Fiction Fixation is a new feature highlighting the work of up and coming fiction writers. The first author to be featured is Dan Kennard, a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. “Textisode One: The Pilot” is the first in Kennard’s 642 Honeysuckle Street series of “Litcoms”. 642 Honeysuckle Street is unique, entertaining, and its acute self-awareness is clever and comical.
Here is some insight from Dan Kennard about the ideas behind 642 Honeysuckle Street:
“An interest in classic and modern sitcoms like Seinfeld and Arrested Development, among others, lead to the creation called a “Litcom”, which is a new story form combining elements of literature and elements of a television sitcom. The goal of the project is to offer readers a uniquely modern reading experience, and like a television sitcom it only takes a half hour or less to experience. Just as the famous words of Virgil Island proclaim, “People will read again!”
So, go ahead and read again! Starting with Dan Kennard’s 642 Honeysuckle Street.
642 Honeysuckle Street
Textisode One: The Pilot
By: Dan Kennard
If you looked at Honeysuckle Street from a helicopter you would see that it sort of has the shape of a chicken bone. Or perhaps a very tiny dumbbell seen at a distance. Two cul-de-sacs, one at each end, separated by a long, straight, stretch of road.
At one end of the street there was an old pawnshop, referred to by most citizens as “Goldstine’s,” but the full name was Goldstine’s Pawnteria, and it had been a fixture at the end of Honeysuckle Street for over fifty years. Its sign had been the same for all fifty too. A big, faded, rectangular billboard on top of the small one story pawnshop, the large sign almost overshadowing the fact that there was, in fact, a store underneath it. It had “Goldstine’s Pawnteria” painted in big sweeping yellow letters, outlined sloppily, in black. As recently as the last few years, in an effort to attract customers, the sign had been equipped with a series of tiny white light bulbs that continuously pulsate and rotate around the border of the sign like a confused shooting star. The street was a buzz once everyone saw that one night. Some people complained, mostly people who lived within plain view of the blinking, rotating lights, but everyone else considered it an improvement on an otherwise dreadful building.
At the other end of the street, and the newest building to appear on Honeysuckle Street, was the Americana Saloon. A one story brick building, new looking, no wear and tear yet. The brick was still a fresh mixture of pink and burgundy bricks. All the glass windows were tinted and clean enough to fix yourself up in. A tall pole stuck up from the nearly flat, perfect looking roof, a pole of glistening silver, and sharp looking in the sun. At the top an American flag hung at the whim of the wind, doing whatever the wind wanted it to do. If one were to stand in front of the saloon and look up at it, the flag would seem to glow, lit from behind by the soft yellow light of the sun. Unless of course it was dark, in which case it became very difficult to even see the flag on the roof. But of course, everyone knew it was there.
Inside the Americana Saloon it was the television fifties, the old cowboy west, apple pies on windowsills, and baseball in baggy pants, all rolled into one nearly empty drinking establishment. Dusty pictures of old television celebrities seemed to be hung at random on the wall. A television mounted above the bar was always playing classic movies or black and white documentaries about famous people. People that no one knew anymore. The kind of people you could only meet in the Americana Saloon, if you happened to be watching one of the documentaries, as you ate a lonely lunch, or guzzled down a lunchtime beer by yourself. Otherwise, you would never know their names, and never see these documentaries. Sitting in an atmosphere like that is bound to make a man nostalgic. Bound to make a man think about the great things that have passed him by.
At the bar, wearing the chocolate brown suit that he wore everyday, accented with a lime green tie, on a slightly greener shirt, was a man named Virgil Island, who was wildly typing the last words of his newest story on a very bulky, newly bought typewriter. Upon the last thunk, and with the last words down on paper, he anxiously ripped the page from the typewriter and shouted:
“People will read again! Oh yes! People will read again!”
“Please stop shouting!” shouted the bartender.
“Bit hypocritical I think–Leo!” shouted Virgil, looking towards the door. “You’re early!”
