bailey
“What’s ‘Yoinked’?” Peppered asked again.
“Hey,” said Zach. “I don’t DO karma! A little yoink here, a little yoink there. . .who’s it hurt? Besides. . .like I said. . .I Found It!”
“What’s ‘Yoinked’ Mean?!” Pepper finally demanded.
“Uh. . .Uh. . .What?. . .Oh, hey Pepper!. . .uh. . .What you wanna know?. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .I know. . .‘yoinked’ means he stole it,” Harper Bailey explained.
“You stole it?!” Pepper said with a gasp; but her eyes lit up. That meant Zach was a criminal. . . a “Bad Boy“. . .and all her friends at school told her ‘Bad Boys’ made the best boyfriends. . .
“I Didn’t STEAL It!!!” protested Zach. “I FOUND It!!!”
The rest of the argument went something like this:“Yoinked It!” “Found It!” “Yoinked It!” “FOUND IT!” “Yoinked-” “FOUND, DAMMIT. . .and SHUT UP!”
“Are you a ‘Bad Boy‘?” asked Pepper, all tingly.
“NO!” said Zach.
“Yes he is. . .” said Harper Bailey.
“No I’m Not!” declared Zach.
“Yes you are--‘Bad Boy, Bad Boy, Whattcha gonna do?’. . .” Harper Bailey began to sing.
“Dude. . .You want a smack upside your head?”
The singing abruptly stopped.
When they finished eating, Zach packed the leftovers back into the basket and set it aside.
“See?” he pointed out. “I’m leaving it here. . .I’m not taking it home with me. . .so. . .I Didn’t Steal it!. . .we just borrowed it for a minute. . .whoever owns it can come get it now. . .See?”
“Weak. . .” muttered Harper Bailey.
“I have to find a bathroom,” said Pepper, still very enamored of the idea of hanging out with a ‘Bad Boy’.With a dreamy smile, Pepper said, “Zach? You Are Very Cool!”
When she returned she found them on the teeter-totter and over-heard them say:
“Dude, why you got to tell her I’m a thief?” Zach asked in a hurt and angry voice.
“Uh. . .What?. . .when I say that?” Harper Bailey asked, confused. “I never said you a Thief! . . .Dude. . .I wouldn’t Smear you. . .Hey. . .uh. . .A Thief?. . .dude, not me. . .”
“You said I stole that stuff!”
“Well. . .yeah. . .uh. . .Sure. . .but that don’t make you a Thief!. . .Dude. . .what you take me for?. . .Huh?. . .”
. . .and it all sounded a little too mean and nasty, so she asked; “Harper Bailey? Will you tell me a ghost story?”
Both boys stopped their bickering and said, “Sure!”
“Okay. . .uh. . .uh. . .“ Harper Bailey began. “This be the story of. . .uh. . .uh. . .Thing Somebody--”
“Oh Crap!” sighed Zach.
“Hush!” hissed Pepper.
“Uh. . .yeah. . .Hush!. . .“ reiterated Harper Bailey. “Uh. . .okay. . .where I be. . .uh. . .Hey! Where this flashlight come from?. . .Zach?. . .Where this flashlight come from?”
“Guess you must have brought it. . .get on with the story, dude. . .”
But Harper Bailey was puzzled. “I didn’t bring no flashlight. . .”
“Just tell the damn story, will ya?” griped Zach; if he had to listen to Thing Somebody stories, Harper Bailey better tell them quick.
“Uh. . .okay. . .but I be confuzzled dude. . .okay. . .uh. . .anyways. . .this be the story of Thing Somebody. . .Now Thing Somebody controls everythin’ everybody do. . .so one day this real real nice kid was just minding his own business, not doin’ nothin’ to nobody, swear it, he be a real sweet dude . . .a real real real nice kid, somethin’ like me. . .uh. . .okay okay. . .and this real real nice kid, he be minding his own damn self, remember?. . .not Botherin’ Nobody!. . . and Thing Somebody just creeped up on him and started messin’ with his life. . .”
. . .and the rambling, incoherent story went on until dark. . .
When they finally made it home Zach stretched out on a lounge chair by the pool and Pepper gave a great big yawn.
“You prob’bly ought to go to bed,: said Harper Bailey, bending down to hug his sister.
“Thanks for the best day ever, Harper Bailey. . .and. . .thanks for the weird story. . .you should probably read a book or two. . .your stories would be better if you did.”
“Uh. . .What?!. . .Hey. . .My story was da-bomb, Baby. . .it prob’bly just too grown up for you is all. . .okay. . .uh. . .go to bed. . .”
