'Number 34: Broke Kelly Bundy's Heart; Number 35: Drank Al Bundy's Last Beer'

"You know the kind of person that does bad things and wonders why his life sucks? That was me. Every time something good happened to me, something bad was always waiting right around the corner, and that something was Karma. So that's when I realized I had to change the kind of person I was, and to do that I made a list of everything bad I ever did. And one by one, I'm going to make up for my mistakes, and become a better person. My name is Earl."

"Karma works in strange ways. Sometimes She bops me in the head, literally, like when I got hit in the head with a cue ball and remembered number 102 on my list, or when a pack of squirrels got together to dump a bunch of nuts on my head while I was standing under a tree, and it reminded me of number 19 on my list. Other times, She's as subtle as a gentle breeze. And others, She gets me all confused and such, and I start to wonder if I'm not getting a bunch of crossed messages all at once. Take for example yesterday, while I was watching TV with Catalina and Randy..."

The trio of Earl, his brother Randy, and their friend and motel housekeeper, Catalina, were laying on the boy's bed, propped up against the headboard, eating junk food, and surfing the meager six television stations that the motel could receive. Earl checked his watch, and noticed the time, saying,

"Oh, hey, Catalina, I think your break's over! You've been here for over an hour!"

"That's okay, Earl- I'm cross-pollinating my breaks."
"Huh?"

"Yeah, I'm taking six minutes off of Wednesday, and ten minutes off Thursday, and putting them into today. Cross-pollinating."

"Is that allowed?" Earl wondered.

"As long as the owner doesn't remove that dead body from Room 213, I'm making up my own rules, and I ain't cleaning that place up!"

"Earl, look! It's Michael J. Fox!"

"Yeah, that's nice, Randy."

"Or is that the other Marty McFly? I always get them mixed up- they look alike so much!" the slow-witted Randy admitted, shoving a handful of cheese popcorn in his mouth that was so big it could have fed three of Catalina's relatives.

"Oh, wow, I remember this movie!" Earl smiled, his eyes lighting up. "'Back To The Future' has been one of my favorite movies since it came out!"

Their Mexican housekeeper squinted at the TV and was clearly confused. "How can you go back to the future when the future ain't happened yet?"

"Well, he uses his souped-up car to do it," Earl explained, as if that made perfect sense.

"What does he do? Drive it in reverse? Oh, wait, if he's going to the future, he'd have to go forward...but he's going back to the future, which means what's ahead, but if he goes..." Catalina grimaced and gritted her teeth, her mind unable to cope, so she grumbled, "Stupid intellectual American movies!"

"I always liked Doc Brown's DeLorean, but give me Adam West's Batmobile any time!" Randy smiled, replacing one empty bowl of cheese popcorn with one full of cheese sticks. Catalina looked at Randy and wondered how he'd gotten his ears so orangey, then she noticed how orangey Earl's moustache was getting, the more cheese popcorn they ate. "All those gadgets, and the parachutes, and the Bat-turn that spins them around a thousand degrees to go back the way they came! That was so cool!"

"Did Batman go back to the future, too?" Catalina wondered.

"No, only Michael J. Fox," Earl corrected.

"Marty McFly," Randy corrected, giving Fox's role that he played in the movie.

"Did he play Robin? He's small enough to play Robin," Catalina said, about to pop in some cheese sticks into her mouth until she looked at them, and started to wipe off the suspicious orange dust on the snack food.

"No, that was Burt Ward," Earl told her. "Aawww, this isn't 'Back To The Future'!"

"Yes, it is, Earl!" Randy assured, pointing at the slightly-fuzzy TV screen. "There's the DeLorean, and Doc Christoper Lloyd Brown, and Marty, and he's in the future!"

"What I mean is, Randy, that it's "Back To The Future Two" ."

"'Back To The Future, too' ?" Catalina wondered. "As opposed to what? You, too?"

"Me, too? Or us two?" Randy asked, getting confused.

"No, I mean the movie," Earl tried to clarify.

"U2's also in this movie? I like those guys, except for their songs and all their singing," Catalina said.

"What I mean is, it's the second movie of the trilogy-"

"Hey! You know how I feel about those big three-syllable words!" Catalina snapped, her hot Latina temper suddenly rising with indignation. "What's a 'trilinodgee'?

"It's a three-way thing-" Earl began to explain, until Catalina looked at the brothers, and began to shuffle off to the edge of the bed, away from them, so Earl tried again. "It's just a fancy word for a three-part story, Catalina. This is the second part, which isn't as good as the first part."

"Ooooh, yea!" Randy sighed, a very, very small light bulb of recognition popping up over his head. "I remember now. Yea, this is the second movie, when Marty travels to the far-distant future of 2015, instead of 1855 and all those songs and people from the Fifties like Chuck Berry's cousin!"

"You're getting the first and third movies mixed up, Randy. The first was 1955, and the second-"

"Waitaminute!" Catalina said, holding up a hand. "How can 1855 be the future ? It's always been in the past! Even when Jesus was born 1855 was still in the past!"

"Look, can we just watch the movie?" Earl said, getting tired of the circular conversation. "I'm watching TV to get ideas from Karma."

"It wasn't such a bad source at times, what with all the stuff shown on all the good networksand the CNN, but I had to watch real carefully for any hints for those subtle messages I was talking about. Sometimes it wasn't a message from Karma, and was just a crazy idea I thought was what I was supposed to do..."

(Flashback) ****..."EARLHICKEYI'MGONNAKILLYOU!" Joy Turner, Earl's ex-wife shouted out of her trailer park window, making her words stream together as one, her southern accent coming through loud and clear...but especially loud.

Earl and his brother Randy stared back at her as they walked away, their hands hefting the engine of Joy's car across the trailer park towards their own 1973 El Camino.

"It's for...Karma, irgh...Joy! Gotta do what's...right!"

