The One who bears the star
Long time fanfiction reader, first time writer. It came out a bit sappy, but that how it goes when the characters live a life of their own.
I took inspiration from the small hints we have gotten about the cousins childhood and wanted to explore the story about Phoney Bones infamous star-shirt (or rather, his first one) and why Phoney, Smiley and Fone Bone stopped stealing for food. I tried to keep them in character, but if they seem ooc…well…they are adults in the graphic novels and probably changed since they were teens.
Please review, but be kind about spelling mistakes since English is my third language.
Disclaimer: If I owned Bone, I would be an American male and be called Jeff Smith, which I am not.
Phoncible P. Bone wanted to be wealthy. Not merely rich, rich people were people who had some success with a business that went fairly well or had bet on a horse race that had paid off. In other words, not a permanent state and quite mundane. Common. Too common for someone like Phoney.
Phoney wanted to be the richest bone in Boneville. A respected community leader. When he walked down the street, he wanted people to look at him and say-
"Get outta my shop, ya no-good street urchin! What makes ya think I need help from the likes of you? "
An old thin woman with knobby knees and elbows showed a rather dirty-looking youth no older than fifteen out the door of a small bakery, where a sign with "Help wanted" dangled in the left window.
"Don`t think I don`t know who you are, Phoney Bone! Stolen my breads more than one time, haven`t ya, you an` yer cousins. Now get out b`fore I put th` dogs on ya!"
With these words the woman slammed the door against the boys back, nearly grazing his heels. Phoney gazed at the tiny shop bell clinkering like mad at the top of the door and yelled, with as much dignity that he could muster, "You should count yourself lucky that I stooped down low enough to ask for a job here! I would be the best thing that ever happened to your crummy ol`bakery!"
Quickly, before the woman could return, Phoney dug his hands into the pockets of his jacket and stepped out into the cobbled street. "That's one of the difficulties of living in a small town", he thought to himself. "If you have ever stolen from someone, they're likely to remember it forever." Which, of course, was a problem if you wanted a job later on, he admitted that. When he became the richest and most respected bone in Boneville, he would transform Boneville to a real city, one with skyscrapers, expensive restaurants and shops and jobs for everyone. Maybe even renovate the old park by the statue that once was Big Johnson Bone. He could arrange guided tours for gullible tourists and sell small pieces of the crumbling statue! Yeah, that was a business opportunity, and Phoncible P. Bone never failed to exploit a business opportunity.
"Well, except today" he thought to himself rather gloomily, rolling up the sleeves of his jacket. It was way too big for him, the arms reaching his fingertips and the hem coming down to his knees. But when you were an orphan (or rather, businessman in the making) you had no opportunity to be picky.
The church bell drew him out of his thoughts. It was already 5 o`clock and time to pick up Fone Bone and Smiley. Community service. The thought of it made him cringe. It had been his fault, even though he would never admit it to his cousins. He had been sick that day so Fone Bone and Smiley had to go out by themselves to find them all something to eat. Not that they weren`t experienced with having to steal food, but he was the one who kept his head cold if they had to run for it. Fone Bone had way too much conscience and Smiley...well, wasn`t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. Which Phoney never failed to tell him, of course.
When they had failed to return that evening, Phoney started to get worried, and he hated to worry. Waste of time and energy, and he also hated waste. He had seen too many business opportunities waste away because people didn`t had the guts to carry it out. Well, he`d soon change that.
Phoneys thoughts were going through that day while his feet carried him to the fashionable part of town. When Fone Bone and Smiley hadn`t come back by morning Phoney had dragged himself out of bed and started to ask around for them. The three cousins had been around long enough to get to know all the...less privileged people in Boneville and the word on the street was that Fone Bone and Smiley had been arrested at the pharmacy for stealing and had been put in custody at the local police station.
Phoney remembered running like mad down to the station, stopping every few blocks to cough up phlegm and struggling to breathe. Why, why, why had they been so stupid letting themselves get caught like that? They knew they would be sent to juvenile hall or to an orphanage if they got caught, and where would he be then? How could they be so selfish? "But they got arrested trying to get medicine for you" a tiny little voice in the pit of his stomach said. Ignoring the voice, he ran on.
At first Fone Bone and Smiley was supposed to be sent to an orphanage away from Boneville, but luckily Phoney had seen the chief officer together with the male bartender at the local pub late one night and blackmailed him for all it was worth. In the end the officer said Fone Bone and Smiley only had to do 500 hours of community service and never get caught stealing again. If they did, they all faced jail.
That night, in their little shack, after yelling to them about getting caught for something as stupid as cough medicine, Phoney had, eyes looking at everything but his cousins, promised them that he would get a proper job and start to buy whatever they needed. The official reason were that Fone Bone and Phoney obviously were inept at stealing anyway, but the secret truth was that Phoney never wanted his cousins to go through a night in a cell again.
"Hiya, Phoney!" Smileys happy voice woke Phoney out of his thoughts. He had arrived at the big posh houses in the richer part of Boneville. It must be some screwed logic with the police, make the poor people tend the gardens or pick up the trash at the houses most of them would never (legal) se the inside of. Way to rub in the unfairness of the world. Phoney, of course, knew he was only an opportunity away from living in one of those houses himself.