Leo Darwin was a man of stiff, cartoon-like, blonde hair, accompanied at all times by his slightly overweight body. If he were a woman, and a group of men had attempted to describe him, and we, the faithful viewer were able to eavesdrop on their conversation, we could be sure to hear things like, a few cheeseburgers too many, or wow, I’d probably need a lot of beer to do that. A cigarette always drooped from his lips, and despite only being twenty-five, if at a carnival say, may be guessed to be as old as thirty-five. He walked over, a trail of smoke strung behind him like he was afraid he might get lost and need it to get back out, and when he sat down he said:
“What’s with the typewriter?”
“Picked it up at a pawnshop. I’m going old school my friend. What happened to your hand?”
“I crushed it with a hammer, accidentally.”
“Thank God you have a second hand,” said Virgil, “or that could be a devastating injury.”
“Well it doesn’t matter anyway, they fired me. Said I was a safety hazard. Said I’ve been slipping up.”
“I’ve noticed that too actually,” said Virgil, thoughtfully. “If you were someone else you would be dead by now.”
“Before we go any further with this, I need a drink,” said Leo. “My hand is pulsating with agony.”
“Barkeep!” shouted Virgil. “Two scotches for me and my friend here!”
“That’s a hell of a typewriter,” said Leo, looking it over. “What have you been writing?”
“For comparison I would say it’s what pro wrestling is to sports and entertainment. A concoction crafted specifically for modern times and a modern audience.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” said Leo.
“I call them Fictspirationals.”
“Yes Leo! The modern market loves an inspirational story. Did you know last year people bought more inspiration than ever before? There is a demand for inspiration these days! People buy it up. People love to read about what other people do.”
“But you don’t have any inspirational stories to tell.”
“I don’t need any Leo, that’s the beauty of being a writer. I can make it all up as I go along. I can make up fictional inspirational stories.”
“Fictspirationals,” said Leo.
“Exactly,” said Virgil.
“And what would you be inspiring people to do?”
“Well in order for anyone to be inspired they would have to read my stories. People don’t read like they used to Leo, that’s the biggest obstacle for any writer these days. It’s tough to gain readership when no one reads anymore, but I’m going to do my part to fix that. That’s what these Fictspirationals are all about, getting people to read, to enjoy reading. Do you know the biggest reason why?”
“Why people don’t read like they used to?”
“Television?” said Virgil. “I was going to say length. No one wants to read a long book.”
“You really didn’t think of television?” said Leo. “That seems like the most obvious one.”
“The only thing that’s ever stopped me from reading was length, but I’ve fixed that Leo. Each one of my Fictspirationals will be written so that the average reader can read it in thirty minutes. The length of a lunch break.”
“Lunchtime Fictspirationals?” offered Leo. “That’s the length of a TV sitcom too.”
“Precisely. A series of stories designed to inspire in a half hour. It could change the world!”
“Is that what you’re trying to do? Change the world with these stories?” asked Leo.
“I believe that is the responsibility of all writers, and since inspiration, much like ice cream, comes in many colors and flavors, I’ve decided on a theme for the first series of stories Leo. Would you like to hear it?”
“It will be themed around things people used to do, that we no longer do, that we should begin doing again. Why limit how we act to modern standards? Where’s our scotch? Barkeep!”
By this time the bartender had had quite enough of Virgil’s shouting. He walked over and slammed his fists on the bar in front of them and said:
“I would prefer that you stopped shouting every word out of your mouth and stopped calling me barkeep. I have a name, I’m not some stock character in a story.”
“Well what about those scotches?” asked Virgil.
“They’re on their way. Just keep it down over here, you’re making more noise than my wife when she gave birth,” he said, turning away.
“Oh barkeep, before you go. Mind if I smoke this pipe of mine?” asked Virgil, pulling a pipe from inside his coat pocket.
“What did I just say?” said the bartender.
“Sorry, but I don’t know what else to call you. Do you mind?” he asked again.
“Ah, whatever,” sighed the bartender.
Virgil pulled a small plastic bag of tobacco and a box of matches from inside his brown coat pocket, hastily stuffed his pipe, then, as he struck a long match, he turned to Leo and said:
“I’ve been coming here for a few days and I’ve never heard him mention he had a wife.”
