Disclaimer: The Kids Next Door does not belong to me. I do not own any stake in the Kids Next Door franchise. I do not own any of the characters that appear in the Kids Next Door television show. I do not make any money off this story. Any other non-canon characters, however, are mine.
= = = Written after Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants." = = =
The hours of operation in Lime Ricky's only ran until twelve midnight. The bar was usually empty by then, because all the patrons would either be sleeping or partying elsewhere. The regulars knew, however, that the barkeep ran Lime Ricky's by himself until 2 am on weekends. He wasn't paid to keep the extra hours; he did it for the sake of gaining experience.
On this particular night, the bar was more deserted than usual. Cardboard bats and skeletons hung from the ceiling between the dim light fixtures in order to give the place a festive air. Small bowls of candy stood on the counter. The barkeep lowered the volume on the jukebox. There wasn't anyone else around to enjoy the music and why should there be? It was Halloween. Kids and teens were out getting candy, not sitting around drinking sodas.
The barkeep polished a bit of the counter with a rag and watched the reporters, Nick and Chip, as they talked about some destructive new sport. He didn't stop to look when the door opened; patrons didn't come in to be stared at. Eventually, he glanced at the kid when she sat down at a stool. It was Rachel McKenzie. The barkeep struggled to remember if she was still known as Numbuh…uh, something. Wasn't she already decommissioned? Perhaps she was already working for the Teens Next Door. Or maybe she was still working for the KND? Regardless, the barkeep didn't think it was important that he know his customers by their KND numbers. As far as he was concerned, they checked their duties at the door and were known only by their names. Rachel seemed to know it too. Instead of coming in her teal and purple sweatpants and sweater, she wore jeans and dark p-coat.
"Why, if it isn't Miss McKenzie," the barkeep gave a lopsided smile and leaned against the counter. "What can I do for you?"
"Hey, George," Rachel unbuttoned her coat, but left it on against the slight chill. "I was half expecting you to be closed up by now."
"And miss all the shebas that come in?"
"Any come in at all?"
"There's you," the barkeep let loose a triumphant smile when Rachel ducked her head. She walked right into that one. "What kind of giggle water you itchin' for, miss?"
"Just a Rogers, George."
"Copacetic," the barkeep brought a highball glass from under the counter. He filled it with ice and mixed in coke and grenadine syrup.
"Rather empty tonight, isn't it?" Rachel said. The barkeep dropped in a maraschino cherry and set it in front of Rachel on top of a cardboard coaster.
"That's what happens during Halloween, Rachel. Everyone's dolled up and getting candy," the barkeep said. "You wouldn't happen to have a costume on right now, would you?" He looked at Rachel's p-coat. "Maybe you're a torpedo?"
"Hah. No…I'm not dressed as anything."
"That ain't Jake."
"Look who's talking. You aren't dressed as anything either."
"Oh yeah, where is it?" the barkeep looked around. "There it is." He took out and put on a keffiyeh, then turned and made a dashing pose.
Rachel snorted, then covered her mouth. "Uhm…you're…a terrorist?"
"No! I'm Valentino."
"The important thing is, I've got a costume," the barkeep kept the headgear on and popped a candy into his mouth. "It's just you who's got no glad rags."
"Is it really that important to dress up for Halloween?"
"Yeah, it is. Why do you have to be upstage in this joint?"
"Okay jeeze, I'm sorry. You have an extra costume?"
The barkeep held out a dark fedora.
"Be a torpedo," he whispered. "Do it."
Rachel sighed, took the hat and put it on. The barkeep nodded in approval.
"Now you just have to talk the part."
"I don't talk the part?"
"Nope. Now repeat after me; that sheik is a nifty hoofer."
"That sheik is a nifty hoofer?"
"I carry a torch for him."
"We always pet in the struggle buggy."
"Yeah no. Nice try, George. You can't fool me."
The barkeep clicked his tongue and Rachel smiled.
"There's a big six I'm balled up over," she said. Her smile faltered. "He's really keen, but there ain't gonna be any cash."
"Well, well, well. Any checks?"
"Not even. Bank's closed and there's no sign of it opening."
"He's a sap," the barkeep started another Roy Rogers as Rachel finished her drink. "You got it, baby. If this piker ain't goofy then he can go chase himself, see?"
"…Thanks, George." Rachel accepted the new drink and turned it around in her hands. "That means a lot."
