I should've realized the second I laid eyes on that guy
that he would bring along trouble. But one doesn't exactly expect trouble when
one's busy with a customer and the sun's bright, cheerful, and shining through
one's store front's windows. Come to think of it, one doesn't expect someone looking
like a billion Neopoints to step into one's humble Fix-It shop.
I'm DeSoni, a small, rather unusual Yellow Aisha.
But we'll get around to that later.
At the time, late afternoon I'd say, I was examining
young Juliet's favorite doll. The little red Scorchio had popped her dolly's
arm out of socket and looked close to crying.
"Can you fix her, DeSoni?" the tiny girl pleaded,
stretching up to see what I was doing on the counter. I still find it rather
funny that anything, baby or not, is smaller than me, so I always fell into
the children's snares and did stuff for them. This was just another one of those
" 'Course sweetie! Ain't I always sayin' I can
fix anything?" I answered in my usual casual demeanor, reaching under the table
for a glue bottle and thin metal screwdriver.
Then the bell I'd nonchalantly tied to the door
to let me know whenever a customer walked in dinged, and HE walked in. Now,
I'd like to say I immediately noticed him, but I'd barely even heard the bell.
Fixing things does that to me.
He coughed politely into his hand for attention.
Keeping my eyes on the doll, I carefully maneuvered the arm back into place
with help from my trusty screwdriver, having already daBBed a few drops of glue
on the plastic joint. My only response to him was a snappy, "Just a sec'."
"There you go, Juliet. You be careful with Donna
now, ya hear?" I said, leaning over to hand the little Scorchio her dolly.
Juliet happily snatched Donna from my paw. Cuddling
the doll, she reached up to hand me the 5 Neopoints I knew were her allowance.
"No, darling. Keep your candy money. But," I
lowered my voice mock-dangerously, "don't think I'll do another free job for
you in the near future!" she giggled.
HE coughed again, and this time I spared him
a glance. The glance quickly became a stare as my eyes drifted over the suit
so resembling what one of my previous owners would've called "sophisticated."
"Uh, Juliet? You really should go, umm, play
or something..." I said, stumbling over my words and staring at the gorgeous
suit. Fine knit, tailored fit, white-collar and shirt, black jacket and tie...
He was an Electric Buzz, and reeked of Neopoints
from his shiny top hat, down that sophisticated suit, past his diamond and sapphire
rings, to his expensive black loafers, one of which was impatiently tapping.
"Err, sorry about the wait, sir," I apologized,
jerking my eyes off the beautiful rich clothing. "How can I help you?"
It was at this point that Juliet, seeing I wouldn't
be able to talk to her, said, in one of those loud voices that only happy little
girls seem to have, "Bye!" and cheerfully skipped out the shop.
The Buzz waited for her to leave, the casually
walked over to the door. In one smooth motion, he flicked the lock closed and
pulled the blinds over the large windows.
"Wha—HEY!" I shouted, leaping over the short
counter. "What do you think you're—"
He grabbed me by my shoulders and slammed me
against the counter, effectively shutting me up and stunning me in one movement.
Let's just leave it that I never would have dreamed that such a suit hid such
obviously, I could tell from my position, huge muscles, but then again I'm no
"Shut-up, you stupid kid! I want to talk to Mister
–" I couldn't help but notice the emphasis, "DeSoni, the owner of this junk-heap!
Where is he? Now, kid!”
It occurred to me this self-centered, rude, creep
of a guy was among the many whom, upon seeing my youthful appearance, automatically
took me for a shop assistant. What didn't occur to me was that lying might,
just might, be a very good idea.
"I'm DeSoni!" I growled angrily, trying my best
to wretch my small frame out of his grasp.
He looked me up and down, and I could see myself
in his eyes. Youngish, very short, Yellow male Aisha wearing old torn jeans
and a stained T-shirt. Even for an Aisha, I'm terrifically tiny. As in, the
Aisha thieves look normal-size next to me. And I knew, he could tell I was an
obvious weakling from my pathetically feeble attempts to break away.
"You have got to be joking," stated the rich
Buzz, dropping his thick electrically-striped claws off of me.
"This is my shop! And you better just buzz off
before I call the cops!"
I was now getting up to my hind-legs, but he
simply shoved me over onto my back. He was looking at my undoubtedly red face
and seemed to be somewhat revising his not-too-complimentary opinion of me.
This time when I tried to get up he didn't stop
me. It didn't make much difference, though. He was still so close and huge that
I had to look straight up to see his face.
"I've got a job for you, DeSoni," he said.
Kinda late for that, ain't it? But I couldn't
exactly say that. "Sorry, mister," I said, trying to squirm away from him, "but
I really don't need any more jobs right now."
He moved so that he blocked my way, which sadly
didn't require much moving on his part. More of a shifting of his weight. I
was beginning to sincerely hope I would get a visit anytime soon. No one came
to my rescue.