"That engine ain't ever done anything bad to you!" Joy shouted, popping her head back into the window, to shout at her husband, "Darnell! Go get the machete I stole from the church bake sale! I gotta cut off my ex-husband's arms!"...****

"...and sometimes, I just misinterperated what Karma wanted me to do. Almost always I got it right- the stealing of Joy's car engine not being one of them, however. But if I looked real hard, it usually came to me pretty loud and clear...not as much as Joy's voice when she was all liquored-up, but clear enough."

"Cubs win World Series!" the character of Marty McFly said on the fuzzy TV screen, as he read a near-by electronic billboard. Marty was from 1985, so thirty years was much later for him- not so much for Earl and his fellow TV viewers.

"Not with no pitching on their team! They're still crappy here in2010!" Randy joked, his hand suddenly freezing midway between the half-empty bowl and his mouth. "Earl! Earl, we can get rich! Even more than when you won the lottery! If the Cubs are gonna win the Pennant in 2015, all we gotta do is bet a load of money on 'em with the bookies and we'll be rich!"

"Randy, it was only a movie! There's no guarantee that the Cub's will ever win the World Series! Not in 2015, 2010 or 3010!"

"Now that's the future!" Catalina nodded. "I wonder where I'll be working in 3010?"

"I suppose yer right! Chicago's got at least two baseball teams, and one of them is always pretty good and the other is breaking their fans' hearts!" Randy said, eating some of the cheese sticks off of Earl's shirt that had fallen onto it.

"And then it hit me; Chicago...and a broken heart. Back in 1989, I took a trip up to Chicago with some friends during Spring Break from Juvenile Delinquent School , and during all the partying, came across a really cute blond named 'Kelly'. She was a firecracker, she was! A real fun party girl with long blond hair and the best kisser I'd ever come across then...maybe even until now! We hit it off instantly..."

Flashback ****...A young Earl Hickey was practically in a wrestling match with a scantily-clad Kelly Bundy, as she ripped off his shirt and t-shirt and expertly slipped off his wristwatch, even as she smothered his face with kisses. Hugging him tightly, she checked his watch behind his back, saw that it was valuable, and tucked it into her bra, before inundating him with kisses again. She backed off, holding up a finger to slow him down as she straightened her wild, messed-up waves of bleach-blond hair, took a sip of a Miller Lite, and then dove back in, Earl's own hands going crazy roaming her body and getting closer to popping open her bra. She backed off and asked him what kind of slut did he think she was?...and then proceeded to pin him against the steering wheel, making it honk, as she shoved her tongue down his throat...****

"...and we had the best time I ever had in the two days that I was in Chicago. Unfortunately, my buddy and fellow delinquent, Virgil Ripley, wanted to recreate the Great Fire of Chicago, and despite stopping him and his crazy pyrotechnic tendencies, we both figured that the cops would trace the fire to us, so we high-tailed it back to Camden County. And by doing that, I not only missed out on another date with Kelly that she' and I had planned, but I never even got to say 'good-bye', and by doing that I broke her heart. We'd talked about alot of stuff and had made all kinds of plans- nothing like setting fire to Chicago, of course, but alot more kissing and fun, harmless stuff that could only get you locked up for a night. So there it was...Number 34 on my list: Broke Kelly Bundy's heart. Oh, and a sequel to that, number 35: drank her Dad's last beer. It would mean travelling back to Chicago, but at least it was better than doing number 23, which I was avoiding big time 'cause it involved spiders and getting a vasectomy. Randy interperated it differently, thinking that I had to become the new pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, and Catalina thought it was a sign for me to go and find Michael J. Fox, and fix his car, but I overruled them, and made my Executive Decision. The Bundys it was."

Having won $100,000 from a scratch-and-win lottery ticket had made Earl's mission easier than if he hadn't won it. In fact, winning the money and promptly getting hit by a car was what launched Earl on his quest to right what he had done wrong with his life. So with thousands still in his bank account he and his brother Randy bought a couple bus tickets to the Windy City (Earl had sworn off flying during a botched attempt to fly to Mexico, and he didn't want to put his beloved El Camino through the rigours of driving all the way to Illinois), which would give him time to figure out how he was going to set things right.

With a name like 'Bundy' it shouldn't be hard tracking Kelly down- after all, how many 'Bundy's could there be in the world, let alone the city of Chicago? Ten or eleven at the most, he estimated. Of course, 21 years had passed since he'd run away from her, and she could be off and married with children, and under a different name, but that would just be the usual stumbling block he'd encountered. Kelly wouldn't be the first person he'd track down with very little information, but he was more concerned about her feelings. She might have been in love with him, and never married, so smitten with his debonair good-looks and smooching ability that she'd never married and moved on. For all he knew, Kelly Bundy was a heart-broken spinster angel living in a Convent, or an angry virgin with hatred towards all men. He could only imagine what he'd find when he looked for her.

Earl frowned. "Oh, man, Randy, I just realized that to cross off Number 34, I'll probably have t do Number 35 first!"

His brother shrugged his broad shoulders, interrupting the carving of his initials into the bus window next to his seat. "That's okay, Earl- you've been doing the numbers outta order all this time, anyway!" He paused and thought back and mumbled, "You have been doing them out of order, right, Earl? You're not using some kinda New Math, right?"

"Yea, I'm doing them out of order, but-" Earl began to say, until he noticed a youthful pair of googly eyes looking down at him. From behind the seat in front of him started a smirking child of perhaps seven years of age and of Eastern European descent, but most unnerving was the lack of blinking the boy was doing as he watched Earl and Randy talk. "Uh, hey, kid! Private conversation going on here, okay? Turn around and sit down, okay, chum? Just sit down there, and ride the bus properly. Go on. Go! Kid, you're freaking me out! It's impolite to stare!" Earl said, but nothing could make the boy look away from the Hickey brothers. "Randy, you try!" But Randy was staring back at the boy, a look of mindlessness on his unkempt features, as he stared back at the kid, open-mouthed and vacant. "Randy!"

His brother blinked and seemed to come back to reality. "Aaawww, Earl, I was winning! I was doing a staring contest with the kid!"

