Perfectly Normal

A Fictional story by the work of Fan author

Min Farshaw

Creator of such previously esteemed works as: Megan and January 27th

Who is pleased to present to you now, for your reading pleasure:

Perfectly Normal

-The Howl Jenkins story-

Praise for 'Perfectly Normal'

"... A work of (art)..." -Somme D. Ude

" Min Farshaw is a pure, uncontested (...) genius (...) people like her (...) deserves an award" - Anne Onymous

" Previous works on the subject have attempted depth and breadth, but (Farshaw) really proves to us why Fanfiction has the reputation it does today..." - Moss Lee Tru

" I dun get it..." - Unclose Reider

" I Laughed – Well giggled really, like a little girl..." - Notta Fakier

Chapter the first: The Jenkinses


How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

The Jenkinses were normal. They lived in a normal village, in a perfectly average house, with a yard that was, if not mediocre, then perhaps not quite above average. Mr. Jenkins had an average job that let them pay the bills, and Mrs. Jenkins was, what career women would later like to say with disgust: a homemaker. They had two perfectly lovely children – not so lovely, of course that they were winning any contests, but lovely in an average kind of way that people would remark upon and then forget about half an hour later, or until one of them happened to get in the way. Young Megan took after her father quite strongly, while their youngest imprinted quite impressively on his mother. Mr and Mrs. Jenkins had met in college, and had gotten married at the scandalously average age of twenty six, and, after a time of no impropriety whatsoever, had their first child. To round things out quite nicely, as a family with only one child is just asking for something interesting to happen to her, they had another, a little boy, so as to keep the gender balance even. Perhaps if young Megan had a sister, that may have been something, some small statistical deviation from the norm, to launch off an epic tale of a shared sisterly bond, for everyone knows that sisters invite a certain dramatic quality to a household. There were to be no tragic love triangles here, involving a boy, a romantic moonlight evening and two and a half cans of exceedingly well placed pepper spray. There was an age gap for the children that was large enough so that the ever heart rending dramatic tale of unrequited love of a best friend's sibling was nothing more than a highly unlikely fantasy, and one that would probably invoke the police at some stage of the operation. Mr. And Mrs. Jenkins never had another child, because, well, that would have made little Howell a middle child, and the new baby, whichever gender he or she may have been, the youngest of three, and as we all know, it is the youngest who will succeed best and furthest of all the children. That particular number invites the exciting possibility of a daring quest, or even more tales of sibling hi-jinks. Three children, in fact, would have been a perfectly storybook kind of number, had the Jenkinses decided as such – which of course they did not. They even had a dog, a small yappy creature that set one's teeth on edge and displayed a worrying tendency towards brief, but intimate romances with convenient legs, trees, ornaments, furniture, and national monuments. Its name, characteristically enough, was Mr. Widdles, reminiscent of another trait that he tended to demonstrate with shocking accuracy.

They were, as a matter of fact, in every way, disgustingly normal. So normal that it was almost suspicious. But not quite of course, because that would be a deviation from normalcy in itself.

And Howell hated it.

The youngest Jenkins child in fact, hated it so much that, upon achieving the terribly impressive and intimidating age of Seven Years Old, made a solemn vow that he would never, ever, ever, ever, ever – well – ever be normal ever, ever, ever (and so on and such forth) ever again. He did so with such vehement violence that it even forced the elder Megan (who was also entering a highly auspicious and respected period of her life, being nearly sixteen years of age) to pause from her work and take note of what her little brother, a creature normally to be looked upon as some sort of lower life form, was doing. As a matter of fact the new, single minded energy of her brother rather relieved the serious girl, as it meant he no longer got into her cosmetics. So after the briefest of investigations, Megan deemed this vigour to be relatively harmless and returned to her carefree world of schoolwork, watching the new neighbours, schoolwork, football practice, and making a rather concerted effort to determine whether or not the new neighbour boy liked football, and, if so, if he was likely to come watch.

