Disclaimer: BOO! Did I scare you? Sorry. I don't own Phil of the Future. I'm sorry about that, too.
Author's Note: Thanks again to James888 for inspiring this story.
Special thanks go out to Boris Yeltsin for faithfully reviewing each chapter.
TRICK or TREAT
The floor in the Diffys' kitchen wasn't becoming much cleaner since Phil's little sister took over pumpkin pick up duty from Keely Teslow. Nevertheless, Pim had remained mostly silent - no grumbling, just quiet groans. Her mother loved her; Pim knew this - she didn't understand it, but she accepted it as fact. Barbara knew her daughter, and was confident that despite Pim's coarse and gruff ways, Pim found security in knowing she was loved by her parents. Their little girl ... of course, right now, Pim was taking a back seat to the wide-eyed Keely Teslow, not in Barbara Diffy's heart, but a fresh audience to tell her favorite story to? No contest. Sorry Pimster.
Barbara had glossed over her involvement with Rex to Keely for good reason. The way her mother told the story, Rex, the astrosurgeon-to-be, was the perfect catch. Handsome, charming, attentive, soon to be filthy rich, he not only would be able to provide for Barbara and their offspring, she'd be marrying an a doctor. With protective intentions, Gammy Speckle was trying to look out for her little head of a daughter's future, imagining that she'd need further treatments in the future. An astrosurgeon went to the top of her list of husbands for her daughter.
Barbara knew the truth about Rex, though. Sure, he spent a great deal of time with her at first and she believed he was taking their relationship seriously, but Barbara was only fooling herself. Rex was dating lots of college women and while Barbara Speckle was unique, Rex was only interested in bragging rights. For the rest of his life, he'd recall to his own listeners that he once dated a woman who was dead from the neck down, and contrast Barbara to the women he had had whom were dead from the neck up. When a guy doesn't perceive a woman's value as any more than a conquest, he tires of her rapidly. Poor Barbara soon couldn't find Rex as available as he recently was. Not ready to be committed to a relationship except with himself, Rex preferred to do his dating smorgesbord style, a little of everything on his plate. Loyal Barbara often waited at his dorm room, clueless at first that she was being dumped by way of avoidance. By the time she put two and two together, things weren't so bad. All that waiting for Rex to be available was what presented time for Barbara to notice shy Lloyd, which was what Keely wanted to hear about, not Rex.
"Did Mr. Diffy shower you with gifts and clothes and pull fantastic tricks with his Wizrd?"
Not a frown, but her trademark smile, tilt of her head, and singsongy mother-knows-best voice appeared, "Better."
Keely tried taking that in.
"Spill, Mrs. D. Details, please?"
"Well ..." Barbara was milking this, enjoying a new person to tell her story to, probably the only person she'd be telling this story to for a long time if they were permanently stranded in this century - at least until Pim and Phil provider her with grandchildren to babysit. Suddenly, panic struck Barb as she wondered if Pim knew how babies were born in this century. Oh well, back to her story. "Lloyd started by giving me rings."
"Phone calls? Jewelery? Onion rings? C'mon, previous century girl here, remember?" inquired Keely, slightly distracted by the multitude of pumpkin faces which seemed to be peering her direction rather than listening to Barbara's recollections. Keels lifted the lid off of the one she had been resting her right arm upon, just to verify that it was empty and an ordinary gourd. A sigh of relief signified it was.
"No, Keely. Bigger and better. You know the saying, 'I'd give you the moon'?"
"Well, Lloyd and I had already spent quite a bit of time together talking while I was waiting for, you know. By the time of our first major date, I was curious as to what dating Pim's father would be like."
Pim let the opening line pass by untouched, resulting in a stomach cramp.
"Back in those days, Lloyd could really keep a secret. He asked me to close my eyes and when I opened them we were seated in a couple of small aisle seats on the 3 o'clock Saturn budget shuttle. We sat across from each other, separated by the aisle; our heats beating; me staring at the planet's rings and moons; Lloyd staring at me; soon, I was staring at Lloyd, with only the aisle between us. It wasn't long before nothing could separate us."
Keely dreams about what Phil would do in that situation. He is, afterall, his father's son in so many ways. Phil is into baseball. Lloyd collects astronaut cards. Phil plays the drums. Lloyd plays a mean mouth harp. Both guys are loyal and real. Lloyd isn't a phoney anymore than Phil is, unless she counts pretending they are from Canada, Middle America, or whatever lame story they could come up with off their cuffs. Keely would have continued, but the fog cleared from her head when she realized that Mrs. Diffy was still talking.