"It's only a contest if the other person is looking right at you, but he's not- he's staring at me! It's uncanny! He ain't blinked in over 2 minutes!"

"Maybe he's a mutant, Earl! Maybe he's an X-Man!"

"He'll be an ex-child if he doesn't stopping looking at me!" Earl growled at the unusual boy, then covered his eyes away from the strange Devil Child, trying to get back on track from before. "What I was saying, Randy, was to do Number 34, I'll have to do Number 35 first, which involved Kelly's father. I drank his last beer, and to find out where she is, I might have to go through him and his refrigerator!"

"Cool! Do you think his wife will feed us? Maybe make us a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza?"

"We're not there to pig out, Randy, but we might get something to eat at the Bundy's. To fix Number 35 I'm just gonna try and bribe with a six-pack, and see if that works. If it doesn't, that'll be the easiest item on my list that I ever fixed! Well, not including all the time I've had to spend on a bus with this little freakazoid that's staring at me." From behind his hooded hand, Earl asked quickly, "Is he still looking at me? Randy? Is he still-?"

Earl glanced at his brother, but his sibling was back to staring, open-mouthed and mute, at the weird little kid in front of them, so Earl looked up, and saw the boy was still staring directly at him, and not Randy.

He spent the next hour using various methods to cover his eyes.

"Unlike a fancy airline company that might offer fancy food like big bags of peanuts and RC Cola, the bus company didn't feed us, so by the time we hit Chicago, we were pretty hungry. Randy kept asking for deep-dish pizza, which as far as I knew is just a pizza in a big, deep, salad bowl, and slapped with a bigger price than Pizza Hut. So instead of going to such a pizza place, and on account that neither of us was dressed up in a suit and tie to enter such an High-Class establishment, we found ourselves at the New Market Mall, where we could enjoy the multi-racial cuisine of the Food Court."

A few doors into the mall saw Earl and Randy passed by stores both had seen advertised on television, such as The Gap and the clothing store with the naked gay guys posing without shirts themselves (kinda hard to sell shirts when you don't know what kind of shirts are in the store, Randy thought top himself), and paused momentarily as they passed by the window of a lady's shoe store called 'Gary's'. The store was devoid of customers, even though the store offered a hundred kinds of lady's shoes, but what caught their attention was the single salesman inside. He was sitting on a chair on the middle of the store, bent over with his hands covering his face.

"Do you think he's praying, Earl?" Randy wondered.

"Or maybe he's asleep. Let's eat, Randy, I'm starving!"

Earl pulled his brother deeper into the shopping mall, eventually finding the Food Court, the only kind of 'court' that the Hickey brothers liked to attend.

Randy's eyes were wide with wonder as he checked out the numerous fast-food take-outs, as well as how many people of every race, color, creed, and age were present. Camden County was home to many kinds of people, but Chicago seemed to have a lock on the other 95 % of varieties of people.

"Earl,look! Chinese food!" Randy smiled as he pointed at an eatery called 'Viva Italiano! Eatery'

"That an I-Talian place, Randy. See? Pizza and lasagna and fancy Kraft Dinner macaroni noodles!" Earl said.

Randy stared open-mouthed at the people working behind the counter and in the kitchen area, and shook his head. "Nope. Gotta be Chinese, 'cause I ain't seeing any I-Talians inside there!"

"That's just the staff, Randy- it's the food they're making that counts."

"Okay, if you say so. But I never knew the Chinese invented pizza pies and Kraft Dinner!'

"Neither did I. Maybe 'I-Talian' is just a kinda religion, and not a kind of food? Like the Pope and Marlon Brando!" Earl suggested.

The Hickey brothers stood in line for a no-name burger joint, and when they stood before the cashier they sensed the depression and obvious emotional pain of the man serving them. He was in his fifties or so, sporting a beard and moustache, and as little energy in his spirit as a convicted man on Death Row.

"Hello...welcome to...sigh...Burger Bunker...my name is Steve R...can I take...your order?"

"Uh, hi! My name is Earl!" Earl said, smiling and trying to be cheerful so the poor slob might feel a little better about his own day. "I'd like a Combo 3 with pickles on the side and a-"

"Pickles on the side?" the forlorn 'Steve R.' asked, his frowning face frowning deeper by the second. "Can't do that...the pickles have to stay inside the burger."

"But, if it's okay, my brother has a thing about pickles touching his ketchup inside his burg-"

"He'll live...unlike me..."

"Um, okay, well, keep the pickles inside in the first combo, and that'll be mine, but in the second combo, can you-"

"...yes, I'm not alive," Steve R. droned on in a monotone, deadpan, "I was alive once...long ago..."
"Sorry, to hear that, fella. Anyways, Combo one has a Pepsi, and for Combo Two, my brother-"

"Top banker in Chicago...hot horny wife...expensive car...I had it all..." Steve R sighed, looking away that reminded Earl of 'Back To The Future' because this guy certainly wasn't living in the present or the future.

"Can I just get my food, man? My brother and I-"

"Do you know I used to tip waiters at restaurants with crisp new $20 bills I took out of the bank vault?"

"Let's go, Randy. We aren't gonna get anything out of this guy. Seeya, mister!"

"$20 could buy alot of pickles back then..." Steve R sighed

After having a something to eat at a coffee and donut eatery (since Randy was getting nervous at the amount of pickles that were in all the kitchens of the Food Court), the boys went back the way they came through the mall, and looked inside 'Gary's again, and saw how the lone salesman inside was still bent over in his chair, his face still covered by his hands.

"Earl! That guy hasn't moved! And we been eattin' for an hour and half!"

"Maybe he is asleep, Randy. Or maybe he's a loser with no way out."

Randy shrugged his shoulders. "Guess I can't blame him. If I'd worked there more than a year or two in a girly place like that I'd be depressed, too!"

Earl pulled his brother away and back outside, where they could find out how to track down Kelly Bundy and find a way to get there.

