Simon's Journal

Volume IV

Thirteen Summer Days
A New Beginning

Written by Danny

Chapter -- 2



"Simon?" BJ whispered from the top bunk.

"Yo Simon, are you awake yet?" he whispered again.

I guess he thought I was still in bed, but I wasn't. I had been up for over four hours and I don't think he was expecting me to come walking into the room when I did `cause he let out a wicked loud yell of freight. It sounded something like, "Algahaw-dis-is-balgack". I've no idea what that was supposed to mean, but I thought it funny enough to attempt to spell it here.

After he yelled he fell back into his pillow and clutched at his frantically beating heart.

"Simon, I swear you are going to give me a heart attack someday."

He sounded like he was out of breath; as though he had been running, or slapping the weasel.

I had a chill run up my spine and I shuttered at the thought of BJ slapping that big weasel I had seen last night. Yuck!

"What time is it?" he asked.

"Nearly ten o'clock." I answered. "I was starting to wonder if you were ever going to get up."

"How long have you been awake?" he asked with a yawn.

"Oh I have slept in every morning since I came home. I didn't get up until nearly six." I said while setting my e-journal on my desk.

"Six in the morning?" he asked and for a second he sounded like Mickey Mouse.

"Man that is like three hours ago?" he said with a cough to clear his voice box.

I chuckled, "Try more than four."

"Huh?" he was trying to sit up while rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"Oh and by the way, Dad's in the process of filling a bucket with ice water." I warned him, but he didn't believe me.

"Yeah right." He said and yawned again before falling back into his pillow.

While walking back out of the room I spoke in a higher tone with sort of an elastic kind of sigh, "OK, but don't say I didn't warn you."

Maybe five minutes passed before everyone in a three planet radius heard the screams of BJ as dad dumped about two gallons of ice and water onto the sleeping head of BJ.

Not long after that, BJ was sitting beside me at the kitchen table, grumbling about being cold while dad told him that we'd been trying to get him to wake up for over an hour.

He was also nursing a nasty scratch on his inner left thigh. You see, no one was aware that my cat Lil' Vera had been soundly asleep between BJ's legs when dad bumped the ice water on him. In her panicked attempt to get away from the water and BJ's flailing limbs, she had sunk a single claw into his tender fleshy thigh meat. At first he hadn't noticed the deep scratch `cause all his senses had been overloaded by the ice water. It wasn't until he was standing barefoot on the wooden floor that we all saw he was bleeding.

Our initial thought was that it was really bad, but once mom had him cleaned up and the bleeding had stopped it wasn't so very bad at all. Needless to say he tried to milk it for all the sympathy he could get out of it.

Of course being his best friend and virtually brothers, I had to offer him some compassion and love.

"BJ got his period! BJ got his period!" I chanted outside the hallway bathroom as mom nursed his wounds.

"Simon, that's enough." Mom warned.

"You know, you best be careful now BJ." I said.

"Why?" he asked dumbly unaware that he was setting me up for a good punch line.

"`Cause now you can get pregnant." I said.

BJ acted like he was about to leap over mom to come after me. Mom had looked as though she was going to shout at me, but before either could do anything, I took off down the hallway, laughing at my own cleverness.



"It's summer time!" BJ grumped while sitting at the kitchen table, "I'm supposed to be able to sleep as long as I want!"

With a laugh Dad said, "Hey, you didn't have to get up. You could have gone right on sleeping."

"Yeah right; in a wet bed?" BJ hissed. "I still can't believe you did that."

"You could learn a thing or two from Simon." Dad started to say and BJ quickly jumped in with his own smart comment.

"You mean how to sleep in a wet bed?"

I think dad's jaw just about hit the floor. I on the other hand thought it was clever and rather quick witted of BJ to come up with that on the spur of the moment.

When dad saw that I wasn't upset over the comment he relaxed and continued, "I was going to say... He was up before anyone else, had a shower, made and ate his breakfast and who knows what else."

"I watched TV, had some cornflakes and did some journaling all at the same time." I said, directing my comments to BJ.

BJ gave me a disgusted look and shivered, "You ate cornflakes? Are you a teenager or an old fart like your dad over there?"

Boy BJ was on fire this morning, considering he looked like the walking dead... actually, make that the wet walking dead.

Half a second after his witty `old fart' line BJ was hit in the face with a wet sponge. You know the kind that's about the size of a 3x5 card; on one side it has a yellow sponge and a scratchy green pad on the reverse. Dad couldn't have had better aim if he had practiced with the Cincinnati Reds. The sponge hit right on the bridge of BJ's nose and it had been really wet too. I even got splashed a little from it.

"Ah gross! It smells like dirty dishwater!" BJ groaned as he tried to throw it back, but instead it went splat on the floor, several feet from dad.

I simply grinned `cause I knew if I laughed BJ would probably Frog me in the arm or something.

BJ crossed his arms and lowered his head to the table. I thought he might have dozed off again, but when dad asked him what he wanted for breakfast he replied and was still quick on the draw with the clever comebacks. "Fried eggs with the whites still slimy like snot and a piece of burnt toast."

When he hadn't heard either of us laugh or make any kind of sound, BJ lifted his head to look at us.

"Tell me you're joking." I begged him.

BJ grinned mischievously. "Well, that's how he made them the last time I stayed over."

Dad took on the air of a greasy-spoon waitress as he said, "One piping-hot plate of partially gelatinous cluckers on a black shingle coming right up!" He even did the open mouth gum chewing thing, which is what made it so funny.

"Actually, I don't eat breakfast anymore." BJ confessed.

"What?" Dad and I said at the same time.

"But breakfast is the most important..." I started to say, but BJ cut me off.

"Yeah, yeah save it. Mom's been telling me the same junk for months."

"Why won't you eat breakfast anymore?" I asked.

BJ shrugged, "Never did like eating in the morning. Always made my insides all squirmy."

BJ stuck a pinky in his ear and twisted it forcefully as though he were trying to scratch an itch on his brain.

Dad seemed bothered by the whole anti-breakfast movement BJ had joined and wasn't willing to let the matter drop.

"Would you at least have some milk, or juice, or how about a Pop Tart? Oh," dad made a sound like he had just remembered something important, "I can make a killer sausage biscuit?"

"I don't eat beef or pork either." BJ announced.

"Oh brother!" I exclaimed, "You've become one of those... those..."

I couldn't for the life of me remember what a non meat eater was called.

"Vegetarian," dad offered.

BJ rested his chin on his wrists and yawned, as though the conversation bored him.

"No, I just don't eat beef or pork, but I still like fish and turkey." BJ clarified.

"What about Chicken?" I asked.

"Nope!" BJ answered.

"So you don't eat eggs or drink milk either?" Dad asked.

"Oh yeah, I still like those; just not for breakfast."

"I see." Dad said.

"I don't!" I added.

"Have you ever seen what they do to those poor animals?" BJ asked.

