AN: What I am working on in this ch is actually less dialog, more action (I find I am man "all talk, no action" kind of author) – so tell me how I did. Oh, and this ch had more swearing than usually mainly cuz I am putting off studying for my calculus exam which is tomorrow, so I'm stressing a little. Damn procrastination. And in conclusion, I own Hey Arnold, and every one of you that has written an HA fanfic will be getting their court summons soon. Heheh. Just kidding!!! Enjoy!
Chapter 3: Revelations
"I'll do whatever the fuck I want!" Helga slammed the door. Up and down the street curious eyes turned towards the source of disruption. In exasperation, Helga stormed down the street. A little, old lady who was walking her miniature poodle toward Helga clucked her tongue as they passed. The dynamic blonde spun around on the woman, "Fuck off!" she cursed.
So, the conversation with Big Bob hadn't gone quite as smoothly as she had hoped. She hadn't expected him to like that she wasn't going to be working for him this summer, but she hadn't thought he would get quite so mad.
"We had an agreement, Hel-ga!" Big Bob enunciated the name – after all, Olga, who was teaching orphans in Latvia computer skills, would never do this to her father. "You can't back out on an agreement!"
"You were going to pay me a penny an hour. Why would I want to stick around for robbery like that - doi!" Helga had no problem matching her father's volume, tone for tone.
"That's bullshit, girly. How can you treat your own father like this? That's what I want to know!"
At this point Helga stormed out. She ran up to her room, pulled together some clothing, and rushed out the door, subsequently terrorizing an entire neighbourhood and a little, old lady and her poodle.
Why does everyone have to be so fucking stupid. Helga wondered as she half ran, half thundered down the street towards Phoebe's house. Her best friend would be willing to put her up for a few days just until Big Bob calmed down…that or hell froze over. She'd take whichever came first. Silently, she congratulated herself on having already transferred the tuition funds into her own bank account. There lay Big Bob's first mistake, performing his end of the bargain before she did hers. Serves him right, she rationalized. He could learn an important business lesson from this experience.
Arriving at Phoebe's house, she rang the doorbell furiously, perhaps holding it a bit to long. From inside the house she heard Phoebe's voice, more ferocious than usual, "I'll be there in a moment!"
The door was opened by the little Asian girl. "Helga!" she exclaimed in surprise. She looked like that wasn't exactly who she had been expecting. "Umm, Helga, come in, I guess." Uncertainly, she stepped aside, allowing her best friend, who was still fuming, step inside.
"Know who's a prick?" Helga began, psyching herself up for a long tirade, "Big Bob, that's who. He's such a fucking prick. And Miriam? She's no better…" Helga threw down her hastily packed bag, pausing in the middle of her rant, "Pheebs, do you have any sodas?" Phoebe wordlessly pointed towards the kitchen. "Great, thanks." Helga started up again, berating her family while at the same time searching through the fridge for a drink. She stopped suddenly, looking back at Phoebe who was standing silently in the doorway. "Are you listening to me?" At no response, Helga walked over to her friend. "Hello? Earth to Phoebe?"
A wrenching cry stung the air as Phoebe collapsed, suddenly, sinking to the floor. She covered her face in her hands, entire body shaking. Helga dropped the soda, kneeling down. "Phoebe? Pheebs? What's going on? Are you okay?" Big Bob problems forgotten for the moment, she grabbed hold of Phoebe's hands, peeling them off her face. "What's wrong?" she repeated the question in earnest.
Finally, seated on the couch, Phoebe's sobs subsided. "I feel so stupid," she whispered in a tiny voice. With a little prompting from Helga, she continued. "I was expecting Simon, he was supposed to come over this afternoon sometime."
"Oh," Helga quickly exclaimed, "well, if you want, I can leave for a bit. If that's what this is all about."
Phoebe clawed at Helga, begging her not to leave. "Don't go, it's not that. Don't go." She paused, taking a shaky breath, tears threatening to start again. "Helga," another pause, "Simon's been cheating on me."
The words knocked the breath out of Helga. She was vaguely aware that her jaw had dropped five feet. "What? You must be kidding. Not Simon Kneale." Phoebe nodded. "I'll beat the shit out of him them. I'll beat the fucking shit out of him." She glanced over at Phoebe's overwhelmed face. "Just give me the word."
Phoebe shook her head finally. "No, no, I don't want it to end that way." She sighed, gulping back the impending tears with effort. Resting her head on Helga's shoulder, she sniffed. "I was going to confront him. Today. Before you showed up." She raised her head, looking Helga in the eye. "But now I'm not so sure I'll be able to."
Helga took Phoebe's hands in her own. "You can do it, I know you can. Just tell the bastard to go fuck himself, then slam the door."
"I wish you could do it for me." Came Phoebe's reply, her voice timid, her eyes down cast.
"I wish I could, too, but no, it has to be you."
