Authors: J A Mawter
For Tullia, Shevaughn, Hugh,
David, Nola and Garry
Josh won at Stink Finger. Finn won Deadman’s Float.
It was a tie in Knuckles.
Now, they’re having a Funniest Joke competition. Round 1.
‘What’s the last thing that goes through a bug’s mind when it hits a car windscreen?’ asks Josh.
Finn scratches his head. I can tell he doesn’t know the answer.
‘The last thing that goes through a bug’s mind when it hits a car windscreen is its bum!’ yells Josh.
Four guys crack up. Including me. Not Finn. It’s round 1 to Josh. ‘Take that, Sunshine,’ he says.
Josh has started calling Finn, ‘Sunshine’. Josh thinks Finn is full of himself, you know, that the sun shines out of his bum. Finn’s not like that. I don’t know where Josh’s coming from.
‘Cut out the Sunshine,’ growls Finn.
Josh is busy doing a fly running into a windscreen impersonation and ignores him.
Finn scowls and says to Josh, ‘You’re the one who thinks you’re so good. Think you can walk on water, don’t you!’
Josh rolls his eyes, still acting like a demented fly. ‘Sure!’ he says, suddenly serious. ‘Can’t you?’
I decide to step in. ‘Quit it, you two. You’re already fighting this out.’
Josh glares at Finn, then launches a huge golly. Finn jumps out of its way.
I come in quickly. ‘Let’s get back to the competition, guys. Hey, Finn. It’s your turn.’
I’m looking forward to this. Finn’s good.
With a slight nod Finn starts. ‘How can you tell when a fly farts?’
I’m busting to yell out the answer but I’m judging so I don’t.
Josh is thinking. I can tell he’s thinking ‘cause he’s picking his teeth. It’s what he does. He picks his teeth and wipes the scum on himself. Sometimes, his T-shirt looks like crocodile skin.
We wait. There’s no time-limit on this. Except that the judge has to be home by six.
I look at my watch. ‘How can you tell when a fly farts?’ I prompt.
Josh shrugs, then says, ‘Dunno.’
‘It flies straight for a second,’ answers Finn.
Four boys cack themselves. Including me. Not Josh.
Round 2 to Finn.
Josh moves on to picking his nose, saying, ‘I knew that, Sunshine!’
I knew that, too. That Josh would pick his nose, that is.
Finn throws a stone at Josh saying, ‘Quit it with the Sunshine!’
Josh just grins. It’s a grin to match his crocodile skin.
The rules of the Funniest Joke competition are easy. To win his round each joke-teller must score a laugh. That’s not hard, seeing as our group have an average mental age of three.
You lose when the guys don’t laugh.
This competition all started over a grape. I kid you not. We were up at the pool, just chilling ‘cause it’s school holidays, when I pulled out a bunch of grapes. They were big red ones with seeds in them, which I hate — the seeds, I mean — so I offered them around.
Josh takes a handful. Finn does, too. They both ram one into their mouths.
Josh aims and spits. His pip sails high and lands in the bin,
about three metres away. ‘Beat that, Sunshine!’ he crows.
And that’s how it started. Josh and Finn have been trying to beat each other ever since. They’ll compete at anything. I even caught them comparing to see who had the darkest pee!
‘What’s another name for a snail?’ It’s back to Josh.
‘I know this one!’ shouts Elliot, waving his hand in the air like you do in class.
‘Shut your trap!’ I say, in my official capacity. ‘Don’t spoil it.’
Elliot puts his hand down reluctantly and settles back to wait.
‘Another name for a snail,’ repeats Josh, ‘is a boogie with a crash helmet.’
We fall about. I told you, it doesn’t take much. Round 3 to Josh.
‘I’ll pay that one,’ says Finn, smiling despite himself. He looks around at the rest of the guys and nods to me to show he’s ready. ‘What’s the difference between a cockroach and a maggot?’
I can think of heaps of things. Cockroaches have legs. Maggots can’t fly. But none of them are funny …
Finn’s smile spreads even further. ‘Cockroaches crunch when you eat them!’
The response is lukewarm. Only one tee-hee, actually, and that was from Ryan. Still, I have to accept it.
And on it goes …
Josh: ‘What do you find up a clean nose? Fingerprints!’
Finn: ‘What is the soft stuff between sharks’ teeth? Slow swimmers!’
That’s sick, that one, but I love it!
Josh: ‘What do you get if you cross an elephant with a box of laxatives? Out of the way!’
Round 8 and I am getting worried. Looks like we’re heading for a tie. ‘Be home on time,’ Mum had warned as I ran out the door this morning. ‘Or else!’
, is bad. Last
the gang was at my place and Mum made us deliver a parcel to Sister Dinnigan down at the church. She’s a nun. And desperate. Desperate for a chat, that is. She talked for over an hour! To escape we had to make confession. I hope God doesn’t mind. I don’t really want to be a rocket scientist.
Ever since then, we all have great respect for
I glance at my watch. Twenty minutes to. Fifteen to get home. I’m cutting it fine.
‘Why do gorillas have big nostrils?’ asks Finn. He doesn’t skip a beat. ‘Because they have big fingers!’
