|Buster is Afraid of Open Spaces
Author: XMarisolX PM
...And other reasons why the Bluths don't celebrate Earth Day. Written for the 2010 Yuletide Treasure Challenge held at ArchiveOfOurOwn. Excerpt: "I've got it," Gob announced as he arrived unceremoniously into the model home. "This is the answer to all my child-support prayers," Gob said. "So," Michael asked, "you've been praying about this issue?"Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor - Words: 2,008 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 6 - Published: 01-03-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6620505
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Buster is afraid of open spaces (and other reasons why the Bluths don't celebrate Earth Day)
Characters: The Bluths… (sigh) the Bluths
Word Count: 1895
George Michael came downstairs one Saturday morning to find himself alone in the house.
"Where is everyone?" he asked out loud to no one in particular, only to hear a voice from below.
George Michael discovered Tobias, sprawled out on the living room floor wearing nothing but a pair of cut-off shorts.
"At… work?" George Michael asked. "No one told me. What's the special occasion?"
"It's the heat George Michael. They've all gone to where there is air conditioning."
"Why didn't anyone tell me?" George Michael asked.
"They didn't want to wake you," Tobias answered.
George Michael regarded his uncle with some confusion. "And why didn't you go?"
"An actor must suffer for his craft, young nephew," Tobias explained. "There is no substitute for experience in the theatrical arts, and—"
George Michael interrupted. "Have you found your cell phone yet?"
"No, and I'm waiting for the ad agency to contact me in regards to the voice-over role." Sluggishly, he pulled himself from the floor, completely drenched in sweat. "I'm pretty confident I won the part. My enthusiasm for Robinson's jock straps was apparent to all in the room. If you'd like, I can replicate my routine for y—"
"No, thanks, I'm, going to um, go and, um… go and catch up with my dad."
"In the words of the bard," Tobias said, before returning to the floor, "as you wish."
With that, George Michael quickly got dressed and made the three-mile bike ride to Bluth Industries. He headed to his dad's office. He ran into his Aunt on the way.
"George Michael," she said. "You look… wet."
"Yeah, I had to bike here and it's really hot outside," he explained. "And Tobias said hi," he added.
"He did?" she asked surprised
"No, actually he didn't. I don't know why I said that," George Michael said. Lindsay shrugged and kept walking.
"George Michael!" Michael called. "So glad you could join us. I had no idea everyone was going to show up here. At an actual place of employment." He took a look around. "It's shocking really."
"Yeah," George Michael said. "I was shocked too when Tobias told me."
"Speaking of child support," Gob said, appearing from nowhere.
George Michael looked confused. "We weren't, actu—"
"Steve's mother has this idea that I owe her some."
"Some what?" Michael asked.
"Child support," Gob replied, snapping. "Keep up. And she's claiming I owe her a lot actually."
"Well considering you haven't given her any and your son is eighteen—"
"Twenty," Michael corrected himself. "Wait. Isn't he still in high school?"
"Yeah?" Gob said. "And what's your point?"
"I have none. Regardless, there's a good chance she's right about you owing her something for all those years that you shirked your responsibility."
"Michael, she's gunning for $40,000."
"Whoa," George Michael said.
"Hold on, Gob," Michael began. "Surely there must be some mistake."
"There's no mistake, Michael. And um, heads up, we have a serious cash flow issue here."
"Um, replace the word 'we' with 'I' and you're a lot closer to the truth."
"Michael this is no time for grammar lessons. We've gotta figure this out."
"Again with the 'we'."
"Well, actually," Gob said, a statement that never ended well, "I thought we could charge it to the company."
"How on earth can that be charged to the company?" Michael exclaimed, exasperated. "Am I the only one who recalls that our father did time in a federal penitentiary for playing fast and furious with company money? No. Absolutely not."
"Well, considering I'm the oldest child and Steve would thus be the heir of the company in the case that Dad wouldn't be able to run the company anymore—"
"Let me stop you right there. Dad can't run the company anymore because we have no clue where he is, and this isn't a monarchy, it's a business. Therefore, Steve isn't the heir of something that doesn't even belong to you to begin with. This is not a company issue and therefore, you made your bed, Gob. Go lie in it."
"Wow Michael," Gob said, disgust written on his face. "I knew you were low, but I would never—"
"Save it for the family judge," Michael said.
"I've got it!" Gob announced as he arrived unceremoniously into the model home. "This is the answer to all my child-support prayers."
"So you've been praying about this issue?" Michael asked.
"The Orange County Association for Performing Magicians is offering a grant to the best person in Orange County."
"That doesn't… that doesn't sound right," Michael said walking up to Gob and taking the form from his hand.
"Absolutely fantastic," Tobias said, rising in a dramatic fashion. "I am no magician, but it is certainly within my acting range to,"—he bowed— "portray one." He walked up to Gob, hand outstretched. "There is no competitor I would more prefer."
"Shame," Michael said. "Because Gob, Tobias… this has nothing to do with magic. This is a grant award from the Orange County Association for Pollution Management. It's an ecological organization and the award goes to Orange County citizens, businesses and non-profit organizations that have done the most to preserve," he looked down at the form again, "like, the environment or something." He handed it back to Gob and walked towards the kitchen.