Mrs Jenkins, having narrowly survived the harrowing period of her daughters' initial adolescence, saw this newfound sibling attention as a sign that they were Getting Along and that it was perhaps time that young Megan took on some responsibility for once. Even after the failed attempt of '65, a disaster in babysitting worth recording in textbooks and explanatory pamphlets alike, Mrs Jenkins decided that maybe it was time to give it another go. This was, however, much to the dismay of young Howell, as it made them even more devastatingly average than they had been before. At least Megan's staunch refusal to take any responsibility for her little brother had set them apart somewhat from the rest of the families on the block, including the new neighbours, who owned a vintage motorcycle, which Mr. New Neighbour liked to take out of the garage Sundays for a few moments at a time so that the rest of the block could peer out their windows to admire the craftsmanship, before carefully wheeling it back inside, covering it with a custom built dust sheet, and locking the door. This was about the most talked about thing around the block since Mr. Three Doors Down painted his front door blue – two years previously. There was muttered talk about how the folks from three doors down and the new folks with the fancy motorcycle ought to get together – they'd probably get along famously. Megan was about the only person that didn't behave exactly as expected. Her lack of babysitting prowess was not quite enough to collect rumours, but the truth of the matter was that she felt no need to compete with Rhonwen Emerson, who had two younger sisters and had monopolized the block – sitting business anyhow. This was another point of consternation with young Howell. He rather liked Rhonwen, because she often let him find solace in her burgeoning bosom. She liked to giggle engagingly and ruffle his hair and call him a sweetie. Megan was built like a twig, all sharp angles and ungainly elbows, and her chest wasn't nearly as soft or comforting as Rhonwen's, not that he had ever bothered to find out (1) of course, and would never, ever consider giggling or calling him cute. But now Megan was forced to spend time with her brother, and they were practically living their lives out of a bland pre-teen drama, or at the least, a very bad fanfiction. The block gossips thoroughly approved.

When young Howell had been born, Megan was eight years old. On the occasion of Howell's birth, Megan was performing in her first ever violin recital, the lessons for which had been forced on her by Mrs. Jenkins, who had rather fancied the idea of having a daughter that could play an instrument, especially one that was not quite so heavy and space consuming as, say, a piano. That morning, the heavily pregnant Mrs. Jenkins had complained of cramps, but let it go in favor of braiding Megan's recalcitrant curly locks and getting the eight year old into a dress, that could not so much be considered frilly as mind bogglingly puffy. The sleeves extended two inches from Megan's skinny arms, and the lace ruffle at the neck rather made her want to sneeze, but she wore it anyway so as to make her mother happy. When the recital started, with the performance of a twelve year old boy with glasses thicker than Megan's shiny new history text book, Mrs. Jenkins was rather awkwardly patting her expansive belly, wondering what on earth was wrong with her son. When It was Megan's turn on the docket, Mr. Jenkins was beginning to suspect that something was wrong. Halfway through the song, Mr and Mrs. Jenkins stormed out of the concert hall amid much muttering and whispering as young Megan desperately played on, eyeing as best she could through two layers of chintz and lace her parent's hasty departure from the venue. It did not immediately occur to Megan why her mother would leave holding her stomach like that, but she did vow there and then that someone would pay for them missing out on this, the most important day of her life. She finished the set with scattered applause and was hastily ushered off the stage by her instructor, where it was explained to her that mommy's tummy wasn't well and she and daddy had gone to the hospital. Megan, who had figured out what was going on by then, informed her that her mother was in labour and going to have a baby, and she wasn't six anymore thank you very much. She had done research.

Six hours passed, during which time the recital ended, everyone went home, and the decorators came to put up streamers for the sixtieth birthday party of one of the community's more respected residents. Three people offered to take Megan home, all of which she refused, because you should not go home with strangers. She was left sitting on the steps with the boy with coke bottle glasses, who apparently also had nothing to do. He offered her a handful of warm, sticky candy, which she was forced to refuse, repeatedly. Eventually even he had to go home, and Megan waited, sitting on the steps, dirtying her dress, refusing to let herself cry. Anyone left waiting on a set of steps for a significant period of time when they are eight years old knows how difficult this can be, especially when you are dirtying your dress. At around eight o'clock in the evening, a man with a flashlight and a wide brimmed baseball cap came up to her and asked her if she was the little girl who was missing. Megan replied that she didn't know if she was missing, because as far as she was concerned, she knew exactly where she was. This kind of eight year old logic was so completely unflappable that the man went away and returned fifteen minutes later with Mr. Jenkins, who was looking significantly harassed. Megan ran to meet her father, who, after awkwardly comforting her with the sort of half hug given by those unused to actual physical contact with others are apt to give, steered his daughter home. Mr Jenkins had attempted to resort to a sort of mild verbal chastisement, but found himself unaccountably confronted with two layers of chinz, velvet and lace covered eight year old looking adoringly up at his face, tears just barely threatening at the edges of stormy grey eyes. Eyes that, most unfortunately for Mr. Jenkins, matched those of his wife quite exactly.

