A Pinstriped Finger's My Only Friend (20 page)

BOOK: A Pinstriped Finger's My Only Friend
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Chapter 30


"Woof woof!" T. Zara gestures with his drink at the ducks. "Nyah nyah nyah!" Then he sticks his front teeth over his lip like they're buck teeth and chomps them up and down fast like he's a beaver.

Judd just stands there and frowns as the ducks waddle around.

T. Zara puffs twice, like he's smoking a cigar, then turns in a circle. "Crinkle crinkle!" Again, he waves his drink at the ducks, more emphatically this time. "Trinkle tinkle!"

Judd puts his left hand over his mouth and talks softly to Moldfinga. "I think I'm supposed to
. What should I

I've got advice, but I keep it to myself. Clearly, he ain't craving my help anymore.

(Too bad I can't just split like I did before. I'm sure he and Finga would be very happy together without me.)

"Panonica!" T. Zara shouts the word, then spins in a different direction. He stops and unleashes a burp/fart combo that rocks the room. Then, he smacks his hand against his lips repeatedly and chants like an Indian in an old Western movie. "
woo woo woo,
woo woo woo!"

"You're telling me to
it?" Judd says to Finga. "But it won't

T. Zara pretends he's firing an invisible machine gun at Judd. "Ack-kak-kak-kak!" Then he pulls an invisible train whistle. "

Judd looks back and sees the timer's still running, counting up seconds and minutes. His score's running, too, in the opposite direction, counting down as he loses more points.

Taking a deep breath, he steps toward the ducks and grabs one by the feet with his left hand. As he hauls it off the cart, the other two flap their wings and scatter...but he moves fast enough that he gets one of them the same way he got the first.

"Meep meep." T. Zara sips his gulpy drink and nods, looking satisfied. "Squeak *cough*

Judd pulls the second duck from the cart with his right hand...

(So I'm up close and personal to the duck's butt, which by the way smells

...and then he lowers both ducks, holding them upside-down on either side of him.

(Did I mention how
this thing smells?)

He crouches slightly. I feel the muscles in his arms tense as he gets ready for action.

Then, he swings both ducks out and up. It's like juggling bowling pins, with most of the weight in the bottom, flipping end over end. He's trying to toss them in an arc so they'll come down on different sides.

All the kids hold their breath at once, watching the white birds flip upward. T. Zara keep sipping his drink, which finally starts gurgling in the straw as he nears the bottom.

I'm rooting for the dude, absolutely. Doesn't matter if he loves Finga more or I miss my freedom or whatever. Years of friendship...

(...and being hooked together...)

...count for
. So I'm watching, too, as the ducks flip upward.

And then they both spread their wings and start flapping, killing their trajectory. They flap into each other and bounce off, tumbling in opposite directions. One bowls into the duck that's still on the cart, knocking it over. The other flaps across the room and crash-lands on the kid with the red paint and Chinese food all over him.

The audience laughs and boos...

(...except for T. Zara, who whips out a kazoo and starts playing it like a lunatic...)

...and Judd slumps when he gets a look at the score on the board. Can you say
negative numbers
? Dude's at -150!

Which makes me want to say "I told you so" real bad...but I don't. Because I'm sure the dude feels bad enough. I'll leave it to him to do the mental math and come to the same conclusion I came to long ago: if you're gonna let a finger tell you what to do, stick with Killdigit, code name Oogachucka.

As the kids continue to roar with laughter and catcalls, the ducks from up front go waddling off into the next room. The other duck collapses in Mr. Red Paint's arms, its white feathers splotched with crimson. Mr. Red Paint grins and pets it, seemingly glad for the company.

Judd shakes his head and throws his arms up in surrender. There's no way he can catch up to Wayne's awesome score now.


T. Zara stuffs his kazoo in his pocket and walks over to Judd, whistling a creepy tune. He pats Judd on the back and nods consolingly. "Singing singing singing singing..." He sings the word over and over in ultra-high falsetto, then drops it down to ultra-deep bass. "Gnignis gnignis gnignis..."