"It took a couple hours to get back on track, since we didn't know our way around Chicago, and the cab drivers could tell we weren't Chicagoreans. Our first clue was the glint in the eye of our first cabbie- that look of coming upon a couple chumps that could be swindled- something Randy and I knew about from our own days of breaking the law..."

Flashback ****..."See ya, losers! Enjoy your stay in Pine Village! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Earl and Randy watched as their Chicago taxi cab sped off, leaving them standing in the middle of a tiny little town 90 minutes outside of the Windy City, minus the cab fare of $280.

A skinny hound-dog strolled up to Randy and lifted his leg to pee on the oblivious visitor...*****

Flashback ****..."You wait here. I need talk to my brother. You safe. Car is mostly-bullet-proof!" a second cab driver told them, as they sat in his backseat, and were then left alone in his car, as they nervously looked about the run-down, rat-infested, criminal-strolling area of Chicago that the Hickey brothers were sure wasn't anywhere near Kelly Bundy's house...or so they hoped...*****

"When we did get back on track, thanks to us stealing Boris Yeltsin's taxi cab while he was gone, we found us a phone book and located Kelly's house. As luck would have it, there was still only one 'Bundy' family in all of Chicago, and when I pulled up outside the house I recognized it as the house I'd visited all those years ago. Armed with a nice cold six-pack of beer, Randy and I approached the Bundy home for the first time in 21 years..."

Inside, Al was flipping channels with his remote in one hand, and his gradually-enlargening gut in the other, as he tucked it under his belt line. He didn't know why it felt good to hold his hand there, it just did. Maybe it was an ancestral thing, where Quick-Draw Bundy held his wife-shootin' six-shooter, or something, he didn't know.

He'd just spent 8 hours in the dark at work- his standard employee position of hunched over in abject depression, his hands in his face, and was only now settling into his routine of getting used to the daylight, watching TV and starving (thanks to his wife Peggy ignoring him upstairs, his son Bud ignoring him downstairs, and Kelly ignoring him...wherever.

A cheerful knock-knockknock-knock-knock...knock..knock! on his front door disturbed him out of his leering at a Victoria's Secrets commercial, putting him in a bad mood instantly. He looked over his shoulder at his sad-sack shaggy dog, Buck, and sighed,

"A dog or a butler...and the kids voted for a dog when they were little! Why did I listen to them?" Al sighed, as he grunted off the couch, strolled to the front door, and opened it up to reveal a smiling moustached man and a dopey-looking companion behind him.

"Hi, ! I have-"

"Don't want it, don't need it, get outta my face, go to hell!" Al snapped, and slammed the door in Earl's face.

Earl knocked quietly on the door again, before Al managed to walk three feet away. Bundy sneered and squinted, his fists balled in frustration, as he said under his breath,

"Dirty Harry answered doors with a .357 Magnum, so why can't I?"

He swung the door wide open, his mouth twisting only long enough to begin to form the first syllable of 'Getthehellouttahereferretface!', when Earl hefted the six-pack of beer up into his view, and with a big moustachioed grin proclaimed,

"I have beer!"

Al paused for 1.03 seconds, until his demeanor completely changed, and he jumped back from the entrance, giving Earl and Randy full access into his home holding his door wide open. With a gentle wave, and a soft voice, Al Bundy replied,

"Please come in, my friend! Make yourself at home in my humble abode!"

"Thank ya very much!" Earl smiled, entering the Bundy home.

Al was so mesmerized by the beer that he slammed the door closed in Randy's face, locking him out. Earl's brother would spend the next five minutes gently knocking on the door and looking through the windows, but he never got anyones attention, other than Buck, the Bundy's shaggy dog, who just stared back at him.

Presented with another silent staring contest, Randy stopped knocking, and stared back at Buck, who stared at Randy, who stared at Buck, who stared back at Randy...

Earl's hands were immediately relieved of the cold, refreshing drinks by Al, and offered the chair that faced into the home, and away from the front door, otherwise Earl would have noticed that Randy wasn't present when he said,

"So, hey, , my name's Earl and I'm here with my brother Randy to settle a debt, and fix what I did wrong 21 years ago. Do you know where I could find Ke-"

"Uh-huh! Wait just a minute, please, kind sir," Al said, twisting off the cap of the beer, and somehow chugging it down in no time flat. He gave a loud, relaxed sigh from the pleasure of the unexpected beer, glaring at the empty bottle like it was a naked Pamela Anderson. "Oooh, that was amazing! Was it good for you, too?" Al leered down at the bottle.

"You're welcome, . So about Kel-"

Al held up an intimidating hand in a 'stop' motion, opened the second beer, and downed that. Earl began to get impatient, and looked around the house, noticing a very pretty red-head with big hair coming down the stairs from upstairs.

"Oh, hi, honey. I didn't expect to sleep so long!" she proclaimed, noticing Earl, and brushing some bangs out of her eyes.

"Kinda hard not to when you combine your sleep from last night with your 10 am nap, your 11 am siesta, your 12 noon coma and your 1 pm snore-fest, Peg!" Al proclaimed, helping himself to a third beer.

The red-head's equally red lips frowned into the prettiest frown Earl had ever seen, but he was pleased to see it morph into a smile as she saw him smile back, and stood up. "Howdy, Mrs. Bundy. My name is Earl Hickey and-"

"-he's my new boyfriend, Peg, so get out!" Al joked, showing her his half-finished beer. "He's brought gold and myrrh and frankincense and...beeeerrr!"

"Don't you know it''s against the rules to feed the zoo animals, ?" Peggy asked with a glance down at her husband, Al.

"Call me, Earl, Mrs. Bundy."

"Oooh! Such a gentlemen! Al, you must feel so inadequate around a higher lifeform!" Peggy laughed.

"After these six beers, Peg, I'll be a high life form, myself!"

"So, Earl...don't tell me you're one of those high school caveman football friends of Al's?"

