RENEW YOUR LOLS
THIRTEEN YEARS EARLIER
“Hey-key wakey kids” Krusty the Klown yelled at the top of his lungs, which were quick to give out on him due to some excessive smoking mere minutes before.
He wanted to curse out his bodily functions, but regardless of his ill intentions, his show was on the air and he had to abide by its rules, which meant persisting with a smile
He tried to skip over to the hot line, a red mobile phone perched on a pedestal in the center of the stage. It had long been a more traditional handheld telephone, but the networks had it changed to keep things more concurrent. Krusty felt like this was an insult to the art associated with the occasional throwback to a golden age.
As hard as he tried, he found skipping, or even hopping over, to the phone left his knees knackered and his incredibly un-trim belly bloated. He was reminded lately of going up to his father’s old attic to pull out some nostalgic albums and he could barely move around because of his weight issues, and could barely even sit down in order to mount the ladder and scale back down to the floor.
He needed to remind himself daily to try and keep in tip-top shape. Each day that vow would go unfulfilled.
“What we’re going to play with here” Krusty said to his excited child audience, “Is ‘Laugh Line’, this is the big one kids, whoever calls in and answers this Krustacious question, will be granted the ability to call on my services at least one time in their lives. That’s right, if you’re feeling like that smile remains upside down, be it at school, at your parent’s therapy sessions, at your dodgy thanksgiving arguments, just ring the number on the screen beneath, 0-5-7-8-KRUSTYKALL, and you’ll have me in your life for a 24 hour period. A little ray of sunshine on the cloudiest of days…so let’s roll on if we want to get someone rolling on the floor, who do we have on the line Mel?”
“Line Five” his sidekick Sideshow Mel revealed
“Keep him off” Krusty replied
“Sir, its Line Five” Mel insisted.
“No, we’re banning him outright from this”
“Why? Because he’s had enough goes. I’ve seen him plenty of times. So much so he’s become as famous as me…and it was just as fleeting”
“Krusty, I think you’re being a bit harsh”
“That’s the thing about fans kids” Krusty said, addressing his audience “They think they’re entitled to everything, they know what they should GET, but sometimes they don’t necessarily think about what they NEED. Sometimes in life, they NEED to move aside sometimes and let someone else muscle in. Fresh turf is where we surf from here on out, so anyone BUT line five will do”
“Fine, we’ll skip over to line six” said Mel.
“Hello?” Krusty said, picking up the phone.
“Hi” came a squeaky feminine voice
“What’s your name?” asked Krusty, tapping the phone
“Kristy” said the voice.
“And here’s the question…who am I right now?” Krusty said, tapping a wooden table
“The one who knocks” said Kristy.
“She got the joke folks, congratulations Kristy, you have my services whenever you want it” Krusty responded.
Watching this unfold on television was caller five, who had been denied.
Bart Simpson hated to be denied.
Was Krusty right though? Had Bart been around Krusty so much he saw him more as an associate than a fanatic that needed his constant attention?
“Bart, Laura’s at the door” said Marge from the main hall.
Bart got up and opened the door, greeting his old neighbor and babysitter, as well as one of his earliest crushes, Laura Powers. Her t-shirt bore a Captain America with his letter “A” on his chest and the flag on his mask, completely the wrong way around, but it was a tell-tale sign of how much she always liked to turn things you expect to stay the same on its head.
She looked as lavish and as beautiful as ever, her chestnut brown hair was tied back and her jeans were tattered, but her eyes were still spell-blindingly striking and her smile was infectious to the heartstrings.
“Laura, hey, is everything chill?” Bart said nervously, the old butterflies from yesteryear hadn’t quite subsided around her. They never could.
“Just my luck champ, ’cause I’ve got something wicked cool just for you” Laura said in a familiar voice
“Line Six? YOU were Kristy?” Bart said in astonishment as he picked up on the voice.
“Nifty trick huh? Mom wanted me to enter that talent competition, but after finding out the winner of this year’s search was for a dog act that required a stunt double for the participant, she’s sort of discouraged me”
“Gee, Laura, thanks” Bart replied
“You’re going to have to promise me something though”
“Use it when you’re older”
“Why not now?”
“Because you have everything to live for right now. Your whole lives in front of you, wait ’till you have everything in the palm of your hand, and whenever you feel like it’s slipping, then is the time to smile about it”
“Great, save it for adulthood” Bart dryly and sarcastically remarked, huffing “People grow out of things, Krusty’s already growing out of having a persistent fanboy, what good’s a Clown when you have anything my dad guzzles down at that age?” Bart asked.
Laura brushed Bart’s hair with her right hand, “You’re little, but you’re big on improvising, when you see a chance, you’ll seize it”
“I’ll go one better, I’ll do it for you. Anytime you’re in a jam, I’ll ask Krusty to get on top of it”
“Rather it than me” Laura replied,
Bart looked confused
“Never mind, big person humor” she said, “I’ll hold you to your promise, but take it to another level for me…do it for any kids I might come to know in the future. Kids your age. The right age. I’ve kind of grown out of that stuff”
“Consider it done” Bart said, high-fiving his former sitter. “Say, how long you in town for? I’d love you to drop by again, I have the WHEW network, we can sit down and watch that” asked Bart.
