I stand over Frank’s bed, trembling in the darkness, wondering if I should give me a chance to talk myself out of it.

No. Don’t retreat. Victory is yours. Seize it.

I look around the room for Patch or Tooth. Even they want nothing to do with this.

I glance over at Bonnie, sleeping soundly.

What will she think of me? one voice says. The other replies: She lives 7 hours away and you never see her. Who cares what she’ll think? Besides, if she ostracizes you, you don’t have to see Frank ever again. The first voice is impressed: Good point.

I take a deep breath. I’m going to have to do this at full throat. Whispering, hushed voice, normal voice – none of that will get it done. If I give Frank an opportunity to think, I’m doomed. I need to be committed to anarchy, to unleashing hell.

It’s time.

I fill my lungs and proceed to scream. Frank bolts upright, almost knocking noggins with Lucius, which startles me, but I maintain my resolve.

“OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD! THE BABY! HE’S SICK! HE’S SICK! THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE BABY!”

“Wha? Wha?” Frank instinctively takes Lucius from me, dazed panic in his eyes. “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” he says, breathing heavy and scanning the infant with bleary eyes.

I lean over and lock eyeballs with Frank. Bathed in moonlight, I stare into Frank’s eyes, years of defeat and frustration powering my gaze.

“Yarthies,” I say.

A moment later the baby is wailing and Bonnie is circling the bed. I raise my arms in victory.

“That’s right!” I say. “Yarthies! I win! You lose!”

Bonnie takes Lucius and ushers him out of the bedroom as if he isn’t safe. When she reaches the hallway, I can hear her reassuring people, telling them that everything is ok and to go back to bed.

Frank sits in motionless fury, his darkened, monstrous silhouette oozing menace. He looks like a Batman villain comic book cover.

“Get out,” he says.

I move toward the door. “Sure, I’ll let you get back to-”.

“No, I mean get out of my house,” he says.

Now?” I say. “It’s almost midnight.”

Now,” he confirms.

“Don’t you think you’re being kind of a sore loser here?” I say.

Bonnie reappears. She flips on the overhead light, and all three of us are squinting.

“I gave Lucius his binky. He’s fine,” she says. For a moment, her face is devoid of expression, too exhausted to be angry. But that doesn’t last long. She smacks me on the shoulder. “What the hell is the matter with you?” she says. “What if Frank dropped him?”

“Frank wouldn’t drop his baby to win a game,” I say. “That would be inhuman. Aren’t you glad to know you’re human, Frank?”

His entire face clenched, Frank glares at Bonnie. “Ruling,” he says.

Bonnie looks back and forth between the two of us. “Oh no,” she says. “You’re not getting me involved in your stupid game.”

“I want a ruling,” Frank says. “I’ll accept your judgment.”

Bonnie forces herself to think. “Ok…well…he handed you Lucius and you accepted him,” Bonnie says. “As much as I hate my baby being used as a prop, I’d say it’s legit.”

I start dancing around with I’m-number-one fingers in the air. “Yeah, baby,” I say, then revert to my old Boston accent. “Winnaaahhhh!”

Bonnie hits me again, harder this time. The pain feels great.

“If you use any member of my family for something like that again, I’ll kill you,” she says.

“That’s ok,” I say, grinning at Frank. “No more Yarthies for me. I’m ending my career as champion.”

Frank is still glaring at his wife. “I can’t believe you ruled against me,” he says.

Bonnie shrugs. “It wasn’t pleasant, but it was fair,” she says.

“It’s because you don’t even like me,” Frank says. “That’s why you did it.”

Bonnie’s voice goes up an octave. “What are you talking about?” she says, but her voice is shaking and she feeds me a terrified glance like something bad is about to go down. “Of course I like you.”

“Then why haven’t we had sex since Lucius was conceived?” Frank says.

I stop dancing around. This is way more victory than I needed.

I start backing out of the room.

“I’m gonna…head out,” I say, but they aren’t listening.

