A/N: I have Harry2 to thank for the idea behind this story. It turned out to be surprisingly easy to write. While I'm here, the disclaimer: Roarke, Tattoo, Julie and Lawrence belong to Aaron Spelling, Leonard Goldberg, Gene Levitt and (at least at the moment) Sony; I just borrow them whenever story plots call for them. All other characters, except for those who appear in the episodes I've novelized in my flashback stories, belong to me. They can be used elsewhere with my permission if desired. Okay…now you're free to enjoy the story, and again…thanks for the idea, Harry!
§ § § -- May 12, 2006
"Hey, Mom, when's the last day of school again?" called out David Omamara, nearly sixteen, slinging his school backpack over his shoulders. "I want to be sure I know so I can go see Mr. Roarke about that driving job he didn't have last year."
His mother, Camille, didn't even have to glance at the calendar to know. "June 2," she said. Then she frowned and looked again. "Oh brother. That's gonna play a little havoc with our plans. The Enstads' triplets turn two that day…"
"Do I have to be there?" David groaned.
"I don't wanna go either," put in nine-year-old Craig Omamara, who tended to ape his older brother in nearly everything. It had been all Camille and Jimmy could do the previous summer, when David had earned his driver's license, to remind Craig that he still had a good eight years to wait for his turn.
"I know, I know," Camille grumbled, beginning to lose her patience. "You've told me that so many times I'm reciting it in my sleep, according to your father. And as if that's not enough, your sister turns three on Sunday and I still have to be sure the Fantasy Iceland rink is available for her party that morning. I can't believe I didn't do this two months ago."
"Me either," said Craig, folding his arms across his chest and giving her a look that reminded her of Jimmy when he was being stern with her or the boys.
"No backtalk, mister," Camille ordered, her patience evaporating. It had never been one of her virtues anyway, and her sons were used to hearing her lose her temper and raise her voice, so that more often than not, their father had to lay down the law in order to make it stick. "You've been doing this all week long and I've really had it. I'd better not hear any new reports from your teacher." She'd already had one call from Craig's third-grade teacher telling her that he'd been disrupting class all week long for some reason, in small but annoying ways. He seemed to have been employing everything from his handheld electronic video game, a birthday gift two months before, to the time-honored spitball, after which Camille had put to use a trick in a book she had read as a child and made Craig sit in the backyard and throw spitballs till he complained of dry mouth and a persistent sour aftertaste. But he continued to disturb his classmates, and Camille couldn't understand why, when he was usually a pretty well-behaved boy. She'd talked with Jimmy about it, but all he had been able to offer was that maybe it was restlessness in these last few weeks before school let out for the summer.
"Yeah, okay, whatever," mumbled Craig, without any evident repentance. Camille let out a heavy sigh and rolled her eyes, watching him follow his older brother out the door to wait for the shuttle bus that would take Craig to the island's elementary school in Amberville and David to Fantasy Island High School, down near the other end of the island.
"Brat," Camille muttered under her breath and glanced at the table, where Robin sat methodically eating an unbuttered, syrup-less waffle with one hand while the family dog lay under her chair, head up, waiting eagerly for dropped tidbits. Robin was just beginning to learn the intricacies of handling silverware, but Camille tended to let it lapse during breakfast, figuring they never had company for the morning meal to see and criticize her decision. Craig had been copying his little sister this week, creating havoc at mealtimes as well as at school; Camille was nearly at the end of her rope. "Almost done, honey?"
"Almost, Mommy," said Robin softly. In contrast to her boisterous older brothers, she was a quiet, timid child, tending to hide behind Camille when guests came over. She was often protected by the Omamaras' black Lab, Harriet, who seemed to sense her shyness, and she was fairly open around Camille's large family, since they visited frequently; but Camille sometimes worried about her, wondering how she would fare when she started school in a couple more years.
"Okay." Camille smiled at her and then turned when the phone rang. It was the sort of kitchen phone she'd grown up with in the 70s and 80s, mounted on a wall and equipped with an extra-long cord that allowed movement around the room. Over the years the cord had stretched out so much that she was now able to go out the back door and yell at the boys if she had to, without having to put down the receiver. "Omamara residence."