“Oh, just catching up with a few Holograms” said Laura.
“I don’t follow” said Bart.
“Oh you know, just what I name my gal pals, you know, after that Jem movie?”
“That’s an awful film. I should know I’ve seen the full trailer” said Bart.
“I know, it drives my friends nuts when I call them that” Laura replied. “Don’t worry, I’m on social hang-outs, look me up, we can be online pals for as long as it takes to grow beyond those shorts you tell people to eat”
“And after that?”
“Who knows?” Laura said, “Maybe then I’ll have a man rather than a cow” Laura teased.
“You ok?” Bart asked.
“Just waiting” Laura replied.
As Laura left, Bart pondered the meaning of her words, and looked at the phone number she had left.
An opportunity to call Krusty at any point.
In a period where Krusty may no longer want or need him.
A thought occurred to him.
How would that define the pair of them if he were to use it years from now?
THIRTEEN YEARS LATER
The sun was right to invite itself as the dour mood from the huddled crowd surrounding the grave was suddenly lifted by it. The spectators looked up and took in the exhilarating summer air that accompanied it.
Bart couldn’t process that mentality. It was the same with people who go to spread ashes in the ocean. They all end up taking a dip, they all cool themselves off, and they all swim.
Swim merrily along while portions of their souls are drowning.
Drowning in grief.
There was no perfect pitch to the healing process, yet people always strive to find some solution. It may look a pleasant sight, maybe to an artist painting a picture nearby, or has a camera handy to capture the moments.
Laughter was to follow as someone made a joke that the person occupying the grave would have made. There was cheer and adulation.
It sickened Bart.
He then began to wonder just where Lisa was.
She shouldn’t have missed out on this.
Maybe her husband didn’t feel comfortable with being around so many people. People that had hurt him in the past.
Bart shook his head at the potential reason for eluding this event. He had been hurt many a time by the occupant of the grave, to the point he once raised an army against him. A time where he fancied himself a General. Water balloons at the ready, a day where the bullies of Springfield were given a taste of what a true uprising looked like.
A simpler time.
Bart looked to his right; the gravestone that had done the man in had been put back in its original place.
He expected the little kid to the middle of the mourners, Calvin was his name, to bear all and urinate down the side of it, an ill-intentioned mark of territory. A mad dog upset with that which slid off its foundations and crushed it’s master.
In Calvin’s case, his father.
A way to say ‘I owe you’
As the procession ended and the laughter grew ever louder, Bart slipped away back to his car and drove back along the bustling streets paved with road works and intolerable traffic pile-ups to reach the apartment blocks.
The rain suddenly switched itself on. Bart stormed through the rain and pressed the buzzer at the right of the door, the door unlocked and he went inside, he climbed up the stairs, making sure not to inhale the fresh coatings of paint on the unappealing and blank walls, turned to his left, and entered the second door in the hallway.
Once inside, he made a bee-line to the kitchen, where he found the most charming and feisty woman his formative years in life had ever known making him a sandwich.
To the right of him, in the center of the kitchen table, was a high-chair containing a true bundle of life and joy, the perfect remedy for a day dosed in dreary feelings.
“How did the day go?” said Laura.
“Well I didn’t poke the body with a stick” Bart joked, and leaned in for a kiss with his wife.
Laura grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and poured her lips into his, giving him a surge of an emotional sensation that did more to clear his head than the adulation and brightness found in the mass crowd that had accompanied the funeral of Nelson Muntz.
“How was that trick?” Laura asked.
“It’s a kind of magic” Bart replied.
“You never forget that line” said Laura, walking over to the table and feeding the baby some yoghurt.
Bart sat down at the table, leaning back in his chair with his hands folded behind his back, he stared at the child before him, it looked back at him, curious eyes staring straight into him, she stretched her arms outright, expecting an embrace, and getting one as Laura scooped her up and waltzed around with her. Bart took in the sights and saintly sounds as Laura began singing to her kid.
Granted, it was a Beyoncé track, something not too close to his chest in terms of musical preference, but he was hip about it.
“You know I was thinking a lot today” Bart said, “Remember that laugh line number you got me when we were young?”
“Little Maize is way too young” Laura said, “She’s not even old enough to process a knock knock joke, the closest thing she has to cutting edge late night is when you and I pull goofball faces to her or to one another when we can’t get any shut eye”
“No, not for Maizie, for the kids who saw the accident” said Bart.
“You reckon that’s why Lisa and Ralph didn’t show?” asked Laura.
“Maybe not the whole reason, but I could understand it if it was their kids, they were traumatized” said Bart, “I go to Lisa’s house usually every second day of the week and their faces are just so vacant these days, not a drop of mirth coming out of their mouths, and they used to laugh at anything, especially Dad trying to work off an exercise bike and breaking it in two as soon as he stepped OFF rather than ON”
“So Krusty could be up to it? It’s been a long time” said Laura
“Hey, he owes you, and you’re family now, you know Lisa’s kids, you babysit them, so consider this me living up to my promise years back. Kids you know are going to get an injection of quality laughter”
Laura walked over to him, wrapped her arms around him and stuck her tongue out at baby Maize. She giggled.
