Club Dead

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Emma's Cookies

“Coconut isn’t bad if you have the real thing.”

“For the next month I’m going to cook things most people don’t like.”

I ate a second cookie. Emma, a quick learner, had begun baking. This, after taking on charcuterie. Uncle Grant’s vegetarianism converted me, but even I couldn’t resist Emma’s pate en croute.

“I saw this Oprah site on the computer. Top ten food people hate. But they were all vegetables. Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, beets.”

“I never did trust her.”

“So I did a survey at school. I have a list of food my peers hate. I am going to make them eatable. We are having tuna casserole tomorrow, spam the next day and something with herring on Saturday.”

“Who didn’t like coconut?”

“Me. I had a bite of a Mars Bar the other day. Disgusting! I could not imagine coconut was that bad. Hawaiians like it and most of Asia. I figured I should investigate. I found some at the co-op downtown. I will make coconut pudding with the rest of these shavings.”

“Lucky us.”

“I did not know you started Club Dead.”

I knew Emma was gabbing about food as a transition to the real topic she wanted to discuss.

“What do you know about Club Dead?”

“That everyone is talking about it. Even teachers. Mr. Quinsinberry asked about it in English today.”

“Really?”

“And the only people who talked about it clearly had not attended any meetings. There was a lot of mockery, suspicions that Club Dead was casting spells on the popular kids, that it visits cemeteries and digs up bodies, they are into necrophilia, that sort of thing.”

“Sounds like Mr. Quinsinberry’s class is no longer boring.”

“And it became clear that a couple people in class have been attending Club Dead, and they said it was not like that at all. But the mob would not let them speak. They became quiet and Mr. Quinsinberry returned to Gatsby.”

“I like that book.”

“Carol Stimson leans over to me and whispers “Your sister started it.” I looked at her aghast. “What?” I asked her. “Your sister, Fabian, started it, but she doesn’t call herself Fabian anymore. She’s PJ, or something.” Fabian, is this true?”

“That I changed my name?”

“That you started this Club Dead?”

“Yes.”

“And that you just tried to kill yourself?”

“Mom has declared it was only cry for help.”

“Stop joking Fabian! This is a very painful time for our family.”

“I know.”

“And you start a club about death? Are you ill?”

“Emma, I thought you were the smart one in the family.”

“I mean it Fabian. How could you do this? After Uncle Grant and all? I need to understand.”

“Look Emma, this is a strange time. You’re cooking with coconut and spam and I started an unusual club.”

“But clubs exist for noble purposes.”

“Oh Emma, stop aping mom and dad. I like when you cook. That’s when you are original.”

“Do not flatter me. This is not about me. This moment is about you. Tell me, what is Club Dead?”

I tell her everything.

“That does not sound so bad. And Mr. Blok sanctioned it? Dawn sounds nice. I always wondered about Carrie. You sound infatuated with her. She wears sunglasses. Inside. I do not know Brink. She looks fierce. And you have met a boy. Fabian, this sounds positive.”

“Please don’t call me Fabian.”

“But it is your name.”

“I can’t stand it. I’m CJ.”

“CJ?”

“Yes.”

“What does it stand for?”

“Nothing.”

“Why CJ?”

“I like the sound of it. Who knows, I may change it.”

“Back to Fabian?”

“Never!”

“But I cannot call you CJ. You are Fabian. My sister.”

“Well there’s something else I have to tell you.”

“No more! Let me get through my twin sister trying to kill herself and that I cannot call her what I have called her for 16 years.”

“Don’t speak to me in the third person.”

“Sure, fine. But you should know that you are not the only one on thin ice. You were not the only fan of Uncle Grant.”

“I know.”

“What is next for you?”

“Dad wants me back at school. Mom suggests I just wait till her school opens and I go there. I don’t even think I want to go there.”

“Do not even think of that. Mom is opening this school to save us.”

“What does she have to be so dramatic? I don’t care that much where I go, but if she pushes too much I certainly will say no.”

“I just hope her school makes it. Can you see us going there, it fails and we head back to Blissfield High? I hope mom knows what she is doing.”

“Think she’ll let me have Club Dead part 2?”

“You are eating another? You know Fab, you’re gaining weight.”

“I can’t stop eating. I’m experiencing some sort of reverse thing. I go from emptying myself to filling myself.”

“You should get back to school.”

“I know.”

“Will you continue Club Dead?”

“I don’t know.”

“I like the idea of the play. What is it about?”

“It’s kind of hard to describe. So many people are writing it. It gets mixed up. Emig has contributed the most. It starts on Halloween in a small town -”

“Blissfield?”

“Write about what you know. And there’s this group of young people dressed like zombies -”

“Zombies disturb me.”

“And they go down to the river to get high and they make a pact with the river gods to protect the river from evil in exchanged for becoming real zombies.”

“That is ridiculous. Is it pro-drugs?”

“The river gods agree to this and turn the young people into zombies who turn their sights on people who hurt the river.”

“Whom do they hurt?”

“They start at school, where they feast on the brains of the smartest students.”

“But why?”

“Duh, Emma, because they have the smartest brains. Emig explains how that translates into tasty brains.”

“No. What did the smart kids do to the river?”

“The river is a metaphor Emma. It represents life. So the zombies are after those young people who are against life.”

“That sounds very general.”

“No, because life in the play is a metaphor too. Life, to the zombies, represents their code. So anyone against their code is an enemy.”

“Club Dead versus Blissfield High?”

“Emig does have a bounty of animosity against certain students there. You may not be far off.”

“I suppose I am a target?”

“Don’t be so self-absorbed Emma. It’s a general dislike. Not specific.”

“And you are going to perform this?”

“Only if we win the contest.”

“Unlikely. When I say your club is being talked about, it does not mean you are admired.”

“Surprise.”

These days at home I talked mostly with Emma. Mom and dad worked a lot. They get home when it was dark. Mom and dad, for as long as I can remember, talked to me like I was an adult. Now, they talked to me like a child. I eat another coconut cookie, and Emma asked me to tell her something about Frank that would make her want to meet him.

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