"Oh, no ma'am! I'm actually here to see Kelly! She and I were the same age when-"

"That's a relief! I can't tell you how many times I've sat entranced by Al's spine-tingling details of when he threw two touchdowns in one game!" she said, sarcastically.

"It was FOUR, Peg. About the same number of boulders that your mother weighs!"

"Uh, sorry, to barge in like this for you nice folks, but-"

Peggy interrupted Earl by sitting beside Al on the couch and ribbing him with her elbow. "Again with the manners! He's such a refreshing change, isn't he, Al?"

Al released a loud belch, and grunted, "Delightful." Then he opened up the next beer.

"I can see where Kelly got her pretty looks, Mrs. Bundy!" Earl smiled, trying to get the conversation back in line with why he was even in their house.

"Please, call me 'Peggy'. And that's so nice of you, Earl! You see, Al? I haven't lost it! I can still create stirrings in men's pants!"

Earl blushed and crossed his legs, thinking he might have been showing something down below that he shouldn't to a married woman, but Al Bundy couldn't care less.

"Those aren't stirrings, Peg, they're the first pangs of turning to stone via your Medusa-like powers with that big red hair of yours!" he sighed. He looked at Earl, and added, "Usually she's got snakes up there, but much like me, she hasn't fed them yet!"

"Okay, so, anyways, guys, what I really need to do is tell you why I'm here!" Earl insisted.

"You brought me beer out of nowhere, that makes you Santa Earl in my books, case closed!" Al assured him, chugging back his latest beer, a contented hand dug half way into the top of his pants.

"Well, yes, the beer has something to do with it," Earl began, until a young man stomped up the stairs from the basement, and appeared.

"Hey, Mom, hey, Dad. Who's the out of work porn actor?" Bud Bundy asked.

"He's not in porn, he's in the Guardian Angel business, Bud!" Al insisted.

Earl smiled and looked at the youngest Bundy. "Oh, hey, Bud Bundy! I remember you!"

"You do?" theyounger man asked, trying to place Earl's face.

"Yea, yea! Man, you haven't changed a bit! Back in the day, you were always kinda skulking around here, spying on your sister an' me and trying to videotape us or something! Hey, didn't you have one of them blow-up dolls in your room-"

"NO, No, I did not!" a blushing, annoyed Bud insisted. "That was a... She was just tired. Lethargic."

"Well, okay, but I coulda swore-"

"Date! Tired! Lethargic!" Bud growled through gritting teeth.

"Okay, cool," Earl shrugged, unconvinced, sitting back down.

"Earl, you said 'you and Kelly'?" Peg asked. "You know Kelly?"

Earl paused and reached for the last beer of the six-pack that he brought, but Al snatched it up and cradled it against his chest like a baby, emitting a feral, growling sound, so Earl let out a sigh and got down to business.

"It's like this; I'm kinda on a personal quest, and made a list of all the mistakes I made in my life. I made two of 'em right here, and I'm back to make up for both of them. One was with Kelly, and the other was...well...about 's beer."

Al paused in mid-chug, his eyes popped open from their heavy-lidded contentment, and he swallowed the last of the beer, slowly bringing the bottle down and off his lips, as his eyes stared long and hard at Earl. Earl began to look uncomfortable inside the Bundy house for the first time...

"I'm not the most articulate guy around, and sometimes I just blab out my words insteada thinking about them. If I'd just took my time and worded things differently, it might have just saved me some smacks in the head in the past, and the present..."

Al recognized Earl at that moment, remembering what he used to look at as an 18-year old, and jumped out of his raggedy couch and into Earl's lap, where his hands found Earl's throat, prompting Peggy and Bud to leap to Earl's rescue and try to pry Al's hands free of Earl's neck...

"I suppose I deserved that. When a man crosses another the way I did, even if he didn't mean it, the Law of the Land would go in Al Bundy's favor and against me. You see, it all started the first night I met Kelly..."

Flashback ****..."Are you sure it's okay? We just met and all," A nervous young Earl asked, holding a Young Kelly Bundy's hand as she guided him into the darkened Bundy house.

"Don't worry, Merle, it's cool! Have a seat."

Earl sits down on the couch and Kelly jumps onto him, proceeding to kiss him and fool around. within two minutes, she's also relieved him of his wallet, and pulled out a few twenties, returning his wallet to his pocket, as she distracts him with even more kisses.

"Oh, man, Kelly, I really like you!" an out of breath Earl sighs as he holds her close. "I'm in Chicago for a couple more days, and I really want to do stuff with you!"

Kelly pushes him back and asks, "Like what?"
"You know? Checking out a concert or ball game or going swimmin' and stuff!"

"Oh. Okay. Whatever," Kelly agreed, and stuck her tongue back down Earl's throat, until Earl had to pull back once more.

"Do you got anything to drink, Kelly? All this necking is making my throat dry."

"I doubt if you'll find anything in the fridge, Erkel, but you can always get a drink of water from the tap. Just hit it three times and wait a minute, and it should come on by itself."

"Okay, thanks."

"Then wait for either cold water or hot water to come out when you want it. It's kinda unpredictable."

"Right. Thanks."

"And don't drink directly out of the faucet- my Dad always does that."

"Uh...yea," Earl grimaced, and strolled over to the kitchen as Kelly checked herself in her mirror and secretly hid Earl's money under a couch cushion. He opened the fridge first, and sure enough, there was a single beer waiting for him. He licked his lips and struggled with his conscience, since the only other thing in the completely bare fridge was a plate with an M&M candy on it. He couldn't help himself, and chugged back the beer, putting the empty bottle back in the fridge, along with the cap back onto it.

Then he and Kelly necked again for the next hour...*****

Kelly walked into the house she'd called home for most of her years, and found a strange man standing on the porch looking through the front door window, and another strange man seemingly being strangled by all three members of her family. She sighed and dropped her purse beside the closet, and walked over to the kitchen, ignoring the assault taking place in her home.