"Yo, Camille," said the cheerful voice of Myeko Okada. "What's up?"
"The usual," said Camille. "How 'bout you?"
"Same old, same old. I called just to ask if you've got all the plans in place for Robin's birthday party yet. Alexander and Noelle will be at Hachiro's, but Dawn's all excited and can't wait. She picked out Robin's present herself."
Camille laughed for the first time that morning. "Sounds just like her. No, I still have to call the ice rink and see if they've definitely got Sunday morning open. And about all I can do is hope Mr. Roarke and Leslie aren't granting somebody's fantasy to be an Olympic figure-skating champion, because that'd be just my luck."
Myeko laughed sympathetically. "I know the feeling, friend, believe me. Okay, well, let me know when everything's settled, huh?"
"Sure, call you later," Camille promised. She hung up, considered her own remark about the fantasy, and decided that it was still early enough to go see Roarke and Leslie. Waiting for Robin to finish, she cleaned the kitchen and started the dishwasher, fed the dog, then called her mother and asked if Robin could stay with her while she ran some errands. Mrs. Ichino agreed readily, and about fifteen minutes later Camille was on her way to the main house, using a well-worn trail she'd been taking there ever since she'd first become friends with Leslie many years before. She came out by the back terrace and peered into the open French shutters; to her relief, Leslie was there, engrossed in writing something. "Knock knock," she ventured.
Leslie looked up and grinned. "Oh, hi, Camille, come on in."
"I'm not interrupting you or anything, am I?" Camille asked, entering the room and sinking into one of the leather chairs. "Where's Mr. Roarke?"
"Out rounding up all the usual last-minute loose ends we always have to tie up on Fridays," Leslie said. "I'm just paying some bills. How're the kids?"
"Same as ever," Camille said through a deep sigh, making Leslie laugh. "I came over primarily to make sure the ice rink'll be open on Sunday morning. I should've done it way back in February or March, I guess, but you know how life is with three kids around…it kept getting away from me. Myeko called this morning to ask about it—Robin's birthday is on Sunday, and I wanted to be sure I could have the party there."
"Oh, sure, it should be fine," Leslie said. "Matter of fact, once I finish writing out all these checks, I have to take a load of mail to the post office anyway, so you might as well come with me and we'll stop by the rink and finalize things. Yeah, I think I can see where it would've slipped your mind."
Camille grinned reluctantly. "Too many springtime birthdays, I think." She watched Leslie write out a couple of checks, and they made occasional small talk about one thing or another till Leslie finished and gathered all the outgoing mail together. Then, once they were settled in a rover and on the way down the lane to the Ring Road, Camille drew in a deep breath. "Remember when I said it's the same as ever with the kids? Well…it isn't quite. Craig…"
"What about him?" Leslie prompted when she paused, trying to think of a good way to broach the subject.
"Well, he's been acting really strange lately," Camille said. "I don't get it at all. I mean, he's a pretty active kid and sometimes he's a little hard to handle, but he was never like this before, and I can't understand why."
"What's he been doing?" queried Leslie.
"Mostly stuff at school. He keeps talking out of turn in class and finding ways to disturb his classmates. He's interrupted his teacher when she reads to them after lunch. He's been teasing girls, getting into fights with boys over dumb things, playing his Nintendo DS in class when he isn't even supposed to bring it to school to begin with, talking back to his teacher…not to mention me and Jimmy…and get this, Tuesday he even threw spitballs in class. I thought spitballs went out with our generation."
"Holy cow," Leslie said, shooting her an amazed glance as she pulled the car into the town square. "What'd Jimmy say about that?"
"I told him how I punished Craig—made him sit out back and throw spitballs all afternoon. I got it from a Beverly Cleary book I used to love. Never thought it'd come in handy, but you know something, I think it worked. Craig hardly ate any supper—said it all tasted like soggy paper. I don't think he'll be making any more spitballs for a while."
"Boy, I'll say. I think I remember the book you mean, too. That's ingenious. How'd Jimmy react to that?"