“They’ll be no talk of injections around this table, Maize’s scheduled for a jab this weekend, I think she senses it coming” Laura said.
“I’ll be more wise with my words babe, trust me” said Bart.
“Just be sure about calling on Krusty too” she said, “Nostalgia makes you high on things that can leave you low”
Aztec and Olmec Wiggum were through waiting, even if their scheduled appointment had not come through just yet.
They were taking charge of the waiting room’s play area. They were going to command attention, anything to drive them to distraction from what they were currently feeling.
They would take the toys in the play area from those indulging in them, even the ones without that many accessories attached, because they’d all been pilfered by other children on visits to the therapy clinic, and they would try their best to act out a domestic family argument. The content of their play was enough to disturb the parents, even if the haplessly innocent children in the clinic were more concerned with waiting their turn.
As she anxiously waited for the Doctor to call them in, a frustrated and concerned Lisa Wiggum tried to keep her children under control, but her eyes wandered to where her husband was seated.
Ralph was starting up a conversation with a young male to his left.
Just her luck.
“I couldn’t help but notice you were humming Crash Trolley’s theme song, did you see the Wrestling event last night or what?” asked the male.
“Yeah” said Ralph, “But I want my wife to see the rerun, so no spoilers”
“Really? You don’t want to take my mind off of…y’know…this?” asked the male, pointing to the foreboding cream blue door in front of them.
“You can take clothes off, not minds” said Ralph.
The male backed away ever so slightly.
“You’ll have to forgive my husband, he’s always thinking a little too literally” said Lisa.
“Doctor Ullman will see the Wiggums now” came the voice over the intercom.
Lisa approached her children and pried them away from the dollhouse and fire engines just as they were about to enact a bit of drama over a domestic disturbance that had resulted, in their minds, in a fire. As they were dragged into the door, they could be heard to make small explosive noises, which seemed to inspire the other kids in the waiting room to echo the sounds in unison, much to their parent’s annoyance.
Sitting down in the compact therapist’s office, Lisa and Ralph looked tensely at one another, clutching each others hands tightly while their kids chased each other around them in a frantic circle.
Doctor Ullman turned her chair around to face them, having spent some analyzing some notes she had been preparing.
“How many hours have you had sleep?” she asked
“We tried taking him down from five grams to two, but it didn’t agree with him” said Lisa.
“Silly, pills never argue” said Ralph playfully.
“You’re being a clown” Lisa said, “We agreed not to act like that around the doctor”
“The duck lady is in a flap. I can tell” said Aztec as she grabbed Olmec and put him in a tight headlock.
“Duck lady? Mrs. Wiggum…have you or any member of your family been calling me a QUACK behind closed doors?” asked Doctor Ullman, with more of a fire ignited in her mannerisms.
Lisa stared at the floor in embarrassment
“No, but their grandfather always cares enough to speak his mind on these matters. Whether I like it or not” Lisa said, embarrassed as always by what her father could say in the heat of conversation.
“How long have the children been displaying aggressive symptoms?” said Ullman.
“Oh, they’re not that aggressive” said Lisa, looking back up to the doctor, only to find Aztec and Olmec had wrapped the telephone cords around their fingers and dragged the contraption off the desk.
“I don’t need a phone to tell you that was a bad call on your part” said Ullman, “The kind of behavior they were exhibiting in the waiting room has me concerned”
“You were watching?” said a shocked Lisa.
Ullman pressed a small oval shaped button attached to her desk; a monitor screen slid up from underneath her observational window and displayed a series of black and white CCTV recordings.
“The walls have ears as much as people do Mrs. Wiggum” she said.
“She should send those in to America’s Home Videos” said Ralph. Lisa tightened her grip on his hand, trying to hurt him, to control him, but he seemed oblivious to the intent.
“Enacting a domestic spat that can only end in violence is a touchy subject for any child to be thinking about, and it’s something commonly connected with what they seem to be expecting of you two. Have you had any disputes that could lead them to consider these left-field concerns?” asked Doctor Ullman.
“No, no, Ralph and I love each other, we’ve loved each other since we were kids, we’d never break a bond that goes back as far as that, even after all of this” Lisa said in protest, resting her head on the shoulders of her husband.
“Something clearly happened at that graveyard, something that’s making them act out these fantasies, if you have such wedded bliss, why are they acting as if you would do anything to disrupt that?” probed Ullman further.
Ralph slowly began to breathe a bit more deeply; Lisa could tell straight off he was starting to struggle with how heavy this all seemed.
“Can we schedule this for another day?” said Lisa.
“Here you go again, something new emerges that requires our attention, and you flee from it just on the cusp of a break-through, I’d rather we get this all out of our way right now” insisted Ullman.
Ralph began to sweat a bit, “I feel hot” he said.
“Its nerves Ralph, nothing more” said Lisa, stroking his back, “Don’t let it strain you too much, you hear me baby?”