I countered with, "Have you ever seen where an egg comes from?"

That one made dad snort as he tried to hide his amusement. BJ's argument was full of holes. I mean he won't eat chickens or cows `cause he says they are treated bad, but he'll eat their eggs and drink their milk. I chose to let it go and chalk it down as some weird phase he was going through.

"You got to have something!" Dad said to him mostly out of frustration.

BJ lifted his head a little higher and asked, "Got any Tomato juice?"

"Tomato Juice?" I asked with disgust, "Now, who's the old fart?"

"Would you settle for a V8?" Dad asked.

"If I say no are you going to smack me in the head and say, `You could have had a V8'?" BJ asked with a sickly grin.

Dad chuckled again, "I'm serious; would you like a V8?"

BJ perked up, "Yeah! That would be great."

Dad fished in his pocket and pulled out a twenty dollar bill. He wadded it up and gave it a toss at BJ who surprisingly reached out and snatched it from the air.

"Good," Dad began, "while you're at the corner store pick up some butter and a loaf of raison bread would you?"

BJ actually thought it was funny as he stuffed the bill into the pocket of his jean shorts.

"Sure, but I'm going to need some money for the food too." he said.

Dad looked my way, "Tell me again why it is you like hanging around with him?"

Without missing a beat I said, "`Cause he makes me feel smart."

BJ beamed with pride and repeated, "Yeah, I make him feel smart."

Dad gave BJ a look which made BJ rethink it and then he took a swing at me, but I had already leaned way over so that he couldn't hit me.

"Hey! Did you just call me dumb?" he asked.

"No! Weren't you listening? The word dumb never crossed my lips... Well now it did, but not before."

BJ then asked me, "You allowed to come then?"

Oddly he had sounded quite British just then, which caused me to chuckle. I then looked to dad, who apparently hadn't heard the question.

"Can I dad?" I asked.

"Can you what?" he asked while bending over to retrieve the sponge BJ had tossed on the floor.

"Go with BJ to the store." I said.

I really do think that mom and dad are getting excited about the fact that I have stopped moping around the house and actually want to be outside again.

"Make sure you make your call first." He said and even though he wasn't looking our way I still could tell he was smiling.

"If we have enough money leftover can we get some candy too?" I asked.

BJ let out this gross sounding fake belch. I think he was trying to imitate a barfing sound.

"Oh come on!" I almost shouted, "You don't eat breakfast, you like tomato juice and now you don't like candy anymore?"

Dad turned back around to face us, leaned against the edge of the counter and said with this weird grin, "You'll have to tell Simon about last Halloween."

"Oh God, I don't want to even think about it." BJ exclaimed while covering his face with is hands.

I reached out and smacked the back of his head while he wasn't looking.

"What was that for!" he said with irritation.

"Stop using God's name in vain!" I said.

"Whatever!" he said while trying to blow me off.

Dad started telling the story for him. "Last Halloween BJ, your brother, Lowell and..." Dad stopped and looked to BJ as he asked, "What was that little red haired boys' name?"

"Jasper?" I asked with surprise.

BJ nodded.

"Right" Dad said and then continued, "They went around begging for candy for the full two hours. They came parading back here to have their candy checked before eating any."

I looked to BJ who was turning green just from the memory and whatever was coming; I knew it was going to be good.

"Well BJ happen to get a package of Skittles. Or at least he thought that is what they were." Dad said.

BJ made a gurgling sound deep in his throat before asking, "Remember those Harry Potter Every Flavor Beans we got that one time?"

I nodded.

"Well, someone gave me some Skittles that were just like those, except they were all the bad flavors." BJ said and I swear he was the same color as The Hulk from the movie of the same name.

Dad continued telling the story while laughing, "He filled his mouth with the stuff and started chewing before he realized what it was."

I lost it! I was laughing so hard, I nearly slid out of my seat and under the table.

"No wait!" BJ said, "It gets worse."

"So, after I spit the stuff out and puked in your hall bathroom, I tried this candy bar I got, called a Chocolate Snapper."

BJ was starting to giggle now himself and dad was doubling over with laughter.

"OK so it looked, felt and smelt like a real chocolate bar," BJ was saying, "but when I bit into it, it exploded and covered me in red stuff that looked like blood."

"Man I would have loved to have seen that!" I said.

"Well if you hadn't been roaming around the world and instead been here where you belong then you would have." BJ said flatly.

"Bite me!" I told him as I continued to laugh at the idea of dad pranking BJ like he had.

I had to hold onto the table to keep from sliding out of my chair. Dad was howling and we were carrying on so much, mom came to see what we were up to.

"They were telling me about last Halloween." I told her.

Mom made a face at dad and said, "I still say it was mean of you to give that stuff to the boys."

"WHAT?" BJ shouted, "YOU DID THAT?"

Well, if dad was laughing before, it was nothing to what he did after BJ finally had figured out that Dad had pranked them all. Dad was leaning over one of the chairs laughing like a hyena and stomping his foot like a horse trying to count.

BJ got up and tried to start wrestling with dad over it all, but mom stopped them both with the simple command, "No rough housing inside!"

Dad got BJ in a Chicken-Wing hold and then gave him the wedgie to end all wedgies.

"AAAAHH! NOT A WEDGIE!!!" BJ screamed.

Once he was free from the dreaded wedgie, he moved as far from dad as he could and tried to pick his underwear out of the crack of his butt, while laughing and moaning at the same time.

"You fight dirty!" BJ said to dad.

"I learned it all from my lovely wife." Dad said and mom faked a slow punch to dad's gut.

"We blew another bulb in the back bathroom." She told dad.

Dad took off to go fix the bulb, while BJ continued to struggle to get his underwear resituated in his pants without actually taking off his pants to do it.

"Come on, lets go. That V8 is really sounding good now." He said to me.

"I have to make a phone call first." I said.

"Can't you wait until we get back?" he asked.

Mom jumped in with a firm, "No he cannot!"

That's when it clicked in BJ's head why I had to make the call.

It didn't take long. Only like thirty seconds at the most and then I was ready to go.

"Is that all there is to it?" he asked.

He had listened in when I called.

"Yep. Just have to say where I'm going and when I expect to be back." I said.

"What happens if you get delayed and don't get home when you said you would?" he asked.

"Then the cops come and take me to jail." I said as I quickly set the alarm on my watch.

"ARE YOU SERIOUS?" BJ almost blasted me through the back door.

"Stop yelling!" I said and noticed he wasn't looking, so I popped him right in the stomach and dashed out the door before he could hit me back.

As we rounded the house BJ said, "Oh, I almost forgot."

"Forgot what?" I asked.

"I got something funny in my email a while back and I thought you would like it. I memorized it so I could tell it to you later."

"Ok, so let's hear it." I said.

"I made myself a snowball, as perfect as could be, I thought I'd keep it as a pet and let it sleep with me. I made it some pajamas and a pillow for its head. Then last night it ran away, but first it wet my bed!"

