Prequel: Halloween (1 of 7)

     “Gahhhhhhhhhh!”
     Though I gah'd with gusto, I realized it was a gah for naught.
     I knew that fact, I knew it, and yet I was powerless not to gah, loud and long, out of frustration, temper, and the knowledge that I was completely right and the people sprinting away from me were completely not.
     “No, no, no, no! Yo! Hey! HEY! I saw you! I can identify you! Get BACK here! Right now! Gah!”
     Dudes were long gone and there was no way in hell me bellowing “get BACK here,” with BACK in all scary serious-bizness capital letters, was going to make them return. Not happening. Nope nope. I knew this, I KNEW, but I kept on shouting, out of mild anger or dismay or possibly some deep down desire to be running out with them, in the soft Los Angeles fall night. “Dudes! Awwww, c’mon, I got advice for you! Helpful! Damn you, helpful, I say!”
     “It isn’t often that ‘damn you’ proceeds ‘helpful,’” observed Gomery. He took a contemplative bite of his sandwich, then walked over to motel's lobby door and flipped the cardboard skeleton so it again faced out, the proper direction. He fixed one of its jointed elbows, then the other. “What happened?”
     “Fricka ggggg. Hooligans. Hooligans!”
      “Hooligans happened?” He took another bite, and a piece of avocado fell out the bottom.
     “Check it,” I pointed at the pool. Taking two strides at a time, I barely paused long enough to grab the scoop on the way. “Gah. Give me a break!” Dipping the scoop, I netted the two purple cubes floating in the dark water.
     “What are those?” Gomery ate the final bit of crust, then dusted his fingertips lightly against each other over the trash bin nearest the Fairwil's lobby.
     “Failure, is what they are. Pure failure, in convenient, easy-to-use detergent form.”
     “Laundry cubes? Huh.”
     “Yes, laundry cubes, Mr. Observation. Ack! I’m so disgusted I’m giving you formal titles like ‘Mr. Observation.’ That’s how bad this situation’s become. It's propering me up.”
     My cousin placed his hands on his hips and walked to the western edge of the property line, where the Motel Fairwil parking lot met the pool deck. Staring into the low, horizon-touching sun, the direction the miscreants had fled, he paused and scratched his head. “They wanted to foam the pool.”
     “I mean. Fraaaaaa!” I threw the scoop at the nearest lounger in disgust, then picked up again, and began scooping random leaves in anger.
       Leaf-scoopery, a typically calm-minded chore, had never met such a wound-up participant. “If you’re going to foam a pool, you’re going to, what? Gaaaaaah.” Tossing the scoop again, I marched to the diving board and sat down so hard a crack sounded from below. Another shift of my hips produced the same noise: crrrrrrrrrrk.
     “Don’t break the diving board,” advised Gomery.
     I stewed, grimaced, and glowered, in that order, then started over again at stewed.
     “Monty?”
     “Diving board. Diving board!” It was more mutter than response, and without sense. Still, I wanted to underline and asterisk my unhappiness, so I plunked my elbows on my knees and plunked my chin atop my fists, the portrait of a petulant 20-year-old child if there ever was one. I cared not. “I care not!” I shouted at no one. “I care not!” I shouted at The Wilfair Hotel, as hulking and grand as ever.
     “About the diving board? I kind of have a soft spot for it.” Gomery rehung the scooper.
     “About kids trying to foam a pool with two measly miniature laundry cubes. I. Care. Not. It’s wrong. Wrong! If you’re going to foam a pool, then a) don’t use those little detergent cubes, and a) number two, use liquid detergent and a lot of it.”
     “Isn’t ‘a) number two’ actually b)?” asked Gomery.
      “If you’re going to use those pre-formed detergent cubes, then you need to use a damn boatload of ‘em to foam a 24,500-gallon monster like this bad boy.” I swept my hand across the pool, then return to my petulant position.
     My cousin thought, in the way he often thought: with too much ponder and not enough pounce. “If each detergent cube has, say, a half cup of powdered soap, it would take, oh. Three hundred cubes, all told? To make a significant top layer of bubble. And there’s no churn.” He knelt on a single knee and dipped his hand in the water. “You need churn, like an agitator. In a washing machine. So, three hundred detergent cubes plus, er. Three swimmers? Powerful swimmers, creating the needed pre-bubble momentum in the water. They’ll need to push the detergent cubes beneath the water line to create pressure, and in turn foaming action. For, hmm. Forty minutes?”
