Written and Read by Montgomery Thompson
The next day, Inder was reclined on the old couch in the clubhouse, reading a comic. “That was so close. I can’t believe your dad didn’t wake up.”
Chalo surveyed the map from their unaccomplished ride. He had just finished adding on Mortimer’s field and as much of the surrounding forest as he knew. “The cops don’t know anything about it. They were just looking for those stupid girls. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, boys. It’s time to ramp up the operation.”
“Whaddaya mean, Chalo?”
“I mean we’re going back to the farm.”
“Yeah,” Regin agreed, “if the old man has powers, that means he’s a superhero, probably retired.”
Ob and Gern sat up at this revelation.
“Really?” they said in unison.
“Whoa…maybe he could train us and tell us how we get our own powers!”
“Regin, don’t be a shik brain. That old fert didn’t even know what was going on. Did you see him?” Chalo parodied Mortimer, making a stupid face and waving. “Derr, I’m just a dumb farmer. What? Is somebody shooting at me? I don’t see anything!” The boys howled with laughter at Chalo’s antics. To them, Mortimer was just a feeble old man with no sense of how the real world worked. “We’re going back, but this time we’re going to be prepared.”
“What do you mean?” Regin asked.
“Know your enemy.” The other kids just looked at each other like Chalo had started to lose it. “Ob, Gern, doesn’t your dad have one of those new movie cameras?”
“We’re going to need it.”
“No way!” said Gern. “He’ll kill us! He just got that thing. If he finds out he’ll—”
“I don’t care! This is for the team. The fate of the world depends on us. You saw what happened; that wasn’t a normal gun. That was like a force ray, like this.” He snatched Inder’s comic from him. The cover was a picture of a superhero holding a shield against an alien attacking with beam weapons. The boys swallowed and looked out at their bikes with the flimsy cardboard and tin foil shields.
“Don’t worry, we’re not going there to fight that thing,” Chalo said. “I’m more interested in the shield on that farmer. We need evidence if we’re gonna get anybody to believe us. So, Ob, Gern, you have to get that camera.” Ob and Gern nodded, wide-eyed, and took off on their bikes. “And don’t forget the film, you dapes!” Chalo shouted after them.
It wasn’t ten minutes later when Ob and Gern skidded back into the driveway carrying a small suitcase. “It was totally easy,” Ob said, “he wasn’t home and our mom was outside doing laundry. She didn’t even know we were there.”
They opened the case on the map table. The camera was a small, black metal box with a pistol-like handle. Chalo and Inder figured out how to load the film and run the camera, then they got ready for the ride.
“Hold on.” Chalo got their attention. “We’ll have to develop the film, it’s gonna cost money. Everybody, empty your pockets.”
“Aw, that’s my comic book money!” Regin shouted.
“This is more important, Regin. Would you rather read about superheroes, or be a superhero?”
Regin quickly changed his mind and dumped all the change on the table.
“Ten Evols,” Chalo counted. “It should be enough.”
The ride seemed faster this time. Soon they were cruising through the tunnel of trees, cautiously approaching the farm. Chalo stopped the gang behind a hedge that grew at either side of the small walkway gate. Mortimer was weeding out front with his back to them. They huddled on the roadside and Chalo whispered orders.
“Okay, Inder, you take the camera and film everything. Don’t stop filming no matter what happens.”
Inder nodded and took the camera. “Wait. What am I shooting?”
“The farmer, you durk! I’m gonna throw a rock at him. Make sure you get me in the picture too but only from the back.”
Regin waved his hand to interrupt. His chubby face was red with the effort of riding. “But if somebody seems the film they will know it was us who threw rocks at him.” They all turned to him, exasperated that he was even speaking.
“That’s the idea, dipwad.”
They got ready behind the hedge. Finally, Inder started the camera and stood up. Mortimer was still on all fours, patiently pulling weeds. Chalo jumped up, took careful aim, and hurled a stone at Mortimer’s back. The rock sparked in the air a foot away from him and shot off to the right. Chalo grabbed Inder’s shoulder and pulled him back down behind the bush.
“Did you get it?”
The skinny boy nodded.