“Or a kid,” added Leo.
“What’s his name?” asked Virgil.
“I don’t know. Since when did you start smoking a pipe?”
“I don’t want to talk about that right now. I want to talk about Ficspirationals. So far I’ve thought of eight things that people have stopped doing that they should do again,” said Virgil, puffing rhythmically.
“Likely to be nine soon, at the rate things are going,” said Virgil, holding the pipe with only his clenched lips. “Ideas are like living things that grow inside your head. It could become very big.”
“How do you know any of these things you’re talking about will actually be good for humanity?”
“They used to be,” said Virgil.
“Like dueling. Or growing your own food. Or feasting. Or collecting baseball cards. Did you know the number of people collecting baseball cards declines every year? Its lower now than ever before.”
“So what?” said Leo.
“So what? Do you know what that does to the value of my own collection? It renders it useless is what happens. I spent a lot of money on those cards.”
“So how do you know if any of these things will actually improve anything?” asked Leo.
“Actually I don’t,” said Virgil, puffing thoughtfully.
“If you start inspiring people to do stupid things you could actually destroy mankind.”
“My God, you’re right Leo. Except for reading, and collecting baseball cards, I don’t know conclusively if any of the other ideas in my head will actually improve mankind—they would have to be tried out on some sort of experimental basis.”
“You know what happens when you assume,” said Leo.
“How would I know if they have any modern value unless I try them out? If I didn’t I would make an ass out of myself,” said Virgil, shaking his head.
“But then it’s not fiction right? I mean, if you’re living your stories and writing about them, isn’t that non-fiction?”
“Not if I change everything,” said Virgil. “What’s taking so long?”
Virgil looked around for the bartender then said, “Barkeep, I believe I ordered two scotches quite a while ago. Smoking this pipe has really dried my throat. My throat, and your service, are both becoming intolerable. What kind of a bar scene is this if we’re not drinking?”
“So what will you write about first?” asked Leo.
“I haven’t decided yet. Let’s go home and choose from a hat.”
Virgil stood up from his stool, stuffed his papers into a messenger bag, then awkwardly picked up his typewriter:
“That looks heavy,” said Leo.
“Tyrone, the guy from the pawn shop, estimated it to be about forty pounds of steel and ink ribbon,” said Virgil.
“That seems completely impractical.”
“It’s incredible exercise Leo. People used to be in better shape, and it’s because of things like this,” said Virgil, his forehead developing a waxy shine.
“That’ll be eight dollars,” said the bartender, putting the two shots down on the bar.
“We don’t want them anymore,” said Virgil, “you have delayed too long and lost yourself business. Let’s go Leo.”
They walked towards the door and as Leo thrust it open, and sunlight flooded the Americana Saloon, Virgil shouted, “Let’s go change the world!”
* * *
Splitting the difference between Goldstine’s and the Americana Saloon was a dilapidated two-story house, and on the rusty metal mailbox out front, in scrawled writing, was the number 642.
Virgil had rented the bottom floor very cheaply from a Greek couple named Rudolph and Violette Skintopolis, the owners, and his upstairs neighbors, and he had in turn rented out the back porch to Leo. Leo paid twenty dollars a month to occupy the small space, and they had both agreed, both of them thinking they had the better of the deal, that everything else would be a la carte. Everything from showers to sandwiches had a price and after two years living like this they had developed a crude, but functioning, friendship.
Walking home and still carrying the typewriter, Virgil finally stopped, and shifting the typewriter back and forth in his arms, sweating, said:
“Unwieldy machine! There’s a free shower in it for you if you carry it the rest of the way.”
“No thanks,” said Leo.
“Shower and a sandwich then!” shouted Virgil, as he struggled with the typewriter.
“Sorry,” said Leo. “My hand hurts man.”
“Always with something,” said Virgil. “Well this is quite the workout I must say. I’ll have raging python arms before you know it Leo!”
“I just realized you’re wearing a suit,” said Leo.
