Escape from Bizarro World

After I finished my afternoon paper routes, I’d always treated myself to a Saturday show at the Ritz Theater. Thunderball was the matinee. Just as SPECTRE captured James Bond, Pickle Andersen walked up beside me.

Pickle fake-punched at my nose with his right fist and loudly thumped his chest with his left. 

I was so focused on Largo and 007, I flinched. Of course I flinched. Why in hell did you do that? It was a prank a friend might pull on a friend, but I didn’t know Dillon Andersen, I only knew about him. We all called him Pickle. He should’ve been two grades above me, but he’d been sent back after the third grade. Then he’d flunked sophomore year, so now Pickle, Scooter and I were in the same class. 

Pickle punched three more times at my nose. Bam, bam, bam. 

I flinched again. 

For a guy built like Winnie the Pooh, Pickle was as fast as a blink. “You know what that means?” 

Yeah. It means you’ve escaped from Bizarro World.

“It means you’re a chickenshit,” he said in the voice of a petulant five-year-old. “So I have to kick your ass.”

Someone ordered you to do this? Of course, I made my usual mistake and smart mouthed. “Yeah? My bladder has loosened in fear.” 

He didn’t react. 

Good. You would’ve regretted that. 

Fickle Fate had made Pickle Andersen the most feared bully in high school. He looked at the back rows for a few seconds, then fake-punched again. Bam! He slammed his left fist violently into his chest to sound as if his right had broken the sound barrier. “Hulk. Smash!” 

“Well, now I know what’s on your summer reading list.”

He didn’t get that either.

“Your name is Cutie.”

“What do you want?”

“You’re messin’ with O’Murphy.” 

“Not really, but thanks for telling me what this is about.”

Bam. Bam. Bam. “I’m gonna wait for you outside.” Three rows from the back of the theater, someone tall stood and left with him. 

Yeah, and Scooter too. So, they’d followed me. In Wild Kingdom, Marlin Perkins had said cheetahs waited for gazelles to stray from the herd. If I went outside now, the Andersens would be on the dark side of the building, where I’d parked my Super 90. 

Maybe I’ll hang around for the evening show.