     “That!” I shouted, standing. “That is what I wanted to tell those hooligans. Vandals! If you’re going to foam a pool, think. THINK!” I tapped my temple with emphasis. “Is that so much to ask? Think it through. Don’t just throw a couple of measly detergent cubes and run like scared wussy wuss wusses. See your plan through! Complete, complete! Where’s my white board? I want to make a graph.” I raised my hands, palms forward, to simulate a phantom board. “Over here, on the low end of the graph? A person’s wussiness versus their willingness to see a task through. It’s almost a numbers game, really, wussiness versus willingness.”
     “Following through is a positive.”
     I hit my palm to my forehead. “Mer. I’ve got it!”
     “So you hitting your palm against your forehead revealed,” said Gomery. “That was pretty classic, as far as, er, traditional telegraphing devices go. What do you got?”
      “How many swimming pools do you think are in this neighborhood? One square mile? Starting at Wilshire and going north?”
      My cousin rubbed his elbow, an act of contemplation, and considered quietly and at length, a length I would have lopped in half if I’d been in possession of a length-lopper. “Thirty houses per block, and maybe thirty blocks total, before Third Street? Nine hundred houses, older houses, so pools were rarer when they were built.”
      “Exhibit A on old buildings hating on pools.” I stuck out my tongue, grown-up adult-style, at the large, lit-windowed tower across the way. As if to counter my sneer, full-throated laughter clinkled from The Wilfair’s lobby.
      Typical. I taunt, they flaunt.
     “So… a hundred pools in the immediate vicinity? That’s generous. Maybe eighty,” guessed Gomery.
     “Those miscreants aren’t done. It’s early yet. They’ve got a tub of laundry cubes in tow and they’re planning on striking yet another hapless pool owner. Hapless! A) We can stop the vandals or b) we can advise them on the proper way to foam a pool. I vote b), because that’s important science knowledge.”
     “All right,” shrugged Gomery. “But there'll be trick-or-treaters out. Do we need costumes?”
     He smoothed his necktie, something he often did without thinking, and I considered that neckties might be the official anti-costume of Halloween. He had to ditch those things, BIG TIME, because they were not helping him in the romance department, or any of the divisions adjacent to the romance department, including the getting-out-more department, the getting-it-on division, and the aisle of having a life.
      “Nah,” I waved, not fully convinced that our lack of outlandish outfits would be a plus but wanting to split. “But we do need a bucket!” Bounding for the motel lobby, I yanked the door wide, grabbed the plastic orange pumpkin on the front desk, dumped the discounted individually wrapped caramels inside, and walked out, pleased beyond reason. “We’re scoring candy. We are scoring candied candy, hardcore up and down and sideways and sprinkled with sugar. CANDY.”
     “That’s what people want to see at their door. Two 20-year-old fools, no costumes, asking for miniature chocolate bars.” Gomery thumbs-up’d my plan and nodded with equal amounts of sageness and sarcasm. “We do have a vending machine next to the diner. Perhaps you've seen it? Eight dimes’ll net you a nougat chew way past its expiration date. That is, if you want to break your teeth, of course.”
     I beamed. “You and I, my friend, are about to be the recipients of some delicious candy from kindly candy givers on this lovely Halloween night. And we shall find justice when we find and calmly reason with those detergent deviants. Don’t cross me or doubt or judge or be mean, because you'll hurt my tender feelings. So. Are you in?”


6 comments:

Melbourne on my Mind said...

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!! You have no idea how excited I am about the rest of this.

Practically unrelated: a year or so ago, my niece tipped bubble bath into their spa and turned all the jets on. There was foam EVERYWHERE.

Wilfair Book said...

FOAAAAAAAM! Spas! Two of my favorite things, though maybe not together.

Your exclamation points please me, MomM. I sense you are an exclamation-y person, which means you are instantly dear to my heart.

Caitlin #1 said...

"I taunt, they flaunt." Love that line! And love that we're getting to see inside Monty's head.

Aside to Monty: you know I like you (quite a lot), but if you force your cousin to eschew tie-wearing, I swear to god I will hurt you. ;)

Wilfair Book said...

Caitlin #1: You said "eschew." Tee hee hee.

Wilfair Book said...

Caitlin #1: Let me clarify. I adore that word. It's very Wilfairian in my mind, too: underused and a touch fusty. Please use it often!

That One English Teacher said...

Dear god, this is like everything I've needed and wanted in my life right now. AGP, you're the best!!

 
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