Epilogue: A World of Adventure
The doorbell rang.
"I'll get it!" said Mikey, shooting up out of his seat. "Scuse me, pardon me."
He stepped over Data and avoided squashing Andy's toes.
"Sorry, Mr. Cohen," he said as he stumbled into the armchair he sat in.
"Oh, that's all right, Mike," Chunk's dad said with a merry chuckle.
"Oh, Mikey," said his mother Harriet. "Is that your new friend at the door?"
"The one he's got the hots for," said Mouth with a smirk as he took a sip of his root beer.
"Oh," said Harriet, her face brightening. "Do you like this girl?"
Mikey's face burned. "Mom, just be cool, please."
"Don't be a jerk," Stef said to Mouth, giving him a poke in the ribs.
"I thought you liked that about me?"
Stef squinted at him, but gave him a smile. Mouth leaned his head towards hers.
"Hey, there's a time and a place, son," said Mouth's dad, whacking the back of his head with his ball cap.
Irving Walsh laughed as he took his seat near the TV.
"Hey Mikey, it's almost on. You're gonna miss it," he said as he cranked up the volume.
"Be right there," Mikey called as he reached the front door. He took a deep breath, and even took a hit from his inhaler, just in case. He flung the door open to find Jackie standing there, her cheeks rose red and a striped scarf around her neck.
"Hi," she said with a smile, the rest of her face matching her cheeks.
"Hi," Mikey said with a goofy smile.
Mikey remembered to stand aside and let the girl in this time.
"I made cookies," she said holding up a plateful.
Chunk hopped up out of his seat.
"I'll take those," he said, relieving her of the burden.
Mikey scowled at Chunk, but Jackie just smiled.
"Oh, here it is," said Andy with a squeal of excitement.
Mikey and Jackie rushed into the living room as everyone crowded around the TV.
The two teams squared off at midfield. The Oregon Ducks snapped the ball back as the two lines clashed and passed it off to Sloth Cohen. Sloth reared his head over the chaos, a big happy smile on his face. He looked shear across the field to the end line, where one of the photographers was unwrapping a Baby Ruth.
"Ruth!" Sloth squealed. "Ruth! Ruth! Baby! Ruth!"
Any play in action was abandoned as Sloth shot down the field, plowing through opponent and teammate alike.
Sloth sprinted into the end zone, tackling the photographer, and came up again with the candy bar in his hands.
Sheer bliss melted across Sloth's face as stuffed it into his mouth, and the big, bold, red letters of Baby Ruth blazed across the TV screen.
The Walsh's living room erupted with laughter and applause.
"That's my boy, Sloth!" said Chunk with a mouthful of cookies.
"That was the best commercial ever!" said Data.
"Now on with the game," said Mouth's dad. "I better go check on the burgers. Your boy's got these guys beat, Cohen."
Chunk's dad laughed.
Jackie turned to Mikey. "Your house looks great."
"Oh thanks," said Mikey. "The insurance covered most of the damage, but when Dad appraised Crooked Joe's cutlass, it was worth more than enough for a few extra things."
They both laughed.
"It was really nice of you to share that money with all of us," said Jackie. "You really didn't have to do that."
"Of course I did!" said Mikey. "We were all in that together. It belonged to all of us."
"Well, it was a hell of a first impression on my parents, telling them my new friend almost got me killed, but he also wanted to share his pirate treasure with us."
Mikey felt himself turn red again, but laughed when Jackie gave him a playful slap on the chest.
Jackie glanced at everyone else in the living room, drew in close to Mikey, and lowered her voice to a whisper.
"So what was it you wanted to show me?"
Mikey looked at his brother, who sat with his arm around Andy, her head resting on his chest. Brand looked up at him, glanced towards Jackie, and winked at him. Mikey smiled back.
"Come on," he said to Jackie.
Not sticking around for the coin toss, he led her upstairs and towards the ladder to the attic. Mikey climbed up into the dusty darkness, Jackie following close behind. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet, stepping aside as he did so to allow her to ahead of him.
The afternoon sun beamed through the high window, casting a golden glow across all the treasures that surrounded her. She smiled. She ran her fingers across the breastplate of a suit of armor and stared in wonder at a map of the ancient world.
"So this is it?" she asked. "This is where all your adventures started?"
"Yep," said Mikey. "This is where I found Crooked Joe's spyglass and the map to One Eyed Willy's treasure."
"So do you think there's another great adventure waiting up here for you?"
Mikey smiled and shrugged. "Could be."
He gazed at Jackie for a long moment, admiring how pretty she looked in the golden light. He glanced over at the wooden figurehead.
Jackie looked over the collection of wonders and snatched up a brass compass with a broken arrow.
"Maybe it's this," she said.
"Oh absolutely," Mikey said with excitement. "Cause you see, that was the magic compass of Captain Kidd. It doesn't point north, it points the way to his lost treasure."
"Oooh," said Jackie, her eyes brightening. She picked up a bronze Inca dagger. "What about this?"
"Of course," said Mikey. "Walter Raleigh discovered that deep in the Amazon. It's the only known artifact from El Dorado, the lost city of gold."
"Fascinating. And this right here?" She pointed to a framed ancient document written in an indiscernible calligraphy.
"Oh, that," said Mikey with deep, dramatic flair. "The last words scrawled by the dying hand of Ferdinand Magellan. Within it lies a secret code to finding his greatest discovery. The lost continent of Lemuria."
"Wow," she said, drawing closer to him. "You really now all about this stuff."
"Well, I am a great adventurer after all."
"So, Michael Walsh, the great adventurer" she picked up a shimmering gold amulet. "Tell me what this is."
Mikey felt her eyes run up and down him as she bit her lip. He felt his head swimming as he looked down at the treasure, and his mind went completely blank.
"Uh…" he stammered. "I don't know."
"Well, maybe we should find out," Jackie said, looking deep into his eyes. She inched closer towards him. "Are you ready for another grand adventure?"
Mikey looked deep into her, and he felt himself standing taller than he had ever felt before, and feeling braver than he knew he had ever been.
Before he even knew what was happening, his eyes were shut, and he was kissing her. Somewhere a million miles away he heard the amulet clatter to the floor, and Jackie's arms slowly wrapped around his neck. His arms circled her waist and he kissed her more deeply.
The two greatest adventures he could have ever dreamed of had begun in that very attic, and now began the third and greatest of all.