“Good night Zach!” Pepper called out as she skipped off into the house. A ‘Bad Boy’! A Real Honest-To-Goodness ‘Bad Boy’!. . .and She got to hang out with him All Weekend. . .‘Wait until I tell my friends--’ she thought.
“Zach. . .uh. . .I’m angstifyed and confuzzled, dude. . .where that flashlight come from?”
“Not that again! Harper Bailey. . .it’s just some regular thing. . .why are you trippin’ over some regular thing?”
“Cuz I don’t remember bringin’ it. . .”
“Oh, crap, Harper Bailey. . .give it up. . .either you don’t think At All or you think Too Much. . .just chill. . .”
“Okay,” said Harper Bailey with a shrug. “Nothin’ I can do about it anyways. . .Hey. . .uh. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .What you want do Now?. . .Huh?. . .”
. . .THIS. . .Zach thought. . .This is what I want to do now. . .
But he said, “Let’s just go for a swim.”
“Can you make me breakfast?” Pepper asked the next morning, sitting at the table and feeling powerfully hungry.
“The stove’s all broke. . .don‘t know why,” said Harper Bailey, wondering why kids had to wake everybody up before noon. “Grab some cereal or somethin’. Hey Pepper. . .you got any money?. . .we could get us a pizza!”
“I’ll just go get the cereal,” Pepper said. “I’m not spending my allowance on a pizza I won’t even get a slice of. You want some cereal Zach?”
Zach looked up from the newspaper. “No thanks, Shorty. . .but real nice of you to ask, glad somebody around here has enough manners to offer. . .you dig, Harper Bailey?!” and he went back to reading.
“Ah. . .Bite Me!” said Harper Bailey with a scowl. . .it was too early to be ragged on.
“Holy Crap!” shouted Zach. “Dude! We’re in the paper!”
“For What?! Hey. . .did somebody complain to the cops about their picnic basket?. . .Cuz. Dude. . . I didn’t have nothin’ to do with that so they better not be blamin‘ me!”
“Ohmygod, dude. . .Will you shut up about the freakin‘ dumb picnic basket!?. . .No. . .look here. . .that reviewer guy Wrote About US!!!. . .Listen. . .
’”Rage” took the stage at “Pit” two weeks ago, to a very empty house. Bad luck for those who missed it’. . .
“Hey, that’s Good.“ interjected Zach
‘. . .Clearly untrained, these boys have a remarkable stage presence that defies their limited talents‘. . .
“Okay. . .uh. . .that ain‘t so good.”
‘. . .As a Cover Band, they are less than average. . .‘
“Uh. . .that ain‘t good either.”
‘. . .but when they perform their own material, this band can tear up a stage. . .the lead singer, a pale, rail-thin night creature covered in tattoos, has a voice that could shred concrete‘. . .”
“No Freakin’ Way!” squealed Harper Bailey. “. . .Lemme see. . .lemme see. . .” And Harper Bailey tried to read. . .“Hey. . .Zach?. . .What this mean?. . .” What’s with these big dumb words? he wondered.
“What does What mean?”
“This here. . .uh. . .‘Hy-per-man-i-ac-a-lly An-ar-chis-tic’. . .what them words mean?. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .or this here. . .’In-no-va-tion-al’. . .Huh?. . .what be that?. . .Don’t he like us?” Harper Bailey sure wished people didn’t talk so funny.
“Well. . .“ said Zach, trying to figure out words Harper Bailey would understand. “Hyper-maniacally means super energetic. . . Anarchistic. . .that means kind of like a rebel. . .and Innovational means. . .you know, original. . .he likes us lots. . .especially you. . .see there. . .’Insanely Provocative’. . .”
“Uh. . .what that Mean?” . . .Man, all these weird words, Harper Bailey thought. Don’t nobody just talk regular?
“It means. . .uh. . .crazy exciting. He likes you. . .he likes us!”
“Oh yeah?. . .then what this mean then. . .Huh?. . .’The lead singer is most likely Clin-ic-ally Insane, might even be dan-ger-ous and should very probably be locked-up’. . .don’t sound like he like me to me. . .Why he want to lock me up?. . .Huh?. . .What‘d I do to him?”
“Oh. . .uh. . .well just forget that part,” said Zach quickly. “He also says you have ‘Very Disturbing Magnetism’. . .that’s a pretty sweet thing dude. . . And he says the band is sure to be a underground cult favorite!!! Dude. . .It’s All Good. . .well. . .Mostly. . .”