When they arrived at the Jenkins home, Mr Jenkins asked his daughter if she would like to meet her little brother. After a nod, which Mr. Jenkins simply took to be shyness, he took her inside to Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins' bedroom, where her mother was sitting fretfully holding a perfect little baby boy in her arms. Instead of running over to her daughter and giving her the hug she so justly deserved, Mrs. Jenkins simply smiled gratefully and motioned for her daughter to come over and see. Megan climbed up onto the bed and peered into the little white bundle. Inside was a little creature with huge blue green eyes and the barest covering of brownish fuzz on it's head. He was slobbering over his little baby fist quite unconcernedly, a look of perfect, wide eyed innocence drilled into his little baby features. It was so powerfully innocent that it hit with the force of an inexpertly wielded sledgehammer on the surface of a melon, or perhaps drywall, for those who take offense to violence against fruit. Megan learned that it's name was Howell, to which she replied that he didn't look much like a Howell. He looked more like a Benjamin to her, and she informed her mother of this as she leaned in closer. Megan had never seen a real baby before, and it was an experience that she was determined to document to the fullest, so that she may know her enemy, though admittedly, it was quite hard to label him such when he looked up at her with those jewel bright eyes. He took his little baby fist, covered in baby drool and hit her gently on the nose. A thin streamer of drool dangled from her nose to his chubby hand and then ended up as a glistening filament on her new, frilly dress. Thus was the source of the first antagonism between brother and sister. She didn't say anything then, or at any other time afterwards, but slobbery attack let Megan know exactly where they stood.

So, it came to pass, with much hair pulling and tantrums, that the first date of Megan's newfound responsibility would occur on May 23rd, from the hour of 4:00 in the afternoon, to approximately 9:00 at night. Mr. Jenkins had applauded the fiscal practicality of the arrangement, and he and his wife rewarded themselves for their good sense with a trip into town to see a film and have dinner at a fancy café. Not one of those foreign restaurants mind, but good solid food. They were having the fish.

Howell, however, had been thinking about this particular arrangement, and decided that, if it had to happen, then he would make the most of it. Actually, this was not quite strictly true. He decided that he would make the most of it after having been sent to his room three times for pulling tantrums and then again for getting into Megan's schoolbooks and drawing mustaches on all of the poorly illustrated characters. But that was an unrelated incident. Young Howell realized that he needed a plan. A plan so devastating, so awful, so horrendous that Megan would refuse to babysit ever ever ever ever (and so on, and such forth) ever again. It needed to be so bad that Mrs Jenkins would realize how horrible an idea this arrangement really was and never never never ever do it again. There were more nevers involved, but narrative can only take so many before the sentence spontaneously combusts and goes on to a successful career in a children's novel from fourteenth century France, or perhaps Britain. But that is a different story. Howell decided that the planning would commence that evening under cover of darkness. All diabolical plans, he thought, should be conceived with the correct atmosphere, or they weren't diabolical plans at all. But that would come later. At that moment though, Howell had to concentrate on evading Megan before she figured out that he had doodled moustaches using her lipstick.

Young Howell was nothing if not resolute in his determination to create the most horrible evening ever – for Megan that was. He had just finished setting the last of twenty mousetraps scattered throughout the house, one of the many surprises awaiting his sister dearest the moment Mr and Mrs Jenkins left on their evening out on the town. There are no adjectives to truly describe the chaos that ensued that evening – none at least that are part of the current English language cannon. One might call to mind 'squelchifourous' or even perhaps 'distrophic', or even words not yet invented, or within the mental capacity of the author to make up. Suffice to say that young Howell Jenkins had an imagination built to rival that of the entire creative team of Walt Disney and the men and women behind 'Burma shave' and had found no small excess of materials essential to his plan.

In an interesting side note, many of the materials that seven year old Howell used in the planning of the diabolical catastrophe that took place that one, horrible, cloudy, May evening, did not, in fact, previously exist in the Jenkins household prior to Howell's searching for them. Of course, many of these could easily be explained away by clearly non mystical means. The twelve pounds of raspberry preserves could of course be a product of Mrs. Jenkins obsessive love of canning and raspberries, while the seventeen and a half foot length of rubber surgical tubing would have been easily attributed to Mr Jenkin's strange desire to build model slingshots. But no rational force on earth could explain how a seven year old boy with no pocket money and only the shakiest of grasps on mechanical workings had managed to get his hands on a 1/64th scale working model of a WWII German Junkers 87 stucka (2) bomber plane, or the petrol to fuel it. When Megan was enjoying her golden years, she could still vividly and explicitly recall the incident, when, in a dreamlike state after being assailed by a hail of eggs, a small plane flew over her head, and, with astonishing accuracy, dropped a small balloon of paint in her hair. She was unable to account for such a phenomena, and, as such, never mentioned it to anyone. The plane, on the other hand, later enjoyed a long and successful career hiding in the back of Howell's closet, and later still as a conversation piece in Mrs. Elisa Harrow's living room, when her aviasticly minded husband bought it from a rather fetching little pawn shop in town. (3)