I stifled a snort of laughter and turned around. I was about to say something comical, but BJ flinched.

"You better not hit me again!" he said.

"I wasn't going to hit you!" I laughed.

"Yeah right!" he said with unbelief in his tone.

I quickly rabbit punched him in the belly and ran up the hill laughing all the way.

About half way to the store BJ caught up with me `cause of his long legs.

"Dang you can still run fast." He said.

"Yeah, but not like before." I said.

"You could, I mean if you trained a little." BJ said.

"You think so?" I asked.

"Sure and I bet Coach Shaffer would love to have you on the track team next year." He said.

"Um, yeah about that..." I started saying.

"What?" he asked.

It took me a few seconds before I was able to tell BJ, "I won't be going back there."

He stopped walking and like a small child about to throw a tantrum he stomped his foot.

"WHAT? WHY NOT?" he shouted at me.

We were right in front of his house when he had started his little tantrum and I fully expected one or both of his parents to come out the front screen door, but they didn't.

"Well I missed out on so much from before when I was all messed up. Then I was gone for so long that now I am too far behind. If I went back there I'd have to make up all of last year." I said.

"So! That doesn't mean you can't go to our school!" BJ continued whining.

"Come on!" I said and started walking.

After a minute he started walking too, but was several paces behind me and was falling further behind with each step.

"Where are you going to school then?" he finally asked.

"Ever hear of Holdington Academy?" I asked softly.

"Where's that at?" he asked.

I turned and continued walking backward, "Uh, in Holdington."

"Never heard of it." He said.

"Me either but mom and dad got me signed up a couple weeks ago. It's supposed to be close. Dad said it is only like an hour by car."

"You have got to be kidding me!" he said.

"You're going to be going to school an hour away?" he asked, "Your going to have to get up before the sun and by the time you get home it will be almost too late for us to hang out!"

"Um," I hummed nervously as I searched the recesses of my head for a way to tell him that Holdington Academy was a boarding school and that I'd only be coming home on holidays or maybe some weekends.

"What?" he said, sensing that I had something else to add to this dreaded news.

"I won't be coming home at night." I said trying to put an up swing on it to make it sound better.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"Oh I will be coming home, but only on Holidays and Dad even said that I could come home on a weekend if I was feeling home sick or something."

BJ started walking again and tried to walk right past me, but I reached out and grabbed his arm to stop him.

"Are you ok?" I asked.

"NO!" he snapped.

"I know, I had a hard time with it too when Mom and Dad told me, but now I'm not so freaked out by it." I told him.

"No! That isn't what I meant and you know it!" he said yanking his arm from my grip.

I didn't have a clue what he meant, but I waited for him to tell me.

"I find out yesterday that my best friend is back and now you're telling me you're leaving again?" he said and I am sure I detected a crack in his voice and I don't mean from puberty.

I reached out and took hold of his arm again.

"It's not like I'm moving to Alaska or somewhere like that. Since it is only about an hour away we can do like last night and have a sleep over on the weekends.

"Yeah right! Maybe at first, but you'll get up there and make all new friends. Then you'll come home on weekends less and less and you'll be too busy with your family on holidays. Man Simon, I went to sleep last night thinking how great it is going to be to have two best friends and now you're telling me that you're leaving again in September!"

"August actually," I said mournfully, "It won't be like that. I promise!"

And then something occurred to me.

"Did you say two best friends?" I asked with a small bit of the black jealousy monster rearing its ugly head.

"You only have one best friend and that is me!" I know I sounded like a six year old, but give me a break. I just found out that my best friend was cheating on me with another best friend.

BJ's features went hard and cold, but I didn't care `cause my own inner parts were burning with the icy fires of jealousy.

"Who is it?"

For a moment BJ had tried to play dumb with me.

"Who's your new best friend?" I asked.

"You know there isn't a law that says I can't have two best friends." He said.

"Yes there is! You are my best friend and I am yours and that is all either of us needs." I said.

"So you're saying you don't have more than one best friend?" he asked.

I tried to reach out and grab his arm a third time, but he stepped away from me.

"No, I have lots of friends, but only one best friend!"

"Yeah right!" he said and started to walk away from me and toward the store.

"Who is it?" I said stomping my foot the way he had a second ago, when he found out I was going away to school.

He stopped and threw out his arms, "Lowell! Alright! It's Lowell; he is my other best friend! Happy now?"

A while back, after I'd got my butt kicked and ended up in the hospital, Lowell and BJ had started becoming friends and I guess my absents has allowed the two of them to become more than just friends. They thought they were best friends!

Then something really weird popped into my head. At first it was like a Fourth of July firework exploding. It was there, bright and brilliant for a few seconds, then vanished, or at least I thought it had vanished. I had to force it to reappear and when it did, the thought was that Lowell and I had at one time been intimate. Now he and BJ were best friends? Did that mean they... I shook the thought out of my head.

"Let me ask you something." BJ said angrily, "When you made all these great plans to run off last year and play pirate with Lowell, your brother and that fake Indian dude, did you even once think that maybe your best friend might miss you? That maybe, if you had asked, he might have gone with you?"

He started walking again, but when I made a sound as I started to reply he stopped and turned back around.

"No! You know what. I actually forgave you for that, after Lowell explained some stuff to me, but now you are back and I actually started to think things were going to be like they were before."

He turned away and punched the air with a wicked right jab. I almost felt sorry for the air.

"You don't even act or sound like you used to. Now it's Bible this and God that. You've turned into some kind of pint-sized Jesus Freak. Lowell goes to church all the time and he's not like that? Why do you have to be?"

I started to say something, but he stopped me.

"No, you know what. Do you even know that I tried to come with Lowell to find you before?"

I barely nodded my head. Until that moment I had forgot that he had initially been with Lowell when Lowell was captured and sent to the Banachelli like I had been, but somehow BJ had eluded capture. I never did hear how or why, actually up to now I never gave it a single thought.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out the wadded up twenty dad had given him.

"Here!" he forced the bill into my hand, "Go get your dads stuff and your candy."

He then stormed past me and headed back down the hill to his house, which was only a few doors down.

"BJ!" I tried calling after him, but he stretched his right hand high into the air and flipped me off.

The old me would have run down that hill, jumped on his back and beat the crap out of him, but not the new me. Nope, the new me was above that sort of brutal violence... yeah right! The new me reached down, picked up a rock and whipped it through the air like a micro-missile.


Bull's-eye! Right in the middle of the back, but I didn't stick around for any sort of retaliatory strike or to witness the effect the stone had on him. I was running up the hill to the store as fast as my short legs would carry me. I didn't even look back to see if he was chasing me. My only thought was to reach the store and run inside where he was less likely to make a scene.

Once inside, only then did I check to see if I was followed, but he wasn't anywhere around.

"Hello!" came a ladies voice behind me.

I spun around to see this bubbly teenaged girl standing behind the counter. She had shiny brown hair, pail green eyes with the long dark lashes and...

