"Hey, guys," said Kathy.
When Kathy came in the living room, Larry and I were "watching" TV. I pretended to be excited. Well, I didn't need to pretend that much. My heart was still palpitating. "Oh, hi, sis."
"Hi." He kept his eyes glued on the screen.
"Larry, I didn't know you were interested in classical music operas."
"Huh? What are you talking about?"
"What you're watching. You're watching an opera, aren't you?"
"I am?" I nudged him. "Oh, yeah, yeah. I am. I just thought it was time that I expanded my interests you know. You can't live with techno music for the rest of your life."
"I guess so. I'll be up in my room, doing homework. Patty's a little late. She'll be here in a while."
But for some reason, I wasn't too anxious for anything anymore.
I went up the stairs with Larry to Robert's room. He wasn't there. Greeny said that he'd gone to the Television Room. "Maybe he finally realized his wealth," said Larry. Of course I dismissed it as being a ridiculous thought. But not completely.
(IN THE TELEVISION ROOM.)
Robert was exhausted from everything that had happened since last night. He didn't feel like talking to Spiny ever again. He thought while chewed Skittles and watched another episode of I Love Lucy. He was about to laugh when Lucy started devouring all the chocolates in the factory when his phone buzzed.
He checked his message inbox. "Remember. Crazy 8's." The message came with a winking emoticon.
He texted back: "Still early."
He got back to his show. Then, the phone buzzed. "And maybe, another card game."
Uh-oh, he thought. I hope it doesn't start with the letter P. "Another card game?" he texted back.
"Does the word chips sound familiar?"
"I love chips, but not that much," Robert texted. They know that gambling is against the law in Amarkia. Maybe it's the American kids. He never got another response. He felt relieved. Maybe his silence was more convincing.
He fell asleep after watching four more episodes.
(IN SPINY'S ROOM.)
"I'm going to talk to him, right now."
"All right," said Larry.
I went to Rob's room. He still wasn't there. He must've been still watching TV. I went up to the TV room. I slowly creaked the door open. Rob was fast asleep on the couch, Skittles all over the floor, and his long blonde hair dangling. The TV was humming.
I saw his phone and I don't why, but for some reason I just started walking towards it. It buzzed. I barely had time to see that he'd gotten a new text message when he jumped and scared the daylights out of me.
"Oh, sorry I…what are you doing here?"
We were both an equal distance from the phone. I did the first thing that came to my mind. Robert must've been thinking the same, because when I did it he did it too. We both jumped to grab his phone. He struggled and pushed and kicked. "Larry, help me!" said Robert.
Oh, no! If he thought that my loyal friend Larry would…ha!...ha…heh…huh. As a matter of fact he did. You know what Larry the Traitor did? He came in and BIT me on the hand. And it does hurt, in case you're wondering. It hurts like crazy!
I kicked Larry out of the way and pulled at the phone which was in Robert's hands. "Give it!"
"Give it, if you know what's best for you!"
"I have every right in the world to see what you're doing on the phone!"
"What are you doing?!" said Kathy. Huh, Kathy? What was she doing in here? The three of us turned to look at her. And I'm sorry to say that I lost my grip on the phone and fell backwards against the DVD case.
Kathy had her arms crossed. She looked…quite angry, actually. For a moment I thought she was angry at me. But then she walked to Robert and said, "Why were you out late last night playing pool with those kids? Do you know that it's in the newspaper and everyone in school was talking about it?"
Well, now that I have some back-up…"Robert, why are you acting so sneaky like this? You've never acted like this. What's gotten into you?"
"Urge? Urge to do what?"
"Hang out with friends."
I had to reason with him. Appeal to his mind and heart. "You have friends. You go to the park, to the movies, to Arnold's, you play baseball and soccer, you have sleepovers…"
"Well, maybe I'm just more for arcade stuff! Maybe that's just more mature!"
"Mature?! We have an arcade room in the Palace that's twice as much fun."
"You guys are different. You're not other people."
"And just what is that supposed to mean?!"
"THAT YOU'RE NOT NORMAL PEOPLE!"
I was yelling now, too. "WE'RE AS NORMAL AS ANY PERSON OUTSIDE THESE PALACE WALLS!"
"UGH! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!" He pushed me aside and ran out the room. Larry looked like he'd gone into shock. Kathy said, "What in heaven's name came over you?! That was the most disgraceful behavior I have ever seen!"
I was in no mood to be yelled at by anyone. "SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!" She stormed out of there and slammed the door behind her so hard I thought I'd never be able to open it. I collapsed on the couch. "I feel like a father."
"Congratulations," said Larry, throwing confetti on me. I socked him in the stomach. As he gasped for breath, I said, "Oh, dry up, will you?"
"Sorry." He sat down next to me. "I guess he's just reached the age where he wants to do things for himself without his family."
"I guess so."
