This is a comedy. Some would say it is 'doomed' to be a comedy. But things could change. There is a far-fetched plot device in the future that could change that. But right now, poor Marty is doomed to be comical. Go ahead. Laugh. He'll love you for it.
But stop reading this for hints and get cracking on the real text. Because otherwise, you'll get left behind. I am going to be writing 50,000 words this November alone. That's my challenge. Your challenge is to READ 50,000 words in a month.
Marty stands at his window like a man watching the circus move into the house next door. And in his mind, this is not far from the truth. But instead of being amazed and intimidated by the strong man, he is sorely depressed. And instead of being entertained by the juggling monkeys, he is actually rather pissed by their cheerful countenance; so pissed in fact, that he finds nothing funny about their rude pranks, and he would much rather watch them eat the fleas from each other’s back than to see them juggle.
But before this metaphor can bring us dangerously close to Marty’s sharply cynical mind, it must be made clear that a circus is not actually moving into the house next door. In fact, to the casual eye, the eccentric furniture and oddly shaped boxes could easily be explained with the word ‘interesting’. But over the years, Marty has become a merciless judge, spending his days scruntinizingly dissecting interesting to reveal its true identity. And this highly honed skill has been developed for his own survival. You see, Marty is allergic to interesting.
Interesting, when exposed to Marty, will undoubtedly lead to peculiar, odd, entertaining, and before he can reach for a thesaurus to get more in depth, these selective adjectives will team up to create comedy. And Marty has a rather bad relationship with comedy.
He lives in the plainest of cookie-cutter houses of suburban hell, just four lefts through the maze from the great cheese, and down the street from the bland cardboard box apartment complex. However, he chose this house for a very stringent reason. It was uninteresting. It was boring. It was bland. And best of all, it lacked all comedy.
And now there is a four foot tall glass cuckoo-clock full of shiny balls being precariously pushed up the neighbor’s driveway by two wide-eyed and grunting movers.
Marty is a portrait of consternation. And even though his face must surely be a mask of Death, he feels that he is on the set of Big Binky’s Children Show being taught the ABC’s in Spanish by a stuffed banana and a puppet shaped like a goat. Such is Marty’s life that he is embraced by such explicit metaphors.
But there is a reason. There is always a reason. There is always a beginning. And Marty’s beginning goes something like this…
Jake puts his eye to the hole in the plank where a knot has been poked out by a hunting knife. He winks one eye closed, and pushes his fat face against the wood to spy across the lively fairgrounds. He gasps, and swallows tightly as he spins to report to his anxious friends.
“I see ‘er!” he says in a voice of awe.
Timothy shoves him aside with an elbow and pushes up against the spy hole. But he is too lengthy, and Billy pulls him away after only a second.
As the young boys reconcile after having gotten a fair chance at the spy hole, Billy hisses with excitement.
“I ‘eard she’s a witch!”
“She ain’t,” protests little Jim. “I seen ‘er with Big Corey.”
“Ooo,” croons Timothy. “Big Corey is her boyfriend!”
The boys all burst into a nervous jitter of laughter, but Billy brings them back to the dangerous subject. “But did ya see the way she stares with those dark eyes? I betcha she can see through to your soul!”
“Don’t be a sissy,” weans Timothy. “It’s just an act. She just wants everyone to think she’s a powerful sorserrarce…”
“Sorcerer, you dummy,” says Jack. “And that’s not even what she is. She just looks at funny cards and reads palms.”
“But then she can tell the future!” exclaims Billy. “And that’s no good cause then she’ll prophesize your death and put a curse on you!”
“Well, whatever she is, I think she’s pretty,” murmurs little Jim.
Billy has a conniption. “Pretty?” he cries. “She’s stunning! Striking! So dark and attractive that she’ll lure you into a trap and then eat you! She’s a dark mistress!”
Jake frowns. “I don’t like the way you’re talking about her. My mam knows her.”
“Well,” Billy laughs, “Why don’t you go and prove me wrong.”
“How?” asks Jake.
Billy gives an evil smile, and Timothy gives a shriek of glee. All the boys lean in close. And then the quietest of them all, little ten-year-old Marty, is pulled from the spy hole where he had been watching the young lady. He is pulled into the huddle.
“Okay listen up you pansies,” Timothy says, “Billy’s gonna go over the rules to the dare.”
“A dare?” asks Jake, his voice shaking.
“Yes, a dare! Why? You scared?” demands Billy.
“No!” returns Jake. “But couldn’t we do…you know…a match?”
Billy blinks. Then he adds to his smile a hint of mischief. “A match it is,” he drawls. “Whoever loses has to do the dare.”
“What’s the dare?” asks Jake.
“Go on. Tell us,” says Timothy.
Billy smiles. “Well,” he says. “I think she’s a witch. Jim says she’s nice ‘n’ pretty cause he’s seen her with Big Corey where she acts all human and friendly.” He sneers at this and then continues. “But I say we find out for sure. So one of us, the loser, has to go down there and ask for her to read their palm. Then they’s got to say something or do something that’ll reveal her true identity. If she isn’t all cold and witchy, then it should be possible to make her laugh or…even more…blush.”
Everyone shivers. Making a girl blush is like stealing gum from a candy store. It’s a thrill, but you never know whether to feel guilty, humiliated, or cool. And no one in the group can even imagine making her blush. That would be like stealing from the cash register. You either feel like the coolest con man, or you feel like a sleaze ball thief.
“So’s to make it clear,” says Timothy, “We gotta make her laugh?”
“Or die trying,” Billy adds, “Cause if she is a witch…”
The boys stare at one another in tense silence. Their eyes are round and their breathing shallow yet loud. Then they slowly part from their huddle and dangle their hands into their pockets.
“Marty? You in on this or are you too chicken?” asks Timothy.
Marty frowns. “Ya, I’m in. O’ course. I’ve even seen her laugh before.”
“Well,” Billy says. “You just wait.”
And then the tops are sent spinning and the boys are engaged in a heated dual of cries and cheers. The first top to fall is the loser. The match lasts a long while, but Marty’s little top is caught in the middle of the fray, and it is soon sent wildly careening into the thick of the grass at their feet. It falls silent, and the remaining tops are left to spin like a background whir to the racing in Marty’s mind.
His lips feel dry, his eyes wide, and his legs weak as the others slowly turn their eyes on him. But they are more sympathetic than victorious, and they send him on his duty with solemn words of good luck. He leaves the shelter of their fort more like a prisoner to execution than a soldier to battle, but his heart is still clinging to hope.
He feels his small feet navigating through the animated crowd, bringing him closer and closer to the small, dark, black tent where she sits waiting. And then he can even see her. Her midnight black hair tumbles down over her silky blue dress, and her smooth, dark skin causes her blue eyes to seem even deeper and even brighter. How could Marty even think to approach her?