The Electric Buzz grabbed my right forearm to
stop me from trying to escape the other way. "The job pays very well."
"Maybe you didn't hear me, bud! I-don't-need-any-more-jobs!
And, if you'd bother to look around yourself, you'd be able to tell that I neither
need nor want NP!"
There was a long silence. Finally he frowned,
suddenly snatched both my two earstalks and lifted me straight off the ground.
Needless to say, I yelped. Not only was the experience
humiliating, it was downright painful. I shut my eyes against the embarrassing
tears welling up behind the lids.
"Maybe I should make myself clearer," whispered
the Buzz threateningly. "If you don't agree to take my job, you're gonna need
all the NP you can get, you know, for hospital bills, lawyers, bail, repairs,
your business going down the tubes and all."
I didn't even dare gulp; hurt too much. The pain
that had started as an explosion in my brain flowed down my spine like a hot
strip of lightning embedded under my flesh. (Okay, okay, I know that sounds
dramatic, but you try it and see how you explain the feeling of drop-dead fiery
Needless also to say, the idea of squirming out
of his claws was not even an option at that time.
He dropped me, again, on the floor. This time
I landed flat on my back, and I didn't bother to move. For one thing, I couldn't.
For another, it wouldn't make any difference. Except making things worse, if
that was even possible.
"So," said the Buzz, in a disgustingly superior
presumptuous voice, "will you accept my job?"
"Ya," I managed to gasp, not daring to attempt
a nod of my head. I could still see fireworks in front of my half-shut eyes.
"Good." I could hear the smile in his supercilious
looking-down-on-the-whole-world tone. "I'll pick you up tomorrow. Don't ask
when. Don't ask where I'll be taking you. And do not," he paused to add the
some very dramatic emphasis, "do not tell anyone of my visit." He leaned even
closer to my half-conscious self. "And don't think I can’t do worse to you than
what I've already described."
"Okay," I mumbled, staring up at the roof, thinking
it needed a repair job and all I needed was a trowel and some plaster. If it
were to rain everything would be soaked. Maybe I could even paint it a pretty
pale blue or something...
"What?" demanded the Buzz, though I knew he must've
"Yessir," I said, wishing he would just go already
and let me get on with my life.
I got my wish. Unfortunately, my head was in
his foot's way as he left.
Everything went from colorful explosions to blackness
When I came to, the first things I saw were two huge emerald green eyes. It
took a second for the owner's name to occur to me: Juliet. Then I belatedly
remembered fixing her dolly earlier, and HIM...
The little Red Scorchio smiled uneasily as I
groaned and shifted my weight.
"Mom!" she called. "Tereasa! DeSoni's waking
Almost instantly, Janet, the girls' mom, and
Tereasa, the older sister, were at my side.
"It's... okay," I mumbled as I unsteadily pulled
myself to all fours, then onto my rear paws.
Aware that my earstalks were drooping in my face,
I impatiently shoved them back.
Hearing a gasp, I turned to facing Janet, the
mom. "What's wrong?" I asked, leaning on the low counter to support my weak,
slightly trembling body.
Her pretty (in a sort of lizard-y way) Scorchio
face was rather pale as her emerald green eyes met mine. "How could I not have
noticed?" she inquired sadly.
Tereasa was just staring at me, in a total phase-out
way teens have when they're intent on something, so I turned to little Juliet
for some sense. She seemed more curious then anything.
"DeSoni? Why are those long ears of yours all
Now I was the one staring, at her. What? My earstalks?
What about them? And, how bad?
The bright, and sometimes eerily intuitive, Tereasa
pulled a mirror off one of my over-crowed worktables and handed it to me.
I looked in the mirror, ready for the worse.
The noise I made must have been something between a groan and a sigh. Yah, my
earstalks had been bruised, but not too badly. My hearing probably wouldn't
be so absolutely perfect for a while, but I could handle it.
"What happened?" demanded Tereasa.
I pretended not to hear. Putting down the mirror,
I asked a question of my own that was beginning to bug me. "Why are you all
Janet answered. "We came over to thank you for
fixing Juliet's doll. And, umm, to invite you to dinner with us."
I smiled, knowing the reason for Janet's invites
to dinner. Usually it was to introduce me to one of the many charming young
girls she sees in her line of work as a nurse.
I was about to ask who the new girl was when
sly teenager Tereasa interrupted. "You're changing, or should I say 'avoiding',
the subject, DeSoni! How'd your ears get all bruised? What happened after Juliet
left? She already told us about the classically out-of-place Electric Buzz."
"What's this?" I said, trying to make light of
the situation and not doing to well. "A cross examination?"
"You're still not answering," accused Tereasa,
I took in, then slowly let out, a long breath.