“I’ve been wearing it,” said Virgil.
“Why are you wearing a suit?” asked Leo.
“It’s part of a new trend I’m trying to start Leo, and one of the nine things on my list.”
“My brain is like a machine Leo! Imagine a world of classy looking people. Men in suits. Dressing like this today has made me more industrious than ever.”
“I feel like I have to live up to my image. Wearing a suit is a valuable source of motivation Leo, you should try it. Might be the boost you need,” said Virgil, shifting the typewriter to his other arm. “How much more of this godforsaken walk do we have left?”
A few minutes later Virgil walked through the front door and sloppily dropped the typewriter onto his coffee table and said:
“I feel myself getting in shape already Leo. I’m glad you didn’t take it.”
“I really need to do something about my hand. It feels like it has it’s own tiny heart, and it just ran a sprint, it’s just pulsating.”
“I’ve never hurt my hand before, so I don’t know what you mean,” said Virgil, packing his pipe with tobacco again. “Isn’t that amazing?” he said as he struck a match and lit his pipe again.
“Quite,” said Leo.
“We must put all that aside for now though,” said Virgil. “I’ll write my list, and you get a hat Leo. It’s time for us to set sail.”
“Yes Leo. You and I. Me and You! We! We need to work together on this. I can’t do it all alone. Besides, I have some things in mind that I’m going to need your help with.”
“What’s in it for me?”
“If its successful and I become rich, I’ll buy you your own house in the backyard of my bigger house. It’ll be just like it is now, but better.”
“Okay,” said Leo. “I’ll do it. I’ll go get a hat.”
A few minutes later, Leo was holding a cowboy hat upside down while Virgil tossed in the tiny folded papers. When he tossed the last one in he took a deep breath and said:
“Raise that hat Leo.”
“I’m actually kind of excited,” said Leo, holding the hat up over his head.
“That a boy, you’re coming around nicely.”
“Just pick, my arm is getting tired.”
Virgil reached up and put his hand deep into the cowboy hat. He reached around, picking some up and putting them down again, before he finally settled on one. He pulled the tiny paper from the hat and read it. Leo lowered the hat and said:
“Tonight Leo,” said Virgil, “we shall feast!”
“Nice,” said Leo. “I haven’t feasted in a while.”
“I’m going down to the pawn shop for supplies, I saw some stuff there yesterday that piqued my interest. Invite everyone we know Leo, a feast excludes no neighbor.”
“What about all the food?”
“We can’t afford all that, I’m not some Danish King,” said Virgil, puffing thoughtfully on his pipe. “Just tell everyone to bring their own food.”
“What if they aren’t home?” asked Leo.
“Tape a note to the door. Prepare a general statement.”
“All right. Any more questions?”
“Okay,” said Virgil. “Then I’m off for supplies.”
* * *
Tyrone Goldstine was the newest owner, and youngest, to ever take the reigns of the family business at a mere twenty-six years of age. Sadly, his young ownership was the result of a tragic accident. As collateral someone had traded in a small pistol disguised as an ordinary pen. Tyrone’s father, Frank Goldstine, on the phone with a customer, in a frantic search for a pen to make a note, forgetting that the pen was actually a single-shot pistol, accidentally passed ownership to Tyrone, right through the face. Through the years though the store had amassed a large collection of stuff that no one else wanted.
When Virgil walked in, Tyrone was polishing a chrome rocking horse in the back of the store, and upon hearing the sound of the jingling bells, walked out front and shouted:
“Welcome to Goldstine’s Pawnteria!”
“Tyrone, its Virgil!” he shouted back.
“Hey, that’s a fly suit,” said Tyrone, walking over. “How’s the typewriter?”
“It’s great exercise,” said Virgil, “but today I’m here for another reason. I’m having a feast and wanted to see what you had in the way of supplies.”
“What kind of feast are you talking about?”
“In my mind it looks medieval,” said Virgil.
“So you’ll need some goblets fo’ sho, probably a rotisserie. Will there be a pig there?”
“Should there be?” asked Virgil.
