Once a week, Mom drags me along for a trip into town. The usual stops are Montgomery Ward, Hilltop Market, and either Bonanza or Captain D's. She clips coupons for both places, and we pick the best deal. I end up eating for free almost every time. I don't mind going unless she has a doctor's appointment because those waiting rooms are dull, especially for a kid who wants to run around outside. The best part of our weekly supply run is when she lets me choose a couple of comics. Spider-Man, Captain America, and Batman are my all-time favorites and in that order. She doesn't mind purchasing them for me as long as I'm reading something.
I noticed some Sea Monkeys in the toy section on one of our excursions and pleaded with my mother. It wasn't easy, but I convinced her to buy them after explaining how rare these animals are. They'd first come to my attention in the back of a Tarzan comic, and I was captivated by the picture of the underwater family hanging out by the castle. Now that I've dumped the packet into the aquarium, it's a matter of time before I introduce myself to the cute creatures.
Each day after returning from Cumberland Heights Elementary school, I check on my miniature friends. I'd learned about a week in that they weren't going to look anything like the picture. Regardless their lives rested in my hands, and I was not about to let them down. The food ran out, so I had to get creative. The freshwater springs in the river bottom provided an all-you-can-eat algae buffet, so we are good to go. They're getting pretty large after several weeks, but I'm still waiting for them to hop in their aquatic automobiles and drive around the tiny town they'll eventually build.
Most days, a Spidey comic stows away in my Trapper Keeper during school. Mrs. Allen doesn't like to see me reading them during class, and she's kept a close eye on me ever since I licked all of those erasers and stuck them to my face. It looked like I had some weird intergalactic chickenpox outbreak right out of Star Trek when I removed them. We paid a visit to Mr. Mitler, the principal, and he told her the circles on my forehead were punishment enough this time around. It probably wouldn't have been a big deal if most of the class hadn't copied me. At least no one made fun because they were all dealing with the same predicament.
Most Friday's Mrs. Andrews, the PE teacher, lets us play battle ball the first half, and then we hit the playground afterward. It's the greatest game ever invented, without a doubt, and any wounds give the survivors bragging rights for a solid day or two. One time, I wound up, ready to release my wrath on Kent. He was like a sitting duck in my scope, and just before shots were fired, I was blindsided right in the face by James. PHOONTKK! The round rubber sphere smashes my mug in and shoots upward toward the gym ceiling. You could have heard a pin drop while the onlookers waited to see if I was still breathing. By the time the dodgeball fell back to earth, I had shown signs of life, and the game continued.
I'd scheduled some light reading on the swingset for the second half of PE class. My copy of Amazing Spider-Man was rolled up in my back pocket, ready to be explored. The cover had a picture of one of my favorite supervillains, the Lizard. Some of the other kids gathered around to check out my literature of the day, and a conversation broke out. The slippery green creature reminded Kent of a story he'd heard about an alligator in the sewers of New York.
(Listen To The Story Here)
With a sincere look, Kent said, "Yeah, somebody flushed the reptile down the toilet when it was a baby. Now it comes up through people's floors and eats them." Barney followed with, "It ate something radioactive and grew into a giant monster." And finally, James gave a little insight, "You won't catch me using the bathroom if I ever go to New York." A heated discussion evolved when Patricia and Kim walked by and told us we shouldn't believe everything we hear. James argued that girls were not experts on radioactive sewer creatures, so there was no need to take them seriously. While this made sense, I was skeptical because I figured the guys were getting me back for that last Cub Scout meeting at Kent's house.
All of the guys were in the bathroom trying to summon the Bell Witch. Being the sneaky practical jokester that I am, I banged on the door and ran off. They screamed and made a speedy exit, almost breaking the doorway. They would have probably beaten me if my dad hadn't already arrived to pick me up. So I'm guessing Kent's accusations are his attempt at trying to frighten me. James and Barney are probably both in on it, so there is no way I'm falling for his tall tale of giant underground sewage-dwelling demons.
The conversation switched gears as we moved to the monkey bars. Kiss was always the hot topic, and the true fans wore t-shirts emblazoned with the epic rock band at least once a week. You'd often find us standing around to see who had a tongue most like Gene Simmons. It got crazier than ever after Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park came out on television. Some guys dressed like their favorite band members for Halloween, but I usually stick with Spidey.
After a long day of ball dodging and trying to stay on Mrs. Allens' good side, I was eager to get home to check on my Sea Monkeys. All of the time and effort were beginning to pay off. If you look close enough, you can see their miniature arms and legs swaying in the water. It's fun to spy on them as they swim to the top for a bite of food. I often wonder what they're thinking and if I'm disturbing the daily routine with my giant eavesdropping eyeballs.
Busting through the front door, I plop my books down on the kitchen table and check the window seal for my aquarium. It's not there! Maybe I moved it to my bedroom and forgot? The cold truth punched me in the face as hard as that stupid ball James threw at me.
"Mom, have you seen my Sea Monkeys?" I asked as she gave me 'the look.'
"Yep, you left them in the kitchen, and they were stinking up the whole house," she confessed.
"Where are they now?" I demanded.
"I flushed them."
"They had to go, Chris; I flushed them down the toilet." Pulling the comic from my back pocket, I throw it on the floor in front of her and say, "Look! Momma, you have no idea what you've done. We are all doomed." She sent me to my room.