Looking at my paws, I tried to get the Buzz's threats out of my head. But I
couldn't. The delivery had been a tad too seriously given. And I couldn't chance
anything happening to this sweet Scorchio family. They've tried for so long
to be my friends. The closest thing I had to a family... I couldn't chance anything
bad happening to them after they’d taken me in as a renter, no questions asked.
I sighed, and began fingering my bruised ears
again. "It's nothing," I said, trying to make light of the situation. "Besides,"
I added, feeling that things were getting too serious, "I've got two more ears."
I wiggled my two short, feline ears. Juliet giggled and Tereasa looked annoyed
Janet sighed and pulled a folding chair from
a pile of scratched wooden furniture I'd been requested to repair and polish
for a wedding anniversary. Oh well, chances were I wouldn’t have time for that
in a while.
"Sit," she commanded, in her best mother/nurse
voice, pointing at the chair's seat. "At least let me look at those bruised
ears, DeSoni. I want to reassure myself, as you don’t seem to care, that nothing
is seriously wrong."
I obeyed, of course. She carefully handled the
earstalks, delicately probing them with the tips of her claws. She eventually
came to the relieving conclusion that nothing serious was wrong.
Glancing at the girls to make sure they were
still occupied, which they certainly were with all the hidden treasures and
junk I left around the place, Janet leaned closely to me and whispered," I suppose
I should make it clear that those ears of yours, well, their bruises are in
the shape of claws, not Scorchio claws, nor Draik. Buzz claws."
I smiled nervously and whispered back. "Do you,
just possibly, have anything to cover them with? Hats itch, and frankly, I'm
not that partial to turbans—"
Janet laughed quietly. "I've got just the thing!
Let me get my purse." She reached into a corner and snagged a gigantic bag,
her purse, which more resembled a large Nurse's kit. Unsnapping it, she pulled
out a small jar of yellow goop and handed it to me.
My face must’ve been the absolute picture of
scepticism, because Janet laughed as I took the jar and apprehensively opened
it. “It may look like yellow paste,” she chuckled, “but I assure you it’s not.
It’s a bruise balm with a cover-up tint added. Normally used on ladies, but
don’t worry, it isn’t scented.”
Naturally I was very happy with the “unscented”
information, and I made an effort to straighten my face as I pulled out the
mirror again. With its aid I soon managed to smear the paste on presentably
and my earstalks looked normal again. Too bad they didn’t feel normal. Oh well,
the twinge was fading already thanks to Janet’s magnificent bruise balm.
I turned to Janet and was startled to see her
chewing her bottom lip worriedly, and the look in her eyes betrayed her concern
for my well-being. “Anything else?” I prompted reluctantly.
“Well,” she looked up so her eyes met mine, “you
also have a sizeable lump beneath your small left ear, and umm—” She glanced
at her girls again in the loving fretful way only mothers can do before continuing,
“be careful with those longer ears of yours. I don’t know what’s going on, but
I do know how very, very sensitive Aisha earstalks are. They already show signs
of severe strain.” Her voice suddenly grew very serious in such a manner I had
no doubt she knew I had been lifted by them. “If something like ‘whatever happened
earlier’ occurs again, especially anytime soon, they will be permanently damaged.
Maybe surgery could correct it, maybe it couldn’t. Please be careful about them.”
I have no doubt my yellow face paled several
shades. I was terrified. My two long, elegant Aisha ears damaged beyond repair?
I’ve worked so hard to fit in to the community, to be a real Neopian and earn
my keep as any good citizen. I couldn’t imagine living handicapped in such a
way that was sure to alienate me from anyone I ever met…
Janet placed a heavy red claw on my shoulder.
“You know you can always come to us for help, DeSoni. We’re always here for
Unable to meet those motherly, sincere green
eyes pleading me to allow her to help, I stared down at my back paws. She wanted
to help, but I couldn’t accept it.
“I’m sorry, Janet. It’s something I have to deal
with myself.” It was hard, but I pulled myself together and met her eyes.
“You just be careful.” She looked at her two
sweet daughters, and then met my eyes again. “I don’t think the girls could
handle it if anything happened to you. They’re always talking about Uncle DeSoni,
no matter that you aren’t even slightly related to us. You’re family, and nothing
will change that.”
Nothing? I really wished I could bring myself
to believe that.
I sighed and looked at the clock. “We still have
time. What do you say if I close up shop early and we go out to dinner like
Juliet and Tereasa heard this and looked at their
mom with big, sappy eyes, all but begging to go. (Though I knew from experience
if she said no they’d actually stoop to begging.)
Janet laughed. “Sure, why not?”
Yes, why not?
To be continued...
Thank you for getting through the first part, and please accept my apologies
that it's a little slow. Trust me on this, though, it gets GOOD about part three!
Neomail me for questions, comments, compliments, whatever!