Note: This also counts as a holiday story.
Wendy kept James awake with her tossing and turning, but he understood, considering her advanced condition.
Just as he finally got to sleep, he woke up to the sound of Wendy exiting the bathroom, saying “Happy Labour Day!”
Still half-asleep, he mumbled, “But that was yest – oh,” stopping short when he saw her drenched nightgown.
Violet opens James’ door. “Time for church!”
“But mom! I wanna sleep in!”
“You promised you’d come to church on Good Friday!”
“I changed my mind.”
“You won’t get out of bed for a man who bled slowly to death so you won’t die for thinking dirty thoughts about Beyoncé?”
“Give me five minutes.”
Note: This also counts as an April Fools themed story!
“Mom,” asks Annelise, “can we talk?”
“Sure!” Tracie mutes the TV.
But before Annelise can go on, Paula bursts into the room. “Mom – I’m pregnant!”
Her mother and sister gape at her.
“April Fools!” Paula dissolves into giggles.
“Thank God,” Tracie sighs. “I would have killed you. Now, what were you saying Annelise?”
When Jane finally comes from the bathroom, she’s still in tears.
“Really?” says Raj. “Really? This makes you that upset? You have everything a girl could want! Why would you need a charm?”
“You don’t understand!” Jane wails, attracting stares from the other patrons that, for once, has nothing to do with her looks. She buries her head into her hands. Raj and I look at each other and nod; I knock over Jane’s untouched shake. The lid slips off of the cup, and the thick, pale green liquid oozes across the table and onto Jane’s lap.
“Shit! I’m soooo sorry!” I exclaim, as Jane jumps up with a shriek – which again earns her more glares. Between the screaming, sobbing, table-pounding and threats to small children, I’m surprised our asses haven’t gotten kicked out.
“Hmm,”observes Raj. “Maybe I was wrong about this charm thing. I mean, if you’d had it on you, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“Maybe,” Jane replies, “except I borrowed these jeans from Alice,” she says, pointing to me.
I sigh. “I’ll help you clean up in the bathroom and then we’ll go.”
We grab a streetcar. It’s not too full, so there’s plenty of seats for the choosing. Jane hangs her head dejectedly, while I rack my brain, knowing that Raj is doing the same. Then, suddenly, he cries out, “Hey, Jane, let’s sit here,” pointing to a trio of seats. I follow his finger, noting that the padding in the middle seat is so loose that it’s practically falling through the frame. Of course, Jane is too miserable to notice.
“Yeah, sit here!” I encourage her. Jane, still zombie-like, is about to comply, when, at the last minute she declares, “No, I can’t sit.” At the same moment, the streetcar lurches into action. Jane and I each manage to grab a pole just in time, but poor Raj falls backwards, landing right on the middle seat. The padding gives way, thudding to the floor. In its place: Raj’s ass.
“Let’s never, ever, ever, ever discuss this again,” Raj demands an hour later, his cheeks still red.
“Good thing I had that tub of coconut body butter in my bag,” Jane says.
“What did I just say?!” Raj snaps. “And now I smell like a fucking piña colada.”
“Ooh,” Jane moans. “This is horrible. My whole life seems like a lie!”
“Look here, drama queen,” Raj begins, but I catch his glance and shake my head at him like a school teacher silently scolding a naughty boy. Yes, the streetcar had to go out of service. Yes, the other people on it had to wait for the next one. Yes, they’d gotten upset at him and shouted insults at him (“Way to go, ya fat fuck!”). And yes, he was filmed for the six o’clock evening news – even though he’d refused to sign the press release, so they weren’t going to use his name and he’d be filmed only from the chest down. But we could only handle one crisis at a time.
“Why don’t we take a walk?” I suggest, which is not the most brilliant idea, since we’re now at the Harbourfront. But it’s all I can come up with.
Jane just shrugs her hands in her (well, techincally my) pockets. She’s already ahead of us on the deck that surrounds the long polluted stretch that’s Lake Ontario, which is littered with various boats and, oh yeah: litter. Even covered in tears and mint milkshake she attracts admiring glances from most of the males in her path. Except for the spiky-haired kid from the restaurant, who’s eerily seemed to somehow have followed us, and is chasing his fast food meal with a hot dog. He tosses the last of it on the deck rather than a nearby trash can, then wipes his mouth.
Raj and I ignore him, glance at each other, shrug, and start following Jane. The kid starts following us.
