Sunday, May 10, 2020

Plan 9 from Melvin and Helu

Bobbo was sitting at the cafeteria table playing with a Tiger Handheld Electronic Game during the last ten or so minutes he had after he had finished eating. “Why is this game so hard?” he muttered to himself.

“How is it hard? You’re essentially playing a calculator…” Max said, briefing looking up from his book.

“Hey, Bobbo, I have a favor to ask,” Brooke came up to Bobbo and Max. “It pays $40.”

“What’s in it for me?” he asked. “Oh, wait. You already said. Sorry. What’s the favor?”

“I need you to take a babysitting job for me,” Brooke sat down. “It’s pretty easy. I took the job but now I have a surprise choir performance tonight and I can’t do it.”

“What’s a surprise choir performance?” Max asked.

“Yeah, I’ll do it. $40 is $40,” Bobbo slammed the game down on the table. “Gah, it’s impossible.”

Brooke eyed the game then looked back at Bobbo. “I’ll come over to your place at 5:30 and we’ll walk over to the kid’s house together so I can introduce you to the parents and Melvin.”

“Who names their kid Melvin?” Max asked.

“Okay,” Brooke began as she and Bobbo walked from his house to the house where he would be babysitting. “The parents are very laidback and Melvin is a good kid. He can be hyperactive at times and has an overactive imagination. He carries around this stuffed bear named Helu and he treats it like a real bear so he may threaten to have Helu eat you.”

“How old is this kid?” Bobbo asked.


“How often do you babysit this kid?”

“About once a month,” Brooke said. “His parents pay well and he likes me. If I can’t get the money, I’d rather it go to a sitter that won’t steal the job from me.” They got to the house and Brooke rang the doorbell. A woman answered. “Hello, Mrs., uh, Melvin. This is Bobbo. He’ll be taking over for me tonight while I have my performance.”

“Great. Good to meet you, Bobbo,” the woman opened the door wider for Bobbo and Brooke. “I think you’ll like Melvin. He has a very active imagination. He loves cops and robbers and superhero and supervillain scenarios. You two could probably be very creative with his action figures. Do you know how to make macaroni and cheese?”

“I know how to read instructions on the back of a box, yes,” Bobbo replied.

“That’s what Melvin will have for dinner. There are popsicles and ice cream sandwiches in the deep freeze in the garage for a dessert if he wants. Melvin, your babysitter is here. Get down here,” she hollered.

“I should get going,” Brooke said. “I have to get ready for the performance. Tell Melvin ‘hi’ for me. Bobbo, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Bye, Brooke, see you,” Bobbo said.

Brooke left and Bobbo and Melvin’s mom stood in the kitchen waiting for Melvin to come downstairs. They heard Melvin pound down the stairs, his feet thudding down the carpeted stairs. Melvin was a little blond-haired kid holding a stuffed brown teddy bear. The bear looked like it had been through some things. “Where’s Brooke?” he asked.

“Brooke couldn’t watch you tonight. This is Bobbo. He’s a friend of Brooke’s.”

“Hey, Melvin. How are you doing?”

“You’re not Brooke,” Melvin said.

“I am not. I am her friend. She had a music performance to go to. She offered me this job. She thought we’d get along well,” Bobbo said.

“No, I don’t think so,” Melvin said.

“Well, he’s all we’ve got so you’re just gonna have to make do,” Melvin’s mom said. “Is your father almost ready?”

“I’m ready. Let’s head out,” a man suddenly appeared from around the corner. “We’ll be home around ten. Melvin,” his father pointed. Melvin innocently looked up at him. “Be good.”

Melvin’s parents left and Bobbo looked at Melvin. “So Melvin, what is it you like to do?”

“Helu and I like to explore,” Melvin answered.

“Is that Helu?” Bobbo pointed to the stuffed bear. “Brooke told me about him? What kind of bear is he?”

“A Kodiak bear,” Melvin replied.

