Written and Read by Montgomery Thompson
The boys listened, wide eyed to Chalo’s story.
“No way!” one of them remarked.
“Yep, just like I said. You can call the cops and ask them yourself.”
Regin was still having a hard time believing it. “And they just let you go?”
“I don’t know,” Chalo laughed, “when the fat sergeant handed over the film, I was outta there before they knew what was going on.”
“So maybe they’re still after you?” Ob said, scanning the clubhouse for a hiding place.
“Naw, they would have been here by now. I’m in the clear.” Chalo crossed his arms confidently. “Besides, that film was stolen property, pure and simple. We’re the good guys. Good guys don’t have to worry about the law.”
“One thing’s for sure,” Inder chimed in, “there is definitely something weird going on around here and the cops know about it.”
Chalo looked at his second in command. “Inder’s right. It’s time to ramp up our operations. It’s time for Operation Hero Watch.”
The boys looked at each other and nodded.
“Finally! We get to do something for real!”
Chalo produced a sheet of paper and tacked it to the wall next to the door. “This is the watch schedule. We’re going all day and night. I’m first. We’ll be patrolling the neighborhood from Crescent Drive to Almers Street, over to Sidel’s Bakery then up to Namarin Road.” He produced a pair of binoculars and held them up.
“Woah!” Gern reached for the binoculars. “Are those real?”
“Yes, Gern, and if you break them, the pain you feel will be real and it will last for a long time.”
Gern withdrew his hand, suddenly not wanting anything to do with the binoculars.
“When you get to Namarin road, use these to check out the old fert’s place. If there’s an alien base in the area, that’s got to be where it is. Our job is to find out what’s going on, so report anything weird.”
“Like the cops pulling up to the house?” Ob said, looking out the window of the side door.
“Yes like…what?” Chalo bolted to the side door and looked outside. “Where?” The other boys stacked around Chalo to see, but he shoved them all back. “Get offa me! Ob, you dape, there’s no cops!”
“Yeah there is, over at that house.” Ob pointed up the block to Mim’s.
Chalo looked carefully, he could just spot the corner of the house and a piece of the driveway. Sure enough, there was a police cruiser parked out front.
“Good eyes, Ob.” He nodded appreciatively.
Ob grinned, unused to such recognition.
“Okay everybody, operational note. Make sure you keep an eye on any activity, especially on that house.”
Tember pulled the cruiser into Mim’s driveway. His heart rate went up as he got out of the car and she opened the door to greet him. “Hi, Mim, you look great!”
“Aw, you’re so sweet!” She blushed. She was starting to wonder why he hadn’t come around in a while. She’d had just enough time to check her hair, put on a dash of lipstick, and be at the door as he arrived. “So, what brings you out this way?” This was it; he was going to ask her out. Her eyes flashed with anticipation.
“Well, actually, I’m here to talk to you about Maksey.”
“Oh,” she said, crestfallen.
“She’s gotten herself in a bit of trouble and I—”
“Trouble? Maksey, come down here at once!” she barked.
“It’s not like that, Mim, she tried to—”
Maksey scampered down the stairs but froze as soon as she saw the constable. Her wide eyes looked from him to Mim.
“Maksey, the constable is here to talk to me about some kind of trouble you’ve been in. Would you care to explain?”
This was not how Tember had wanted things to go. “No, Mim, really she’s—”
“Constable Tember, I raise my children to tell the truth and do the right thing. The only version of events I am interested in right now is hers. Maksey?”
Tember looked apologetically at Maksey. Maksey sighed and began telling Mim the whole story, just as she had at the police station. Mim listened patiently and when Maksey was done, she looked at Tember.
“Does that about cover it?”
Tember took off his hat. “Yes, ma’am.” He felt like he was the one in the hot seat.
She turned back to Maksey. “Now. How do you feel right now?”
Tears rolled down Maksey’s cheeks. “Awful.”
“Well, just imagine how that boy feels. You need to fix this, Maksey. Do you know how?”
“Tell the truth.”
“That’s right. Now go and get Shaley for me.”
Maksey ran up the stairs as Mim turned, arms crossed, and looked at Tember. “Is that what you came here for?”
“No, Mim, not entirely. That was really impressive though. No wonder your children are so…well, amazing.”