"... for me, and I listened to old timey music for him. That my mother couldn't tolerate folk music, and since she didn't warm up to Lloyd, I enjoyed the songs all the more."
"Well, as far as my mother knew."
"AH HA!" Pim blurted out. Her mother gave her the look. Pim smiled in triumph, yet went back to pumpkin gut gathering in silence.
"So, your mom didn't -"
"My mother and I," Phil's mom took a deep breath, "had a very complicated relationship. As far back as I can remember, she was very over protective."
"Probably because you - you - were sick and losing pieces from when you were a baby."
"Probably. Just made me want to date Lloyd more, and Lloyd, he showed me he cared without treating me like someone who needed to be cared for. He listened, you know?"
Nodding, Keely was ignoring the creepy jack-o-lanterns now and hanging on Barbara's every word. It wasn't hard at all to imagine herself as Barbara and you-know-who as Lloyd. All of a sudden, Keely realized that Phil's mother was a rebel - against her mother, anyway. Where Phil's grandmother was more concerned with "what," rather than "who," Barbara Speckle enjoyed being seen as a who, and not a what. Lloyd did that. That he irritated her mother by emptying out their larder of spray food cans with his bottomless pit of an appetite was just icing on the cake.
"My mother finally issued me an ultimatum to drop the loser for the winner."
"What did you do?" wide eyed Keely had to know.
"What could I do," Barbara revealed. "I agreed."
Phil would be the first to testify that it's rare that Keely Teslow finds herself at a loss for words. This was one of those times. Barbara smiled.
"Breathe, Keely," she laughed. "I dumped Rex and married Lloyd." Yes, he had wooed her without being rich or a phony or even all that quick in the thinking department. Barb married the snorts-when-he-laughs, smelly footed, mouth-harp playing, nice, gentle Lloyd and, together, they were mostly happy. Though her mother never let Barbara and Lloyd forget the astrosurgeon Barbara let slip through her fingers, Barbara never gave her mother's warped interpretation of her relationship with Rex any credence, particularly when Barbara would think back to Rex's attempts to stick her with the nickname "Meathead."
"Mostly?" questions Keely. No one had ever asked Barbara that before.
"Well, there was my mother still. I don't think she really didn't approve of Lloyd so much as never accept me for who I am. She wanted the perfect little girl." Pim's eyes looked up. "But every daughter is an original, perfect on to herself, and it's her mother's duty to help her grow up into whom she's going to be, not anyone else's expectations of what she should be, do, or marry."
There, in that very moment, Pim understood her mother, why she was mostly calm despite whatever new shenanigans Pim stirred up. Pim's mother, and through her example, her father, loved her for who she was, is, and would become. A strange feeling ran through Pim Diffy, she became all teary-eyed and the corners of her mouth curved upward in a less than menacing grin. Love, Pim later analyzed, equated to mostly unconditional love. Now, the only question was how to make big bucks off of it.
Curious Keely was about to ask more probing question when everyone looked to the backyard where the commotion was coming from.
"Hommina, hommina, hommina!" stammered Mr. Hackett, pointing at the headless body racing around the picnic table, followed closely by Mr. Diffy with a bucket he was trying to fit back on top of it's neck. In the garage's doorway Keely spotted Phil trying to figure out a way to explain his way out of this one. This was probably very normal behavior in 2121, but here? How could Phil ever be interested in her, a 21st Century girl? And over a century's separating them - talk about an age difference. How could she ever make Phil mostly happy?
She thinks of Mr. and Mrs. Diffy and how different life must be with, um, Mrs. D's noggin in one room while her body is playing keep away outside. Mrs. Diffy did indeed have a good head on her shoulders ... most of the time. Why not ask her?
"You and Mr. Diffy seem," Keely looks again at the chaos unfolding in the backyard, "made for each other."
"Especially below the neck for me," Barb quips.
Keely swallows hard. Evidentially, there are lots of things she still doesn't know about the Diffys. "Well, how do you, um, that is, er ... I know you're mostly happy, but."
"Well ... men have certain ... needs. Doesn't your husband ever want to - to ..." Keely could finish the thought aloud, but she didn't need to. Barb got the idea. Pim covered her ears and hummed loudly. She knew what was coming next, what always came next.
"Oh, I wouldn't worry, Keely. Take it from me: if there's one thing I've learned after all my years of marriage, it's that all a woman needs to please her man is a little head."