“Hell, maybe the dry spell has been even longer,” Frank says. “Is Lucius even mine?

“Of course he is. Just look at him. He’s already enormous!”

“Oh, HERE WE GO!” Frank bellows. “I told you that was sympathy weight gain!”

Bonnie looks down at Frank’s colossal mid-section. “Well, you must be one abundantly sympathetic man,” she says.

Bonnie and Frank continue barking at each other as I close the bedroom door behind me. Shannon waits for me on the other side, her arms crossed over her chest. I startle at the sight of her.

“Hi honey,” I say.

“What did you just do?” she says.

I raise my arms in victory. “Oh, I only just won Yarthies, that’s all,” I say.

“You need help,” Shannon says. “Look, I’m sorry the Celtics lost and everything, but that’s no reason to take out your frustration on innocent relatives.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I say. “Don’t blame the Celtics. This is something I needed for me.”

“Right, and you needed it because of Game 7.”

“You’re entitled to your opinion,” I say.

Bonnie opens the bedroom door just wide enough for her face.

“Hey you guys,” she says in a modulated voice you’d use on a mental patient wielding a knife. “You’re going to need to leave.”

“Now?” I say.

“Yeah.”

“Oh, come on,” I say. “Tell Frank he’s being ridiculous.”

“No, this is my decision, actually,” she says.

“What, you guys gonna fight?” I say. “We can handle some screaming for a while.”

“You really just need to go,” Bonnie says, still with the sing-songy nice voice.

“I’m your brother,” I say.

“And I love you and always will,” she says, still in that placid voice, “but you need to go.”

Love me and always will?” I say. “What is Frank behind the door holding a gun to your head?”

Bonnie leans away, looking nervously at something behind the door.

“Could you two please just take your kids and go?” she says, the urgency in her voice growing.

Now I’m concerned.

“What’s going on?” I say.

“You ok, Bon Bon?” Shannon says.

The door swings open to reveal Frank, dressed in tight shorts, a tank top, sneakers and a head band.

“Please don’t say bonbon,” he tells Shannon, and heads down the hall. The rest of us follow him downstairs to the living room, where he yanks a blanket off a rowing machine. He takes a seat, the collective fabric of his outfit stretching around his formidable girth, and starts rowing. As his titanic mass shifts forward and back in rhythm, the air resistance wheel spins, generating a noise resembling a jet engine and a wind that billows the curtains.

“This is all for you, baby,” Frank says over the whirr. “This is how much I love you!”

“That’s great, honey,” Bonnie says, offering a thumbs up and a vague, mocking grin. She turns to me and Shannon. “I didn’t want you to see this,” she says.

“It’s happened before?” I say.

“Every time he gets insecure about his weight,” Bonnie says, nodding and smiling at Frank, who can’t hear us over the noise. He winks at Bonnie, his thinning hair fluttering in the wind.

“Now that you’ve seen it, I guess there’s no harm in you staying,” Bonnie says, wincing each time Frank’s body pumps like a fleshy piston. “He’s going to do this until his heart gives out. If things hold true to form, we can expect an ambulance visit about 4 a.m.”

Dev, Edwin, and Fiona appear at the top of the stairs.

“I can’t sleep,” Fiona says.

“What’s that noise?” Edwin says.

Shannon and I look at each other, then at Frank, who shows no signs of slowing.

“Yeah, I think we’re gonna head out,” I say.

In the car, I take an intentional, dramatic pause before starting the ignition, and stare at Shannon.

“What,” she says.

“Well?” I say.

“Well what.”

“Where’s my apology?” I say. “I won Yarthies. Where’s my I’m sorry I doubted you?”

While Shannon gathers herself, mystified, Patch appears in the back seat.

“You, sir, are my hero,” he says. “Now you want an apology too? High five!”

Patch puts his hand in the air. I ignore it.

Shannon turns to me, fists clenched tight in her lap.

“You’re right,” she says. “I’m sorry.”