Harper Bailey had to think about it for a minute; “Zach?. . .uh. . .does this mean we’re Rock Stars?”
‘Dude. . .I’m thinkin’ so. . .Hey, if they write about you, you’re a star!”
“No Freakin’ Way! Hey. . .uh. . .For Real?. . .Us?. . .ME?!. . .This is Just Too Damn Freakin’ Sweesomastically Super Sick!. . .uh. . .too bad I don’t remember most of it. . . we must‘ve been Awesome!”
Just at that moment Harper Bailey’s phone went off.
“Yeah?. . .Uh Huh. . .it be me. . .Uh Huh. . .No way!. . .For Real?. . .Okay. . .uh. . .hey wait. . .lemme put Zach on. . .he does all that crap. . .Zach!. . .Zach!. . It’s the guy who owns ‘Dungeon‘. . .you know. . .‘Dungeon‘. . .where all them vampire wannabes hang out. . .they want to book us!”
“No Way!!. . .here, give me the phone. . .”
“Yo. . .Zach Reynolds here. . .When?. . .Uh. . .no, dude. . .we ain’t booked then. . .uh. . .hey. . .what day is that?. . .A Friday night?!. . .uh. . .Sure! Sure!. . .uh. . .we charge. . .( and then covering the phone for a minute). . .Harper Bailey. . .what should we charge?. . .”
“Five Thousand Bucks!. . .Ooh. . .Ooh. . No. . .Ten Thousand Bucks!!!!. . .Oooh. . .Oooh. . .dude. . .say a Million. . .no. . .Two Million. . .”
“Geez!. . .Why‘d I ask You anyway?. . .(and then back on the phone). . .How’s Five Hundred sound?. . .Uh. . .yeah. . .Five Hundred. . .Okay. . .I’ll be by tomorrow. . .say. . .Noon-like. . .Sweet!”
“We get it? We get the gig?” Harper Bailey could hardly stand still.
“We got it!” said Zach, a little bit in disbelief. ‘Dungeon’!
“We got it!. . .OHMYGOD!. . .’Dungeon’! That’s a for real club, dude! Like. . . with a real lounge and dance room. . .and. . . and everything!. . .Wait til Josh and Kirby hear this!”
Now, wouldn’t you think this all means everythin’ be great?. . .Huh?. . .wouldn’t you?. . .Well. . .see. . .my Dad comes home and. . .
“ MONA!!! OH MY LORD HELP ME!!! WHAT HAS THAT MORON DONE?! MY HOUSE!!!. . .MONA!!!!!!. . .LOOK WHAT HE DID TO MY HOUSE!!!”
. . .Holy Crap!. . .You shoulda heard the screamin’. . .Like it be somehow All My Fault . . .Oh. . .Oh. . .and the best part?. . .Wanna hear the kicker to this?. . .Do ya?. . .They Didn’t Even Pay Me For Watchin’ Pepper!. . .Can you freakin’ believe it?!. . .Ain’t That Rude!?. . .but you know somethin’?. . .I think that Freakin' Loser Butthead Thing Somebody set that fire. . . I do. . .That’s what I think. . .You know, just to Mess Me Up . . .uh. . .Okay. . .uh. . .maybe it was my fault. . .but I Don’t Really See How. . .Well, anyways. . .my Dad says I gotta pay for the new stove and crap. . .like. . .Where’m I supposed to get That kinda money?. . .Huh?. . .Like Where?. . .Hey. . .Ooh. . .Ooh. . .I know. . .Zach’ll gimme the money. . .you think maybe?. . .cuz. . .Hey. . .Zach was there too!. . .Why ain’t it his fault much as mine?. . .Huh?. . .Hey!. . .He could just ask his Dad for the money!. . .Yeah, that’s it!. . .He could just ask his Dad. . .Well. . .After he ask him for our new TV and games. . .First things first, you know. . .
Just in case you all be wonderin’. . .my parents get all their stuff at a place called TSR. . .like that big red paintin’ in the basement. . .it be called “Crazy Red”. . .by abuk0. . .and them sofas. . .they be Chester Fields. . .I don’t know who this dude Chester be. . .but an artist named eryt96 made ‘em. . .I can find out who made other stuff if you want. . .or you can just go shoppin’ there yourself. . .they don’t mind. . .
Thanks Everybody for visiting me. . .uh. . .hope I didn’t give you a headache. . .
Life and Times of Harper Bailey V
Dec 7, 2011 by orlov
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