Joey and Zac looked at Jamie’s sleeping form. Hair mussed, glasses askew they felt this was how parents felt looking at their children. Sure he was a little monster, and got into his share of trouble terrorizing the neighborhood, but when he was tuckered out, his face mashed into the pillow, mouth wide open, well he was just plumb adorable.
Sunday Funday had raged into the early light, with the end of it seeing Jamie barely making it into his bed. The hat he’d worn was irreparably bent, the brim covering one eye. Joey lifted the hat, tapping Jamie on the edge of his nose.
“Jaaaaaaamiiiiie,” he sang. The only answer that came was an exhausted snort.
“Watch this,” Zac chuckled. He pinched Jamie’s nose shut, his shoulders shaking with amusement.
Joey stared at Zac blankly. Zac frowned, mildly confused.
“His mouth is open, dumbass. He can still breathe,” Joey said, rolling his eyes.
Zac nodded over to the end table. There was a handful of drink stirrers on top. Laughing, Joey picked one up and, leaning over the bed, carefully slid the stirrer into Jamie’s mouth. It was delicate work; almost like Operation. If he hit Jamie’s tongue or teeth, he risked alerting the tyke before the stirrer reached his uvula.
Joey poked the straw the extra inch and Jamie jumped up, gagging.
“Whaaaaat… the fuuuuuuuuck!” Jamie groaned.
“Dude, get up!” Zac said.
Jamie fell back against the pillow reaching for his blanket once again. Joey strolled over to the door and leaned against the frame. “It’s Monday,” he calmly announced.
From under the blanket, Jamie’s tiny voice held a hint of glee. “Monday?”
Jamie sprang up. He looked at the blinds, noticing the tiny bit of light filtering in. If it was Monday morning that could only mean one thing…
The three of them looked at each other and squealed, “Fruit Daaaaaaay!”
Jamie leapt to his feet, jumping up and down on the bed several times singing. “Fruit day, fruit day fruit day, FRUIIIIIIT DAAAAAAY!” He stood, hand in the air belting out the happy mantra. Finally, with a sigh, he stretched, excited to get the day started. He bounded off of the bed, thinking about the shirt and hat combo he would wear.
“By the way… what happened to my pants?” he asked.
Zac just laughed, making a quick exit. Joey gave Jamie a neutral smile, turning to leave as well “Tell ya in the car,” he said.
Jamie sighed. There were so many shirts, all of them revealing varying degrees of his sexiness. But, today was not just any day. He could not allow his masculinity to interfere with their mission. Today was all about the fruit.
He chose a sensible yet stylish ensemble, and readied himself for the shower. He had entered “fruit day mode”. He stood a little bit taller, his shoulders were a little broader, and he put on an affected, lordly accent and bellowed as he entered the bathroom.
Chris was already awake and sitting at the table. It was Monday, and he knew better than anyone what Monday meant. He sat, brooding deeply, trying to get into the right frame of mind. Mojito Monday was his responsibility.
Sure, there was chili, there was football, but when came down to it, everything was riding on him. People got hurt on Mojito Monday… people died on Mojito Monday. His eyes darkened as he was transported to a Monday long past. He could still hear the glass shattering, could see the red liquid pooling all over the floor. He exhaled holding his head in his hands.
Keep it together, Muddles, he thought to himself.
That’s what they had called him. Muddles. Or, the Mad Muddler when he was on top of the world. Oh yes…he was already awake. It was Mojito Monday, and Fruit Day was nothing to fuck with. Tightening his jaw, he violently shoved his spoon back into his cocoa puffs.
Monday Morning was the day they went to the farmer’s market. They needed delicious fruits for the hand crafted Mojitos the public was clamoring for. There wasn’t a holiday grander than Fruit Day. Everyone had a job to do. Joey was in charge of renting the car, so they could arrive in style. Zac was in charge of the soundtrack, and had to find the perfect music every week to set the mood. Chris was in charge of selection and quality control. And Jamie… Jamie was just in charge.
Jamie sauntered out of the bathroom, fresh from the shower, dressed in his selected outfit. Monday’s were special for Jamie too. Every Monday, his mama made chili for the whole village. Mmmm, mama’s chili. Ever since he was a little boy, it had brought him comfort. And, ever since he was a little boy, Jamie had wanted one thing.
For his mom to put squash in the chili.
He asked and asked, and she always said no. Years this went on, until one day, she made him a deal.
“If you can find the perfect squash, I will put it in the chili.”
Jamie had searched and searched, brought home squash after squash, but none of them had been the perfect one. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Jamie vowed that one day, he would find… the one.