“Your husband may be a man-child, but he’s not oblivious is he? Exactly how much of this experience have you been honest about when talking to your family about it?”
“They know it had an effect on the kids, that’s all” Lisa revealed.
“And what of the effects on you? On Ralph? It seems he’s more traumatized than they are” noted Ullman.
“Please, don’t push me, I don’t want to push back” said Ralph, a few tears pouring from his eyes.
“Ralph, keep calm” said Lisa.
“Mrs. Wiggum, stop coddling him and be straight with me. What happened those few weeks ago that could affect him worse than the children?”
“If I tell you the truth, Ralph will pay the price, surely you can understand me wanting to keep my cards close to my chest”
“Oh you’re a royal card alright Mrs. Wiggum, and if you’re not careful, your whole family will be flushed” said Ullman in frustration
“Look, let’s reschedule, I just think everyone needs a bit of comedy, something lightweight to take them off this roller coaster…renew our laughter out loud” Lisa suggested.
“Medicine is the best medicine Mrs. Wiggum” replied Ullman sternly, “Laughter is a mask”
“Maybe, but I’ve found that so long as you leave the mask on, you can be just about anything you want to be” Lisa replied.
Bart reckoned it was an afternoon well spent.
Putting his feet up, sitting back on the couch, the idiot box lit up, a good game of football on, a Duff bottle held firmly in his right hand, and nacho cheese chicken crumb stains all over his checkered shirt.
This was incriminating evidence that he had been raiding the family feast portion of the fridge and tucking into a fine meal ahead of the evening.
If she were anything like his mother, Bart would be lectured on that for hours.
Bart could be the sensitive sort, but he knew when to bottle himself up, but women always made him weak at the knees. Their disapproval of him always made him cry more.
He cast his mind back to when Edna gave him an F.
He felt so trapped that day, so helpless. That nothing he said or did mattered to anyone.
So he spoke out. He tried to turn the tide. In a moment of kindness from God, fate, whatever you want to call it, Edna caved in and changed her grading.
And Bart kissed her.
Women. No matter what the age, they had an influence on his soul, pulling him in so many directions, sometimes a benefit or a blight to others depending on the people he met.
One thing that concerned him was how flawed most of them were. Even the adults like Edna.
Jessica, the rest, they were negative influences despite their saintly looks.
Even Laura, beautiful Laura, gravitated to the bad boys. Just ask Jimbo Jones.
Just ask Bart Simpson.
But as adult life eventually seeped into his own, Bart didn’t feel like much else could happen that he hadn’t accomplished as a child. The ‘bad boy days’ as he knew them seemed to peak at the age where he was still just a boy.
He was barely out of his teens now, settled, committed. He always had visions of futures where none of this would work if he stayed who he was as a youngster.
Everything ending in the worst case scenario.
Broken hearts, weak knees, court battles, custody clashes.
“Not here” he thought, “This is what I have, and it’s something I’ll work hard at keeping . They deserve it. I deserve it”
He looked at the photos on the mantelpiece. Photo booth kissing, riding bikes down a lavish hillside, a picnic near the power plant, pretending to tuck into a three-eyed fish.
Homer actually taking it too far in one photo and coming close to feeding Maggie it.
Maybe a call was in order.
He got off his Kester and moved over to the phone, he dialled up the familiar numbers that connected him to his family abode on Evergreen Terrace.
“Hello? Do we want any?” came a laboured and lazy voice, “I know Marge always tells me to say we don’t want any, but I’d like to give it a whirl if the price isn’t so steep”
“No Homer, I’m not trying to sell you jack, it’s just me” Bart said.
“Boy” Homer said, before bursting into a fit of laughter, “How’s the game? The Spring Steps are getting jacked right off the pitch at the moment”
“Laura bet on the Shelby shooters. I’ll be tucking into a bigger and better meal tonight with those earnings” Bart replied.
“Whatever happened to rooting for the homer-town team?” Homer replied.
“You know this happens whenever a nest is emptied” Bart responded, picking up one of the photos of Homer covered in mud and aggressively attacking a cameraman from the period he was mistaken for Bigfoot. “Sometimes you just go a bit ape for the alternatives”
“How’s little Lisa?” asked Homer, “And don’t sugar coat it….hmmm….sugar coating….”
“Train of thought Homer” Bart urged, “Stay on track”
“Yeah, totally. How is she?” he asked.
“She’s alright, all things considered. Was thinking of calling in a favour from an old face”
“I’ll be there in a jiffy…unless you mean Grandpa, if so, he’ll be there more all tipsy”
“He’s still drinking?” Bart replied, “At his age?”
“Told me it was just a little, but at the rate he’s going, a little is more than a lot”
“I didn’t mean Grandpa, or you, I meant Krusty” said Bart.
“Be wise boy, Krusty isn’t so sure on summons these days. One time he went to a birthday bash, and a few drinks later, he ended up taking the ‘bash’ part a little too literally”
“That was more a grown-up’s gig. He adapts different mentalities where that’s concerned” Bart said, “This will be with kids, he’ll sort everything out”
“Let’s hope you’re right boy, I’d hate the kids to be standing in another’s rain. D’OH. Sorry boy, had a bit of a lady mondegreen there”
“Dad, you got it right” Bart replied
“Got what right?” said Homer
“The mondegreen. The misheard lyric, you actually got it right, everyone interprets it as ‘standing in another’s grave’, but the rain part is exactly right”
“Whoo-Hoo” Homer yelled in triumph.