“The fuck we do now?” Raj says out of one corner of his mouth, not even looking at the kid as he shoves him to one side.
“Hey!” the kid protests.
“I don’t know. But I do know that you don’t smell like a piña colada at all. More like a banana daquiri.”
“You -” my retort dies on my lips thanks to the sight before us: a congregation of seagulls have descended on the kid’s hot dog, and they were a’peckin’ like mad. Raj observes the sight as well. Then we glance at each other, nod, and Raj pulls a package of sunflower seeds from his fanny pack, which is basically his portable food pantry.
“Dear God,” I murmur, “If it isn’t the fact that you weigh more than one of the those tugboats that’ll keep you a virgin forever, it’ll be that stupid fanny pack.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Raj whispers sweetly. He grabs my hand and we catch up to Jane – who’s still walking on ahead like a zombie – but quietly, so she won’t turn around and see what we’re about to do. Then, just when he’s about to open the package of seeds, this kid on a trike rides by unexpectedly. “Beep beep!” he exclaims. Raj jumps, tearing the package open farther than he intended; the contents fly into the air, most of it landing on us, in our hair – in my bra! And before we can brush them off, the seagulls, finished with the hot dog and looking for dessert, descend on us like mofos. Their hideous caws and the surpisingly loud sound of their wings flapping echo in ours ears as their beaks poke and prod and peck at our clothing, trying to pick up as many seeds as possible. First Raj and I brush ourselves off, then try brushing each other off, then try swatting the birds away from each other. Finally, we just decide to make a run for it.
“Oh my Gawd,” cried Raj as we sprint away from the avian fuckers, trying to bat them away to an audience of amused bystanders. “Is this karma for laughing at that Alfred Hitchcock movie?”
“Just shut the hell up!” I scream. Jane’s turned around and she’s doubled over laughing. “Oh my God, you guys. You’re doing this on purpose, right? Because I was so miserable today…” and then she breaks off, her words swallowed up by her own laughter. “I’m gonna pee myself!” she manages.
“Shut up!” Raj and I exclaim. Jane giggles with both hands over her mouth, then starts to run away. We’re chasing after her when she stops dead in her tracks with a gasp. “Oh my God!” she exclaims, then bends over as though to touch her toes. Unprepared for this, Raj and I trip over her hunched frame, toppling right into the lake.
Jane’s taken off one of her sneakers, which lays on the deck as she hops on her one adorned foot, holding her barefoot in one hand, and her little horseshoe, which she shows Raj and I (as though we’re not partly submerged in the dirty-ass lake) in the other. “Look! Look! It’s my lucky charm! And it’s been working for me all day!” Then, as though she’s just realized our predicament, she takes one look at us and falls on the deck, laughing her ass off, literally curled in the fetal position and rolling around. “Oh my God! Oh my God!” She’s repeating over and over. “Best day ever!” The people who are not stopping to stare, or laugh, or point at us – or all three – merely step over her body as though they are used to such spectacles in real life. The spiky-haired kid is roaring, slapping his knees. He’s overdoing it, making a spectacle of his own.
When he recovers, he tells us: “You know, you’re not s’posed to be swimming in there,” he points to the nearby sign warning us as much. Raj emerges from the lake with the agility of a person half his size, then crouches to pull me out by my outstretched arms. We stink. “Now I’ll bet you wish you only smelled like a piña colada,” I tell him.
He ignores me, also helping Jane to her feet. “What’d you do: follow us, ya little creep?!” Raj snaps, addressing the kid. He tilts his head to the right, trying to shake the water out of that ear by slapping his left.
Jane’s still laughing. “It looks like you guys could use a lucky charm!”
“Shut up!” I tell her.
“You shut up!”
“Why don’t you BOTH-”
“Listen kid,” Raj cuts him off. “First of all: you need to mind your own damn business and keep out of conversations that don’t involve you. Second, yelling ‘Why don’t you BOTH SHUT UP!’ like that when you hear two people telling each other to shut up repeatedly is from a really old Simpsons episode!” And Raj smacks the kid upside the head.
“I’m telling Mom!” the kid retorts. He sticks his tongue out at us and we all chase him home.
P.S. This story is based on an Archie comic – click the link to see it!!
(My St. Patrick’s Day-themed story – three days late, bien sûr!)
