Pepe-Part 3

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Here is a short story I wrote awhile back and recently updated. I’ll run it in three parts. Let me know what you think.

Pepe (part 3)

By

Rich Allan

I went to bed early that night right after supper. I tossed and turned, dreaming of a crazy Latino in baggy pants, with a chipped tooth, offering me three wishes, and a large plate of rice and beans.

When I woke the next morning, I felt the same. Did I get my wish or not? I jumped out of bed and raced over to my height measurement chart that I had drawn on the wall ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil. Standing as tall as possible, I drew another line. I looked at the new mark and hung my head in disappointment…sixteen years old and still only a paltry four-foot ten inches tall.

I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Nothing prepared me for the person who appeared in the mirror…a teenager in his jockey shorts looking like an elf-sized Santa Claus without a beard. I had grown alright…only out instead of up. As I watched in amazement, my outline split, flesh blurred, shimmered like a spirit, and shook like Jello in an earthquake. The two vibrating me’s went in and out of focus, until they came back together, like two cells under a microscope, joining to make a larger entity twice as big.

This pattern repeated itself several times during the next two weeks and despite hardly eating, boot camp exercises, visits to the doctor and trying all the fad diets…grapefruit, low-carb, and jellybeans…I kept gaining weight. Sometimes the shifts were violent, like David Banner turning into the Hulk, splitting out my clothes, and leaving me naked, one time much to the amusement of my coed gym class.

Freak got added to the name calling, along with balloon boy, hippo, tons-of-fun, and so forth. When I outgrew my dad’s clothes, my parents started buying stuff from the big and tall shop. After I outgrew those, Mother started making my outfits from scratch buying material in large rolls because I could change up to two sizes in a single day. Mom practically lived at the sewing machine, trying to keep up.

I quit going to school because I couldn’t fit through the front double doors. It got to the point I couldn’t walk, sleep in a bed, or live in our garage. The fire department kindly let me stay in one of their large bays, reclining on a flatbed tractor-trailer covered with mattresses. I don’t even want to talk about the problems that occurred when I had to go the bathroom.

Finally, fearing the end was near, they towed me to the baseball field and lowered me gently down…filling the entire infield, covering all the bases and home plate. Right after arriving, my stomach flip-flopped, my body shimmered, and I expanded another two inches. I could hear the ooh’s and ahh’s from the crowd that had gathered as they witnessed my latest transition. I held my breath and closed my eyes because I did not want to watch my imminent death.

A minute went by, then two. Nothing happened. I opened one eye and looked around. The onlookers had covered their ears and were slowly backing away. The TV crews and paparazzi raised their cameras in anticipation of capturing the precise moment I blew up…piranhas. I just wanted it to be over.

“Hola, Tom,” a familiar voice whispered in my ear.

A man stood beside me, cleaned shaven, sparkling smile, dressed in Armani and looking like a movie star.

My stomach gurgled. “What happened to Pele?”

He laughed. “Pele is only one of my characters. You probably know me better as Diablo.”

“I’m in trouble here. Where have you been?”

“Rooting for the bulls in Mexico City.”

“Help me.”

“You don’t want to be big anymore?”

“What do you think?’

“Is that your second wish?”

“For goodness sakes, yes.”

He crossed his arms across his chest, blinked and nodded. “I always wanted to do that…every since I saw an episode of “I Dream of Jeannie.”

The crowd gasped as I instantaneous shrank from blimp to ant size and disappeared. Diablo knelt down on the grass. “You okay there, Tom?”

I push aside a dandelion stem and addressed the giant face above me. “You tricked me.”

“One more wish to go. Make it a good one.”

“Just put me back to the way I was when we first met.”

Diablo smiled, snapped his fingers and I returned to normal, spitting out some grass that I had almost swallowed during the transition. The crowd once again shouted their approval of the show.

“No more wishes, Tom.”

I sighed. “So, I’m right back where I started.”

“Not exactly. You signed a contract.”

“What does that mean?” I shouted at him as he disappeared in a flash of lightning, a puff of smoke, and the smell of sulfur, leaving behind only a trail of wicked laughter.”

*   *   *

The unusually short old man came out of the confessional at the same time as the priest.

“That’s quite a story, Tom.”

“I swear it’s true.”

“I worry about you. Are you eating properly? You look so skinny.”

Tom glanced around the church. “No matter what I eat, I can’t gain weight and everything taste like rice & beans.”

“You’re not hitting the sauce again?”

Both Tom’s hands were shaking. He grasped the end of a pew to steady himself. “No more than I need. I keep catching glimpses of him…on the street, at the store…and hearing his creepy laugh.”

“Say three Hail Mary’s and two Our Fathers and you will be fine.”

“Will that give me absolution?”

“You didn’t sign a deal with the devil. You just had a bad dream.”

“For forty years?”

“Go home, Tom, get some rest. And for goodness sakes, eat something.”

Tom, coughing up blood from the cancer racking his body, broke out in a sweat as he shuffled out of the church. He hurried down the street, his coat collar turned up against the wind and the cold. Pulling a key from his pocket, he entered the small apartment, ceiling and walls papered in pictures of Jesus and complemented with large crucifixes everywhere. He locked the door behind him, turned the three deadbolts into place and fastened the double chains.

He sat down in his easy chair and began reading the bible, as he did every night. Was it a dream? Harry died years ago in a car accident and his mother had told him no one had seen anybody out on the baseball field with him. The doctors explained his condition had been caused by a rare gland problem that somehow cured itself.

Tom put down the bible and took a swig from the nearby flask. Another series of coughs shook his whole body. He wiped the blood from his mouth with a handkerchief. It wouldn’t be long now, ten days at most, and then he would know for sure…

-The End-

 

Copyright Richard Allan Jones 2018

Pepe-Part 2

Here is a short story I wrote awhile back and recently updated. I’ll run it in three parts. Let me know what you think.

