BANANA SEAT SUMMER – 8

CHAPTER 3: WHAT LIES BENEATH (continued)

Mike pulled a bag of Razzles from his back pocket and poured the entire packet of colorful candies into his mouth.

“You know what’s cool about Razzles?” he said.

“What?”

“They start out as candy, and they end up as gum!”

“That’s disgusting,” Jacob said, as Mike opened his mouth wide to reveal a glob of half-eaten orange, purple, green, and red candies.

“Itff’s delifficious,” he said, chomping away.

But not even a mouthful of Razzles candies was enough diversion to end the controversy about Mr. Gorman and the suspicious mound of dirt.

“There’s no way Mr. Gorman’s buried in that dirt pile,” Jacob insisted.

“So, what else could be there?”

“I don’t know. Anything. Maybe dead plants.”

Mike snorted.

“Dead plants?”

“I’m just saying is all.”

“That’s crazy talk. Mrs. Gorman is a wacko; everyone in town knows that. Jerry Lessner’s dad said one Saturday morning last year, when he was working the morning trash collection, he saw bones in her trashcan.”

“Jerry Lessner’s dad’s a bigger wacko than old lady Gorman. They were probably turkey or ham bones. Tell you what, you’re so sure Mr. Gorman’s buried there why don’t you dig him up?”

“All right, smart guy, I will. But you’re gonna have to come with me, so I can prove you wrong. And when I do, I want a couple more Pirates cards. My choice.”

“Okay,” Jacob said, “but when you prove you wrong, I get your bike streamers and five, no ten, Wacky Packages stickers–first series–of my choice.”

Mike paused, making a mental note to hide a few of his favorite stickers, most notably, Gadzooka Gum and Band-Ache Strips, from his collection just in case he was wrong and the mound of dirt really was just a mound of dirt. The boys shook hands, making the agreement legal, binding, and final. Life continued as usual. Any ideas about searching for a body in the old lady’s yard were all but forgotten.

Until May 15 arrived.

––

Mike sat on his parents’ front porch, shuffling through ball cards. Jacob rode up across the front yard, letting his bicycle spin to a stop as he jumped off.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“I was just admiring my two recent gems.” Mike flashed the Stargell and Clemente cards in Jacob’s direction. “It’s a good thing you traded these to me for the Twins team card.”

“Why?” Jacob asked.

“A while ago we made a bet, remember? It involved digging up a mound of dirt in old lady Gorman’s yard. You would have lost the bet, of course, and I’d have even more of your Topps collection.”

“No, you would have lost the bet, and I’d have several of your more interesting Wacky Packs along with your bicycle streamers,” Jacob said.

“Doesn’t matter. I already have your most prized cards.”

“Duplicates. But listen, since you’re so convinced you’re right,” Jacob said calmly, “let’s talk about our original bet.”

“What’s the point? I already have the cards I wanted.”

“Manny Sanguillen, Rennie Stennett, and Bill Mazeroski.”

“You’re offering up Sanguillen, Stennett, and Mazeroski. Topps 1972?” Mike confirmed.

“Yup.”

“Okay, sure. They’re your cards,” Mike said. “Who am I to argue if you want give them away on a sucker bet?”

“But I’m no longer interested in bicycle streamers.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Besides, yours are looking a bit ratty.”

“What then? More team cards?”

“Nothing like that. Silver Surfer black light poster.”

Mike paused for a moment, his jaw gaping a bit.

“Silver Surfer black light poster. The Jack Kirby one?”

“That’s the one.”

“Interesting. How long have you had your beady eyes on that?”

“Long enough.”

“Never thought of you as much of a Jack Kirby fan. That kind of unevens the stakes, wouldn’t you agree?”

“You’re the one keeps calling it a sucker bet.”

“True,” Mike said.

As far as Jacob was concerned, the Silver Surfer poster was fair game. Mike never appreciated it. The poster had been rolled up and stored in his bedroom closet since his dad bought it for him in 1971. The “skyrider of the spaceways” deserved a better fate.

“Tell you what, kid,” Mike said, popping a candy cigarette into the corner of his mouth and adding a street-smart gangster tone to his voice, “I’m so sure I’m right. I’m so sure that we’re gonna find a body buried in that yard that I’ll take your stinking bet.”

“Shake on it?”

“Better yet, see, let’s smoke on it,” he answered, tossing the candy cigarette box to Jacob.

NEXT: BANANA SEAT SUMMER – WHAT LIES BENEATH concludes

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