The only flaw in Howell's plan lay in timing. Though devastating in scope and ingenuity, it utterly failed to torture Megan for longer than half an hour, at which point he had run out of preserves and was locked in his room, (and Megan, aware of her little brother's uncanny ability for escaping from unfavourable situations, had remembered that the boy's window had a lock on it, and took this precaution into account. Incidentally, she also remembered that Mrs. Jenkins' aging trellis for roses, while rotting and unstable, could possibly support the weight of a seven year old boy, Howell's other contingency plan, and had, instead later locked him in the bathroom) In fact, Megan had just about gotten the last of the raspberry jelly off of the ceiling fan, and the rest of the mice out of the china cupboard when Mr. And Mrs. Jenkins came home. Despite Megan's desperate protests at what a terrible boy Howell had been, and her testimony to the unholy mess that had been caused, Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins found their son peacefully abed, sleeping even though it was only 9:30. The operation was deemed a success, as they had gotten an evening out, Howell was sleeping and it only cost them thirty pounds and some preserves, which, admittedly, no one had really liked anyway.

Howell deemed it a success also, From his careful listening at the bathroom door, he could hear the glorious sounds of the neighbours checking to see that everything was alright in the Jenkins Household, and he could swear that he heard his upright and studious sister utter what could possibly be considered a dirty word. He was utterly convinced that Megan would never allow such an evening to occur again, and then, some small degree of oddness would be returned to his family. Howell really hadn't thought much further ahead than that, and fell asleep that night felling markedly content.

Unfortunately for Howell's campaign against normalcy, yet another arrangement was set up, a scant two weeks after the first, much to the dismay of all parties involved, save Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins. Howell didn't know what he was going to do to top the first arrangement, but he figured that there had to be a way for a boy as determined as him. If only he had hung on to that surgical tubing... But it was no use wallowing in the heady depths of regret and nostalgia, it was time for action! He would need a frog, and perhaps another one of those really violently coloured markers, a small squid, and, if he could get his hands on it, a bottle of soda water. Howell was not entirely sure where he would be able to get Soda water, but, as previously mentioned, he was a very determined young man.

Unfortunately for Howell's determination, Megan was also very determined. Very determined, that is, to make sure that both her brother suffered and that nothing of the sort of that evening ever, ever, Ever happened again. Ever. Having proscribed to the general Jenkins symptoms of complete megalomania at some point over the last week, she had been very tempted to add a few more 'evers' to that sentence, but respectable sensibilities soon set in. Also quite unfortunately for Howell's determination, Megan was, contrary to popular belief (4), quite intelligent.

This time, things were going to be different...

(1) Not that he'd ever admit to himself is more likely. He had, once, when he was six, reluctantly agreed to hug her after a particularly traumatic tree climbing incident. That was it. Except for that other time when he had fallen and scraped his knee and it really hurt and... well except for those two times never. Save of course all the times when he was really little and Megan had to pick him up and... Nothing recent anyway. Practically nothing.

(2) Does anyone read these? Really? If so, send 10$ and and a postmarked envelope to 123 dreary lane, where the muffin man will send you an exact replica of the plane in question really. (5)

(3) When Megan had fished the thing out of Howell's closet in her fit of righteous rage in order to teach Howell a lesson by selling his things, she had not immediately recognised it as the object of her many nightmares, but instead, placed it in a box marked 'Near worthless junk' and sold it along with the rest. Though she didn't understand why at the time, she felt a great weight come off her chest.

(4) ie. Howell's.

(5) Google it if you're really that interested... geeze

Q: I dun get it. Why would Howl need to hide his birthday from Sophie?

Because, like any vain creature, he fears the terrifying beast of age, which is liable to creep up and devour unsuspecting young men at any moment. Once past the age of twenty five, he would have been officially on his way to becoming 'older' and no longer the young dashing male he used to be. He was entering a time when people could start applying the label of 'bachelor' previous to his marriage to Sophie. Not only this but the man was turning thirty. For Howl this is very traumatic. Even though the event of Sophie's pregnancy could have been a coincidence, one has to admit it looks bad – especially bad for a man with a pregnant, hormonal wife to deal with.

Q: Why would you have a page of FAQs on the first chapter of the story when no one has even had a chance to ask you questions yet?

Because the question above this is what (and I swear to all things holy and good) everyone asks me about January 27th , thats why. Apart from that, I... err... no comment...

I invite you to fill in the blanks, and I also most cheerfully invite you to note that there is not a single line of dialogue in the entire mess...