Mim shot him a look that told him he wasn’t out of hot water yet.
Shaley came down and sat on the bottom stair. “Yeah Mom?”
“Shaley, did you hear what Maksey just told me?”
“No, but Spence was listening and he told me—”
“Shaley! Enough! The tattling has got to stop! You have to take responsibility for yourself and stop trying to blame things on others. I need you to keep an eye on Maksey, not to get her in trouble, but to keep her out of it.”
Shaley hung her head. “Yes Mom.”
At the top of the stairs, Spence sat and considered all he had heard. He knew Maksey was adventurous, but this was extreme even for her. He was certain that there was more to this story, and he was going to find out what it was.
Tember drove Maksey and Mim down the block to Chalo’s house and parked the cruiser at the curb. The boys watched from the open garage, not knowing what to do. Maksey marched up to the front door with Mim and rang the bell.
Ob was about to say something, but Inder smacked him on the back of the head.
Maksey rang again. Finally, the door opened.
Chalo’s father, Wane, was a thin man in every way. Thin hair, thin beard, thin build, and thin brain. He eyeballed Tember watching him from the cruiser, then took an unhealthy look at Mim. Up and down he surveyed, his mouth parting slightly as he filled his gaze.
“Mister…” she began.
“Wane. What d’you two want?” He glared at Maksey, then went back to scanning Mim.
“This is my daughter Maksey. She is here to apologize to you and your son.”
“BOY! In. Now!”
Chalo came to the door, slightly shaken. “Yessir?”
“You know this one?”
“Go on then, girl.”
Maksey looked Chalo in the eye. “I’m sorry I took your…” she looked at Wane who was busy checking out Mim, “…things. I promise never to ever take anything as long as I live.”
Chalo, impressed by Maksey but clearly more worried about his father than anything else, stuck out his hand. “No problem.”
Maksey took it and gave a firm shake. Chalo scratched the inside of her palm and rolled his eyes towards the garage. Maksey nodded.
“Chalo,” said Mim, “please tell Maksey that what she saw was just a movie trick and not actually real.”
Chalo shrugged and said, “Yeah, it’s really fake, nothing but fake…movie stuff.”
“There, see?” Mim reassured her.
Maksey just looked at her with a big smile.
Wane glowered at Maksey. “Is that it?”
Mim stepped in. “That is it. I apologize for any inconvenience.”
“Oh, it’s no bother. You can inconvenience me anytime.”
“Goodbye.” Mim turned on her heels with Maksey in tow and headed back to the police cruiser.
Maksey looked back at Chalo who quickly pointed a finger to the clubhouse. Maksey grinned to herself. She was in.
“Well, how did it go?” Tember asked as they climbed back into the cruiser.
“Maksey was an angel, Chalo was a gentleman, but his father. What a piece of work!”
“Was he rude to you? I’ll go back and—”
“No, Pal, forget it. He’s not worth it.”
Back at Mim’s house, they pulled into the driveway and she thanked Tember for bringing this to her attention.
“Would you like to come in for a hot cup of—”
“I have to get back to the station, but if it’s all right with you, I’d love to stop by later, maybe for dinner?”
Maksey watched her mom and Officer Tember with a strange fascination, then snapped out of it, remembering that Chalo and his gang were waiting. “Mom, I’m gonna go play at my new friend’s house.” There was that lie again. She winced.
“Okay, that’s fine, sweetie.” Her mom turned her attention back to Officer Tember. “Oh, that would be so nice. And afterwards we can look at the stars from the back porch. The view is great from back there.”
“The view is just fine from right here,” Tember murmured, then seemed to shake himself awake. “I uh…really should get going.”
“I’ll see you tonight then?”
“Count on it.”
Ew, Maksey thought as she backed away from the two adults. She picked up her bike off the front lawn but then hesitated. She really didn’t want to go back and face all those older boys alone. She would need Shaley. Shaley had always been close with Maksey, but lately she was starting to find reasons not to hang out with her. She was more interested in listening to records or going to the movies with friends from school. Problem was, their neighborhood wasn’t close to any of Shaley’s friends, so Shaley had to get Mim to drive her or arrange a sleepover. Shaley had been on a lot of sleepovers lately, and Maksey was beginning to feel left out. Maybe if Shaley would come with her, she would realize how exciting Maksey’s life was right now and would want to do more with her.