(That's "singing" backward, I realize after hearing it a few times.)

T. Zara holds up an index finger as if to say "wait a minute," then stomps off into the other room. He comes back with a picnic hamper and sets it on the cart.

"What now?" Judd looks longingly at the door. I wouldn't blame him if he leaves before things get any worse.

"Wee-oo, wee-oo, wee-oo!" T. Zara sounds kind'a like a police siren as he yanks the bicycle horn out of his pocket and pitches it across the room.

The horn hits Wayne smack in the forehead. "Pod shod wim wam vig!" Wayne jumps up out of his chair and runs to the front of the room. "Eeny beany!"

T. Zara opens the lid of the picnic hamper and reaches in with his free hand.

(He's still holding his drink with the other.)

He makes a sound with his tongue like a rolling "R" in a Spanish word, dragged out to the extreme. (Burrrrrrrito, anyone?) Then, he lifts out a red glass bowl with a plastic lid. "Bleep bloop *belch*
." A blue bowl follows, and then an orange one. "

Wayne steps up to the cart and plants a fist bump on Judd. "Dim sum, gun." Then, he rubs his hands together eagerly. "Agarn hekawi!"

T. Zara removes the lid from the red bowl. "
!" He sounds like a ringing phone. "Yo ho *hork*." With the hand that isn't clutching the soda, he gestures at the bowl. "
Awk awk awk

As Judd gazes at the contents, he rubs his chin with his right hand, giving me a great view. But it's no big deal. The bowl's full of what looks to me like lumpy lavender mashed potatoes.

"Banana fana fofana," says T. Zara as he lifts the lid of the blue bowl. "Do ti la so fa mi re do!" As he sings from low to high pitch, he gestures at the bowl's contents. This time, the bowl is half-full of a shimmering silvery liquid.

Next, T. Zara pops the lid on bowl number three, the orange one. This one's more of a shocker; the contents are
. "Mmmmm." He nods as if a bowl full of squirming maggots is a feast fit for an emperor. Smacking his lips loudly, he raises his gulpy drink and grins. "Zaftig *belch* watusi!

Everyone cheers except Judd, Wayne, and the duck, which quacks loudly in the Red Paint Kid's arms.

T. Zara pulls the remote out of his pocket and thumbs the controls. The timer on the screen zeroes out. "
*yawn*." Then, he punches another button, and the number starts running again. "Yee-haw! Dogies dogies dogies *fart*!"

I guess that starts the game, because Wayne dives right in. Pushing in front of Judd, he thrusts two fingers into the lavender mashed potatoes and scoops out a knuckle-load.

Judd just stands there and watches as Wayne lifts the dripping glob of potatoes and shoves it into his mouth. The class cheers wildly. Looking at the screen, Judd sees Wayne's score jump by fifty points.

So now the heat is on. Can the dude with the negative score possibly come from behind? He has to try, doesn't he? Especially since we don't know how many more chances he'll get to earn points.

But what should he
? The same thing Wayne's doing? How can he gain any ground by copycatting?

Clearly, he needs to jump ahead by making a big impression. Time for another surprise move like dropping trou in front of class. "Dude, listen..."

Before I can give him advice, he pulls me away from his chin and raises his left hand instead. "What's that? What did you say?" He ain't listening to yours truly no mo.

(Here we go again.)

Meanwhile, Wayne dips out another fingerful of lavender mashed potatoes and rolls it in the bowl of maggots. As the crowd howls and stomps their feet, he jams the squirming mess in his mouth, maggots and all.

(Barf bag, anyone?)

(Assuming I
barf, of course.)

Judd keeps talking to Finga. "Are you serious? You think it'll work?"

I can't hear what she says, but I know it ain't good. I can
it in my

(Whatever my version of a gut is.)

So I take a desperate last shot and try to out-shout Finga. "Dude! Just flip all the bowls upside-down and stand on your head or something! Take off
your clothes this time!"

