A few days ago, I had to deliver a brand new car to a man in Wichita, Kansas. I had called ahead, and the man (a Mr. Bowling) had asked that I be there on Saturday instead of Friday. That was a bit of an inconvenience for me, but I do my best to meet the needs of my customers. So it was all arranged, and I had reserved a rental car to get to my next pickup in Kansas City.
As I was driving to the delivery, Mr. Bowling called and said that he was running late. He had to rush out and pick up a cake for his boys' birthday party, and he asked if I would wait until he got back. I told him that his wife could sign for it, but he preferred to see it himself before signing off on it.
I pulled into the driveway, and Mrs. Bowling came out to greet me. "You must be Bill, welcome. We are all in a frenzy here, I have 30 ten year olds in the backyard, and its utterly chaotic."
"I completely understand, don't you worry a bit. I'll be fine waiting right here."
Jim and Jack, identical twin boys, marched up together in lockstep with a sort of mechanical gait. I had never seen such solemn children in my life. They had a faraway look in their eyes, and it sort of reminded me of the children in the horror movie VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED.
Mrs. Bowling cooed, "Here's my lively little birthday boys. So full of life and mischief, I can hardly contain them. Boys, say hello to Mr. Bill."
"Hello--" said Jim.
"-- Mr. Bill," finished Jack. These two little blonde-headed boys even finished each other's sentences, which I'd normally find interesting and cute. But they both spoke in a monotone, with a touch of dread in their voices.
"Boys, you take care of Mr. Bill for me. I'm gonna go make him a plate. Don't get too crazy now."
"No, Mother," said Jack.
"We won't," said Jim.
Mrs. Bowling walked away. Both boys turned to focus on me, and their intense stares made me feel like they were trying with all their might to look into my brain.
"We love parties," said Jim.
"We really do," said Jack.
"What do you like?" asked Jim.
"Well, uh... I really do love movies."
"Movies are evil," said Jim.
"They repress the soul," stated Jack.
"We're all doomed," added Jim.
"The end is near," said Jack emphatically.
I smiled. "You mean the end of the party?"
"No goofball, the end of the world," said Jim with a scolding tone.
"I see..." I replied with some hesitancy.
Jack reared his head back. "We live in dark times."
Jim shook his head. "All hope is gone. All hope."
"Gee, I hope not," I said with a chuckle.
"It's true," said Jim.
"It's sad," said Jack.
"Very, very sad," added Jim.
"What is there to live for?" asked Jack.
Suddenly, a very fat hyperactive boy came running up. "Hey you guys!"
"Hello, Jeremy," said Jack.
"Go away, Jeremy," said Jim.
"Hey guys, when do we eat cake?"
"Are you serious?" asked Jim.
"There are millions of children starving across the world," Jack informed us.
"And you want cake?" queried Jim.
Jeremy giggled. "Yep, can I have an extra big slice?"
"Go away," said Jack.
"Far away," said Jim.
I leaned over to Jeremy. "Their Dad is out picking up the cake right now, he'll
be back with it real soon." So Jeremy shrugged and took off.
Jack and Jim began to study me as if I was a lab experiment. "You lied," Jim accused.
"You lied to Jeremy," Jack chimed in.
Jim was perplexed. "Why did you lie to Jeremy?"
"As far as I know, I didn't," I explained. "What was the lie?"
"The cake is already here," Jack sadly told me.
"Father is out drinking again, probably making time with some
woman of ill repute," said Jim.
Mrs. Bowling came back carrying a plate for me loaded with all kinds of goodies. "How are my sweet birthday boys doing?"
Jack let out a long sigh. "Fine, Mother."
Jim nodded. "Fine, I guess."
She beamed. "Did you tell Mr. Bill what you want for your birthday presents?"
"What's the point?" asked Jim.
"We're all going to die," said Jack with a hint of true sadness.
Mrs. Bowling didn't seem to notice the twins dour demeanor. "Did you tell Mr. Bill how old you are today?"
"Ten," said Jim.
"We'll never live to see twenty," Jack said as he glared at me.
"Aren't they adorable?" she gushed. "I have to go back to the party, my husband
should be here very soon. Boys, you want to come back and see your friends?"
"We'll stay here," said Jack.
"We'll stay with Mr. Bill," said Jim. Normally, I would have been flattered, but these kids were kind of creeping me out.
"We have a question," Jack told me.
"Have you ever seen a naked lady with no clothes on?" Jim asked.
A Lincoln Navigator came roaring into the driveway, and came so fast I didn't know if it would stop in time to avoid hitting us. Thank God it did, and Mr. Bowling stumbled out of the car. He was carrying a couple of cartons of ice cream, and the ice cream was melting and dripping all over the place.
Jim and Jack turned and faced me with serious determination. "There's a question on the table," Jim said.
"Answer quickly before Father interrupts, Mr. Bill."
"Hello there!" shouted Mr. Bowling.
I spoke softly to the kids. "That's really the sort of question you should save
for your Dad."
"He won't tell us." Jim looked down at his feet.
"Thanks for the help, loser." Jack led Jim away, and Mr. Bowling stepped up to me.
"Hey, you made it with my car." He was obviously drunk, but I don't make judgements. I just wanted him to sign the paperwork and be on my way. I noticed that he had lipstick all over his face and shirt collar. I debated whether to say something, but then realized that I am a driving fool and just need to keep on rolling. Don't get involved.
As he signed the papers, Mr. Bowling said, "Let me ask you something. When I was walking up, were the boys asking you about naked women?"
I managed to sincerely look genuinely puzzled. "I don't think so."
"Huh. That's what they usually ask all strangers about. I might as well just give in and get them both a subscription to Playboy. Hey sorry, I gotta get this cake inside, I think its melting."
So he carried the melting ice cream into the house. And I picked up my bag and started the long walk to the rental car agency. On to the next adventure.