“It’s your feast,” said Tyrone, shrugging his shoulders.
“I want to hang a sword behind the table too,” added Virgil.
“Can you help me?” asked Virgil.
“We have all that and more, my man. We got stuff in the back that’ll take you back in time. Maybe we should start there.”
* * *
Meanwhile, down the street Leo was obediently preparing to walk door to door, to invite neighbors, and tape notes to the doors that didn’t open. He walked up the outside staircase to invite the Skintopolis’s. As he stood in front of their door, he could hear the constant electro-dance music they listened to thumping from inside. Leo banged on the door. A moment later the music was lowered and Leo, pressing his ear to the door, heard Violette giggling. She finally opened the door, but only a few inches, peered out, and said:
“Who is it?”
“It’s Leo Darwin…from downstairs.”
Rudolph’s face appeared above hers, in the crack of the open door, and then he said:
“Leo Darwin, from downstairs, what brings you to our door this day? Were we being too loud?” he said, pinching Violette from behind, causing her to giggle.
“Actually, I came up to invite you to a feast Virgil and I are having tonight.”
“Yea, Virgil is out right now getting supplies together.”
“We will be there,” said Rudolph. “I haven’t feasted in a while…unless you count a few minutes ago,” he said, pinching Violette again, again followed by a tiny giggle.
“Okay, well, I have a lot of people to invite so I’ll let you get back to whatever you were doing in there.”
“We’ll see you tonight,” said Rudolph, and the door closed.
* * *
Back at the pawnshop, Virgil and Tyrone were gathering supplies. They couldn’t find any metal goblets, so instead they gathered several old metal milkshake cups. While looking for metal plates to eat from Tyrone found a stack of drum cymbals and said:
“How about these cymbals? Just flip these babies upside down and you got eight plates.”
“Won’t they leak?”
“They aren’t holding water,” said Tyrone. “What else do we need?”
“I don’t know how much of this I can afford,” said Virgil.
“Here’s what I’m gonna say to you Virgil. You can use as much of this shit as you want. Just bring it back when you’re done.”
“You would do that for me?”
“Yeah, but only if I can come too. I haven’t feasted in awhile, and it might be just the thing to stir up some business again.”
“Deal. Your store can be my official feast sponsor. My friend Leo is inviting the whole street.”
“Sounds pretty big.”
“It’s getting there.”
* * *
In preparation for the feast, Virgil, Leo, and Tyrone had moved all of Virgil’s furniture into his bedroom and stacked it against the wall to clear out space in the living room for the long end-to-end tables they had dragged down from the pawnshop. They had also taken down all of Virgil’s posters along one wall, and replaced them with a shining broadsword. Tall white candles stood in corroded silver candleholders, all in a row down the middle of the table, their flames flickering. At each seat a silver milkshake cup accompanied the shining golden cymbals, all turned upside down to hold food. The rest of the table was covered in dusty plastic flowers and fake fruit, and as bountiful and elegant as everything looked, there wasn’t one piece of real food.
The three of them stood proudly, looking out over the long table, enjoying the presence of the broadsword on the wall and the feeling of ancient heroism that it seemed to cast over the living room. Observing the abundance of fake fruits, their mouths watered in anticipation of what, surely, would be the greatest feast in modern history, then Virgil said:
“People should be coming soon. How many people did you talk to Leo?”
“Almost everyone on Honeysuckle Street.”
“Good,” said Virgil. “We’ll finally get to meet everyone.”
“So what are we drinking?” asked Tyrone. “Can’t have a feast without a little booze goin’ on.”
“I’m drinking wine,” said Virgil. “Did you know they don’t sell mead? Apparently they haven’t sold it in years.”
“What’s mead?” asked Leo.
“Ya know Virgil,” said Tyrone, jabbing Virgil’s ribs with his elbow, “if you gave me some time I could have gotten you some mead. I know a guy.”
“Maybe next time,” said Virgil. “But that’s good to know.”