"Okay." Judd's heavy sigh doesn't have a thing to do with me, and I know it. He's still talking to Finga. "I'll do it." He takes a deep breath and tenses, about to make his move.

"Judd, no!" Even as the words leave me, they're too late. Dude's on a mission, and I can't stop him.

Not that I can guess what the master plan is. Instead of going after the bowls, he lunges at T. Zara and grabs the plastic gulpy cup out of his grip.

T. Zara looks stunned behind his granny glasses as the cup jolts from his hand. "
?" He flips his tongue back and forth from one side of his mouth to the other, making a sound like an idling engine. "

Jumping out of T. Zara's reach, Judd flicks the lid off the cup. Then, he shoulder-checks Wayne, sending him reeling out of the way with both hands covered in lavender mash and maggots.

good eatin', bruh!)

Judd grabs the orange bowl and pours a bunch of maggots into the cup. Then, he goes for the red bowl and dumps in some lavender mashed potatoes. Finally, he snatches up the blue bowl and tops off the rest with silver liquid. It pours out fast, gleaming like metal in the fluorescent lights of the classroom.

Metal. Suddenly, I realize what it must be...unless the laws of physics and the properties of the elements are totally different in this reality.

(Which they don't
to be.)

Holy spit. That's...

"Mercury, dude!" I shout as loud as I can. "That's dangerous stuff!"

But he doesn't hear me over the clamor of the crowd. Maybe Finga's yapping, too, who knows. But if I don't get my message through, and he does what I think he might be about to do...

"Boogie woogie!" T. Zara makes a grab for the cup. "Click clack back! Doughnut dough heat!"

Judd sweeps it away from him and darts to the far corner of the front of the room. As the class lets loose a roar...

(...of anger? confusion? encouragement?)

...he swirls the cup around, mixing the contents, and raises it high for a drink.

"Judd, stop!" I jab his palm, but he ignores me. "That'll
you! Dude,

But the crowd's louder than ever, and I think he's still listening to Finga. "Okay, I hear you, I'm doing it," he mutters. "Here goes."

"Doughnut dough heat!" says T. Zara as he charges toward Judd with arms outstretched. "Eyesore dont dough it!"

Judd brings the cup to his lips, sloshing the squirming mess toward the brim. Any second now, it'll be down the hatch.

I jab his palm frantically, screaming the whole time. "Judd, stop! Don't drink it!"

Too late, too late, the dude's committed, he's under the spell of an evil finger and I
he knows better, but he ain't thinkin', he's too caught up in the moment and the running timer and the need to rack up some points so he can get home. This is it OMG drinking that much mercury has gotta be fatal, goodbye cruel world...

But then...

"Nose!" shouts T. Zara. "Eyesore I said don't

(Whoa! Was that...?)

Judd stops with the mess in the cup a hair's breadth from his mouth.

(Did I just hear...?)

"Put it down, Judd! Are you
to poison yourself?"

(Holy crap. I
hear it. Holy crap.)

"Put it down!"

(I actually
what T. Zara's

"What's the matter with you?" he says as he lurches over and seizes the cup from Judd. "That
isn't for
! It's for the
round of the competition,

?" Judd turns pale and gets a full-body chill when he hears

As for me, I'm too busy slumping with all-over relief after our ultra-close brush with the Grim Reaper.

T. Zara shakes his head. "Just what I need.
dead student."

"Holy crap." Judd slumps against the wall. "I almost

T. Zara nods and sighs. "Not to mention, you ruined my favorite
." He walks off and drops it into the garbage can with a sloshing thump.

(Should he be pitching a cup of
in the school
like that??)

"Sorry," says Judd.

(Holy spit. And
holy spit, because you know what this means, right?)

"Judd!" I jab him and bellow for attention. "
tried to
you. But
tried to

(That's right, Finga,
got your number! And now so does

in your thimble and smoke it!)

BOOK: A Pinstriped Finger's My Only Friend
4.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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