idol prize fight | week 13 | 1800 words
Enjoy Every Sandwich
Billy said we should make bucket lists, which was ridiculous because we were, like, twelve. But whatever.
I thought it was kind of morbid and weird, but Billy said, "C'mon, Jerry. Don't you want to live life to the fullest?" Well yeah, duh. But what could we do about it now? We couldn't even drive.
I just hoped Billy's idea of living to the 'fullest' didn't involve getting arrested, because Mom and Dad would be pissed.
So I thought about it for a while, about what kinds of things people usually put on a bucket list. Places to travel, big adventures… food. I mean, I was guessing, but there was probably food, right? I personally wanted to eat a Triple-Triple ice cream sundae all by myself with nobody stopping me because "It's too much, it'll make you sick." The Triple-Triple was way too expensive, but I'd been dreaming of it for years, so I put it down anyway. Maybe someday, when I was rich?
I wrote down a few more things in between watching cartoons and moving dirt around in a wheelbarrow for my dad. That was something I definitely wanted—to be rich and famous and never have to do dumb chores again like weeding and moving dirt! Except that was probably more of a career goal, so I didn't put it on the list.
What else... I wanted to fly to the moon, play in a rock n' roll band, ride the tallest roller coaster in the world, visit a volcano, drive a dogsled, go to Hawaii, touch an armadillo, and eat a hamburger as big as my head. Just because.
Billy and I got together a couple of days later and compared lists.
"Home run… giant sundae… I can barely read this," Billy said.
"Like yours is any better."
"Wait, 'Something about Africa?' What the heck does that mean?"
"You know," I said. "Kilimanjaro, the pyramids, safaris. Stuff like that."
"Dude, that's for when you're, like, old. This is supposed to be your bucket list of what you want to do this summer!"
"You never said that! Okay, fine. Guess I'll have to update it."
"I don't think this volcano thing is happening either," Billy said.
"I said I'll fix it!" I grabbed the list back and stuffed it in my pocket. Then I started reading Billy's list. "Monster truck show… city pool high dive… stealing apples from Mr. Hillburn's orchard? You know we have grocery stores here, right?"
"It's not about the apples," Billy said. "It's about adventure. Mr. Hillburn has a watchdog."
"Huhhhh…" That sounded about as fun as a heart attack, but okay. "Wait, peanut butter and pickle sandwich? Why is that on here?"
Billy shrugged. "Other people like it, so why not try it? Hey, it's lunchtime—I can do that one right now."
Billy got out the bread and peanut butter, and took a jar of pickles out of the fridge. "I wonder if it's supposed to be dill pickles, or sweet? I could try both…"
"At the same time? Yuck!"
"No, half of each. Except we only have pickle relish. I guess that'll do." He sliced the dill pickles and laid them on one piece of peanut-buttered bread, and spread pickle relish on the other.
"Ewww," I said. "It looks like pond scum."
Billy folded each piece of bread in half and mashed the ends together. "That's actually number 33 on my list."
"Eating pond scum? It is not!"
"It is, I swear!"
Billy took a bite of the PB and dill sandwich. "Salty. And crunchy. It's not bad," he said. "You should try it too."
"Hey, it wasn't on my list."
"Yeah, but if it's awesome, you'll have the rest of your life to eat it. You could be missing out."
"Fine." I took the sandwich and bit into it. "Huh. I kind of like it."
"See?" Billy said. He tried the other sandwich, and frowned. "Feels like it maybe could be good with real pickles. The relish is too vinegary or something. It's just weird."
I took a smaller bite of that one. "Yuck, no way. That's just bad."
"At least you tried it," Billy said. He scratched peanut butter and pickle sandwich off his list. "Look, one down already! This is awesome. So, what else is on your list besides Africa and volcanoes?"
"That we could actually do, like, today? Umm… eat dragon fruit."
"Because of the name?"
"Yeah," I said. "And they're freaky-looking, so why not?"
"That would be cool," Billy said. "Where would we find one, though?"
"There's a Chinese market across town. We could ride our bikes there."
"Let's do it!"
The dragon fruit was weird but interesting, and the bike ride was fun. All in all, a pretty good adventure. I reworked my list, scaling back a few things. Kissing Scarlett Johansson became Kiss Kayley Peters, who was the prettiest girl at school. Riding the world's tallest roller coaster became Go to Six Flags, which I could maybe talk Mom and Dad into since it was about five to six hours away. We could make it a mini-vacation.