“Did you know,” Raj says, unwrapping his straw and squeaking it through the plastic lid, “that Shamrock Shakes are just vanilla-flavoured with food colouring? Our mind just tricks us into thinking its mint, ’cause it’s green.”
“First of all,” I reply, “that’s complete bullshit: there’s definitely mint flavouring in this thing. Second, I’ve already heard this theory on an episode of The Simpsons.”
“Shut up,” Raj tells me.
“You shut up!”
“Why don’t you BOTH SHUT UP!” a spiky-haired ten-year-old at the next table suggests, then sticks out his tongue at us. It’s a two against one staring match until Jane finally shows up, sliding into the booth across from us with a sigh. Her eyes are red and wet.
“What’s wrong with you?” I ask, sliding the milkshake we’d ordered for her across the table.
“I’ve lost my lucky charm!”
“So go to the store and buy another box!” I say at the same time Raj quips “Don’t you have to be a cartoon leprechaun to say that?”
Jane sighs again. “First of all,” she says, addressing me with her unwrapped straw. “That isn’t funny; I said “lucky charm“, not Lucky Charms, and it’s kinda hard to lose a box of cereal. Second,” and the straw goes into Raj’s direction, “I’ve already heard a variation of that joke on an episode of Friends.”
“That’s right!” I exclaim with a snap of my fingers. “The one where it’s Christmas and Chandler and Joey haven’t bought any gifts yet, and when Monica asks ‘But it’s Christmas Eve; what are you going to do?’ And Chandler says ‘Don’t you have to be Claymation to say that?'” I turn to Raj. “You need to stop stealing your jokes from TV sitcoms.”
“You’ve got to shut up!”
“You shut up!”
“Why don’t you BOTH SHUT UP!” The kid at the table next to us yells again.
“Why don’t you GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE, YA LITTLE BRAT!” Raj slams his fist on the table, then moves as though he’s about to stand up. The kid runs away screaming out of the restaurant, leaving a half order of fries in his wake. I don’t blame him – ol’ Raj is about 400 pounds.
“Anyway,” Jane says impatiently.
“Anyway indeed!” Raj repeats. “What’s this about a lucky charm? I didn’t know you had a lucky charm!”
“Say charm again,” I urge him.
Now it’s Jane’s turn to pound her fist on the table. “First of all, Alice, you’re a hypocrite, because you stole that joke from Mean Girls. Second, if either one of you tell me to shut up, I’m punching you in the junk. Third: we’re totally getting off-topic here.”
“But I know what you’re talking about!” I protest. “I may have made a joke, but at least I’m aware of your lucky charm, unlike Marlon Brando over here. And I’m not talking about Streetcar Named Desire Marlon Brando. I’m talking about the Marlon Brando who had to be shipped to the set of Michael Jackson’s Rock My World video by flatbed truck to make a cameo.”
“Say Marlon Brando again,” Raj says mockingly in the same bratty tone as the kid he’d chased away had, even though we’re all sixteen. “And I’m pretty sure you stole that ‘flatbed truck’ joke from a comedian or something.”
Jane clutches at her head with her French-polished nails. “Stop! I was upset because I thought that my lucky char, was useless, since nothing bad has happened to me yet. But now I think that if I’d had it I wouldn’t have to put up with this shit!” She slides out of the booth again. “I’ll be right back. I’m going to the washroom.”
Raj turns to me, obnoxiously slurping the last of his shake. “So what’s this about a lucky charm?”
“Oh, it’s just some little jeweled horseshoe that she’s had forever. I think a dead relative left it to her. Anyway, she insists that it’s because of the horseshoe that she’s lead such a…charmed life.”
“Boo!” hisses Raj, removing his tomato slice from his burger and throwing it at me.
“Hey! Don’t waste your vegetables! You could use the vitamins!” I say, peeling the tomato off of my cheek, then reaching for a napkin. “I’m guessing the reason Jane is so upset now is because nothing bad has happened to her yet -”
“-aside from our stimulating conversation-”
“-so now she’s like, questioning everything. That horseshoe was like Jesus to her. So if her life keeps going the way it always has, her whole belief system has been shaken.”
Raj shrugs. “So what?”
“So, I repeat, “if we prove to her that it did work, then we can keep her faith intact.” Raj starts whistling Sting’s If I Ever Lose My Faith and I slap his forearm. “Focus!”
Raj’s lips are still pursed. He raises an eyebrow.”I’m listening.”