"OH MY!" I gasped.

"Simon?" she said.

"M-m-mary?" I stammered due to utter and unmitigated shock.

She ran around the counter and threw herself at me. I swear I almost jumped out of the way. That's how dazed I was from seeing... well, seeing `My Mary' in, of all places, the corner store.

But she wasn't exactly `My Mary'. She was taller, her face a little longer, her cheeks a little rosier, but her nose... that was it; that cute button nose could only belong to one girl.

"Mary?" I said again; thankfully without the stammer.

"O-M-G!" No kidding, she really said it like that, "When did you get home? O-M-G!" There, she did it again. "I have heard so much about you!"

"Wait! Please Wait!" I said almost begging, "What are you doing here?"

"I'm work here silly." She said while pointing to her name tag which was pinned above her...

"Whoa, Mary had breasts." I thought and thank God that thought stayed in my head!

I read the name tag.

"Mary Tucker"

And then I realized I had just read it aloud.

"But you're not sixteen?" I said nearly as a question.

"I only work here for the summer and only for two hours each day." She said.

And then she did it. She tossed her hair and gave me that smile that I could have keyed in on if she had been lost in a sea of hundreds of thousands of smiles.

"MARY!" I shouted and hugged her tightly, "I have missed you so much!"

"O-M-G! I was just going to say that very same thing!" she said and she did it again, the hair toss and the smile.

If she kept this up she was going to need a bucket and a mop `cause I was going to melt right there on the spot.

"When did you get home?" She asked again.

"Few days ago." I said while I slowly slid into a trance as I stared into her eyes.

We started talking and except for Mary being a full head taller than me now, it was like it had only been yesterday that we saw each other. Mary told me about her year, that she had become the captain of the cheerleaders as well as the captain of the Pep Squad and worked on the yearbook committee. She was telling me about how she had come up with the idea for the yearbook theme when she was interrupted by a beeping sound. My watch alarm had gone off.

"OH CRAP! I'm sorry Mary, but I have to go! I have to be home in fifteen minutes." I said and then remembered that I was supposed to get butter and something else.

"I can't remember!" I said as I dashed down the middle isle and grabbed a small tub of butter from the glass fridge.

"I could call your house and ask what it is you're forgetting?" she offered.

I looked at my watch... twelve minutes and thirty-one seconds to get home.

"No time!" I said and handed her the wadded up twenty, "Um, keep the change!"

I scooped up the tub of butter and ran out of the store without even saying goodbye.


Now I know I've wrote in my journal before about different times in my life where I have run like the wind, but all those times pale compared to how fast I ran home today. I was running so fast that when I ran into BJ I really ran into him.

Arms, legs, skin, concrete, grass and asphalt. Our two bodies tumbled like one mass of twisted flesh across the sidewalk, into the grass and finally hitting the pavement of the street, with me coming to rest on top of BJ, who was spraying the air with a string of cusswords. He shoved me off him so forcefully, that my entire body left the earth for what felt like several seconds.

I don't remember returning to earth or beginning to run again. I do however remember BJ shouting for me to stop and asking what was wrong. He also said something about the surf or something like that. I didn't really hear him. I found out later, that he hadn't said surf but shirt. It'll make sense in a minute.

I glanced at my watch, six minutes and thirty-eight seconds to get home. I pumped my knees, covering inhuman distances with each stride.

I don't remember seeing it, but I do remember hearing someone blasting their car horn at me. I guess they wanted me out of the middle of the street.

Dad was standing on the front porch when I came down our street, running like Satan himself was after me. I ran past dad and tossed him the butter as I flew into the house. I rammed through the front door, causing it to bang loudly against the doorstop and grabbed the phone off the wall with two minutes and twenty-one seconds to spare.

However, after I hung up the phone that is when it hit me. I fell to the floor clutching at my throat and gasping for air. I'd been so scared about getting home late, I hadn't even noticed that I'd started having an asthma attack before I was even out of the store. I have no idea how in the world I managed to say anything into the phone. Come to think of it, I don't remember saying anything at all, but I must have `cause no one came to arrest me... at least not yet.

Mom appeared like magic at my side and put my inhaler into my mouth. Seconds later I could breathe once again... I mean, if you could call wheezing like a heavy smoker who just climbed twenty flights of stairs breathing.

My first words were, "BJ (wheeze) IS DEAD!"

Now, what I had meant was, that I intended to kill him for having taken up so much of my time on the way to the store, as well as him ambushing me on the way home. However, what mom and dad took from it was, that BJ was in fact dead!

Oh boy you should have been there. Mom wailed, Dad cussed and low and behold, in through the front door came good old Thomas Segal, looking like he'd just ate a turd sandwich and washed it down with a tall warm glass of week old pee. He of course wasn't alone. Some young stiff in a black suite had rushed in right on Tom's heals.

It took two more blasts from my inhaler before I was able to calm everyone down and explain what had happened. Boy, Tom was sooooo mad! I am talking about mad like he wanted to take me out back and beat me with a length of rubber garden hose for about an hour—maybe two.

But one good thing came out of it all. I now know without a shadow of a doubt, that Tom has our house bugged just like BJ had suggested last night. Yep, I had unwittingly said a few things since I came home that good old Tom wasn't supposed to hear and now we both know he knows.

I had just sat down at the kitchen table while Tom and his `Man In Black' wannabe partner were both busy talking on their cell phones to different people when the house phone rang. Mom, who had been standing right next to it screamed and nearly scared the pants off that poor young FBI guy. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he peed his nice black suit just a little. The call was from Mary, who had phoned to make sure I was ok. Apparently I'd scared her too when I had run out of the store the way I had.

Dad had been the one to pick up the receiver while mom pulled herself together yet again. He did that verbal phone dance everyone does from time to time.

"Uhuh... yes... I'm sorry... OK... Sure... I'll tell him... alright... that sounds good... Ok... Bye."

After he hung up the phone, he turned to me and said, "That was Mary Tucker."

He then proceeded to tell me how I had scared her as well as everyone currently surrounding me.

"She is going to stop by to drop off your other shoe." He said.

I looked down at my feet.

"Whoa!" I exclaimed as I took a fourth puff of my inhaler.

Not only had I run faster than I ever have in my life, I had done so while wearing only one shoe. I've no idea how or when I lost it, but my best guess would be, that if Mary had it, then I must have lost it sometime before I left the store.

While I was looking down at my feet, I saw that in my left hand was a shirt. However it wasn't mine `cause I still had mine on. Oddly, no one, not even mom, had taken notice of it. I then became aware that both of my knees were hurting. I looked at them and they were skinned up.

And, as if enough hadn't happened already this morning, or today for that matter, the front doorbell rang and we all looked to see BJ standing on the other side of the screen door, looking like he'd just crawled out of a whole. What was more, he was standing there shirtless. Well, that solved the mystery of the extra shirt. Of course I had no idea how I ended up in possession of it.

