"Hey wassup" Josh called out as he walked in Yogi's Arcade. His best friend Jim and his younger brother Johnny were right behind him. Across the room some other kids from school were playing their usual games. None of their close friends were there yet. No one replied to him. He just shrugged it off and headed toward his favorite table. It seemed a bit odd that Cassie and Goober weren't there yet. They were always the first to get there. Johnny took off towards the counter and sat down. He was going to get some ice cream while Josh and Jim played their grudge match of pool.
Jim put his quarters into the pool table. Nothing happened. "What the heck" Jim said annoyed that the machine took his only quarters. "Josh you got any quarters" he asked his friend.
"Nah, but I will get some" Josh walked over and tried to get some coins from the change machine with a dollar he had in his pocket. "Hey Jim you got another dollar the machine won't take this one"
"Yeah I think so." Jim reached into his pocket and pulled out a wrinkled dollar bill and handed it to Josh. "You can try this one but itís pretty wrinkled"
Jim sat down at a nearby table that wasn't occupied and waited on Josh to retrieve some quarters. Where is everyone? He wondered. He looked at the clock. Surely they should be here by now.
Josh came back a bit disappointed "nope this one won't work either" he handed the dollar back to Josh.
"Hey anyone got any change the machines broke". Josh called out. No one responded. "Well, I guess that's a no". "Dang, this sucks.. I wanted to whoop you in pool."
"Yeah in your dreams" his friend fought back.
Josh sat down in the chair across from Jim. "Well, what do you want to do now?" Josh sighed.
"I don't care. What do you want to do" Jim asked drumming his fingers on the table.
"Well, I guess we can wait a little and see if anyone comes in, or we could just go to my house." Josh suggested.
"George won't get me any ice cream" Johnny announced as he arrived at the table. He was not happy about not having his ice cream. "This Womps!" he added as he plopped down in the other empty chair. It scraped across the floor as he settled in almost sliding out from under him.
A couple kids nearby turned and looked at him for a second. He shot them a dirty look. "What?" Johnny said rather sarcastically toward them. They turned back to their own conversation.
"Letís just go to my house. I can show you that wild website I found. He said to Jim, You can watch some TV and I'll get you an ice cream. Is that cool?" He added as more of a bribe to Johnny. He knew Johnny was not always as co-operative when it came to going to his house.
"I'm game" Johnny said looking to his older brother for the final decision.
"Fine with me" Jim said. They all three got up and walked to the door. Josh looked at the clock again. "I wonder where the heck everybody is."
"Beats me maybe something is going on we didn't hear about. Highly unlikely but possible".
"Hey where's the car?" Jim asked. The boys stopped and looked around the near empty parking lot.
"Maybe Cindy came and took it" Josh said. Jim's sister and he had to share the car sometimes. She tended to purposely forget to ask and take the car without asking or telling Jim. He knew it was very possible this was one of those times. It annoyed the heck out of Jim. Especially knowing she did it just to rattle him and piss him off.
"She might have," he acknowledged.." I know she did have to work tonight." He paused thinking for a moment. They all stood staring at the empty parking space. "I hope that is what it is. I don't know why she can't tell me she is taking it." He added totally annoyed with having to walk.
"We can call her and make sure from my house" Josh suggested.
Jim hated sharing a car with his sister. Especially when she pulled this kind of stuff. He was just glad he wasn't all the way at the mall again. The boys walked to Josh's house. It was only a block away so it was no big thing.
It was a pretty busy road and the cars zinged pass. In the distance they heard a siren coming their direction. They turned to see where it was going. It turned the corner heading their direction toward the hospital.
It whizzed past them so fast it nearly knocked Johnny off his feet. "Dang I didn't know they could go that fast in the neighborhood like that." Johnny said. He was embarrassed that he almost fell. "They need to watch out for pedestrians just like the cars do" he stated trying to collect his posture with the older boys.
"Sometimes they just have to go that fast if it's an emergency" Jim reminded his brother.
They arrived at Josh's house and walked in the kitchen. "Mom" Josh called out. She didn't answer. "Wait here, I will be right back." Josh walked into the other room to make sure his mom knew he had company before he brought them in. He had got lectured on bringing people in without telling her too many times not to. "Mom?" He peeked his head into the living room. His mom was sitting in a chair with the photo album in her lap. She was crying. "Mom? Is everything all right?" She looked at him and started crying harder. He decided it might be best not to press it. "Jim and Johnny are with me we are going to my room, okay?" She didnít say no. She just sniffed and wiped at her eyes.
Josh went back to the kitchen to his friends. He went to the refrigerator and got Johnny his ice cream. He retrieved some chips and dip for Jim and himself. Jim noticed right off that he was strangely quiet. He sensed some thing wasn't right the second he seen Josh's face. But figured he would wait and see if Josh offered up the information first.