The door opened. In traipsed Fanny Fulbright, wearing surgical greens and a lab coat. The specialty on her fake ID tag read "Lobotomy." Her eyes fell on Rachel and she went over and sat next to her.
"Hey, Rach. Nice hat."
"Hi, Fanny," Rachel touched the brim of her fedora with two fingers. "It's really George's."
"Ah. I'll have a lime cola, George. Are you supposed to be a terrorist?"
"I'm Valentino!" the barkeep took out another highball glass and mixed in ice, lime juice and coke. He served it in a similar fashion to the Rogers. "Here you go, doc."
"Thanks," Fanny took a sip as the barkeep moved down the counter and raised the volume on the jukebox so that Fanny and Rachel could talk without worrying about being overheard. Fanny turned to Rachel.
"How are you?"
"Mmm. I know that look. That's the look of you wonderin' whether yer going to tell me the truth or not. I'm not here t'hear lies, Rach."
"Oh, you're not going to be happy about it, Fanny."
"Don't tell me it's boy trouble."
"It's boy trouble."
"Zero save us all. Yer in here, by yourself, drinkin' fer sadness. That's not a good thing, yeh know."
"I know," Rachel downed half her drink. "Pitiful, isn't it?"
"Not really. Yer not alone anymore; I'm here now too. Tell me what's going on?"
Rachel finished her second drink before she answered. "I'm down here, drinking, while Nigel is out there somewhere saving kids from all kinds of trouble."
"You miss him."
"Well, bring him back! Adult tyranny didn't disappear when he did, Rach. It got worse!"
"We need him here!"
"I know," Rachel sighed and signaled George for another drink. "I know all of that, Fanny. I still can't do it. I can't just drag him back."
"Because being out there is what makes him happy."
Fanny stared. "You can't be serious."
"I am." Rachel paused as the barkeep set down another glass in front of her. "Maybe he'll come back someday. Maybe he'll show up today and say something like, 'oh Rachel, I've been an idiot. But now I'm back and we can kick butt together and maybe go see a movie.' But that's not going to happen." She chugged a third of the drink down. "No amount of wishing on my part will ever make that happen and that sucks."
Fanny was silent. Rachel nursed the sweating glass in her hands.
"You should go after him anyway. I mean, look at yourself. You're miserable."
Rachel snorted as she took another swig. "Thanks."
"No, I mean it. I can't stand to see you so sad, Rachel. You should think about your own happiness."
"That's so selfish," Rachel's words were starting to slur. "You don't understand. I can't be selfish. Not with him."
"And I can never be selfish with you," Fanny said. "Believe me; I know. I see you, like, really see you. And I think you're great and amazing and all this stuff and I want to tell you every time I see you. And that would make me happy. But that wouldn't make you happy. It would only make you happy if all that stuff came from Numbuh 1. So I don't say a word…of any of it. Because if I did then I'd be selfish."
Rachel's eyes went wide and she scrutinized Fanny like never before. Fanny tipped her drink back and chugged her soda down.
"I…uh…I mean that in a totally platonic way," Fanny pulled on a poker face and signaled the barkeep for another lime cola. Rachel stared for a few moments, then turned back to her own soda.
There was a lull in the conversation as the two girls sipped at their drinks. The song on the jukebox changed and Rachel smiled.
"I like this song."
"This song sucks."
"You know the dance for it?"
"…There's a dance for this song?"
"Yeah," Rachel got up and stepped back from the bar. She swayed, but managed to stay upright. "It's so easy even I can do it. Look; all you do is shuffle your feet."
Fanny watched Rachel shuffle back and forth from side to side. "That's stupid."
"That's how it's done."
"That is a drunk's dance if I ever saw one."
"Hey," Rachel frowned. "I'm not drunk."
"Yer on your third drink."
Rachel sat back down. "Really?"
"Yes. How long have you been here?"
Fanny stared. "It's only twelve thirty."
"Is that bad?"
"You're done," Fanny finished her drink and slapped some money on the counter. "Thanks for the soda, George!"
"No problem. You're gonna get Rachel home?"
"Yeah," Fanny eyed Rachel's drink, then finished that one off too. She tugged on Rachel's hands. "Come on up, you."
"Okay," Rachel stood up and almost fell over. Fanny hauled her upright.
"Oof! What the hell, Rachel?"