Maksey tossed a pebble against hers and Shaley’s bedroom window. “Shaley!” she hissed.
The window opened. “What?”
“Come on!” She gave her sister an urgent look.
Shaley turned down the record player in their room then came back to the window. “What are you freaking out about?”
“I need your help!” Maksey’s head went a little dizzy from whispering so loudly.
Rolling her eyes, Shaley shouted, “You’re such a pain in the butt! What do you want?”
“Shhh! Come on, they’re waiting!”
“Who’s waiting? What are you talking about?”
Maksey pointed down the street.
“You little…are you going back to those boys’ house?”
“Shhh! Mom will hear. Just come on!”
Shaley thought a minute—babysitting Maksey again, not her idea of fun. But then maybe going to a house full of boys slightly older than her wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“Okay, I’ll take you this once.”
She clomped down the stairs and out the front door, banging soundly.
“Be quiet!” Maksey said, exasperated.
Shaley climbed onto the bike in front of Maksey. “Oh, calm down. Mom is in the kitchen. I think she’s gaga over Officer Tember. She’s cooking half the kitchen for dinner.” She stood on the pedals and they headed off down the street.
Chalo’s garage door was closed, but Ob came out as soon as the girls pulled up.
“We were expecting you, but not you.” He looked from Maksey to Shaley.
“She’s my sister. Where I go, she goes.” Maksey folded her arms like she meant business. “Besides, she knows everything.”
Shaley was suddenly aware that, for the first time, one of her siblings was actually sticking up for her. “Yeah, where she goes, I go.”
Ob, convinced by their sheer confidence, just shrugged, “Okay,” and led them inside.
The boys leapt to their feet. Chalo had already briefed them on what had happened, and had even rehearsed his lines; they were straight out of one of his favorite movies.
“So, you thought you would return to the scene of the crime, eh?”
Maksey looked at him confused. “You told me to.”
“It’s okay, while you’re here you’re under my protection. No one will lay a finger on ya or they answer to me, and I only answer questions one way. With a bullet to the guts.” Chalo struck a gangster pose and made machine gun noises.
“Ooo-kay.” Shaley looked at him like he was kooky.
“I’m just kidding, I always wanted to say that. Welcome to the secret lair of the Crescent Street…um, superhero club, thing, whatever. All of us, in one way or another, are involved in defending this neighborhood from the forces of evil.”
“Yeah, on a daily basis,” Inder added.
“You mean annoying the neighborhood on a daily basis,” Shaley quipped.
“Ah, a skeptic. That’s good, we need one of those,” Inder retorted.
“Well,” Maksey spoke up, “why did you want me to come back?”
“Cuz you’re the only one outside our club to see the shield.”
“The invisible shield around the old farmer. You saw it, right?”
“Yeah, and we saw the snake-man rising into the sky, so we went into the woods to look for his hiding place,” Shaley blurted, wanting to get one up on the boys.
Maksey elbowed her.
The boys all crowded around the girls.
“What was he like?”
“Did he have a gun?”
“Easy lads.” Chalo stepped in. “Give ‘em some space.” He had heard that girls spook easily. “Maybe our guests would like a seat?” Chalo took Shaley by the arm and walked her over to the old couch. “Ob, Gern, bring them a couple of sodas.”
Ob and Gern raced off to their house to fetch the drinks.
Chalo sat on the arm of the battered old couch. “Now, tell us about what you saw.”
It took about thirty minutes before the whole story was told. Maksey left nothing out and Shaley filled in her part as well. Maksey wondered why Shaley was so willing to tell all when she had pretended not to know anything in front of their mom. She was acting weird, and Chalo seemed to be directing all of his attention towards her instead, which was starting to tick Maksey off. Didn’t these boys realize there was something serious going on?
“Well, our next step is clear. Go interrogate the old man.”
“What do you mean?” Maksey asked.
“It means we have to talk to him and ask him what is going on. He’ll know that his cover is blown so there’s no telling what he’ll do. He may even try to kill us.”
“Mister Townes would never! He’s really nice. He would never hurt anybody ever!” Maksey objected loudly.
“Okay, kid, geez. If you like the old guy so much, you talk to him.”
© 2015 Copyright Montgomery Thompson
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