Today could be the day.
“And where is our wee one?” Jamie asked, decided he liked this accent, and would keep it for the day. He wondered if he should change his hat.
“Still sleeping,” Zac said.
“Oh dear, oh dear,” Jamie said, an evil glint in his eye. “However shall we remedy that?”
They all piled into an electric blue BMW sedan and Jamie immediately wiggled against the leather seats. He sat in the back seat next to Zac, who eyed the car skeptically. Joey slid into the driver’s seat and, as always, Chris rode shotgun.
“Excellent choicery, old bean!” Jamie exclaimed.
Zac leaned over, concerned. “Um, exactly how big is our fruit budget!”
“Shut up and give me the music,” Joey replied.
Suddenly, Karma Chameleon blared through the speakers. They were all gleefully on their way. All except Chris. He could never return to Tucson.
Banging from the rear interrupted their sing-along. “Hey assholes! This isn’t fucking funny!” Tyler yelled from the trunk.
“So vulgar,” Jamie sighed and looked at Joey in the rear view mirror, signaling him to increase the volume. Once Boy George was once again filling his ears, he leaned back and bounced happily.
The Farmer’s Market came into view, and Jamie was like a pup going to the park. He slid from window to window, unable to wait to get out of the car. Joey had barely taken the key out of the ignition before Jamie was twirling in the parking lot, breathing in that fruit (and squash) filled air.
They all went to the trunk.
“I know you shitheads are out there! Open this fucking trunk!” Tyler raged.
“You will have to wear the leash, pumpkin patch!” Jamie replied.
“Fuck YOU, Jamie! Let me out of this trunk!”
Joey unlocked the trunk and it flew open, filled with angry Tyler. Jamie tsked at him. “Now now, I was not the one who overslept, let’s not bunch our knickers.” He held out the blue harness to Tyler.
“Kiss my ass, Jamie, I’m not wearing this.”
“If you do not, I’m afraid you will be unable to accompany us,” Jamie warned.
“You need help putting it on, Tyler?” Zac instigated.
They began to argue loudly.
“Hey!” Chris yelled. “This is not how we do Fruit Day, now get it together!”
Jamie gave Tyler a cheeky smile. Tyler snatched the harness from him. The punishment for oversleeping was to wear the harness. Unfortunately, Tyler enjoyed his beauty rest. He snapped the latch in place, squirming uncomfortably. He was a growing boy, and it didn’t fit as well as it used to. He’d be damned if he would stop working out, though.
Jamie grabbed the other end and snapped it. “Mush!”
Tyler looked back at him. “If you yank me again, I swear to God I’ll kill you.”
They infiltrated the ranks of the vendors, filling their sacks with succulent treats. When they had nearly visited them all, Chris began to have hope for that evening. Perhaps they would all survive the night after all.
Jamie was arguing with Tyler who wanted a candied apple. “No, you’ll ruin your dinner… chili tonight!”
Tyler folded his incredibly large arms, pouting.
“You can have a regular apple,” Jamie compromised. “Do you want a regular apple?”
“No I don’t want a regular apple!”
Jamie didn’t hear him, because there, at the end, stood…
A beautiful squash.
Jamie inhaled to the point of pain, and in a girlish voice screeched, “SQUAAAAAAAAAASH!”
Jamie ran, yanking Tyler like a runaway dog, bumping into an elderly lady. Tyler exclaimed at how strong Jamie could get when squash was involved. Jamie stood at the table, almost afraid to touch it. This was the one, it had to be.
“Would you like this one?” the vendor asked.
Jamie looked up, tears in his eyes. He couldn’t even speak. But, the vendor understood. There was something to be said for the bond between a boy and his squash. He had grown that squash himself, and had to admit, it was pretty special.
He told Jamie the cost of it, but it fell on deaf ears. The rest of the universe went away, and it was just he and the squash. As Joey handed money to the man, Jamie gently lifted the squash, hugging it to his chest. Zac did what he could to keep Tyler from killing him.
With that, their journey was over. They headed back to the car wordlessly. As Joey started the engine, Zac whispered for him to skip to the last track in the playlist. The song for the squash.
Chicago’s You’re The Inspiration swelled throughout the car. Joey enjoyed the feel of the smooth ride, Chris momentarily forgot about the ghosts of mojitos past. Tyler was just happy to be riding in the car. He leaned over to Zac. “Well done on the playlist,” he said, and Zac beamed proudly.
Jamie sat staring out the window, the squash tucked tightly in his embrace.
Fruit Day had been a success.