“Right, let’s go again, this time, everybody throw. Try to hit all over the place so we can see how big the shield is. Ready? Go.”
They all jumped up and hurled a barrage of stones at Mortimer. The shield sparked and sent the stones flying, but Mortimer continued to work, completely unaware of the assault. Chalo ducked back down behind the hedge and everyone followed.
“Okay, that should do it, let’s get out of here.”
They quickly packed up the camera and rode back to Legly to get the film developed.
That evening, Mim made a big meal and sat them all down. All the scolding and talks were over and it was time to be a family again.
“So, what’s up with you and Constable Tember?” Spence asked.
“Ooh, aren’t we nosey,” Mim said. “Let me ask you a question: what do you think of Mr. Tember?”
Spence thought a minute. “Well, other than he’s a cop, he’s okay. I mean, he’s nice and all.”
“He’s super nice!” Shaley chimed in, “And he’s always there when you need him to be.”
“That’s an important point, Shaley,” Mim congratulated her, smiling to herself.
“And he’s not scared of anybody cuz he’s a police man,” Maksey interjected.
“All very good observations. Who knew I had such smart children.”
Maksey proudly raised her head. “Yeah, not like those dumb boys in the biker gang.”
“Biker gang?” Mim repeated. “Oh, you mean the boys from the other block. Yeah, they’re kind of odd. I want you kids to stay away from them. Boys that age are nothing but trouble.”
“Those little shiks are definitely up to no good,” Spence agreed.
“Spence! Watch your language or you’ll see what happens to boys around here when they get up to no good.” Mim swatted him with her napkin.
Maksey gave Shaley a look that told her they would have to keep a close eye on the biker boys from now on.
The next morning Constable Tember stopped by to make sure that the girls were okay.
“Oh yes, they’re fine,” Mim flirted. “Thank you so much for finding them for me, it really was sweet of you.”
With the girl’s room directly above the front door, Maksey and Shaley could hear every word through their open window.
“Just doing my job, ma’am…”
“Mim, please, call me Mim.”
“Well, Mim, I’m just glad that they’re home safe and sound with you. I know that’s where I’d be if I was…uh…”
The girls looked at each other with gaping expressions.
“They’re completely cheesing on each other!” Shaley whispered excitedly.
At the front door, Mim broke the awkward silence. “Maybe you would like to come by sometime for dinner. I’m sure the kids would love to see you again, the girls go on about how nice you are…and you are…nice, I mean.”
Pal turned three shades of red. “Well, that’s awfully nice of you to say, Mim, I think you’re very…very nice yourself. I would love to stop by for dinner sometime. I don’t get home cooked meals very often. Never really.”
Upstairs, the girls had buried their heads in their pillows to keep from being heard as they giggled and screamed with a mixture of embarrassment and excitement.
As the constable left, Mim closed the front door, gave a hoot, and fanned herself. The girls came barreling down the stairs to tease their mother mercilessly.
Later, as steam rose from the drying pavement, the day brightened and Maksey dragged Shaley outside.
“Come on, Shaley, you’re so slow!”
“Where are you going?”
“Those boys know something,” Maksey said seriously. “We have to find out what.”
They doubled up on Maksey’s bike again with Shaley driving, and rode down the block to find the boys’ hideout. The pile of tin foil covered bikes in the front yard was a dead giveaway. As they parked the bike and made their way up to the garage, Shaley held out her hand.
A whirring noise ran beneath a layer of chatter from the boys. They seemed to be commentating on something. There was a window in the side door, and Maksey could see through a gap in the curtain they’d pulled across it.
Shaley started to get nervous. “What are they doing?”
“Watching a movie.”
Shaley had had enough. “We’re gonna get in trouble. Let’s go.”
Reluctantly, Maksey tip-toed back to the bike. From what little Maksey had glimpsed, the boys had obviously been busy doing some spying of their own. The sisters sped away, trying their best to look nonchalant. As she sat behind Shaley on the bike, Maksey thought about her next move. One thing was certain; she sure as heck wasn’t going to let her tattletale sister in on it.