They had turned off the lights and were standing around drinking by candlelight when the first knock came on the door. Virgil opened it excitedly and said:
“Violette! Rudolph! Welcome to Goldstine’s Medieval Feast! Come in! Come in!”
“What are we feasting on?” asked Violette.
“I brought some meat,” said Rudolph, thrusting himself up behind her.
“There ya go,” said Virgil. “Grab a cup and take a seat, everyone else should be here soon.”
Rudolph and Violette walked inside, Rudolph behind her, pinching her butt, and Violette, hopping and giggling all the way into the living room. Another minute later there was a knock on the door, as Neal Daniels, Virgil’s neighbor from across the street, extended his hand to Virgil, and said:
“Hey Neal, I’m Virgil, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Yea, I got home from work and saw the note on my door, and was like, eh, what the hell, ya know?”
“Well, we’re glad to have you. I’ve seen you before, working in your yard, but I don’t know if we’ve ever actually talked. Come on in,” said Virgil, ushering Neal inside.
“This is a nice little place,” said Neal.
“Ya know, it’s all thanks to Goldstine’s Pawnteria, they helped out with the whole thing. Sit down, take a seat anywhere you want.”
Another knock came, and Virgil opened the door. A tall blonde, wearing all white, was standing next to a shorter man with a long beard. Virgil, his eyes stumbling over the tall blonde, and his mouth uncooperative, finally managed to invite them in, saying:
“This is where I feast my eyes, on you.”
She giggled, as the bearded man pushed by Virgil, and into the living room. Then Virgil said:
“I mean, are you here for the feast?”
“Yes,” she said. “I’m Gloria Hall, I just moved here. There was a note taped to my door, and I don’t know anyone, so I thought I’d come by.”
“That is fantastic,” said Virgil. “Come in, come in, sit down, sit down. We’ll be eating any minute now.”
* * *
Virgil looked out at the half empty table before him. Leo and Tyrone were sitting near Virgil at the head of the table. Rudolph and Violette were a few seats from Tyrone, and were constantly pinching and poking each other, Violette always giggling. Virgil’s neighbor from across the street, Neal Daniels, sat at the other end next to the bearded man, who, it was later found out, no one actually knew. In fact, he appeared, based only on looks to be homeless, and didn’t associate much with anyone. Next to them sat Gloria Hall, privately regarded by all the men in attendance, as the most beautiful girl in the world. If one were able to eavesdrop on the thoughts of any one man in the room, at the time, as their eyes lingered on her, you may have heard things like she’s a glowing angel of love, or, man, I would have to work out a lot before I had a shot at that. Virgil, standing at the head of the table, raised his metal cup, and said:
“First, I’d like to welcome everyone to Goldstine’s Medieval Feast. If you like any of the scenery around the house tonight, it’s likely available for purchase down the street at Goldstine’s Pawnteria, the gold standard in pawn shops for fifty years.”
“Thanks Virgil,” said Tyrone, tipping his milkshake cup at Virgil.
“With that out of the way, I’d like to introduce myself. For those of you who don’t know me yet, I’m Virgil Island, and this is my roommate who some of you may have already met, Leo Darwin. Next to him is Tyrone Goldstine of the aforementioned pawnshop.”
“Whoop, whoop!” shouted Tyrone, smiling and glancing around the table at everyone.
“My goal in having this feast tonight is twofold. First, I’ve developed an interest in reviving the great traditions of the past that we have forgotten about, of which feasting is one of many. Two, I plan to document all of this, along with my other future experiments, of which you all may or may not be a part of. With the help of my friends here, and with all of you, we can change the world for the better. Now let’s eat!”
“There’s no food,” said Tyrone, looking across the table. “I just realized that.”
“I realized that when I walked in,” said Neal.
“Yea, me too,” said Gloria. “I figured you guys had it all worked out.”
The man with the beard stood from the table, slammed his balled fists, and shouted:
“This is bullshit! Who has a feast without food?” and then, as the rest of the party watched in silence, he flipped over his makeshift dinner plate, tipped the empty milkshake cup onto its side and walked out, the door slamming behind him.
“Who was that?” asked Virgil.