Phoebe nodded, she knew as well as Helga that it did have to be her, if not only to achieve some kind of closure on the whole situation. Setting back her shoulders, trying to at least look braver than she felt, she stood up. The doorbell rang suddenly (isn't that convenient to the progress of the story? heheh), and with the trilling of the bell, all the resolve seemed to disappear from her frame. She sat back down on the couch, but Helga was there to catch her. Pushing her back up, Helga nudged her towards the door, and, with a deep sigh, Phoebe opened it, face steely as she set herself on Simon Kneale.
Five minutes later, Phoebe stood in front of Helga, tears coursing down her cheeks, yet something in her demeanor was changed. On some strange new level, Helga felt new respect for her friend. Phoebe had been blunt, straightforward, to the point with Simon Kneale. She hadn't cried in front of him. She hadn't asked him why he'd done it, or with who. And when he started to blubber, to beg her to forgive him, when he had said he loved her, she hadn't broken down, instead she held her head higher, and politely shut the door. Simon had stood there, for a few minutes, the hurt puppy dog he had perfected gracing his face, before finally turning to leave.
"So," Helga watched Phoebe carefully, "what happens now?"
But Phoebe was one step ahead of Helga. She wordlessly picked up the phone, and dialed Gerald number which, after over six years, she still knew off by heart. She raised her eyes to meet those of Helga's, a sad smile gracing her face. She took a deep breath and turned back to the phone. "Hello, Gerald," her voice was still shaking a little, though with each moment it grew in confidence, "Gerald, about that road trip - you can count me in."
Helga gave Phoebe a thumbs up, watching her friend with renewed amazement. This was definitely a new Phoebe she was seeing. So changed from the quiet, little girl who, it seemed only moments ago, had been the world's doormat, and now? Well, it looked like the girl had finally grown a backbone. Helga chuckled, Phoebe looked up from the phone and smile. So maybe the summer wasn't going to suck so much.
"By my calculations, with just the three of us in that economically unsound van, it'll cost about $45 a day, without taking into account food, motels, and anything else we might need." Phoebe frowned, glaring down at the offensive paper. She looked up briefly, surveying the dour faces of Gerald and Helga. "And that's per person. Multiplied by the thirty days of driving, that comes out to $1350 dollars just to get the van there. I would estimate that this trip will cost at least $10 dollars a day for food per person, motels will be at least $30 dollars a night, and then adding a bit extra just incase anything unexpected comes up, we're looking at, at least $2500 per person. Minimum."
Helga grabbed the sheet. "Let me look at that. You musta made a mistake somewhere." She scanned the calculations, jabbing a line with her finger. "Like here, under possible car repairs! Nothing'll happen to the old, piece of junk, right Gerald? She's a finely tuned automobile."
"That I bought for about $500 dollars." Gerald intoned, looking guiltily out the window.
"Five-hundred dollars!" Helga yelled, jumping up. "Does it even turn on? Oh god, we're all going to die on this trip, aren't we?" She looked up towards the heavens for an answer…or in this case, towards the ceiling of Phoebe's kitchen.
"Well, if you don't want to come…" Gerald trailed off, trying to act nonchalant.
"Well, bucko, I have to come at this point." Helga stormed, "I'm not crawling back to Big Bob." Oh no, not giving him the satisfaction. She could just see the smug look on his face. He would take her back, giving her back her old job (with a pay cut, of course), she couldn't let him win like that. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she turned back to Phoebe and Gerald, who were furiously going over the numbers again. "I'm sorry," she said through gritted teeth, "just a little stressed out."
Gerald smiled sweetly at her, "No problem." He grimly wondered if this was a prophesy of what the trip was going to be like.
"As I see it, we need to find more people to come. With more people in the van, it'll be more economical to be driving such a large vehicle." Came Phoebe's always level headed suggestion.
"Right," Helga nodded her head, "weren't you going to do that, Geraldo?"
"I talked to Eugene, he can't come. I'm working on Lila. She would come, but her dad is strictly against it." He tapped the table thoughtfully. "I've been meaning to call Sid. He's not doing anything, I don't think. He has a job this summer, but I'm sure he'd blow it off."
"Okay," Phoebe jotted down the names, "we'll have to try Sid. Helga, you talk to Lila, she'll do whatever you say."
Helga nodded. Long gone were the days when her and Lila were enemies. It was odd. Back in grade school, she had despised Lila because she was "ever so sweet", but more than that, because Lila held Arnold's affections and didn't even return them. Arnold was gone now, though, and while Lila was still sickeningly sugary, it didn't bother Helga as much as it use to. If fact, oddly enough, Helga would definitely consider Lila one of her closest friends. She made a mental note to phone Lila.
Just then, as if by magic, or human willpower, Helga's cell phone rang. She glanced down at the screen. "Lila 555-7635" it read. "Lila?" Helga answered.
AN: how's that for a cliffhanger? Yeah, I'm sorry, kinda crappy, but I felt the need to end the chapter. I hope where this is going isn't toooo obvious (even I don't totally know at this point!) Read and Review. As much as I love comments like "this is great", I also enjoy things like "this is how you can improve…." Thanks.