"I'm sorry…" Rachel laughed. "You're right…I'm…done."
"Yeah," Fanny pulled Rachel's arm over her shoulders to help keep her up. She put the fedora on the counter, and together, she and Rachel staggered out of the bar and into the cold night. The streetlamps blared orange light onto the concrete. Garbage lined the gutters of the street.
"Hmm," Rachel fumbled with the buttons on her coat. Fanny rolled her eyes and buttoned up Rachel's coat for her.
"Yer such a helpless baby. How were you planning on getting home alone like this?"
"Shut up," Rachel slurred. "Aren't you cold?"
"Not really. I'm wearing thermal wear under this costume."
The two of them leaned against each other and walked through the deserted streets. Now and then a stray cat would come out of nowhere and cut across their path.
"You know," Fanny said. "Nigel wouldn't make a good boyfriend."
"What," Rachel slowed to a halt. "What are you talking about? We've got plenty in common."
"No, it's not a compatibility issue. He'd make an awful boyfriend period. He already had a chance at it and look how that turned out."
"He didn't love Lizzie."
"Are you kidding me? He totally loved that girl. He thought the world of her and he still treated her like crap."
"No!" Rachel stumbled, then pushed Fanny away and sprawled against a nearby wall for support. "That's not true!"
"Which part? The love part or the crappy treatment part?"
"He was head over heels for Lizzie and yet," Fanny started counting off on fingers. "He promised her stuff multiple times and didn't follow through. He was ashamed of her. He humiliated her in front of her entire family. He deceived her. He roped his team into helping him deceive her."
"That…that was necessary!"
"Oh, come on! A boy's only as good as his word, Rach. I know. My father's told me that and my brothers tell me that too. When a boy says he'll do something, he's got to do it."
"Shut up. You shut your mouth right now."
"No. This has got to be said. A boy's got to keep his promises. If his word's no good, then the boy's no good; that's how it works. I might think my brothers and a couple other boys are stupid, but I still respect them because they're not liars! Nigel has never followed through with anything he has promised Lizzie. And she was his girlfriend."
"No! You're wrong. You have to be wrong."
"Then prove me wrong. Come on; do it."
"Nigel was a good boyfriend! It was all Lizzie's fault; she was a possessive girlfriend. She was all clingy and she yelled at him all the time."
"And how else would she have gotten him to listen? If it wasn't for her heckling, they wouldn't have done anything together. And she wouldn't have had to heckle if he gave her some attention now and again. You know," Fanny crossed her arms. "All those times he promised he would?"
"There was that boyfriend helmet…"
"That she used only after he started avoiding her. He proved that he was ashamed of her first. She didn't even start yelling at him before that incident. I can't help but ask why, if he loved her so much, he was so embarrassed in the first place!"
"They…were stupid kids? Uhm…they weren't ready for a relationship? He didn't like her?"
"Then they shouldn't have been dating at all."
"Well, that was then. This is now."
"Nowadays, he's zipping around the galaxy. Can't say he's ready for another relationship, can you?"
"Nigel listened to me. He didn't deny me and he certainly didn't humiliate me. Nigel told me he'd do plenty of things in the past and he never broke his word then."
"Oh Rach…how could he not follow through with you? You were his boss."
Rachel seemed thrown. She put her back to the wall and slid down onto the chilly sidewalk. Fanny stepped closer.
"Zero," Rachel whispered and began to blink furiously. "I am way too sober to be hearing this."
Fanny grimaced. "More soda?"
"Yeah," Rachel reached up and let Fanny pull her back onto her feet. "Come on. I know Harvey's got some in the fridge at home."
= = = Harvey is not going to be happy when he finds his soda missing. = = =
The McKenzie house was dark and quiet. There was a six pack chilling in the fridge and the two girls swiped it and went out into the backyard. It was a rather nice backyard, well, as far as they could see. The moon didn't illuminate much. But there was a low table and two lawn chairs and the girls commandeered the furniture. A cat leaped onto the fence and disappeared over the side. Rachel wrestled a can out of the six pack rings and popped it open. Fanny followed suit.
"Aren't you mad at me? I told you that your all-time, biggest crush in the whole wide world ever is a jerk."
"Nah," Rachel drank some of her soda. "I just…love is blind, you know? You're right about Nigel and I wouldn't have figured all that out on my own. Besides," she smirked. "If you were in love with a jerk, I'd tell you too."