Dad went to let BJ in.

"Are you alright?" dad asked him as he put an arm around him and gave him a half-hug.

BJ pulled free from dad, walked into the kitchen, looking like he should be in a morgue and not standing up. His nose was bloodied and his whole right side was all scrapped up. Without saying a word he reached out and yanked his shirt from my grasp. He pulled it over his head, stopped and turned to face the lineup of adults.

"Can Simon and I talk alone please?"

Mom tried to make a fuss over BJ's condition and the young FBI guy tried to ask BJ a question but Dad pulled them away.

Tom also appeared to hesitate for a moment. He locked eyes with me and made that two finger gesture from his eyes to mine indicating that he was watching me.

For a brief second I wanted to say something to the effect that he was also listening, but I chose to remain silent.

Once alone, BJ turned to me and began talking really softly, like he thought the others were listening in. He didn't say anything about us crashing into one another; he only asked, "How did you do that?"

I screwed up my face in confusion.

"D'wot?" I had said so fast, that the words ran together on my tongue.

BJ seemed astonished by my response and it looked like he was going to throttle me as he said, "Jump over the hood of that car!"

"Wotcar?" I did it again.

"Didn't you see that car that nearly hit you?" he asked, "The driver honked and everything."

"OOOH! Is that why someone beeped at me?" I asked.

"Holy Shit Simon! I thought you were a goner for sure, but then you leapt into the air and sailed over that car like you were some freaking super hero!"

I screwed up my face again, "I did?"

"Why the hell were you running like that and why didn't you stop?"

"I had to get home. I was almost late as it was." I started saying and then remembered that I was still mad at him.

I stood up and faced him like David did Goliath.

"Why the heck did you tackle me?" I asked.

"Me tackle you? You're the one that plowed into me." He said with scorn.

"Yeah, well it was your fault I was almost late. After you stormed home, did you call your best friend and tell him everything?"

BJ got really quiet and withdrew into himself. I was confused by this action; it wasn't like BJ to back away like that.

"Listen," he started to say, "I was being a real jerk before. I forgot that you just got back home and that for you things might seem weird `cause you were gone so long."

When I didn't say anything he said, "This is the part where you are supposed to say, that you were being a jerk too."

I started to say something, but he jumped in with, "Yes you were, but shut up and just listen. I do consider Lowell one of my best friends."

I started to say something again and the jerk kicked me in the shin. Seriously! He kicked my left leg! Ok, it wasn't hard, but that is neither here nor there!

"Would you just wait!" he snapped.

"Lowell is a really good friend, but you and me; we're more like brothers than best buds!" BJ said to me.

That did the trick. All the wind in my sails had been spilt out and I had no more forward momentum. My anger and all the other emotions I had been filled with were all replaced with shame.

"Well, say something!" BJ demanded.

I had to work to keep my voice from turning into a cry, "I don't..." I couldn't continue. The words were stuck in my throat behind a large lump.

I hazard a glance upward and saw him smirk as he held his arms open, "Wanna hug?"

"Want a kick in the mom-daddy button?" I asked.

"Not especially." He said with his arms still outstretched.

"OK, but keep your hands off my bum." I joked and we hugged briefly.

That was the end to our little squabble.


After Tom and Hank left and after a quick diaper change, mom and dad sat me and BJ down on the couch for a very long talk, while mom also tended to our minor scrapes. Actually, they talked and we listened. I won't bore you with the details of it all `cause that is just what it was, boring parental blabbering about, how they are always right and we are always wrong, they are big and we are small. Actually, I am the only one who's still small; BJ's nearly as tall as my dad now.

I guess what my parents don't seem to realize is, that they are trying to make me fit back inside the same small bubble I escaped from before. Frankly I just don't fit in that bubble anymore. I might still be physically the same size as when I left, but I am mentally, emotionally and intellectually vastly bigger. It's like trying to tell an adult, that they have to go back into the womb. It just can't work!

I wish I could end this journal entry here and call it a day, but I can't, because I still have to sit with Marsha and Jamie and try to repair the damage I inflicted on them. I had been both, dreading and looking forward to it, but I am so spent, that I honestly don't want to do it now. I just want to lock myself in my room and forget about everyone and everything. I also wish BJ could have stuck around longer, but his mom had called and said he had to come home. I did grant BJ a request before he left. He had asked if I would print out the journal entry he had been reading last night. He said he had fallen asleep before he could finish it. He had to help me find the last part he remembered reading before I printed it. Here is the final part of that entry, which I sent home with him on the strict rule, that he is to destroy it when he was done reading it.


When I opened my eyes again, everything was blurry and semi-bright for a couple of moments, but soon cleared and the cloud of sleep slowly drifted from my mind. At first I didn't know where I was, didn't remember being taken from the foster home or being with Rico again. I tried to lift my head, but a flash of pain shot through my brain like a knife being jabbed into my face. I closed my eyes again to shut out the pain and stopped for a moment, then I remembered, that Rico had got me drunk and then everything came back. While laying face down, I tried to reach around to my backside, but with the slightest touch I screamed.

Screaming was absolutely the worst thing I could have done. My head throbbed so bad, that it felt like someone was River Dancing on my skull.

"You did it! Oh god you did it!" I began to cry, but stopped immediately as that too brought great waves of thunderous pain.

I lay there for the longest time; I may have even passed out again, before I attempted to lift my head off the seat. That too hurt and I felt, like my eyes were going to pop out of their sockets if I didn't keep them closed. I took my time until I was able to get myself rolled over onto my left side. When I opened my eyes again I saw, that I was lying in the backseat. Looking around I observed, that the car doors were all open and there was no Rico and no cornfield.

I continued to take in my surroundings and saw, that the ground was covered in green.

"Where are we?" I asked out loud, though I didn't know why since I didn't see Rico anywhere.

I didn't remember doing so, but I must have dosed off again because when I came to it was night and it was cold. I was laying face down again and a shiver ran through me, reawakening my pain and that was when I realized, I was now wearing a diaper, but still no clothes.

Without trying to sit up again, I allowed my eyes to look around. It caused me pain, but I did it anyway. I realized that the door above my head was still open. I listened and heard the sound of metal on metal and then thudding like something heavy being dropped on the ground.

"Rico!" I tried to call out and I nearly passed out from the pain in my head.

"Shut-up Pañal!" I heard Rico growl in a quiet shout from what sounded like a small distance.

I closed my eyes again, "Simon, not Pañal" I corrected, but not really loud enough for Rico to hear.


The next time I opened my eyes it was completely and totally dark. I couldn't even see when I had my hand so close to my face that my nose and palm were touching. I heard Rico in the front seat. He snored with each intake of air.

I lay there for a couple minutes. I moved my head a little and it hurt, but not as much as it had before. I reached around to see how much my butt still hurt and was horrified to find, that the diaper Rico had put on me after cutting into my butt, had leaked. Brushing my hand against the fabric of the seat confirmed that the diaper had failed in its duty.