"You guys would not believe the kinda day I'm having! First, I break a nail trying to avoid a cop during a high-speed chase on the highway. Next, they're all out of Coca Cola Freezies at the 7-11! How am I supposed to work when I haven't had a nutritious breakfast? And then, to top it off, get this; I found a fifty dollar bill!" Al, Peggy, and Bud all stopped struggling over Earl, and looked over their shoulders at Kelly, who held up a hand and frown. "No, no. Don't even think about it; it was a lousy Canadian fifty dollar bill! So I threw it away! Lousy Monopoly money! I keep seeing those things at the Jean Shop every week, and I tell the customers to hit the road, Jack! I'm too smart to be tricked into taking counterfeit dough-bread-currency! So...whatcha doin'?"

"ICK! Ack! UrgharglelKellich!" croaked Earl.

Randy looked on from the open front door of the house, unsure if he should enter and rescue Earl, or if it would be bad manners to enter without being asked.

"This guy used to be my bestest pal in the world, Pumpkin," Earl grunted, feeling Peggy and Bud's hands slowly pull his off of Earl Hickey's throat. "Oh, and he probably sullied my baby girl with the same grubby hands he used to confiscate Daddy's last beer!"

"Oh...okay," Kelly said, popping open a diet soda, and plopping down onto the couch, picking up the TV remote. "Did you tape Oprah today, Mom? The one about Women Who Steal Their Husband's Internal Organs And Sell Them To Hospitals In South America?"

Peg grunted back, finally pulling Al's hands free of a gasping Earl, "No...honey, that was...yesterday! Whew! No, today, was a re-run of Wives That Donate Their Husband's Old Underwear To Be Used As Weapons Of Mass Destruction."

"Look, I-I'm...sorry...Mister Bundy!" Earl croaked out, slowly regaining the use of his voice. "Honestly, I had...no idea it would be your last beer for the next five weeks! I didn't know you were that tight for money! If I knew that, I can promise you, that it never woulda happened!"

"I believe him, Dad," Bud said. "It's not as if anybody would be that crazy to come back here after 21 years, and apologize! Who the heck does such a crazy good deed if they didn't really mean it?"

"I'm glad to see you agree with me that it's the right thing to do," Earl smiled at Bud.

"Oh, no! I said I believed you, not that I'd also do such a thing! Personally, I think you've got a few screws loose! Or at the very least, you didn't have a clue as to what kinda lion's den you were entering when you came here!"

"Okay, well, anyways, , I hope that six-pack sorta made up for me drinking your last beer, and I can cross you off my list?"

Al belched long and hard, then asked innocently, "What...'six pack'?"

"The six-pack I just fed you with, sir!" Earl snapped, becoming annoyed.

"Fella, I don't know what kind of delusions you're capable of, but-"

"Oh, Al, leave Earl alone!" Peggy interrupted. "Of course, it makes up for one stupid beer!"

"Tut-tut, woman! I beg to differ!" Al insisted, holding up his Lecturing Finger. "I recall that beer quite clearly. It was a Miller Genuine Draft, stamped lovingly with its code number...1716-1701...and it's label was oh-so-gently torn somewhat on its upper left-hand corner...approximately three-eighths of an inch at a 33 degree angle. I'd been saving it for Friday after work...my last beer from a six-pack I'd bought at the corner quickee-shoot-out-grocery mart. Saving it for Friday after work...after a 40 hour week of staring down at mutant female feet in ludicrously-designed female shoes. I'd been all set for that first gentle..GAL-L-L-LUMP!...except..." Al said, his eyes becoming angry and full of restrained fury as he growled out, "...except that I couldn't partake in my Nectar of the Gods because a certain red-headed succubus needed me to drive her to her Mother...a.k.a. Jabber-Jabber-Jabber The Hutt...leaving my poor, sweet, little angel alone in the dark with an animal!"

"Jeez, Dad, I was able to take care of myself," Kelly grumbled.

"Not youuu, Pumpkin! My last beer! Pay attention!"

"Okay, I'm not sure I know what's going on here, what with you guys trying to kill this old guy, and the weird, creepy homeless guy standing around outside," Kelly said, bringing attention to the shy Randy standing by the front door for the first time, "so I'll just be up in my room if you need me to make it four-on-one or tell the creepy Jehovah's Witness over there to hit the road!"

Earl jumped out of the chair, and managed to prevent Kelly from going upstairs, as he said, "Actually, Kelly, the reason I'm here is because of you! Not so much your Dad's beer, but the both of you are on my list! See?"

Kelly's mouth turned down into an uncomfortable grimace, and she took a step back, saying, "I'm not sure what kind of freaky list could include me and a bottle of beer bought 21 years ago-"

"Plenty, Kel! Just ask most of your dates from 1985 to 2010!" Bud teased.

"Well, they're not together, they're Number 34 and Number 35, respectively!" Earl clarified.

"'Kelly Bundy' and 'respect'- two words Captain Kirk could feed an alien computer and the illogic would blow it to pieces!" Bud joked.

Earl ignored Bud's barbs and kept his focus. "Look, Kelly, it's been a while, but don't you remember me? Earl Hickey? Spring Break 1989?"

Kelly looked Earl in the eye, and tried to picture him without his moustache, but was drawing a blank.

"It's no use, - Kelly couldn't remember what she ate at Ben & Jerry's, let alone remember anything about you from 21 years ago!" Bud stated.

"That's not true!" Kelly countered. "When I went to Ben & Jerry's I had...I had...oh...I had the...spaghetti!"

"No, no, Kelly. Remember Spring Break in 1989, I came up here from Camden County with some friends, we hooked up at a bar called the 'Cross-Eyed Rocker'and with your friends-"

A wide-eyed, nervous Kelly interrupted, saying, "Oh, my, that cannot be true, sir! I would most certainly not be in any bar whilst I was underage, under any circumstances!" she finished at first sounding innocent and bewildered, and finishing with intimidating gritted teeth.