"Uh, speaking of crushes. Did yeh ever think that 19th Century was…uhm…"
"The sailor boy? He would have driven you crazy."
"Absolutely. He's old school, Fanny. I know that…uh…chivalry's a dying art. There are some guys out there who still do that chivalry thing. But there's a difference between being chivalrous and being chauvinist, you know? I think that if you two kept at it, then you'd eventually start to hate him."
Fanny held out her fist. "Chicks before dicks."
"Oh, yeah," Rachel pounded it. "Chicks before dicks." She sighed. "Gosh, boys are so dumb."
Fanny chuckled as she drank her soda. "You should be giving me a medal. I figured that out first."
"Then what was that about 19th Century?"
"Momentary weakness," Fanny swept her hand across as if seeing a grand vision "I was a pioneer. I was Prometheus discovering fire."
"Come on. It's not that big of a discovery."
"Oh yeah? Tell me yeh aren't smarter than yeh were yesterday fer knowing that boys are stupid. Tell me."
Rachel just shrugged and popped open another can of soda.
"That's what I thought," Fanny finished off her can and reached for another one.
"Maybe I should try dating girls."
Fanny laughed. "What? Like we're not complicated?"
"Hmm. Maybe you're right. Maybe I should just date you."
Fanny spat out her soda and stared.
"…I mean that in a totally platonic way," Rachel pulled on a poker face and took another swig of soda. Fanny stared for a few moments, then turned back to her own can.
"Okay," she pulled her lab coat tighter around her. Rachel looked at her.
"Come on, let's go inside. I think we're done," Rachel finished off her can and got up. "Whoops!" she stumbled and fell back into the chair. "Oof."
"Hah!" Fanny set her can down and made to get up too just to find out that her balance wasn't go great either. "Yeah, we're done."
Rachel got up a little bit more carefully. "I'm going to fall asleep in my own bed…even if I have to crawl there."
After a lot of falling, giggling and stumbling through the dark, they got to Rachel's room. Rachel took off her coat and flopped onto the twin bed as Fanny fumbled for the light switch.
"We are so drunk," Rachel giggled. Her words were slurred and Fanny laughed.
"How…how were you planning on getting here alone in the first place, Rach?"
"Don't give me…uh…don't give me that," Rachel let Fanny pull off her shoes. "You're not exactly sober either and you arrived at the bar by yourself."
"I wasn't planning on running into you," Fanny dropped the shoes onto the floor. "And I was only planning on getting one drink. Just one." She swayed on the spot and blinked. "All set then?"
"Wait," Rachel reached for her and Fanny stumbled closer. Rachel took hold of Fanny's hand. "You're not thinking about walking home by yourself. It's like…uh…" she peered at the clock on her bedside table. "Really late at night. That's asking for trouble."
"I'll be fine. I made it to Lime Ricky's okay, didn't I? And you made it to Lime Ricky's too."
"Yeah, but that was…that was while we were sober and you…you are drunk now. Drunk. And…is Halloween, the night when all the trouble happens. You will be walking through town…all by yourself and…and…shoot, Fanny. You got a death wish?"
"No…" Fanny swayed, then fell across the bed. "Oof. What do you suggest then, genius?"
"With all due respect, Rach…that might be a worse idea than chancing kidnappers."
"Because…because. Do you know how this works? The both of us are piss drunk. When we wake up…uh…when, when we wake up in the morning, we won't remember what happened. And…and then it'll be all awkward and stuff."
"What? We are not that drunk."
"Yes, we are."
"I'm still not letting you go out there."
"Okay, fine," Fanny got up and staggered to the light switch. "Do I stay on the couch?"
"Just…just get over here."
"Uh..." Fanny stared as Rachel scooted over, then she stepped out of her shoes. "Okay."
Fanny turned off the light.
= = = THE END. Want more? TOO BAD, SO SAD. EDIT: WAIT, I LIED! = = =
So ends the one-shot. (EDIT: NUH-UH, YOU CLICK THAT "NEXT CHAPTER" BUTTON. I KNOW YOU WANNA READ THE REST. GET ON THAT LIKE GRAVY ON MASHED POTATOES.) I wanted to practice writing dialogue, so I busted this out. My favorite part is when Rachel can't see the freaking numbers on her clock. I hope you liked it. What do you think?