I called out softly, "Rico!"

I heard something hit the roof with a hard thud and then heard, "What the...?" but he didn't cuss.

"You are a..." I didn't yell, but I also wasn't quiet as I sent out a string of cuss words, that would take a week's worth of Hail-Mary's to atone for in church.

"What are you going on about?" Rico said, followed by another thud and this time I new it was Rico's head hitting the roof. "Holy Mary Mother of God!" he said, which was about as close to cussing as Rico ever got. "It's the middle of the night!"

I started crying and shouted, "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU DID IT TO ME AGAIN!" followed by a string of words not suitable for print.

"Stop yelling or you'll have every cop in town on us!" Rico barked in a way that I knew was really an `or else' statement.

I stopped yelling and just lay there in the backseat crying, but still holding a lot of it back, because it still caused me pain.

I heard Rico make a groaning noise and then, "Simon you know full and well, that you were bugged again and that I had to get it out if we were going to have any hope of staying out of jail!"

I called him a twelve letter word, which I won't repeat here.

Rico took a deep breath and let it out, "Simon it wasn't just one... you had three of those little tracking things in you and I nearly missed the last one."

"W-h-a-t?" my voice cracked as I tried to speak.

"I got all three, but it took nearly an hour and after I had the last one, I continued looking for another half-hour before I was sure there weren't any more." Rico was talking very softly.

"I've pissed all over the place back here!" I cried, "And my butt and head hurt so bad I can't stand it!"

I didn't say anything else and neither did Rico. I lay there staring into the darkness. I started to remember, how it was the last time I had a bug removed, but I won't go into that just now. Suffice it to say, that getting one removed hurt worse than anything you can imagine. They are designed to go in easy, but near impossible to get back out. That is what makes them so effective for use on prisoners and the like.

Without saying anything, Rico climbed out of the car to attend to my diaper situation. I had never experienced having a diaper changed while I was lying face down and I don't think I can accurately explain it to you. It is something you have to experience for yourself to really understand.

Rico was nearly done cleaning me up when I realized that besides the stale pee smell there was something else that reeked.

"What stinks so bad?" I asked.

"You vomited on the floorboard. Why do you think I have all the car doors open?" Rico answered.

Rico wrapped a trash bag around me like a blanket, so that I wasn't lying on the wet seat, before he retired again.

He then climbed into the front seat, started the car and we began moving. A moment later I was sound asleep, but not for long. I awoke to screeching tires, the crunch of metal. I was throne forward as glass fell down upon me, like stars raining down. My head came into contact with something hard; then my left leg felt like it was on fire. A moment later it was all over. I lay on the ground, looking up at a starless black sky, eclipsed by the cloud cover. And without notice, the clouds opened up and I was hit by large, cold drops of rain.

I tried to move, but every inch of me hurt. Off in the distance I could hear what sounded like a camp fire, but I couldn't see any light at all. With a deep breath I shouted, "HELP! SOMEBODY HELP!"

I then lay listening, but no reply came. I was going to shout again and had even taken in a lung full of air, but just as I was about to shout, there was a loud crash above my head. Despite my pain I flipped around and saw a blazing tree rolling down the hill toward me. My only thought was to get out of its way and that is what I did. I was to my feet and running down the hill as fast as my legs would carry me. Behind me I heard several loud bangs like guns going off and when I looked back I saw, that it was other trees being plowed down by the large tumbling fire tree. I'd actually managed to get ahead of the tree and thought I might have time to get out of its path. But then the hill I had been so rapidly descending ended in a drop off, too far to be jumped. I turned and saw that the tree was nearly on top of me. With only a second to contemplate what would happen when I hit, I leapt into the air and began to fall and fall and fall.


When Mary arrived, BJ had only just left, with the pages of my journal folded and stuffed into his pants pocket. She didn't stay long; only long enough for me to explain why I ran from the store and so that she could return my lost shoe. As she was leaving, she gave me a kiss and said, "I am so glad you are back."

She then leaned close to my ear and whispered, "You sprang a leak." and slipped out the door before her words made it from my eardrum to my brain.

Even with her gone I blushed red hot as I went in search of mom.

"Mom it happened again!" I growled.

It was the fifth leak since I came home.

"That package must have been a bad batch." mom suggested.


Well, after being alone on the back porch for the past two hours, I wasn't feeling the least bit better. I'd sunk into another depression, but I will say that unlike before, I didn't allow myself to stay stuck. When I realized I was in trouble (emotional trouble, not literally in trouble), I walked to the kitchen and made a phone call.

When I had left The Ranch, part of my exit counseling consisted of a hotline, which I could call at anytime, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. I dialed the toll free number and it rang three times before someone answered. I recognized the voice instantly as my very own cabin counselor. I no longer believe in coincidences. I believe, everything that happens is for a purpose and the fact that he was the one manning the hotline that afternoon, was because God knew that I'd be calling and would need to talk with a trusted friend.

"Brother Vincent?" I said into the phone.

"Simon is that you?" he asked.

"Brother Vincent, I'm in trouble and I don't know what to do?" I confessed.

"Why don't we pray together and then we'll talk it through." He said and after we prayed, Brother Vincent and I talked together for fifty-five minutes. I gave him the nutshell version of everything since I had left The Ranch and how after my first day and a half actually rejoining the real world, I'd managed to screw everything up so badly. Granted, I'd already mended fences with BJ and Mary, but that didn't seem to lessen my mood.

"Simon," Brother Vincent said softly, "do you remember, we talked about this happening?"

I made a sound to indicate that I did remember.

Brother Vincent made a growling sound and I remembered that at The Ranch we weren't allowed to answer with non-verbal grunting or head wobbling.

"Sorry Brother; I meant Yes."

Despite my saying I remembered, Brother Vincent reminded me anyway. "That it was entirely possible, that some friendships might be harder to heal and take longer than others. Some friends might be adamantly against any sort of reconnection."


Before our conversation ended, I was feeling a little better, but not entirely. He asked me a few final questions, "Have you been reading your bible, praying and exercising every day?"

He knew the answer without me answering it. I had hesitated `cause I didn't want to tell him that I hadn't been doing any of that, well not like I knew I should have been. He then shocked me with his next question, which I think was his intent.

"Do you need to come back here for a week or two?"

There was no hesitation this time, "No! No sir! I-I'll get it right! I'll work my program! I promise Brother Vincent."

"I know you will, Simon." He said.

We ended our conversation with more prayer.

I spent the remaining time between hanging up the phone and my brother coming over, sitting on the back porch reading from my bible and praying. I even got out in the back yard and did some calisthenics, but not for too long. I figure all the running I did this morning had to count for something.


"Hi." I said.

