Sunday, July 8, 2018

Tank N Tummy #5

Ryan and Aaron were working when Harvey came into the store. Harvey was the manager of the Tank N Tummy but was otherwise absent in its day-to-day operations and opted to let his two assistant managers do all the work.

“Hey, Harvey, it’s been awhile,” Ryan welcomed.

“Hello, new guy,” Harvey said to Aaron. “Hello, idiot,” he said to Ryan. “Where is moron?”

“Dominic has off today,” Ryan answered.

Harvey grumbled something. “I’m cleaning out the back room. You never know when you will need a place to hide out or to sleep when one of your wives discovers one of your other families.”

“What?”

“Have this cleaned out by the end of the day,” Harvey instructed.

“I thought you were going to clean it out,” Ryan said.

“Why? I’m a big picture person. You are little picture--teeny-tiny picture. Cleaning out the back room is little picture work. Just throw everything out by the end of the day. I will be at the motel if you need anything. Don’t bother me.”

Ryan glanced in the room and his eyes went wide. “Uh, Harvey, can we keep whatever’s in here?”

“Sure, sure. Just don’t bother me.”

“Why would you want to keep anything in this junk room?” Aaron asked.

“Not just anything. That,” he pointed at an arcade machine collecting dust in the corner. “I loved playing that when I first started working here.”

“Polybius,” Aaron read the game marquee. “Never heard of it.”

“It’s a very rare game,” Ryan began. “Only a few were made. Last I knew, only three. This is worth a fortune. Harvey probably doesn’t know what he has here and even if he did his brain is probably riddled with syphillis. I wonder if it still works.” Ryan noticed it was still plugged in. He reached around back and flicked a switch and the game came to life.

In the middle of the screen was big yellow bubble letters that read POLYBIUS. In the top corners were the scores. Hi-Score: 535530 and Score: 000000. Underneath the logo was ‘Player 1 Start’ and then the high score again with REC next to it.

“Well, it still works.”

“I still have the high score,” Ryan gasped.

“What’s the E stand for?”

“Everett.”

Aaron held in a laugh.

“Shut up. Help me get this thing to my apartment.”

“That’ll take all day. We’re supposed to be cleaning this room out.”

“Pfft. Harvey probably won’t even remember that he asked us to do this when we see him again. Now help me.”

Aaron grabbed the side of the arcade case and began trying to shuffle it away from the wall. He gave up after a minute. “Ugh. It’s like dancing with my cousin. We need to unplug it,” he started bending down to pull out the power cord.

“Wait. Won’t unplugging it delete my high score?”

“I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out,” Aaron pulled the cord out of the wall.

“Wait!” Ryan screamed.




Dominic walked by a brick wall where two kids were standing with their heads in their hands. As he walked by, the bald kid in the baseball cap sighed loudly.

“What’s wrong, kid?” Dominic asked.

“We have a baseball game today but we need a grown-up coach or we can’t play.”

“That’s too bad. I’m not doing anything right now so I can help you. Where’s your team?”

“At the ball field. Come on,” the kid in the baseball cap led the way. The other with messy hair was dragging a blue blanket behind him. When they got to the field, the other players of the team were waiting. “Gather round everyone. We got ourselves a coach.”

The kids all clamored in agreement. Dominic looked at his team. The bald-headed kid, the kid with the blanket, three girls, a boy covered in dirt and dust, and a dog. There were also a couple other non-descript kids that Dominic felt were just as strange. “Uh, why don’t we introduce each other…?” Dominic began. “I’m Dominic Hall and I guess I’ll be your coach today.”

“Great to have you. I’m Charlie Brown. I’m the pitcher and manager. This is Linus, Lucy, Schroder, my dog Snoopy, Shermy, Pig-Pen, Frieda, and Violet,” Charlie Brown introduced, going down the line of players.

“You have a dog on your team. And apparently the inside of a used vacuum bag?”

“Snoopy is possibly the best player we have and Pig-Pen just is what he is,” Charlie Brown explained.

“Well, I guess it doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you can play. Let’s get into position and we’ll see what you can do.”