I nod my acceptance, and am about to start the car, but she isn’t finished.

“I’m sorry I thought you were mature,” she says. “I’m sorry I thought you would lose to Frank because you were not as single-minded, childish, and obsessed with winning as he was. I’m sorry. I misjudged you.”

I ponder the apology.

“Well, that was a bit more than I was looking for, but ok,” I say, starting the car. “Is there a hotel around here?”

“Just head to the highway,” Shannon says. “We’ll find something.”

As I navigate by the light of the GPS, I can’t strike the image of Frank’s ponderous, scantily clad form swaying across the rowing machine out of my head.

I can’t believe I was so obsessed with beating that guy.

************

Links:
Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin, Chapter 14: Game 1, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?, Chapters 16 - 17, Chapter 18: Game 2: Great White, Chapter 19: Pickle, Chapter 20: Marty McFly, Chapter 21 / 22: standard deviation, all the pretty flowers, Chapter 23: Game 3: Black Hills, Chapter 24: Twister, Chapter 25: Game 4, Chapter 26: Patriotic Agony, Chapter 27: Locusts, Chapter 28: skype, Chapter 29: Click, Chapter 30: Superman, Chapter 30: Ass Brunch Chapter 32: Mammoth, Chapter 33: Pathetic, Chapter 34: Purple and Gold, Chapter 35: Chowdah, Chapter 36: Mastermind, Chapter 37: m&m cookie dough, Chapter 38: taste, Chapter 39: Dance with the Devil, Chapter 40: Game 7, Chapter 41: 17 to 11, Chapter 42: One Mold, Chapter 43: Stink Smell, Chapter 44: Yarthies, Chapter 45: Oops baby, Chapter 46: Winnah, Chapter 47: Green Pool, Chapter 48: Jesus Christ, Chapter 49: Prequels

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21 Comments:
Blogger chris said...
If this lockout continues any longer, we might have to start doing worldwide Yarthies coverage.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Holy shit, this chapter.

This chapter.

Blogger Rhett said...
yes!yes!yes!

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Yeah, I was happy with how this one turned out. ;)

ET

Anonymous JJ said...
Wow, that chapter left me speechless.

But, I will say, Doug must be REALLY, REALLY good in the sack. Otherwise, I cannot understand how he can manage to stay in marriage.

Anonymous Jonesy said...
Awesome stuff, loved this!! How much longer is there to the series?

Anonymous Koggz said...
EPIC.

"This is Cotton McKnight and you are watching Ultimate Yarthies on the Ocho."

Blogger Japes said...
WOW

Blogger Evil Ted said...
JJ -Yes, I am...I mean Doug...is really good in the sack. ;)

Jonesy - up to chapter 50 (and thanks to a miscount on my part - a chapter 50.5)...

Anonymous JJ said...
ET, I forgot to say, but I wanted you to confirm! Thanks. Haha!

Blogger Mean1 said...
This chapter was fantastically groin grabbingly awesome!

Anonymous carlos said...
This history has to turn into a movie!

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Funny you should say that, Carlos...

Anonymous Grizzly63 said...
Is Yarthies a game you and your brother in law made up, or is this some Boston thing?

Blogger Evil Ted said...
It's a game made up by relatives of mine in the Boston area, and I transferred it's use to fit the story.

Anonymous mbbjd said...
Great, great work. I've been enjoying the entire series but today's chapter had me laughing out loud at my desk.

Anonymous spinetingler said...
Wormboy called it.
Well played.

Blogger Javi said...
oh man... this was one of the best chapters, epicly awesome...

Blogger Muttonhead said...
That was awesome. I am tempted to start playing this evil game with my friends. Is it worth it?

Anonymous EuroGuy said...
I'm actually relieved, that this game didn't involve dropping the baby to win it.

Blogger Wormboy said...
Ted telegraphed the move, which you have to do in books and movies where a new character plays an important, if somewhat, um, larval, mode. But what's great is who could have predicted the rowing machine? GOLD.

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