“Take care Homer…Dad…I love you” Bart replied, and after a hearty exchange of that, he put the phone down.
The buzzer on the door went off. Laura and the baby were home. Bart let them through.
As Laura made her way upstairs and entered the apartment, she examined Bart’s shirt and casually shook her head while smiling.
“Did the Springsters lose their step? Because if not you are so paying for the diner tonight” she replied.
“Rival school is the rule of cool so far” Bart said.
“So 90s” Laura continued, removing her jacket before scooping Maize up in her arms.
“How’d her jab go at the clinic?” Bart asked.
“Valiant with the vaccine” said Laura, “How about you? You still want to make the call to your Clown?”
“Well, I’ve already run rings around a member of the family circus, how can one from an actual one hurt?” replied Bart.
“You sure you can pull off a convincing female voice over the phone?” she said, “He’ll still think you’re Kristy”
“Hey, you know how long I’ve been practicing, I’m starting to think a women’s voice fits me like a glove” Bart joked.
“Still wondering why I won’t do it?” asked Laura, pinching his cheek.
“Tell me over dinner. I can digest anything you say better than anything on a plate” said Bart
Lisa paced up and down the room, looking at Ralph as he sat in the old wooden chaired given to the family by her grandmother at the center of their living room.
The kids had been put to bed early, even a few hours ahead of curfew.
That’s how serious Lisa was treating the situation.
“The television isn’t on” Ralph said.
Lisa switched it on, but made sure to turn down the volume.
“I want to watch something” Ralph insisted.
Lisa folded her arms and stared at him.
“We’ll watch something when you’re better” she said
“Have I caught something? Am I with diseases?” Ralph asked, a little anxiety growing in his voice.
“You’ve got something that’s not making you take anything in” Lisa answered, kneeling down and resting her head on Ralph’s legs.
“Count to me” she said.
“800” replied Ralph. He was quick to stop after the utterance of the number.
“Still can’t get past that number?” Lisa asked, her fingers lightly dancing across Ralph’s lap lovingly.
“The internet is a bad place” said Ralph.
“It is, isn’t it? Is that how the little ones found out? Did you tell them?”
“Nelson made me do it” Ralph insisted, “He told me I’d be famous if we found out together”
“It was a lie though wasn’t it? Oh honey, you were being manipulated by him” she said, moving her arms over Ralph’s shoulders and tightly wrapping them around his neck as he leaned forward.
“Every time I’d nip down to the shops, for milk, or cakes…I like cakes, they would be there asking why I hadn’t had a shave, or a wash…and then they asked me if the Easter Bunny was real, and then they’d tell me things about the town, and I never knew if they were true or not” Ralph said, his anxiety levels slowly creeping up on him again.
He took in a few intakes of breath. Lisa moved forward and gave him a gentle kiss.
“I love you” she said, “Keep going, we can push through this if you want to Ralph, I believe you can. I won’t judge you for it. Just admit it to yourself”
“Nelson told me about the 800 orphans, their bodies, where they were, in the septic tank near the graveyard, he said there were 800 bodies in there, and if we found them together, we could share the credit, I’d have money, we’d be like Roseanne after the lottery”
“You took the kids with you” Lisa said.
“They wanted to see the bodies…their Aunt Laura likes poking them with sticks, so they brought some. They got carried away with them. They started poking Nelson and Calvin with them. Wish they could see the look on their faces, but their eyes had made contact with the wooden ends of the sticks”
“That’s what set them off didn’t they? Aztec told me Calvin pushed him into one of the open graves”, Lisa continued, convinced she was making some kind of break-through.
“Nelson got piping hot. He seemed to grow as he got mad, like a giant off the beanstalk. So I brought the beanstalk down on him” said Ralph.
“No, this is not a fairy tale Ralph, you have to accept that, you have to get to the root of the problem, with you, with this…it wasn’t a beanstalk, and you didn’t topple a giant”
Lisa took Ralph up from the chair and proceeded to waltz around the room with him. The formal dancing gently eased Ralph’s nerves.
The two made eye contact, their pupils ignited with reflection, revelation, light, and love.
“I…I…it was a headstone. An Angel was on top, arms spread wise, like it wanted to hug him” said Ralph, “So she did, and he liked it, he didn’t let go. It was funny to see her on top of him”
“Is it funny Ralph?”
“Renew our laughter. That’s what you said to the Doctor, I’m trying my best” said Ralph.
“Nothing over something as morbid as murder Ralph” said Lisa, “That’s what it was. You killed Nelson because he threatened our boy”
Calvin still thinks it was an accident” said Ralph
“I don’t know” Lisa said, “but…Ralph, I want you to know, this is something I’ll keep to my grave”
“No, keep it to my grave” said Ralph.