"He laughed. He said he read that book too." Both women laughed. "In general…well, he thinks maybe it's just restlessness since school's letting out in another three weeks. But I'm not so sure. I mean, Craig gets into his share of trouble, sure, just like any other active elementary-school-age boy. But he's never gone out of his way to misbehave, like he's been doing lately. It doesn't make any sense, and I'm not sure what to do about it."
"It sort of sounds to me as if Jimmy isn't really taking this all that seriously. When did it first start?"
"Just this past weekend, right after your birthday party in fact. It's like he's been hopped up on something. You know how he copies David in practically everything? Even that didn't do any good. Jimmy and I had to kind of talk David into it, because Craig was making us nuts and we thought it might settle him down, but he agreed after we bribed him into it…"
"Bribed him, huh?" Leslie broke in, grinning knowingly.
Camille rolled her eyes. "It was the only way he'd do it. We said he could apply for a job driving Mr. Roarke's guests this summer, if Mr. Roarke has anything like that open."
"Aha," Leslie said, laughing. Camille joined in, rather spiritlessly, and Leslie prompted gently, "Okay, so go ahead."
"Well, he told Craig he'd let him tag around after him all he wanted and do all the same things he was doing. But it didn't work. David usually goes off to the baseball field at the elementary school and plays pickup games with some pals of his from around here, and Craig was always begging to go. Well, he went all right, but David came back saying Craig just ruined everything because there were younger kids watching the high-school boys, and Craig spent all his time harassing them. Jimmy revoked his DS for the day, but then the next day Craig took the thing to school with him, and that's where it all started."
"Wow," said Leslie, who by now had parked and was staring at Camille in astonishment. "And you say Jimmy isn't too concerned about it?"
"Mostly he's been at work, and when he gets home he's usually too tired to deal with these things. He hasn't really seen much of it, and it's been left up to me to try to figure out what the heck to do. And you know how much attention the boys pay to me…I'm not long on patience. I think if he was more aware of what Craig's been doing, he might say something and get results from it, but he just doesn't know."
"That's pretty weird," mused Leslie, frowning a little. "Well, hey, if Craig's teacher has a conference with you two, it might help. That way Jimmy can be made aware at first hand what Craig's been doing, and he can speak to him about it. Shouldn't be any reason Jimmy can't take a day away from the hotel. Let the assistant manager handle things."
"He hates doing that," said Camille. "He's a workaholic by nature. But I'll see if I can make him realize how important all this is. Hey, thanks for listening, Leslie."
"No problem, that's what friends are for. Let me finish up at the post office and then we'll pop over to the ice rink."
‡ ‡ ‡
Craig Omamara fidgeted. School wasn't his favorite place to be anyway, but he had never really minded it till this week. He was feeling restless and confined, and he itched to create some kind of excitement. It was so dull and boring in here; he wished the class could have a party of some kind, maybe even an end-of-the-year celebration. There were still three weeks of school left before summer vacation started; but he wanted something to break the monotony.
Hey, look over there. See that? That goody-two-shoes kid is at it again. Being teacher's pet and doing all her work without being told. No wonder she gets so much time on the class computer. Weren't you the one that wanted to be the class pen pal? And instead, that little saint Cristina Ordoñez gets all the fun. Go ahead and throw a spitball at her. Remember how mad she got Tuesday when you did that?
Craig reached up and rubbed his ear. That little voice had been talking to him all week, easily persuading him to do all kinds of wild things that had been getting him into big trouble with his parents and his teacher. "Shut up," he hissed, trying to whisper, but so angry now at the voice that he had a hard time keeping quiet. "You're just gonna get me in trouble." Anyway, after his mother had told him to waste a whole afternoon making spitballs in the backyard, he didn't care if he never tasted another spitball for the rest of his life.
Some kids sitting near him gave him funny looks, and one girl put her finger against her lips; he made a face at her and turned away, rubbing his ear again. The little voice always seemed to be speaking directly into his left ear, but every time he turned to see who the voice belonged to, there was nothing there. He hadn't told anybody; they'd only say he was hearing things, and he'd just get into even more trouble. Or worse, his mother might start thinking there was something really wrong with him, and she'd be carting him to doctors all over the place. He really didn't want to end up at Dr. Ordoñez' office. He was Cristina's father, and Craig had been picking on Cristina so much this week that he was sure if his mother took him to her dad, Dr. Ordoñez would really let him have it.