Pepe (part 2)

By

Rich Allan

Just outside of our Texas town is the Monahans Sandhills State Park, featuring nearly 4,000 acres of sand dunes. When I am feeling particularly depressed, I go there with my one and only best friend, Harry, to “surf” the dunes. Some students use a real surf board, but being poor, Harry and I share a cut up cardboard box we swiped from behind the grocery store.

The dunes average 70 feet high so it takes awhile to wade through the deep sand to the top, but coming down only takes a few minutes and is a lot of fun, unless you go on a windy day because the fine sand really stings when it blows against your face and body.

Anyway, we had made several runs, and were getting tired, when I slipped off my cardboard sled, and plowed into the sand, banging my knee into something hard. I figured finding the only rock in all this sand was exactly the kind of luck I should expect from living my life at the bottom of the food chain. As I sat there lamenting my injury, something metal reflected the sun and caught my eye. I reached down and dug out of the sand an ancient-looking brass teapot, similar to the kind they sell to tourists at the roadside stands near the Tex-Mex border.

Harry joined me to see why I was still sitting in the middle of the dune. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Look what I found.” I held up the teapot.

“What a piece of junk. The lid is rusted shut and the whole thing is tarnished. Throw it away and let’s do another run.”

“We might be able to get a few bucks for it. Let’s see if I can shine it up a little.”

I pulled out a corner of my shirt and began polishing the sides. The teapot started shaking as if it was alive, while smoke poured out of the spout, billowing upward like a miniature tornado. Next came a flash of lightening, accompanied by the rotten egg smell of sulfur, and then poof, out of nowhere, right in front of Harry and me, appeared a swarthy-looking man of Mexican descent, sporting a chipped tooth, three-day growth, baggy pants, and a traditional red serape.

“Gracias, Tom,” he says, “for setting me free.”

Harry and I stare at the apparition in front of us as he pulled off his boots and poured out the sand.

“I hate sand. Two hundred years crammed into that teapot; it gets in your hair, your ears, up your las nalgas, and worst of all between your toes…very difficult to scratch.”

I managed to stammer. “Who the hell are you and where did you come from?”

“From the teapot, mi amigo…and you can call me Pepe.”

I turn to Harry to confirm what I was seeing and hearing, but he had passed out on his back in the sand and a dung beetle was crawling across his face.

Pepe says, “Let’s get down to business. What are your three wishes?”

“Excuse me?”

“Didn’t your mother ever read the classics to you? Here’s how it works…you rub the magic lamp, the genie appears, and you get three wishes.”

“This is a teapot and you don’t look like a genie.”

“You want the wishes or not? I can always give them to Harry when he wakes up, although technically he wasn’t the one who rubbed the lamp.”

“Hang on.”

My imagination kicked into overdrive. Three wishes! I pictured all the usual dreams…big house, fancy car, millions of dollars, rock god, but then I thought about my miserable school life.

“For my first wish, I want to be big.”

“You mean famous like a movie star, captain of industry, or president?”

“No, physically big. I’m tired of being the smallest kid in high school.”

Pepe lit up like a migrant worker on a Saturday night and produced a multi-paged contract and a pen from thin air. “Just sign your name at the bottom of page five.”

“What’s this?”

“Standard genie contract that defines rights, warrants, representations, indemnifications, fornications, and so forth. Don’t worry about it, just sign.”

I didn’t hesitate. Harry, who had regained consciousness, watched me write my name with a flourish. As soon as I did, Pepe, the contract, and the teapot disappeared in another puff of lightning and smoke.

We looked at where Pepe had stood, and then back to each other.

Harry said, “What about your other two wishes?”

I shook my head. “I don’t think he’s coming back.”

Harry looked around. “If he was ever here at all.”

As we walked back into town, we decided not to discuss what just happened, since we had no proof, and knew our story would only result in more teasing. We wrote off our experience to the hot sun and bad cafeteria food.

 

Copyright Richard Allan Jones 2018

Pepe

Here is a short story I wrote awhile back and recently updated. I’ll run it in three parts. Let me know what you think.

Pepe

By

Rich Allan

I don’t know how much time I have left. Doctors say they can’t stop it and my skin is already stretched to the bursting point. I resemble a hydroponic tomato filled with enough water to reach pumpkin status. Last time they weighed me, the truck scale read 1200 pounds.

The bomb squad used a crane to place me in the middle of our little league baseball field and taped off an area large enough to keep people at a safe distance. If I squint my eyes, I can make out my crying mother surrounded by the curious and several fellow students from Monahans High School. The number of people who have showed up is amazing; a bigger turnout than at the Jaycee’s July 4th fireworks celebration. Maybe I should hold a flare in each hand to make my demise, when it comes, more entertaining?

I know I am to blame for my current situation, but I just couldn’t stand it any longer. The kids at my school picked on me constantly. Teasing me online as well as right to my face, with comments like, “Hey runt, stand up when you speak to me,” or “When did they start letting second graders attend high school.” With my tiny frame, bullies had no problem stuffing me into wall lockers or tossing me through the basketball hoop in the gym. I grew tired of always being the last one picked for sports and having girls laugh in my face when I asked for a date.

Jimmy, the bomb squad leader, who helped bring me to my final resting spot, assuming there won’t be enough of me left to scrape up and bury, asked, “Tom, how much longer? I’m due at my bowling league in twenty minutes.”

My stomach gurgled and my circumference increased four more inches. A button popped off my tent-sized shirt, flew toward the crowd, and almost put out a spectator’s eye.

“Any minute now, Jimmy,” I assured him.

Before I leave this life…let me share with you the story of how I got in this predicament.

 

Copyright Richard Allan Jones 2018