“Deal” Lisa said, drying her eyes as gentle tears came pouring down.
As the waltz continued, Ralph stared at the blank television.
“I miss the moving pictures” he said
At the bustling food bank that was Moe’s Family Feedbag (either second time’s the charm or I pay for half your housing bills), Bart and Laura Simpson were savouring the delights that their earnings from the Football bet had provided for them.
Laura took the time to tell Bart a little bit about her day at work.
“I get the strangest requests from this one crank that befriended me on Facebook” she said, “I know I was supposed to be occupying my time with charting digital sales and e-mailing them, but the requests were so insistent and bizarre I had to take time out to get to the bottom of it. This one girl, no kidding, wanted me to buy her a box full of 90-era Bongo comics. [U]Mint [/U]condition. Fifty dollars, on e-bay” she said as they tucked into a noodle and curry pizza with all the delicate manners of a piglet at a troth.
Even Maize Williams Simpson was tending to her small morsels of meat with more fines than her parents.
People stared. The couple were content to allow them to. They were the ones having the time of their lives.
“So level with me. Why won’t you do it?” Bart asked his wife, with the question pertaining to why she wouldn’t call Krusty and put on what would have been a more convincing act than him.
“Take the responsibility away?” Laura replied.
“You reckon Krusty will see through my cheap imitation? Because I could totally land a better gig with this” Bart said, putting on his feminine voice.
“You’re used to being yourself Bart”
“Yeah, but if he figures out it’s me…he’ll…”
“He’ll what?” Laura asked, “You’ve met him loads of times since I got you that number, he was always coming through for you then”
“Maybe it ought to be different this time” Bart replied, peering into the distance.
Laura took a napkin from the table and cleared Maize’s stained mouth with it, she grabbed onto the napkin and playfully tugged at it with her mother.
“Is it because of what I said earlier? About nostalgia getting you all high and then reality rendering you low?” Laura asked.
“I’ve seen reality with Krusty. Up close. Once the magic’s clear to you, it kind of fizzles out. Krusty isn’t the type to hide it either” Bart answered, taking another bite of his food and talking while gnawing away at it.
“Well, maybe that’s just what Lisa’s kids need. Someone who can make you laugh, but rarely sees the funny side. You’d be surprised how many can pick up on that”
“You always had an eye for what young scamps like me could think” Bart replied, “We’re walking books that you’re just able to read”
“The book of Bart was always my favorite” Laura said, tucking into her own food with similar ill manner, almost as if to disturb the more sophisticated types trying to dine on their own dinner.
“How long do you reckon before we’re kicked out?” said Bart.
“As soon as we start tucking in with our feet” said Laura.
“When do you reckon we do that?” Bart asked.
“Oh let Maize do it first, everyone will fawn over her” Laura suggested.
As the late evening crept in, Ralph was sound asleep, but Lisa just couldn’t shut her eyes and join him in merry slumber.
She got out of bed and crept down the stairs, entering the kitchen to pour herself a soothing glass of hot coffee.
She nursed the cup steadily in her hand, looking outward at the photos of days spent in her youth with her brother, her younger sister, and the young Wiggum lad that allowed his heart to be stolen by her.
It would take a lot of hard work, but in time, she would let him know that he had stolen hers.
Or maybe he always had, and all that was left was for her to slowly realize it.
She thought she knew what she was getting into when she married someone like him.
Anxieties, a playful blend of innocence and ignorance, a kind but irreverent soul.
All the qualities Lisa was often insistent on eluding, out of fear of social ridicule if anything.
At the time she didn’t want another Homer in her life.
She had been thinking of calling her family, as Bart already had when she got him on call to arrange the play date for Krusty,
Her husband had taken a life.
Not just any life.
The life of a boy she had crushed on.
A boy, who terrorized her brother, yet had stirred her own soul.
And here she was, vowing to never tell anyone what Ralph had done.
She wanted to question herself, question her ethics.
To challenge herself.
She didn’t want to feel trapped.
Too many instances had occurred in her childhood where she felt that way. She liked to think it was a predicament she had learned to grow past.
She had to face the big black world as an adult.
What terrified her most was Ralph’s obliviousness to it all.
How would it affect the outlook her children had on the world? Knowing this incident was a part of their all too fragile lives.
Would the tears of a clown be any better than the tears of a heartbroken mother? Or their own tears later in life as the full magnitude of Nelson’s death came down on them?
Would they blame her?
How many questions could she think aloud?
How many days would she count maintaining the secret before it spilled out in the heat of an argument?
She would think of only that one word.
That one simple answer.
She would not entertain the idea of cutting loose.
Not in front of her kids.
And not in front of Ralph.
She was a Wiggum now. Not just a Simpson.
The Wiggum word was law.
She knew the law in Springfield could be unjust, it could be unfair.
But it also had maintained some semblance of order for what had felt like generations more than a couple of decades.
And that largely in part to Ralph’s father having connections, and being made of stern stuff in order to deal with all kinds of shady stuff.
Maybe she needed to seek out his advice.
And maybe she should consider her options.
If she told Clancy, she would condemn Ralph to a daily reminder of disappointment and hurt from his own flesh and blood.