The next few days were pretty busy. "Jerry, where are you off to now?" Mom would ask.
"Going to the pool," I would say, or "Biking down to the pond."
I'm not saying it was better than video games, but it was pretty good. Plus, I was only allowed to play video games a few hours a day anyway.
A couple of things on our lists could only be done at night, and we decided to do one of Billy's choices on Saturday: climb the water tower.
The tower was this big concrete thing out near the edge of the woods, and it was tall. I mean sure, there was a ladder up the side, but it was still a long way up. It was also off-limits, which was part of why it was on Billy's list—like the apple-stealing, which we did and nearly got our legs eaten, but we didn't get caught.
So we waited until after dark.
We both told our parents we were going to Todd's house for the night, and then met up on our bikes at the edge of the neighborhood. The woods were only about a mile away, and then we had to leave the bikes behind and climb over a metal gate to get in. Pretty easy—easier than the fence around the tower itself, but we made it over that too. Good thing we brought flashlights, so we could see what we were doing. The tower itself was lit up, but the area around it was dark.
Billy cracked his knuckles and started climbing. I waited about a minute, and went up after him. I was a few feet below him at first, but not for long. He was climbing a lot faster, and I was still wondering how I felt about being up that high. Not great, to be honest.
"Whoo, this is awesome!" Billy yelled from up above. "I can see over the trees already."
That pretty much decided it. Climbing partway up a tree was okay, but that was as high as I wanted to be. I climbed back down, and moved back up against the fence where I could watch Billy's progress. Pretty soon, he was halfway up.
"I can see half the town from here!" he said.
"Awesome!" I yelled back. Billy was well on his way to knocking another adventure off his bucket list. Not bad for the first week!
I could see more stars out here than at our house, but not much. The light around the water tower still made things kind of hazy. There was the Big Dipper—the handle was clearer than I was used to. I checked on Billy again. He was maybe two thirds of the way up and still going strong.
Suddenly, I heard a truck engine, and the sound of screeching metal. The gate! Oh crap—nobody was supposed to be here but us! This was not good.
I crouched down, but you could see right through the fence anyway. Why hadn't I climbed back to the other side?
The truck door slammed. "Stop what you're doing!"
Billy jerked, but he didn’t fall off the tower, thank god. I hoped the guy didn't have a gun. Or a badge.
"Come down from the tower now!" the guy said. A bright light caught me from the side. "What the hell are you doing out here?" he said, shining a flashlight in my face.
"Uh…" I got up slowly and turned around with my hands up. "It's, like, a bucket-list thing."
"Looks more like a trespassing thing." He put the flashlight on Billy. "You'd better be on your way down!" he yelled.
Billy stopped mid-climb and started coming back down. I knew he'd be disappointed. I just hoped he wouldn't start mouthing off when he got here.
I could see now that the guy was wearing some kind of county uniform. At least he wasn't a cop.
"You kids are in a lot of trouble," he said.
"Yes, sir," I said. Oh, boy…
The guy unlocked the gate to the fence, and jerked his thumb toward the truck. I went over and stood by it.
Billy was down after about a minute, and actually looked kind of embarrassed. "How did you know we were here?"
"I was driving by and I saw someone on the tower. That's one of the reasons it's lit up from the bottom—so we can see when someone's messing around up there. You think you kids are the first to try climbing it? Think again. I did the same thing when I was your age. Every couple of years, someone else gets the same bright idea."
"Oh," Billy said.
"Hell of a view, though, isn't it?"
"Yes, sir!" Billy grinned.
The guy dumped our bikes in the back of the truck, and we got in. He didn't take us to the police station, but he did have a serious talk with our parents after he drove us home. It was humiliating.
I got grounded for a whole month, and talking to Billy was off-limits until it was over. I had no idea what kind of punishment he was given. I guess I'd find out in a month.
That put an end to the bucket list, for a while anyway. We did some fun stuff because of it, though, and I still wanted to find a mega-burger before the summer was out.
Hey, at least we didn't get arrested, right? It could have been worse.
Though Mom and Dad were still pissed…
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