“Kodiak. Cool,” Bobbo didn’t know what the difference between bears were. “When do you normally eat dinner?”

“About six,” he said.

“That’s in half an hour,” Bobbo said, almost to himself. “Do you want to play something for a bit before I make you some mac and cheese?”

“No, but go ahead and start dinner. After we can play a game or something,” Melvin said.

“Okay. I’ll come get you when it’s done,” Bobbo said.

Melvin and Helu went back upstairs. “So what are we going to do with this bum?” Helu said.

“I’m thinking,” Melvin rubbed his chin. “I think plan 9 will work on this goon,” Melvin began to laugh evilly and Helu followed.

After dinner, Melvin grabbed the board game Yahtzee to play. “I haven’t played Yahtzee in years,” Bobbo said. “You may have to remind me how to play.”

“You shake dice and try to get five of the same number,” Melvin said. “Do you seriously need a reminder?”

“I don’t need your attitude, Melvin,” Bobbo said. “You can go first.”

They began playing and got about halfway through a game. Melvin kept looking up at the clock on the wall. At seven, a loud thud echoed through the house. Melvin jumped and pressed up against Bobbo in fright. “What was that?” he shrieked.

“Sounded like someone fell against a wall,” Bobbo said. “I’ll go check. Do you have a backdoor?”

“Down the hall and around the corner. Before you get to the patio,” Melvin said.

Bobbo went to the door and peaked out of it. “I don’t see anything,” Bobbo said.

“Maybe step out into the yard,” Melvin said. “Maybe someone was trying to climb the wall.”

Bobbo stepped outside and looked around, even up to the bedroom windows. “Nope, I don’t see anything out of the ordinary,” Bobbo said. “Maybe a large bird flew into the side of the house or something.”

“Well, thanks for looking,” Melvin said and shut and locked the door. Melvin ran back to the front of the house. Helu was at the base of the steps. “We did it, Helu! He’s locked out! He fell for it!”

“I didn’t think it would work so quickly. He must be dumber than the other babysitters.”

There came a pounding on the front door. “Melvin! Let me in! This isn’t funny…or safe!” Bobbo shouted.

“We’ll let you back in in a bit,” Melvin said. “As soon as we’re finished doing everything Mom and Dad doesn’t want us to do.”

“I don’t know what that means,” Bobbo said. “Just let me in. You can still do that stuff.”

“Come on, Helu, let’s get some ice cream.”

“Maybe I can get in through a window or another door,” Bobbo muttered to himself. He ran back around the side of the house and tried a window into the garage but it wouldn’t budge. Neither would the door to the patio or the back door that he was originally locked out of. He tried the other windows and got nothing. He went back to the front door and knocked again. “Look, if you’re not going to let me back in, then I’m just gonna go home.”

“Okay, bye,” Melvin said, peeking out of the window with a carton of ice cream and a spoon.

Bobbo sighed and began to walk away.

“Do you think he’s really going to go home?” Helu asked. “He can’t just leave can he?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so.” Melvin got up and looked out the window again. “He’s not out there. He could be wandering around the house trying to find a way in. I’ll check after I finish off this tub of ice cream.” Melvin finished the ice cream about fifteen minutes later. He then sat, lazily at the kitchen table rubbing his stomach.

“You should go see if Bobbo is still out there,” Helu said.

Melvin groaned as he stood up. He went over and opened the door. “Bobbo?” Melvin poked his head out of the door. “Bobbo.” Melvin went out onto the steps outside the door. “I don’t see him out here, Helu. He must’ve actually left us. Helu?”

“Hello, Melvin,” Bobbo said, suddenly appearing from around the corner of the house and in the doorway. “Do you really think I’d abandon you and leave you alone. That would look very bad on me and especially Brooke. Now come inside. We’re going to finish our game of Yahtzee and then you’re gonna go to bed.”

“You want to finish the game of Yahtzee?” Melvin asked.

“Yeah. I was winning,” Bobbo pushed Melvin into the house and closed the door.  ▩

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