Would he then blame Lisa for that?
Lisa realized Krusty’s visit would not stamp out the approaching firestorm. If anything, it would be like drenching a spark with oil.
She still thought his presence was required, but she wanted something different.
She wanted Krusty to be himself.
Warts and all.
By giving her children the world outside her window, it would ready them ideally for when they stepped out into it.
Would she be forgiven for the risk?
She finished off the hot coffee and gently strolled back upstairs to the bedroom, she would gaze upon the face of her slumbering husband, she would check on her children in their own room, and she would come to the only logical conclusion she could as a mother and wife.
To renew their laughter, she would first see fire set to tears.
Bart tossed and turned in his sleep. He awoke for had now been the fifth time.
He couldn’t try a sixth turning, he decided to get up for the time being.
He did some stretching and combed his hands through his spikey hair, as his weary and baggy eyes stared at the clock.
He groaned and made his way to the living area.
He couldn’t believe Laura was still up.
Spread across the sofa, chowing down on cold noodles watching the teleshopping infomercials on mute.
“Hey champ, what’s keeping you cooking?” she asked, noticing how much Bart was sweating,
“The weather’s pretty chill, is it the radiator? I’ve been meaning to lower the temperature on that” she said.
“How do you do it?” asked Bart.
Laura smiled and leaned her head upside down over the side of the sofa, a small noodle hanging out of her lips, her eyes fixated on her husband.
“Do what?” she said.
Bart leaned over and took the loose noodle out of her mouth, kissed her on the lips, then deposited the noodle back into his mouth.
“Hang with the baddest of boys?” said Bart, sporting an alluring and mischievous grin.
“Because I know you’re just too good to be totally bad” said Laura, reaching out for Bart’s nose with her finger and squeezing it.
“You reckon Lisa’s kids will be able to handle Krusty next weekend?” said Bart as Laura got up, and offered him a seat on the couch.
“They can handle anything. They’ve got Simpson blood…their blood runs righteously red. A brave color, a strong color. It isn’t as yellow as our features”
Bart wrapped his arms around her and gently stroked his hands through her hair.
“How did I do it? Meet you, make Maize, make it all work…how?” he asked.
“You put in the hours…amongst putting in other things” Laura said in a playful manner, “And your finest hour is yet to come”
Bart took a small note out of his pyjama pocket, he opened it up.
“What’s that?” asked Laura.
“A speech I wrote for Nelson’s wake” Bart answered.
“Why didn’t it follow the funeral?” asked Laura.
“Not everyone could make it. This will be the official get together to make up for that” Bart said.
“Are you still going? Nelson victimized you. A lot. You don’t owe him any charity” said Laura, “Besides, Jimbo will be there and I’d rather not open up the skeletons left in that old closet”
“No, I think I’ll take the little poem I wrote and use it at the get-together with Krusty this weekend”
Laura put on her reading glasses and took a look at the bottom half of the eulogy speech. Bart sat back and admired the sensational sight of his wife looking like the kind of formal librarian fantasies he and his father would often think about when withdrawing books back in the day.
“Bart, these are lyrics from a TV show” Laura said.
“I know…but they’ll remind Krusty of times spent in television. Forever his home y’know?”
“These specific lyrics will make him feel a bit old given how many years they’ll take him back to” said Laura.
“think that emphasizes the point of all this” said Bart, taking the glasses off of Laura’s face and planting his lips delicately onto hers once again, before disembarking and moving his lips towards her right ear.
“We’re all a little older” Bart whispered into his wife’s ear as the pair locked into an embrace and allowed their passion for each other to ignite.
The following morning brought news and nurture to the Wiggum household.
As Aztec and Olmec argued at length over which of the final two Variety breakfast pack to choose from, Lisa had taken to her study area to do some light reading, and had found that her husband had snuck back on it again.
His own laptop had been in the PC repair shop for a record breaking fiftieth time. He had never quite learned his lesson about downloading spyware. He had often mistaken it for “Eyewear” following a misquote or two in a conversation with Groundskeeper Willy.
Ralph figured he looked more presentable in glasses. Lisa never agreed with that. She figured he was doing it out of fears she still had thing for Van Houten.
Lisa calmly read what Ralph had been typing away at on her own computer.
A poem had been plastered publicly across his Facebook profile.
By Ralph Wiggum
On a patch of Earth
Our home, our land
Comes somber footsteps
Along the sand.
As winds gather
And tides are tossed
We take a breath
We count the loss
There are those that walk still
Who fled so far
There are those that stayed
As the sun swayed to stars
It’s those we thank
For staying guard
In our sombre footsteps
Across the scorching sands
We reach out to your hearts
And hope you’ll take our hand
It already had fifteen approved likes.
Lisa logged in and quickly added her own like, following it up with the comment, “Very proud to be your muse as well as your Mrs.”
She knew he’d like that.
“Mom, someone’s at the door” yelled Olmec. Lisa darted out to the hall to greet the visitor.
Her heart almost leapt out.
She felt like forming a fist and swallowing it whole to keep from hyper-ventilating. Or screaming. And both.