"Yeah? You finished for the day, then?" Phoney replied, more harsh than he had meant it. Fone Bone, rather dirty from digging a new fish pond the whole day, joined them. "You know we are, we have met at the same time two weeks in a row now." Seeing his cousin's scowl, Fone Bone hesitantly asked "And...how was your day?". Fone Bone and Smiley shared a knowing look when Phoney just dug his fist in his pockets and started to walk towards home. Obviously another fruitless day for him, job-wise. They knew Phoney hated to go around asking for jobs and being rejected every day, he was too proud. They also knew it was the shock that they might be separated by jail the next time that forced him to go around and swallow his pride every day. Still, it did nothing to improve his mood.
"You know, I like going to the gardens everyday" Smiley said, obviously trying to cheer Phoney up, but his older cousin`s scowl just deepened. " I like that, to help people, ya know. And when you become the richest bone in Boneville, me an`Fone here can tend to your garden as well!"
Phoney whipped around, the guilt about their arrest and the humiliation of the day boiling over in unfair rage. "Like I would trust you to do anything right, Smiley! Ya can`t even steal food without me babysitting over ya! If you idiots hadn`t been caught none of us would have had to be in this mess to begin with!"
Fone Bone angrily interceded on their cousin`s behalf. "Don`t be mad at Smiley Bone, it isn`t his fault that nobody wanna hire ya!"
"Well, it sure isn`t my fault either! We are orphans, we had to get our meals somewhere before, it was either stealing or the orphanage, ya both know that! And if I only had me to take care of, I would have been on easy street a long time ago!" Phoney turned away and started to walk with angry steps in the opposite direction.
Fone Bone and Smiley stood rather shocked, staring after him. Phoney often complained about his two younger cousins, but he had never said that he would rather be without them.
"Why did he get so mad, Fone Bone?" Smiley asked. Analyzing peoples emotion or reason wasn`t always his strongest suit. "I dunno, Smiley" the youngest cousin replied. "I guess he is tired of being rejected for work. You know he always says he`s going to be rich, well, it`s a bit more difficult when he actually has to prove it". "But he will get a job soon, right?" Smiley said. "We won`t get our community service meals anymore when we are done here, and nobody are allowed to hire us in another one or two years, right? So if I`m fourteen years old now, I can get a job...eh... "Next year, after your birthday. And I can get one in two years" Fone Bone sighed. "Still, Phoney didn`t have to get so mad. It wasn`t him having to spend the night in a cell" Smiley huffed. "I betcha he`ll never admit any guilt for what he said either"
Slowly the two cousins made their way back to the shack in the outskirt of town.
Both Fone Bone and Smiley were wrong, Phoney did feel guilty about what he had said. He tried to walk away from his feelings, but the nagging voice in the pit in his stomach reminded him" They got arrested trying to get medicine for you". "I never asked them to" Phoney growled.
"But they still did it. And they did not rat you out when they got caught either".
Trying to ignore his guilt, he walked even faster, leaving the fancy houses and his cousins far behind. He hated feeling guilty, it was a feeling one could not have when you led the kind of life they did.
"Still, it would be so much easier if I only had me to take care of. I got wits, I`m a survivor!"
"But you love your cousins" the voice said.
Slowly drawing to a halt, Phoney Bone dropped his head and sighed. He usually kept his more compassionate feelings under close guard, but deep down, he had to admit that Fone Bone and Smiley were good to have around. Turning, he slowly set of in the direction of home.
Fone Bone and Smiley had just finished eating the left- overs from today's community service-meal and were putting away some for Phoney when the door of the shack banged open. In the doorway, Phoney stood, arms crossed with a scowl on his face.
"Yeah?" Fone Bone said. "Going to yell at us some more?"
Phoneys eyes flickered momentarily at the direction of his cousins before staring hard at the left wall corner. "I am sorry for what I said back there" he mumbled.
"What?" Fone Bone said in disbelief. He couldn`t recall Phoney willingly apologising to anyone before.
"Ya heard me, didn`t ya?" Phoney crossed his arms even tighter about his frame. "I shouldn`t have said that I didn`t want ya around, okay?"
Smiley and Fone Bone looked at each other and then at Phoney. "Well, we know that...um...some of us can be a bit trying sometimes, but we are all still family " Fone Bone said, slightly uncomfortable by Phoneys unexpected apology. "Anyway, we sure need you around" Smiley said. "Ya know, I know you are gonna be something one day, and then I can come and work for you. If...if ya want my help, of course."
Phoney quietly closed the door, but still looked mostly at the left corner. "I`m sure I will find something for you to help me with, Smiley".
"Speaking of which, me an`Smiley have got something for you. We were saving it for Winter Solstice, but we figured it might help you get a job sooner" Fone Bone said, pulling out a small parcel wrapped in newspaper.
Phoney looked at the parcel before hesitantly accepting it. Slowly unwrapping the newspaper he unveiled a black shirt with a big yellow star on the chest. He could see that the shirt was second or even third hand; the black had faded to almost grey and the star was frayed on the edges, but he still, rather embarrassed, felt his throat tighten.
"Now you can get rid of that stupid jacket that is way too big for ya" Smiley said, rather pleased with himself.
"Smiley and I have been saving up money" Fone Bone said, eyeing Phoney. "He has been playing cards with some of the guys at community service and I have reading for one of the guards. Turns out he loves Moby Dick".
"Yeah, it helps him sleep during break" Smiley put in, ignoring Fone`s insulted expression. "Anyway, now ya can dress properly an`get rich, right?"
Phoney looked at his shirt and then at his cousins, thinking deep deep down that he already was rich. Of course, that was something he would never admit aloud.