“I’ve seen him around,” said Tyrone, “but I’m not sure where.”
“So no one actually knows that guy?” asked Virgil, looking out at the rest of the table, sitting silently. “Okay then, on to the dilemma at hand. It appears we have no food at our feast. Leo, didn’t you tell everyone to bring food?”
Leo shrugged his shoulders and said:
“I guess I forgot to mention that part.”
“Another slip-up, I suppose?” said Virgil.
“Well just because we can’t eat doesn’t mean we can’t drink,” said Tyrone, as the rest of the table became restless.
“Am I the only one that brought any meat,” said Rudolph, thrusting his hips underneath the table.
Then Tyrone stood from his chair and said:
“So we don’t have any food? So what?” said Tyrone, looking around the table. “We’re all here together, we all live on Honeysuckle Street, so let’s feast on that.”
“Or this,” said Rudolph, thrusting again.
“Boy, you never miss a chance do you?” said Leo, shaking his head.
“On that note,” said Virgil, also standing, “let’s drink!”
Inspired by Virgil’s efforts to gather everyone from Honeysuckle Street, and convinced by Tyrone to continue drinking despite no food, by the end of the short night, everyone was more smashed than Leo’s hand. The party had moved outside, and everyone was standing in Virgil’s driveway, in a sort of half circle, chit-chatting, when Rudolph, from his very tiny second floor patio, called for everyone’s attention saying:
“Since I am the only man here, I’m going to issue a challenge to anyone who thinks they can beat me!”
“In what?” shouted Leo from the driveway.
“In my native country of Greece, there was no man who could out-spit me! I was national champion every year! But this year, I challenge any of you to try and spit further than me, and prove your manhood.”
“What’s in it for us?” shouted Leo.
“If one of you childs can beat me, I’ll give you free rent for a year! If anyone can beat me, I’ll give you free rent for a year.”
“Man, this guy’s a real instigator,” said Virgil.
A few minutes later, all of the men interested in proving their manhood had gathered on the second floor patio overlooking the driveway below. Standing at the top of his second floor stairway was Rudolph, surrounded by Virgil, Leo, Tyrone, and Neal, while Violette and Gloria, having no manhood to prove, stood below everyone in the driveway. It had been decided in a short conference to let Violette serve as official judge, and in accordance with Greek rules, they would each go one at a time.
Neal had managed a pretty good first one, but Tyrone had edged him out and was currently in first place, after three spits. Virgil had went third, but overthought his spitting technique, and spit on his shirt. The last two to go were Rudolph and Leo. Rudolph decided to go first, saying:
“Why don’t I just end this boyfest right now?”
“Yeah, end this boyfest,” shouted Violette from the driveway below.
Rudolph inhaled deeply, gathering in his lungs all the air he could, and then, with the sudden sound of a blowdart, launched a loogey that doubled Tyrone’s effort. Leo, intimidated by Rudolph’s superhuman spitting abilities, decided a short running start might be the boost he needed to beat Rudolph. Gloria, standing below, said:
“This won’t be good.”
She watched as Leo backed up as far as he could on the tiny porch, then, springing forward, he spit off the stairway as hard and as far as he could. The only sound in that moment was Gloria’s gasp as Leo, his momentum carrying him forward, tumbled over the railing and fell to the concrete driveway at the same angle someone belly-flops into a pool.
Despite this extraordinary effort to win free rent for a year, Rudolph had still outspit him by several feet, at least. Lying on the pavement and bleeding, Leo looked up through smashed teeth and said:
“Did I beat him?”
“No,” said Virgil from above, “You weren’t even close.”
“I tried,” said Leo.
“We both did Leo, we both did. It’s hard to get everything right the first time.”
* * *
IN THE NEXT TEXTISODE OF 642 HONEYSUCKLE STREET:
Leo stumbles onto a dangerous new way to diet while Virgil starts a campaign called Grow Out Of Poverty (GOOP), and befriends a group of homeless men in an attempt to show them how to grow their own food, and inspire them to Grow Out Of Poverty.