"Letís go up to my room" Josh said in a lowered voice. They went up to his room. Johnny flounced on Josh's bed.
"Okay, I give. Whatís the matter Josh." Jim asked?
"Something is wrong with my mom." He replied. His voice was filled with concern about what was bothering his mom.
"What's wrong with her" Jim tried to pry more from Josh?
"She's sitting there crying for some reason" He explained.
"Crying? Did you ask her what was wrong? His friend inquired.
"Yeah. She just looked at me and started crying more. I figure I better not bother her till she wants to tell me. Sometimes that's the best thing to do when my mom is in one of her strange moods.
"Well, that is strange all right. Wonder what's bummin' her out?" Jim wondered aloud. Josh shrugged. It bothered him that his mom was so upset. He knew she would let him know when she had calmed down. She usually did. She seemed to be prone to all sorts of odd mood swings since his stepfather left her last year. If he pressed her sometimes it would just make things worse. So waiting was definitely the best thing to do in these circumstances.
"Thought we were going to watch TV" Johnny said as he wiped some ice cream from his face with his sleeve.
"You can turn it on if you want." Josh said. "Hey Jim, grab that chair. I want to show you that cool website I found"
"That one you were telling me about earlier?"
"Yeah the one with that artsy stuff made out of bones."
"Sounds totally rad"
"It is." Josh started going though his favorites menu looking for his link. He couldn't remember what he called it.
Johnny sat down on the floor in front of the TV. He watched it with an almost hypnotic stare.
The door opened behind them unexpectedly making them jump. Josh's mom stood in the doorway with a very distant look on her face. She looked blindly around the room looking at the TV.
"Mom? Everything alright? Josh's mom didn't say anything. She just stared at the TV. She walked across the room and turned it off. She looked at it for a couple seconds then turned and left the room closing the door without saying a word.
The boys all looked at each other. "Man, that was weird"
"Yeah it was" Johnny said "you sure she isn't a zombie?" Johnny teased in the face of a stressful moment. Jim picked up a pencil eraser and threw it at his brother. Jim knew sometimes that Johnny just didnít think before he talked.
"HEY! Johnny cried out as he picked it up and threw it back at his brother.
"Shut up" His brother glared at his younger sibling. Letting him know this wasn't the time to joke around.
"Does this mean I can't watch TV?" Johnny asked.
"Nah, just turn it down low so She can't hear it." Josh said.
Johnny turned the TV on again making sure the volume was lower than the first time. The door flew open almost immediately. Josh's mom stepped in near hysterical. "HOW MUCH OF THIS AM I SUPPOSED TO TAKE!" She cried out to no one in particular.
Again the boys shared a puzzled look. Josh's mother nearly ran over Johnny in a rush to turn the TV off again. Then she reached behind it she pulled the plug. "NO MORE!" Again she turned abruptly and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her. Johnny sat there and looked around a bit stunned. Jim looked at Josh who just shook his head.
Josh decided he needed to try talking to his mother no matter to the consequences. "Iíll be right back". He told his friends. Josh opened the door and his mother who was standing outside the door let go a blood-curdling scream.
Johnny looked to his brother who was no longer there before him. Suddenly everything got blindingly bright..
"Doctor". A disembodied voice seemed to call out of the light. He's waking up.
Johnny blinked a little and squinted from the brightness. Slowly the light seemed to relax to a more focused state. Where am I? He thought. What is this? In the corner of the room he saw Jim and Josh standing and looking at him.
"Hello son. Do you know where you are?" Johnny blinked and looked around him a few seconds. He realized he was in a hospital bed.
"In the... hospital" he replied in a very labored raspy sounding voice. He tried to cough to clear his throat. Every inch of him felt pain. To him it was more of a question than an answer. This didn't make any sense to him.
"That's right. Can you tell me what your name is?"
"Johnny Redrum" he replied automatically. He was very confused. What am I doing here?
"Good good. Do you know why you are here?" The doctor inquired. Johnny thought for a second. He was just at Josh's house trying to watch TV.
"No," Johnny managed to shake his head a little. He couldn't figure it out. It didn't make and sense to him. Maybe Josh and Jim would explain it. He looked to the corner of the room where Jim and Josh were standing. They just stood there silently watching him. He wished his brother would say something.
"You were in an extremely bad car accident this afternoon." Slowly he seemed to remember being in the car on the way to Yogi's arcade with Jim and Josh. Then waiting for ice cream going to Josh's. No, he thought I donít remember any accident.
He looked for his brother who had moved to the edge of the bed. Surely Jim could sort this all out for him. Johnny looked up and Jim and Josh hoping they could answer his questions.. They, looked at him. Jim, reached out, patted his hand. Jim and Josh smiled , then both of them faded away.