Earl pressed on oblivious. "We got us a car and kissed and stuff and came back here, remember? That-that's when I drank your beer, . Sorry! The next day we went to the Mall and I bought you a real nice mini skirt that you said you'd wear on our date that night, but unfortunately, I had to leave Chicago for, uh, legal reasons I can't get into, but I felt real bad about it for a while, and then forgot about it. So when I started writing out a list of all the bad stuff I did when I was younger, I remembered you and put you on my list. My brother and I were checking out Michael J. Fox and remembered you yesterday, so here I am."

Kelly looked over her shoulder and lowered her voice thinking nobody else could hear, but they all did anyway. "Bud, who's the old guy? Some dude left over from the Civil War? An out-of-work porn actor from the Jurassic Age that knows Dad?"

"No, Kel, he's the same age as you. You fooled around with him back when you were both 18."

"Kelly..." Earl;said, bending down on one knee and holding her hand. "From the bottom of my heart...I want to apologize for breaking your heart!"

There was utter silence in the Bundy home for several seconds, when all at once that rare quiet was shattered by all of the Bundys laughing hysterically, like they'd heard the most hilarious joke. Earl stood up, part embarrassed, part confused, and looked at Randy. Randy, for his part, thought Earl was doing a pretty good impression of him, what with that utterly confused, helpless expression on his face.

Amidst out of control giggling, Kelly struggled to ask, "S-s-sorry, w-what's your name again?"

He was starting to getting really pissed off now, and growled out as he stood up again, "Hickey! Earl Hickey!"

Kelly reigned in her laughter as did the other Bundy's, and no matter how much she stared at the out of work porn actor, Kelly couldn't 't place him. "Nope! Sorry, mister, but I can't remember our...'date'!"

"How is that possible?" Earl wondered. "We had the greatest time ever! We talked about so much stuff!"

"'Talking' and having a 'date' with Kelly is a contradiction in terms, !" Bud joked. "Waitaminute...you're name is 'Earl Hickey'?" Bud questioned. He turned to Kelly and asked, "What did you do, Kelly? Leave your 'mark' on him? Does 'Earl Hickey' join the ranks of 'Jimmy Backseat'? 'Robbie Secondbase'? ''Mike Or-"

"That'll be all, Bud!" Al snapped.

"Look, , it was a long time ago. A real loooong time ago, and I've had a few dates-"

"Thousands," Bud mumbled.

"-since then, and well, it was a long, long, looooong time ago-"

"At least seven black book ago!" Bud added, receiving an elbow in the shoulder from his mother for that comment.

"-so, whatever you think you did wrong, it's no big deal."

"So I can cross you off my list?" Earl wondered.

", you can cross me off any ol' list you want," Kelly shrugged. "It's no skin off my noose."

Finally, Earl smiled and released a satisfied sigh of relief, and pulled out the list in his shirt pocket that he never left home without.

"So there it was; Number 34 wasn't even Number 34 at all, because it never existed in the first place! I figured it was the easiest item I ever had to cross off my Karma list, but then I realized it did require the effort of a couple of bus trips, and a creepy little rug rat from the wrong side of the Berlin Wall staring back at me, and then the rip-off cab drivers, but all in all, I had it easy. Number 35 would still be a bit of a challenge, though..."

"Wow, I'm still glad I found ya, Kelly. I thought it was going to be a big chore tracking you down in a big city like this, if you'd got yourself married."

"She did, but it didn't take," Bud noted. "Had to come back here to live after the divorce."

"Well, since you're divorced and all, maybe I can still help ya out? I'm sure I can scrape up a date for a girl as pretty as you in a city this size!" Earl smiled innocently.

"Mister, you won't find a guy for Kelly in a state this size that she hasn't already...'dated'!" Bud assured, using his fingers to make the 'quote/unquote' sign in the air.

"And when are you planning to move on from Mom and Dad's basement, Buderick?" Kelly asked, stinging her brother back. "You're running out of room down there with your collection of porcelain penguins!"

Earl stared at Bud in a way that Bud disliked when the rest of the world judged him, so all he offered was a lame, "Hey...I thought 'March of the Penguins' was cool! Can't a guy have a hobby? And I'm only still here because of the near-collapse of the American economy that wiped out my entire savings! Thank you, jackasses, at Goldman Sachs!"

Randy commented from the open front door, "From a lady blow-up doll to little penguin figurines...how the mighty have fallen!"

"Who is that?" Peggy mumbled to Al, who shrugged it off, not caring.

"Well, Earl, you might have settled your non-existent debt with my non-existent college graduate scientist daughter, but there's still the issue of my own part of your list," Al stated, tugging up his pants and rolling up his sleeves as if he meant business.

Earl backed up a few steps closer to the front door, but Al was held back by Peggy, who said, "Al, you already got a free six pack and let off a little steam by strangling him instead of the homeless guy that sleeps in your shoe store, so isn't that enough?"

"No, Peg. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, and when a man's gotta do the thing has to do, then a man's doing theohwhatever! I lost my train of thought. And that could only happen if...if I smelled...chicken!"

"Hi, Peggy!" an annoying female voice cheerfully beckoned from the front door that shattered Al's concentration and made him cringe.

Their friend and next door neighbor Marcy had popped her head inside and squeezed by Randy, who was blocking most of the doorway, and was followed in by her good-looking husband, Jefferson.

"As I was saying, , this is our neighbor- The Chicken Lady. Marcy, whadaya want now? I was about to work out a financial situation here!"

"What was that, Al? Giving your week's pay to thepoor, unemployed carny employee guy standing at the front door?" Marcy asked, and looked back at Randy. "You'll have to come back another year, sir, when Al gets a raise and gives you two shiny nickels!"

"Oh, I'm not a carny worker! Me and Earl live together, and sleep together, and wake up and eat breakfast together-" Randy started, which led to everyone looking at Earl as if they were trying to figure out why that was so, and what the two gay guys saw in each other.

Earl held up a hand, and assured everyone, "Randy's my brother, and we live in a motel- we're not exactly rich!"

"That explains why Kelly doesn't remember you!" Bud joked.