That evening, as Mim lay in bed thinking about the constable, she was so distracted she didn’t hear the patter of little feet in the room next door. Maksey waited until she thought her mother was asleep then slipped out of bed and into her robe. Shaley didn’t stir as Maksey picked up her shoes, slipped quietly downstairs and out the front door. Sitting on the front step, she put on her shoes, then wheeled her bike quietly out into the street.
It took less than two minutes to get to the boys’ clubhouse. Only one bike was left outside and a TV blared from somewhere inside. She had heard that Chalo lived alone with his father who was sick or something. No one ever saw the man and, as far as Maksey was concerned, she never wanted to. There was something scary about the place.
She went to the garage door and looked it over. The garage door opened like an oven, except upside down. She struggled with all of her strength but could only open it a couple of inches. Reaching under the door there was just enough room for her little arm to fit through. Squirming, she wedged herself into the crack as the door gave way little by little until at last there was enough room to squeeze in.
Inside it was pitch black. She stood and let her eyes adjust. She could just make out the shape of the projector when a set of car lights swept past. Instinctively she ducked but the car kept going. By the fading light she grabbed the film off of the projector and slid back outside.
Her heart was racing as she made for her bike, then she stopped. “Close the door, you ninny!” she scolded herself. She headed back and pushed on the door—it didn’t budge. “Oh great!” She leaned all of her weight on the handle. Suddenly it gave way, shutting with a bang. In an instant she was back on her bike, her feet whirling like a fan as fear burned into her back.
She just knew half the neighborhood was chasing after her. What would Constable Tember think? He probably wouldn’t even talk to her mom after he found out that her kids were criminals. She panicked all the way to her driveway. She felt horrible for what she had done, but it was done and now there was nothing to do but see it through.
Climbing slowly off the bike she turned around fully expecting to see the police and the boys, but the street was empty. She waited a minute. Maybe she had pedaled so fast that they were still catching up. Leaning forward, she looked down the street. Huh, she thought, looked like she had pulled it off. Suddenly she felt better. Like a mouse, she slipped back into the house, up the stairs, and into bed, tucking the film safely under her pillow. She fell asleep grinning at her cleverness.
Shaley was already up when Maksey woke. The first thing she did was reach under her pillow. The film was still there. It wasn’t a dream, she really had done it.
“You went to bed with your shoes on? You durk, I’m telling Mom.” Shaley ran to her mom’s room as Maksey looked at her feet in horror.
“Maksey?” came Mim’s voice from the room next door. “Come in here, honey.”
Maksey shuffled slowly into Mim’s bedroom, dejected and forlorn. “Aw, baby, did I not tuck you in last night? You had to sleep all night in your shoes, I’m so sorry!” As Mim smothered Maksey with kisses, Shaley rolled her eyes and stomped downstairs.
Maksey breathed a sigh of relief. She would live another day. Now came the hard part. She took a breath and looked into her mom’s face, ready to tell her first lie.
“Mom? I hear there’s some new kids down the street my age, could I go and see if they want to play today?”
Maksey left the house feeling terrible. As soon as she had lied about the new kids she realized that the lie would never end. She would have to keep lying about the new kids and her mom would ask questions, then she would have to lie about what they did and, oh… It was horrible! She swore that after she had finished her plan she would tell the truth, take the punishment, and would never get involved in anything sneaky again.
With the film tucked safely away in her jacket, she pedaled into town, sticking to the side streets in case someone might see her. It was a short ride to the police station. Sergeant Bemis was the only one there.
To the Sergeant’s surprise, Maksey went behind the counter, pulled up a chair at his desk, and proceeded to rattle off the whole story from the time she and Shaley followed the boys, up until the moment she came into the station. Bemis’ head swam, partly from the detail of the story, but mostly because of Maksey’s high-pitched prattle; it reminded him of his wife, which was why he hadn’t heard a word of it.
Maksey handed over the film as proof that she wasn’t lying about any of it. Sergeant Bemis smiled at her, stashed the film in his top drawer, and assured her that the police were on the case. Maksey was satisfied with his answer and, after confessing everything, left the station in a much better mood than when she had arrived.
© 2015 Copyright Montgomery Thompson
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