Thickhead Elliot laughs again, even though we’ve already had one finger joke. Even played Stink Finger. Again, I glance at my watch. I’m over this. I don’t care who wins the competition. I decide to hurry things up. ‘One more joke each. Loudest laugh wins.’ Josh gets set to argue but I’m judge so I add, ‘Or else.’
Josh knows about
, so he comes in quickly. ‘What’s brown and sticky?’
I dunno, I think.
Dumbest joke of the comp but for some reason it cracks us up. We hoot. We holler. We clang the lid of a garbage bin. There is no way Finn can win.
He gives it his best. ‘What’s yellow, brown and hairy?’
‘Your bum!’ says Josh, taking a huge bite of a meat pie. At the look on Finn’s face he adds, ‘Seriously, what’s yellow, brown and hairy, Sunshine?’
It’s pathetic, really.
Cheese on toast that drops on the carpet
isn’t funny at all.
But it makes Josh cough. This huge wad of meat pie shoots out his nose. It’s a globby bit, gristle or something. We watch as it sails through the air.
That meat pie sure puts the dirt on the cheese on toast.
I announce, ‘It’s another Josh Carruthers win!’
We meet at Robson’s corner for an iceblock — Josh, Elliot, Ryan, Finn, and me — searching for something to do.
‘I can eat my iceblock in thirty seconds,’ says Josh. ‘Anyone want to take me on? What about you, Sunshine?’
Finn shakes his head then starts to nibble at his iceblock. Seems he’s given up trying to stop the Sunshine thing.
Josh opens his mouth wide like a python and wraps his lips around the iceblock — stick and all. Next, he starts gnashing and grinding like something you’d find in a pit-bull ring. He swallows, then smiles and looks at Finn. ‘Piker!’ he says, wiping his lips on his T-shirt.
‘I can do any competition you come up with,’ Finn says to Josh. ‘But not piddly ones. Hit me with your worst. I’ll win!’
Josh stops wiping his mouth. This funny look comes on his face. ‘Goop,’ he says.
Goop! I’m shocked. Last time we played Goop, Josh lost. Went off like a volcano, like molten lava blub, blub, blubbing over everything.
‘You sure?’ I ask Josh.
Josh ignores me, saying, ‘Well?’ to Finn.
Finn stares into the distance. Finally he turns to Josh and says, ‘You’re on!’
‘We’ll go to Red’s place,’ says Josh, turning to me. ‘Okay with you, Red?’
My place! I know why he wants the Goop competition at my place. It’s because no one’s home. Mum works till six, so most days we end up at my place. And Dad? Dad’s long gone, not even a twinkle in Mum’s eye.
I’m thinking what she’ll say if there’s a mess. ‘You’ve gotta promise to clean up,’ I say. ‘Or else!’
‘Cool,’ says Ryan, with an Elliot echo.
I lead the group back to my street but stop them when we get to the corner. ‘Let me just check and make sure Rob’s not home,’ I say. Rob’s my big brother. He’s between jobs. Most days you’ll find him at the TAB, placing a bet on the horses.
Two minutes later I’m back. ‘All clear,’ I say. We start towards the house.
I look around at the immaculate kitchen and begin to get worried. Goop is not for the neat freak.
Josh marches up to the pantry door and flings it open. ‘Sure you’re up to it, Sunshine?’
‘Three words,’ says Finn with a laugh. ‘Remember last time.’
If I were Josh, I’d be worried.
I get two mixing bowls out of a drawer and two large wooden spoons. ‘I’ll be judge,’ I say, taking
charge. I look from Josh to Finn and decide to go over the rules. ‘Each of you must concoct a bowl of goop. You can use any ingredients you find in the kitchen. But they have to be edible. No detergent, floor cleaner or soap. When you’re ready, each of you has to drink one cup of the other’s goop. Whoever finishes the cup first is the winner.’
‘Easy,’ says Finn with a smirk.
‘No more than five ingredients,’ Ryan reminds us.
‘That’s right,’ I agree. ‘I forgot.’
‘This’ll be a cinch,’ says Finn, grabbing his bowl and making towards the pantry door.
Elliot butts in. ‘There’s one more rule. No barfing allowed.’
Another thing I’d forgotten! ‘He’s right,’ I say.
Finn laughs. Turning to Josh he says, ‘I’m gonna eat you for breakfast.’
‘We’ll see, Sunshine,’ says Josh as he reaches for a bowl.
I interrupt. ‘You can make your goop first, Finn. Josh, leave the room. Ryan, Elliot and me will stay to make sure Finn doesn’t cheat. When he’s done you swap. Okay?’
‘Cool,’ says Josh, getting up to leave. ‘See ya, Sunshine!’
‘See ya!’ calls Finn.
‘Before we start,’ says Josh, clutching his bowl twenty minutes later, ‘I think we should tell each other what we’re about to eat.’
‘I thought the idea of Goop is
knowing what’s in it,’ I say.
is torture,’ says Josh. ‘Makes it more interesting.’
‘Fine with me,’ says Finn, gripping his bowl.