Aw, come on, what can they really do to you anyway? All they do is yell at you and take away your game. It's not like they're gonna put you in jail or anything…
"How do you know?" he muttered. The boy in front of him turned completely around in his seat and glared at him.
"Shut up, Craig," he said, right out loud.
"You first," Craig retorted immediately, goaded.
"Boys," said their teacher from up front, and the kid in front turned back around. Craig kept his head down, feeling for the first time as if he'd gone too far this week and it was time to back down. He didn't know what was going on; he'd never had the urge to misbehave this much, not as far as he could remember. And sure, it had been fun making Cristina Ordoñez mad; he really didn't like her very much anyway, since she always did her homework, always seemed to have the right answers when the teacher called on her, and never got in trouble for things like talking in class. So when their class had started an e-mail contact relationship with a class in Hilo, Hawaii, Cristina had been chosen as their side's pen pal, talking to a kid in the class in Hilo once each week. Usually this was a Friday, and while he had to admit Cristina wasn't allowed to do much more than tell the Hilo class what stuff they'd learned in school this week and so on, it still rankled that she'd been chosen just because she was always so darn good. So when the little voice had urged him, last Sunday, to pick on her at his older brother's baseball game, he'd been happy to follow through.
But since Monday, he'd been getting in trouble for things that had nothing to do with Cristina Ordoñez. His teacher had taken his Nintendo DS away from him on Monday when he'd succumbed to the little voice's urging and played it right here in class, during what should have been a quiet work time. Craig was used to finishing quickly, then sitting in sheer boredom waiting for the work period to end. Not this time; his DS had taken care of that. But he had forgotten to turn the volume all the way down, and he'd been caught.
Tuesday the voice had suggested he throw spitballs. Mostly he'd aimed them at Cristina, who of course had cried and complained; but he'd targeted a few other girls he especially didn't like, and just for fun had even aimed one at a boy sitting up front, just to see if he could send one that far. That had been fun too, even after his mother punished him after school. He made a face to himself; he thought he could still taste paper.
Wednesday he'd taken the voice's suggestion to throw a little mud at Cristina, who always came to school in impeccably clean clothes; when Cristina's friend Emma had come to her defense, yelling at him, he'd retaliated by pushing both Cristina and Emma into the dirt and walked off laughing. Emma's brother, a year older, had seen the whole thing and come running across the playground to attack, resulting in a fight that had gotten him in still more trouble. By then his teacher had had enough and called his mother while he was in the principal's office.
Yet the little voice had continued to egg him on, and somehow he couldn't resist. Summer vacation couldn't get here soon enough for him; he was tired of third grade and just wanted to be at home, lounging around his backyard playing his DS and tagging after David to his ball games and the other places David liked to go with his friends. It was too much to resist, not when the reward was a break from the long tedium of the school day. But he was no longer sure it was worth all the trouble he was getting into.
Oh, come on, they can't do anything like that. Nobody puts kids in jail, the voice assured him. Even your parents won't do that. They'll just confine you to your room, and that's okay—you have all your books and toys in there anyway, right? They don't spank you at home or at school. All they can do is take stuff away from you, and that's pretty boring anyway, isn't it? Aren't your brother's ball games boring too? Come on, admit it. It's not like he ever lets you play anyway, you know.
Well, that much was true, Craig realized. He was more than old enough to know how to play baseball, and he was the tallest kid in his class, so it wasn't as if he wasn't big enough either. But David and his friends always told him to butt out, and he was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch. Missing the ball games wouldn't be that much of a hardship. Maybe it didn't matter that much.
"What'll I do, then?" Craig whispered, this time taking care to keep his voice so quiet that no one, even the boy in front of him, would overhear.
A little cackling laugh sounded in his ear. Here's how you can get Cristina Ordoñez into so much trouble that she won't get to be the class pen pal anymore.
That perked Craig right up, and he listened eagerly. Anything to knock Cristina off her lofty pedestal. He could hardly wait to see her face when the teacher handed over the privilege to somebody else.