"Spiny," he said in a serious, solemn tone. "We've been friends since forever, right?"
"We're really close. Like brothers, too."
"And even in all the dimensions and parallel universes where we exist."
"Where I saw you grow up and become a leader."
"Well, that's how I know why this is going on. You see, there's even one dimension where I see you die."
"That's a happy thought. What's your point? All you've accomplished so far is creeping me out. More than usual."
"Yeah, I know I creep you out. But the point is, that he's reached the age where he'll start to want more independence."
I sat up straight. "Well, you know I can't really blame him. I never got to experience that. My parents died when I was 10, so when I was 12 I didn't have time to be a kid or a preteen. Now things are a lot better, but back then it was very difficult."
He nodded. "And I know something else. He's going out tonight again. But this time to a hamburger/smoothie place on the outskirts of the city. That's where they play Crazy 8's and other card games."
I didn't really care how Larry had found that out. I just wanted to take action. "What do you think I should do?"
"What do you think anyone else like you would do?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. I guess there aren't many like me," I chuckled.
"Well, in that case. Rule Number One: imprison him in his room."
"Rule Number Two: lock his windows with electric fence wiring. And have a helicopter hovering constantly over his room to make sure he stays in there."
What a crazy idea! Now, I'll admit that I was tempted. Don't think I wasn't. But it didn't sound like a good solution. "I don't know, Larry, that doesn't sound very practical."
"Eh, you're right. It'd be a waste of fuel. Besides, Robert would starve to death or die of boredom or commit suicide because of isolation." Gee, talk about positive thinking.
Larry got up and opened the door. Well, he tried to. Kathy had slammed it pretty good. He pushed it good until he swung it open…right in Kathy's face. She appeared from behind the door, rubbing her nose. "Why don't you watch where you're going?"
"Why you don't you watch out for opening doors?"
"You're the one who slammed the door into me!"
"You're the one who slammed it shut in the first place!"
I guess it was time for me to play Referee again. "Hold it, hold it, hold it, HOLD IT! What's the matter with you two! You're always picking at one another."
"Stay out of this, Sheriff Andy Taylor," said Larry. No sense talking to him.
"Kathy, why can't you like Larry? At least as a friend."
"Him and me friends?! Ha ha ha! That'll be the day. That'll be the day. The day he and I are friends will be the day it snows in the middle of June on a beach in Puerto Rico."
"Kathy, remember what they say," said Larry. "Think before you speak and be careful what you wish for, because it just might happen."
I don't think that convinced Kathy, cause she walked up to him and said, "I'd rather have my arms and legs cut off and get thrown off a cliff than to be friends with you."
"Again, careful what you wish for."
"Oh, shut up!" As always happens after conversing with Larry, she walked away angry.
A few minutes later, I was passing down by the living room. Robert had fallen asleep again on the couch. I kept wondering how such an innocent-looking boy could cause all this trouble. Then his phone buzzed. Must be another text message.
I tip-toed quietly and reached down to grab the phone.
Have you ever heard of the phrase, "Curiosity killed the cat"? Well, that's just about what nearly happened to me. I almost had a heart attack. I'll tell you.
The instant I grabbed Robert's phone, a loud robotic voice said, "ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!" Robert quickly got up. I dived out of there before he saw me. Then he saw the phone where I'd dropped it on the carpet. "Oh. Thank goodness for that Anti-Other-Person-Touching-My-Phone-Software."
Anti-Person-Software?! Larry appeared next to me. He'd seen the whole thing. "You know anything about this?"
"Yeah. Um…you see when he was 10 years old, he asked me to install that on his phone."
I felt my blood boiling and my pulse raced. "You WHAT?!"
"Um…I installed it."
"Why did you do that?"
"Um…" he grinned foolishly. "I'm not quite sure."
"Because you're an idiot. That's why!"
"He threatened to send to guards to throw me in the dungeon."
"We don't even have a dungeon, you fool!"
"Uh….I didn't…quite…know that."
"Besides, you could beat up all the guards single-handedly even if they were fully armed. You know that!"
"Well, if it's any consolation to you, I can control virtual technology from any place and time."
"Well, I'd appreciate it if you uninstalled it."
"Sir, yes, sir!"
He got on all fours and started creeping towards Robert, who had fallen asleep again. As Larry reached for the phone, Robert yawned. "Ugh! Doesn't he ever brush his teeth?"
Larry finally managed to get ahold of the phone. Just in time, too, because a new text message notification came. "It says, 'So eight o'clock. Crazy 8's.'"
"Tell him he'll be there."
"Yes, sir." He started texting.
Oh, he'll be there all right. And he won't be alone. "Spiny."
"He says, 'And better luck coming out the window this time. Last time you left your seat with glass pieces all over it."
I almost wanted to laugh, but didn't for obvious reasons. And as I would find out later, there would be no laughing matter whatsoever.