"So, Peggy, the neighbors are starting to talk," Marcy stated.

"Really? What about?" Peg wanted to know.

"Well, remember that petition that was circulated on New Year's Day 2000? The one about keeping your door closed so nobody in the neighborhood would be able to smell Al's feet? Unfortunately, you've kept your door open past the 5 minute mark we all agreed on, and now people up in Milwaukee are calling me to complain!"

"Marcy, don't you have a hobby to keep your attention elsewhere? Say, taste-testing various forms of rat poison?" Al wondered.

Jefferson laughed behind his wife's back, and years of practice at hiding his smile at Al's jokes and turning them upside down into frowns had come in handy, as it did now. Marcy spun around to look at her husband with annoyance, prompting Jefferson to say,

"Now, Al, you know that's not nice! Especially after Marcy's last hobby didn't pan out."

"That's right, Al!" Marcy whined. "You know how sensitive I am about it! How was I to know my interest in water color painting would lead to those successful heavy water atomic experiments in North Korea and wind up providing nuclear weapons for Kim Jong Il?"

"Look, all of you, just shut up, will ya? was about to settle our old debt," Al said. "Marcy, why don't you hop onto your witches broom and go harass Harry Potter? Now, let me use the meager talents I've attained by working in a store and dealing with numbers, and do some quick calculations. One last beer, at a six-pack per week, multiplied by 21 years of interest, equals...equals...uh...boy?"

Bud answered without even checking a calculator, "6,552 beers, Dad."

"Good golly, that's exactly right, my boy! That abacus I bought you for college really paid off! That number was just what I was gonna say, son! So, Hickey, how would you like to pay for that? Ball park, sports bar, or jiggly bar?"

"JIGGLY BAR, EARL! Go for the jiggly bar!" Randy shouted from the front door, cupping his hands around his mouth so he could be heard.

"Al, you can't be serious! Even you couldn't drink that much beer!" Peggy stated, then looked at Al's ponch of a belly. "Not when you're already three-quarters full! Now, he's already bought you a six-pack to replace one lousy beer, which seems very fair to me!"

"Peeeeeegggg!" Al whined, stomping his foot like a spoiled child. "It's six-thousand beers, Peg! That's like every man's Xanadu! The Miller Genuine Draft Holy Grail of Holy Grails!"

"Look, Mr. and Mrs. Bundy, if it's okay with you, I don't have a problem with buying Al some rounds at a bar or another six-pack? Heck, he can even pick out one of them fancy foreign beers like that Canadian Molson's I seen in the high-end beer store back in Camden County! I hear it's got, like, 5.5 alcohol in it!"

"I'll go down in price...5,552."

"Al-!" Peggy warned.

"Peg, that's a thousand less of what Bud figured out he owes me!"

"No!"

"JIIIGGIIILYYY BARRRR!" Randy shouted with wide-eyed innocent imploring.

"Peg, the Smarter Hickey Brother over there has spoken! And I'm taking him up on his kind offer! The Jiggly Bar it is! Come along, Bud! You, too, Jefferson!"

"Hold it, bucko! My Jefferson isn't interested in- Jefferson? Jefferson, where are you?" Marcy wondered, looking around.

From outside a car horn and a revving engine preceded an imploring call from outside by Jefferson. "Rrreadyyy! Let's goooo, guys!"

Earl turned around and shook Kelly's hand. "It was nice meeting you...again...Kelly."

"Nice seeing you again, . Hope you get another movie roll real soon!"

Earl paused and thought about that, but shook his head. Poor kid wasn't the sharpest Bundy knife in the drawer, he figured. He shook Peggy's hand, and said, "Nice meeting you, too, Peggy. Pretty easy to see where Kelly got her good looks!"

Peggy blushed and chuckled, saying, "Thank you, Earl! It's a good thing my genes were the dominant force when Kelly was conceived- who knows what would have happened if Al's smelly feet DNA had anything to say about it!"

Earl made his way to the front door where Al stood beside Randy and Bud, all of them distracted by Jefferson's panicked car honking. He asked Bud, "Your Dad can't really throwback 5,552beers, can he, Bud?"

"Don't let his invitation to bring Jefferson and me along fool you, Mr. Hickey; he'll steal as many of our beers to get as close to that number as possible!"

Earl tried to picture it, as the men left, and he nodded a 'good-bye' to the ladies, then closed the door behind him.

"That poor slob doesn't know what he's gotten himself into!" Marcy thought wistfully with a smile, then her features sank, and eye brow darkened as she growled, "Nor as my beloved...dearly departed husband...Jefferson!"

"Turns out that I never did get anywhere near 6,522 or even 5,552 beers with Al Bundy, but I did see him throw back alot of beer, and I mean, a-lot! First time I ever witnessed somebody with the uncanny, inhuman ability to drink so much and still remain upright...for the most part..."

Flashback *****...Al has bribed a pair of the Jiggly Bar's own bouncers to hold him up, with a six pack for each of them, so he can keep drinking, and still leer at the occasional shapely bare legs strolling or dancing near him. Randy is still on his first beer, still too mesmerized by the beautiful exotic dancers to care about drinking, while another dancer is tucking one dollar bills into an inebriated Earls top pocket, and tickling his ear. Jefferson is drunk and getting slapped by a dancer, but barely able to feel it, while Bud is trying to impressive a bored dancer with a 39-DDD chest that he's the son of Donald Trump, and not Al Bundy...*****

"...but I was able to cross off Number 35..."

Flashback ****...A drunk, but happily oblivious Al Bundy is shown holding a police identification plaque upside down as he gets his mug shot taken, followed by an embarrassed Jefferson, a worried Bud with a black eye, a nonchalant Randy who tells them to get his good side, and finally Earl, who gets his latest mug shot, as usual, with his eyes closed and his hair dishevelled...*****

"...although not without a hiccup or two along the way. Damned if those people in Milwaukee really DID have a petition about Al Bundy's feet, though!"

#####