"I'm in," Lindsay announced, rising from the couch like a zombie from the dead. "Ecology has been my life's work."
"You do know that work means… actually doing work, right?" Michael quipped.
"How could I have misread this so badly?" Gob mumbled to himself.
"Michael," Lindsay continued. "I know you ridicule the charitable work that Tobias and I have done over the years, but I am nothing but proud of the causes we've championed and I won't tolerate your mockery anymore. I want to be a part of this ecological effort, and I will."
"And you need the money."
"It certainly wouldn't hurt anything," she added with a faux solemnity. Tobias approached her, draping an arm around her back.
"Once again, my dear, you've had a true moment of brilliance. I'm in."
"Hold on, just a minute," Michael said. "This is not some charity cocktail where can you wine and dine and BS your way into 40,000 dollars."
"Forty-thousand dollars?!" Tobias and Lindsey repeated in unison.
"That part I read right," Gob said.
"Yes, the award for an individual is $40,000 and, for a non-profit, $100,000 THAT you can only use to advance the cause. This isn't a blank check, guys."
"You think we don't know that, Michael? I know charities like the back of my hand," she said, waving her hand. "How much charity work have you done?"
"Lindsay, let's… not."
"Why not? It's a simple question, Michael."
"Look, Lindsay," he shot back. "Every time I sign one of my employee's checks, I'm doing charity work, okay?"
"I'm in!" Gob blurted.
"In… love?" Michael asked.
"No. I'm in. I want in on this, this…," he looked down at the paper, "Orange County Association for Performing Management."
"Geez, Gob. It's Preservation Management." Michael took a bite from his sandwich. "You know what, you guys? I'm really disheartened that when you guys look at something like this, all you see are dollar signs. I would hope that somebody in this family would be motivated by real concern about the environment."
"Fine then," Lindsay said, approaching Michael. "Why can't it be you?"
"Yeah," Tobias said, piping up. "Why don't you enter in the business category? The Bluth Company could really make a difference in this world, and it sounds like a nice solution to some of your money woes."
Michael froze in a moment of realization. "You know, Tobias, you may be right. This would be a fine opportunity for me to polish off the family's damaged reputation while making some headway fiscally." He turned to Gob. "How much does the business win again?"
Gob flipped to the backside of the page. "A plaque on City Hall."
Michael sighed. "And then again, I have a company to run—"
"Oh no you don't, Mister!" Lindsay cried. "You give us all this crap about community service and then bail when there's no cash in it."
Michael waved her away with his hand. "There's no bailing, Lindsay." He paused, concession written on his face. "Okay, fine. I can see how it looks that way, but really, decisions about how resources will be best used have to be made all the time. It's not personal, it's just business."
"Oh," Gob added, "the winning company's president will also be Grand Marshall of and have a float in the Earth Day parade."
Michael's eyes lit up. "I'm in."
Lindsay looked confused. "Being in a parade is the better prize to you?"
Lindsay, however, didn't know that back in the third grade Michael had been chosen to be in the float in the Annual Orange County Elementary School Parade for winning the Good Citizen Award. Buster's fear of crowds had meant that Lucille had sewn blinders to the side of his baseball cap, part of an ensemble that was custom-made to match her own baseball costume. Buster's singular line of view had caused him to walk right into Crenshaw Mathers, the Grand Marshall of the parade, and the man became so enamored with Buster's little get up, he mistook Buster for Michael and hoisted the little boy onto the float along with his "adorable mother." Michael returned from buying cotton candy to discover that he had missed his long-anticipated parade debut. He'd never gotten over it.
"Lindsay, I'm going to win that parade ride, and I'm going to love it, so you can just—"
Gob interrupted suddenly. "The judge on this thing is… Carrie Montgomery."
"Yeah, and who is that?" Tobias asked; it was the same question everyone else was thinking.
Gob went white. "I've made a huge mistake."
During one of Gob's misguided attempts to pay back a father that he never could please, Gob had decided to sleep with Carrie Montgomery, the CEO of Welkin Industries and the Bluth Company's chief competitor. Only that "Carrie" was actually "Kerry"—a man—a fact that Gob found out during a profanity laced rant outside of a hotel room in San Bernardino, the specifics of which are unfit for print. In his humiliation, Montgomery had taken out a class action lawsuit against the Bluth Company on charges of ecological malpractice and reckless waste disposal. Charges that, unbeknownst to Montgomery, were actually true. Panicking, George Sr. had given Montgomery the proceeds from the sale of an Iraqi model home and a Saddam decoy (for his "personal" use) in exchange for the charges being dropped, and Montgomery was never heard from again.
In the end, Gob's sexual indiscretions had once again cost the family dearly, this time, the chance to win money or be in the Earth Day parade. But all was not lost.
"Dad, Ann won Ms. Orange County Association for Pollution Management and is going to have her own float. I was wondering if you could give me a ride to the parade."
"Ann, my girlfriend."
"Right. Egg. So, she'll be working?"
"Well, she's in the pageant. She won, actually."
"Yeah. Why are you surprised?"
"No reason." Michael said as he grabbed his keys. "No reason at all."