My face dropped when I saw my brother standing on the other side of the screen door with unshed tears in his eyes. Through the screen I could see that Jamie had changed too, but not nearly as much as BJ had. He still had the same hair cut, the same face and was nearly the same size, though maybe he was taller. He was dressed in black slacks, a white button up, long-sleeve shirt and a black neck-tie. There was no doubt as to whose idea it was to wear that monkey suit when it was so dang warm out.

With my voice filled with remorse and my eyes near to bursting, I continued speaking, "Yeah, sorry about the weirdness and everything before."

Jamie seemed to pause a moment in contemplative thought before deciding to allow any ill feeling to evaporate out of him.

Sounding as though he had been coached on what to say, Jamie looked down as he spoke. "Thank you for apologizing. It takes a big person to admit they were wrong."

Jamie quickly looked up and added with an evil grin but merry eyes, "Or a jerk!"

He pulled open the screen door and looked back to see where his mother was. Taking his queue, I too looked back into the house and took inventory. Though I couldn't see them, I could hear Mom and dad talking to Tom in the dining room. Tom had returned about twenty minutes before Jamie had. However unlike Jamie, Tom didn't come all dressed up. He arrived wearing tan cargo pants, a Dukes basketball jersey and a Cincinnati Reds Baseball cap.

Jamie then smiled wickedly as he began to say, "Also I thought, that if you gave me a kiss, it would prove how sorry you are."

He gave me a jovial wink. I acted embarrassed and uncomfortable at the idea, but I didn't pull away when he leaned forward and stole a kiss from my lips.

"The truth is," Jamie continued as though I hadn't just blushed, "Mom was the one that was mad, not me! I knew all along, that it wasn't really you who said all that stuff. That vitamin junk messed us all up in the head."

Jamie gave me a push so that he could get in the door. I spotted Marsha as she was climbing the first step of our porch. I pushed the screen open and stepped out onto the porch, where I immediately wrapped my arms around her waist and broke down.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" I kept repeating over and over.

Even when mom, dad and Tom came outside, I didn't stop crying and saying I was sorry. It took Marsha kneeling down, taking hold of my face, kissing my cheek and saying, "I am sorry too." before my tears began to slow.

Tom suggested, "Why don't we take this inside."

With all the worrying, anticipation and talk of this event, it was in essence a bust. There was no loud screaming, no cussing, there wasn't even a single reason for Tom to be there, other than he's more like family than anything else. Granted he's like the weird uncle no one admits to having, but still he's family in my book.

When we all went inside, it was as though all the horrible things I had done and said to Marsha and Jamie had been wiped away like chalk from a classroom chalkboard.

While the adults sat in the living room to talk, Jamie and I wanted to go to my room, but Tom was the first to object.

"You two better stay out here for now." He said and I shot him my meanest face, which he returned in kind, followed by a raspberry.

Jamie saw Tom do it too and said the funniest thing, "Man, I hope I'm not as weird as you are when I am an old fart."

Now Tom could have caught hold of Jamie if he had been really trying, but I think he let him slip away; out of kindness I suppose.

Jamie and I settled for sitting at the kitchen table, where Tom could keep an eye on us and probably eavesdrop in on our conversation.

Jamie wanted to hear all about everything I'd done and everywhere I'd been, while I on the other hand wanted to hear all about him and what he had been doing since last year.

Out of the blue, as the two of us were talking about The Ranch, Jamie spouted off with, "We started a band!"

"Who?" I asked.

"Me, Noah and Paul." he said.

"What about Vanessa and Becky?" I asked.

Jamie's countenance fell like a bolder falling from the side of a mountain.

He sighed as he said, "Becky's parents bought a house up in Sticklebury and they moved."

Feeling discouraged I asked, "Where the heck is that?"

Jamie shrugged.

"How long ago?" I asked.

Jamie looked up at the ceiling, searching for the answer.

"I think it was about eight months ago?" He said like he was asking me. He then said, "It was right in the middle of the school year too."

A thought jumped out of my mouth before I even knew I'd had it.

In a whisper I asked, "Do you guys still have your secret club?"

Jamie knew without me having to actually say the word, that I was referring to his and his friends' sex club.

He shook his head, "After Becky moved away Vanessa stopped coming around."

I was amazed when Jamie shared, though Becky was gone and Vanessa had stopped hanging around with the guys, that he, Noah and Paul would still on occasion do stuff, but he didn't give details given that we were being watched so closely.

"Anyway, we started a band." He said again.

Knowing that my brother hadn't been much into music, this news was surprising.

"Paul plays the drums and his brother plays the piano." Jamie shared.

"You the singer?" I asked.

Jamie laughed, "No way, you heard me sing before!"

"Yeah, but you weren't any worse than some singers that have made it big." I said.

Jamie eyed me for a second, "Thanks... I think."

It was my turn to laugh, "Yeah, that was a lame complement, huh?"

"I play the base." He said.

"But you don't play the guitar."

He grinned with pride, "I do now. Been taking lessons at the YMCA downtown."

"Since when?" I asked.

"`Bout a month after..."

He didn't finish, but he didn't have to. I knew what he was going to say... About a month after I left him and Lowell behind.

We both got quiet for a minute and then, to break the uncomfortable silence, I asked, "So, who is your singer?"

"Well," Jamie said slyly, "Me and the guys were thinking of maybe asking you."

"ME!" I shouted with surprise, which drew the attention of the adults from the other room.

"Sorry, but I didn't see that one coming!" I said loud enough for everyone to hear me.

"Why not you?" Jamie asked.

"Dude! I was being nice before, your singing sucks." I said.

"Hey!" Jamie said expressing his hurt feelings in that one word.

"But as bad as you are, I am like a hundred times worse at singing." I said.

"I'll tell you what," Jamie started to say, "Come practice with us, just once. We aren't very good at all, so you will fit right in."

I was frantically trying to find a way to tell him no without actually hurting his feelings. I stuck my leg out from under the table and pulled my sock down to reveal my ankle bracelet.

"Can't go anywhere hardly right now. I doubt my Probation Officer will let me go all the way downtown." I said.

I could still see the wheels turning in Jamie's head, so I offered another excuse, "Besides, who would want to see my scarred face on stage?"

I must have said something wrong, because Jamie's face went dead cold and he was staring me down with such intensity.

"WHAT?" I said, forgetting not to shout again.

I looked out and saw Tom looking on concededly. He then said to me, "You don't have to yell. It's not a train station. We're in a tiny house." I stuck my tongue out at him and he did likewise.

When I looked back to Jamie, he was still sitting there looking at me the same way.

"For crying out loud! What?" I asked strongly, but without shouting this time.

He finally spoke, "You're joking right?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean!" He said really forcefully, "If being sexy was a crime, you'd be guilty as charged."

Coming from anyone else I would have taken it as a joke or maybe even a cruel insult.

"You've been talking to Mary haven't you?" I asked sarcastically.

I've known for a long time that Mary thinks my facial scar is sexy. She has said it makes me look ruggedly handsome and a little dangerously sexy.