It was the weirdest sight Dominic had ever seen. Linus could catch the ball with his blanket, Pig-Pen usually lost his way in a cloud of dust, Lucy couldn’t hold onto the ball if her life depended on it, and Snoopy, definitely the best player on the team, caught the ball in his mouth.

“Charlie, this is the strangest thing. Half of you are really good but the other half is just god-awful. Do you have any secrets to motivate the more bad players? Charlie?”

Charlie Brown was silent.

“Charlie. Charlie?”

“Who are you talking to?” Charlie Brown asked.

“You.”

“Oh! You kept saying ‘Charlie’ and I was like ‘Who’s Charlie? I’m Charlie Brown.’”

Other kids and parents began arriving. “I guess we’ll just have to do the best we can,” Dominic said.

“Mr. Hall, can we forfeit?” Frieda, a red-headed, curly-haired girl who played right field came up to Dominic.

“Why?”

“I’m afraid that the sun will take the curl out of my naturally curly hair,” Frieda lightly touched her hair.

“Oh my God,” Dominic sighed, closing his eyes.




“See? The score is still there,” Aaron said after he plugged the machine back in. “It probably has a battery back-up to save some info.”

“That’s good. Let’s call Joey and have him bring over a truck and handcart,” Ryan said.

Joey arrived less than 15 minutes later. “That was fast,” Aaron said.

“I’m kind of surprised they let you leave work so early,” Ryan commented, leading Joey to the back room with the game.

“I just left. What’s the worst they can do? Fire me?”

“Yes,” Aaron answered.

“So what are you doing?”

“We’re trying to get this arcade game back to my apartment.”

“Should be pretty easy,” Joey shrugged. “Get it onto the handcart, load it into the truck and then we’re up.”

“It will not be that easy. Moving stuff like this is never just an up and out job. Mark my words. We’ll be here forever.”

About an hour later, Ryan plugged in Polybius in his apartment. The marquee lit up and Ryan’s high score flashed on the screen. Ryan started playing. It was a simple game where you are in space trying to catch indescribable things in a basket that was on a circular track.

“Well slap my face and call me Kate,” Aaron said. “I can’t believe we got that game on the handcart, in the truck, across town, and up three flights of stairs within an hour.”

“Anything is possible as long as you have friends,” Ryan said. “Now get the hell out of my apartment.”




Back at the ball field, Charlie Brown’s team was up to bat. “I can’t believe the score is 12 to 13 and our best batter is up,” Violet said.

“But Charlie Brown is on third and we have two outs,” Lucy fretted. “You don’t think Charlie Brown will try to steal home do you?”

“Not even Charlie Brown would be that stupid,” Violet said.

I wonder if I should try to steal home, Charlie Brown thought while standing on third base. I could be a hero. I could tie the game and be the hero. Here I go, Charlie Brown leaned off the base. Here I stay.

“What’s Charlie doing?” Dominic asked.

“Who?” Linus asked.

Dominic rolled his eyes. “Charlie Brown. It looks like he’s going to steal home.”

“That blockhead better not,” Frieda said.

“No, he’s seriously considering it,” Dominic stood up.

Here I go. Don’t be a coward. Just go. Zoom. Here I go, Charlie Brown thought then paused. “Here I stay…”

“Stay there,” Dominic shouted at Charlie Brown.

I just gotta go. I’m going to be the hero. Just dance around the base for a bit to confuse the pitcher and then… “Take off!”

Charlie Brown took off down the baseline, headed to home plate. “Charlie is trying to steal home,” the kids all stood and shouted. “Slide, Charlie Brown! Slide!”

Charlie Brown took a dive and a cloud of dust erupted around him. When the dust cleared, Charlie Brown was on his back. Lucy was looking down at him. “You blockhead,” she said.

“Was I out?” Charlie Brown asked.

“Out? You didn’t even get halfway home,” Lucy yelled at him.

“We lost the game because of Charlie Brown,” the other kids cried. They all walked away leaving Charlie Brown alone on the field.

“Seriously though,” Dominic looked down at Charlie Brown, “you should’ve stayed on third like I shouted to you. Blockhead.”




Night had fallen. Charlie Brown was still on his back at the baseball field. “Rats,” he said.

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