It was Chief Wiggum.
It was the law.
Was he here to investigate what happened to Nelson?
Had Ralph confessed?
The options of what to do and not do in this situation dragged up every volatile emotion she had spent the previous evening softening. In one instant, everyone came back up and stung her mind’s eye like a splintered dagger.
“I’m afraid…” Wiggum began.
“So am I” replied Lisa.
“Huh?” said Wiggum, confused.
Lisa caught herself and try to remain compose, “Nothing” she said, “Thinking out loud, go ahead”
“You were expecting Krusty this weekend? Ralph told me, I’m afraid he was detained coming into town. Something about immigrant monkeys”
“Isn’t that bit racey?” said Lisa.
“No, I mean it. Monkeys. Genuine monkeys. He said it was for a show, we did some filing on it and it turns out they were being put on show. Auction even”
“Oh those poor things, how could he possibly do that?” asked Lisa.
“We’ll be holding him over the next three days, just thought I’d let you know he’ll miss the dinner with the family, same with the brat pack ruled over by your brother”
“Still never quite forgave Laura’s mother for that car chase did you?” said Lisa.
“How’s the home fire burning with Ralph anyway? Teach him any new tricks?” asked Wiggum.
“If anything, he’s teaching [I]me[/I] Clancy” Lisa replied.
Krusty squinted his eyes as the phone was handed over to his outstretched sticking out of the prison cell bars.
“For me?” Krusty spoke
“For you” said the officer.
“You’re a big guy” joked Krusty.
“C’mon, that film’s ancient history” said the officer.
“No shame in a little Bane” Krusty replied back.
“Here are your notes back” said the Officer, “Chief reckons you could make a mint more off of what’s in there rather than what you were going to sell”
“How does he reckon that?” Krusty asked.
“It touched his heart, it didn’t break it” said the officer.
“I’m the only one with the literal kind of shattered heart around here” Krusty said, pointing to his pacemaker
“Just take the damn call” said the Officer.
Krusty placed the phone to his ear.
“Hello?” he said.
“Hi Klown, taking the hard knock knock joke on life?” said what sounded like a grating and syrupy female voice.
“Knock it off kid, you’re terrible at this” said Krusty.
“Terrible at what?” inquired the voice.
“Putting on some dame’s accent, I’ve been around the world and counted every accent imaginable, only one who ever sounds like that is your mother”
Bart slowly emerged from the shadows.
“Only actual grown I’m used to” he said.
“You mad?” said Krusty.
“Oh it angers” Bart said, keeping the gnarly voice.
“Yeah, you’re going to have to do that for both of us kid, I got nothing”
“Thirteen years ago, my wife reckoned you’d still have something, something I needed. Evidently, this isn’t what I want, but it’s definitely something YOU need”
“And what would that be?” asked a despairing Krusty.
“A chance to renew your laughter out loud” said Bart, “It’s something for my sister, something for me, something for the one family that’ll always cut you a break even when you cut our hearts to ribbons”
“Maybe I can touch that heart of yours with something then” said Krusty, taking out his notebook.
“A little something I wrote after I wished a pal of mine a happy birthday on her Facebook” said Krusty.
“Can it make me laugh?” said Bart.
“If you see life in a certain way, yeah” said Krusty.
“Just read it, then we’re bailing this joint and taking you for a parole hearing all your own at our place. You better have some corn and not be a flake”
Krusty read aloud from his notebook, a small yellow hardback tome full of personal poems he had written over the years.
Eight long years separate
Why did we wait?
Loved ones dismiss us with a piercing glance
Why must they hate?
Daily comments of her lives online
Well wishes for a birthday
It sparks a notion all day long
Let’s go out for coffee
She was shy, small, and keeps no eye trained long
We talk her whole life over
A most familiar song.
When the talk ends, she turns
She thanks me for the meal
I ask if we can stay in touch
If time was ours to steal
She says it depends on the day
In a tone so tellingly flirty
She snuck past her parents to make this day count
The girl is well past thirty!
As she strolls along the high street.
Her world knows no doubt.
I sat there nursing a hot mug
What was that all about?
Krusty closed the book and handed it over to Bart through the bars of the cell.
“Keep it, only poetic thing left for me is justice”
“I had a plan. You squandered it” Bart said.
“At least you came out in order to come through for me kid, I appreciate it” Krusty replied.
The cell doors slide open, Krusty emerged.
Bart, having paid for Krusty’s bail with Lisa’s help, escorted him outside, where Laura, Lisa, Ralph, and their children were greeting him.
“Is that the Powers kid?” said Krusty, smiling at Bart, “Boy, you sure had to grow into a man quick to catch up with her”
“I’m still a kid Krusty; question is…in this moment, for this day, will you be?”
“Kid, you should know by now when it comes to acting well below the guidelines for maturity, I’m very much a monkey’s uncle” joked Krusty.
“Then let’s renew our lols” said Bart.
The families Simpson and Wiggum clambered into their vehicles, and, with the sounds of sincerity and signing, made a merry and mellow drive away from the prescient and back to the Simpsons abode, aiming to make a man less of the monkey he’d become.