Jamie smiled and shook his head, "Nah, been talking to Ian.

That explained it. Ian is a gay painter who lives in Jamie's downtown apartment high-rise and more over, he is actually my biological father.

"Yeah that sounds like something he would say." I answered back.

Jamie adopted a pleading expression, "Can't you at least ask your mom and dad?"

Realizing he wasn't going to give up I said, "Alright! Dang you can be a real pest! The next time I see my Probation Officer I will ask him, but you can bet he won't say yes, at least not right away. It took him more than half a week just to give me permission to go to Lowell's church on Sunday.

"That's tomorrow." Jamie said.

"No it isn't." I argued.

"Uh, yeah it is." Jamie acted like he was shooting himself in the head with a finger gun, "Today is Saturday and that makes tomorrow Sunday."

I stopped and thought about it for a couple seconds before I realized that, what had felt like two days, was in fact just one really long one. What clued me in was the fact, that since getting BJ up this morning, I have not been back to my room, not even for a diaper change. Both changes I needed today were performed by mom while I was lying on the living room floor.


"Would you boys like a hamburger or some barbequed chicken on the grill?" mom asked while walking into the kitchen.

We both looked up at her with confused looks on our faces.

I remember thinking, "When did this evening we had all been dreading so much morph into an evening of barbequing on the grill?"

"Is dad going to be grilling?" Jamie asked.

"Yes," mom answered.

"Chicken for me then!" he said.

"I'm not really hungry." I confessed.

"Well you're going to eat something anyway!" Tom said.

He had snuck up behind me and wrapped one big arm around my neck from behind.

"You could have told me he was coming!" I said to Jamie.

"He told me not too!" Jamie said while pointing up at Tom.

Tom was squeezing my neck like a python, while I frantically scratched at his arm with my fingers to try to get a grip.

"Don't just sit there! Help me!" I told Jamie.

Jamie raised his eyebrows, "Are you out of your mind? He carries a gun!"

"He doesn't have it on right now you dope! Now help me!" I demanded in my Captain like tone.

"Yes he does! I saw it when he sat down. It's in the back of his shorts." Jamie said.

Tom let me go and pointed to Jamie, "You're very clever!"

"He wouldn't shoot you!" I said as I rubbed my neck.

"Yeah huh! He told me before, that if I ever run away like before he was going to shoot me in the butt!" Jamie said.

Marsha, who had been helping mom get the BBQ sauce ready, had turned around and looked at Tom with a stern expression.

"Hey! Um I think I hear Simon calling for help with the grill." Tom said and quickly jumped out the back door. Oh and by the way, when Tom had said he heard Simon calling, he meant my dad, who is Simon Sr. and I am Simon Jr. I know it is confusing; it gets confusing for us too.

"Sylvia, can Simon sleep over at my house tonight?" Jamie asked my mom without asking me first if I even wanted to sleep over. I also noticed he called her by her first name instead of calling her mom like he always does.

"Oh sweetheart, Simon has church in the morning and besides, it's too soon for him to be going anywhere just yet." Mom said.

Even if it hadn't been Sunday tomorrow, I am sure mom would have said the same thing, mostly because I don't think she is ready for me to be away from home for very long. And if I am being honest with myself, I am not so sure I am ready to be away from home yet either.

Marsha then piped up with, "Jamie Tiberius Applegate! What did I say to you before?"

With that Jamie clammed up and didn't say another word for the longest time. Man, I would love to know what it was she had said to him before, that would have such a strong effect on him, but I didn't dare ask.


When it came to it I was hungry. I ate two pieces of BBQ chicken, a bunless hamburger and a small mountain of noodle salad. Jamie bested me with two pieces of chicken, one and a half hamburgers with all the fixings, as well as two helpings of noodle salad.

Believe it or not, this evening turned out not to be such a bad evening after all. And yet, at the same time I feel kind of let down. I mean I really was expecting yelling and name calling. No one could have convinced me that this evening would go in the direction it had. It just wasn't something I had in any way expected.


As Tom was leaving behind Jamie and Marsha he paused and looked back to me over his shoulder. He did that same finger and eye thing at me again. Utilizing the nonverbal communication, I pointed to him, then jammed the same finger up my nose, pulled it out and acted like I was flicking a booger at him.

He acted like he was wiping the imaginary booker off his shoulder as he said, "Why you nasty little boy!"

He started to turn to come after me, or at least he wanted me to think he was. I wasn't taking any chances. Without a moments hesitation I whipped myself around and took several exaggerated strides into the kitchen, laughing loudly as I made my escape.

The phone rang and since I was right there I shouted out, "I'll get it!"

"Hello?" I said.

"Simon, it's BJ." He sounded excited about something.

"Oh hey BJ, what's up?"

"Can you talk or do you still have company?" he asked.

"Nope, they just left."

"Oh good. Listen I thought you should know..." there was an oddly place pause before he continued, "Remember me telling you that you jumped over a car on your way back home?"

"Yeeeeaaaahhh," I said as though I were trying to draw more information out of him.

"Well, when I got home Shaffer was here."

Not recognizing the name I asked, "Who?"

"You know, from school. Coach Shaffer!" BJ said so soft it was as though he were sharing something top-secret.

Within the space of a microsecond every encounter I had every experienced with Coach Shaffer flashed on the screen within my mind. Oddly the only one to really stand out as the most memorable was the time when Mikey busted his face on the gymnasium floor and Coach Shaffer told me to take him to the school nurse's office. Now that I think about it, that single moment set off a change reaction of events which changed my life forever.

"Huh! I never thought of it like that." I said aloud at my epiphany.

"What?" BJ asked.

"Oh sorry was just thinking about something. So what were you saying? Oh, so Coach Shaffer was there? What was he doing at your house?" I asked `cause I hadn't yet connected the dots.

"He recognized me." He said.

"Ok, I'm so lost right now. What are you trying to say here?"

BJ made a loud groan of frustration, "It was his car you jumped over! He didn't recognize you but he did remember me so he came to my house to ask who you were!"

"Oh, ok now I get it." I murmured.

"I don't think he wasn't mad; least I hope he wasn't. He didn't sound mad or nothing. He said he just wanted to know who he had almost hit." BJ said and then added, "Without thinking I told him it was you."

There was another pause before he said, "I hope I didn't get you in any trouble."

It wasn't like I had done anything wrong. The way BJ told it, I hadn't even come close to touching the car when I leapt over it. Maybe Coach Shaffer was just concerned `cause he thought he almost ran someone over.

We talked a minute or two longer then I hung up the phone.

"Who was that?" Mom asked as she and dad were coming back inside.

"BJ," I answered.

I sat down on the sofa and picked up the cable remote. I never found anything to watch on TV `cause after channel surfing for a couple minutes I sank into the blackness of slumber. I don't remember getting up and going to bed or anything after that moment. I really must have been more tired then I realized. I bet dad helped me get to bed again. Yep I am sure that's what happened.