T for Trouble
Argyle got me into trouble. Again. Oh, I know I shouldn't be that surprised, but just for once I expected things to happen just a tiny bit different than usual. After all, it was only the baptism of Argyle's second son, of which I was supposed to be the godfather. I'm not sure if I should feel honored or scared. The idea of another mini-Argyle loose on the world was quite terrifying, only this time I might be able to be a good influence on the child.
That was when I asked him the name of his son and he said he'd tell me later.
Something knocked on my door at the moment. I looked through the peephole. Care to guess what it was? That's right. A bad feeling. Big as bear.
Argyle was waiting for me at the airport. He hugged me with enthusiasm and helped carry my luggage to his car. Mona was there waiting, along with Argyle Junior (why the cruelty?) and their newborn. As I entered the car, I held his tiny hand and said: “Hey! Look at you! How old are you, little man?”
“He's gonna be one week old tomorrow,” said Mona.
“What's his name?” I asked.
Argyle Junior was about to say something, but Mona put her hand over his mouth.
“It's a surprise, Jay-Rod!” said Argyle, as he started the car and drove away. “Trust me!”
I looked out of the window and saw a bad feeling waving at me. Surprises with Argyle were almost never a good thing; especially when he went into so much trouble keeping them a secret. I knew that placing my trust on a man who possessed the almost magical talent of dragging me into trouble every time we met was not wise, but after what had happened three months earlier in Scotland, I needed some thing silly in my life. And that was something I was sure Argyle and his family could deliver without a doubt.
The next morning we were standing in front of an... edifice. I don't really think anyone could that thing a church; it looked like something from another planet. (By the way, I'm skipping the events of the previous night for several good reasons. The least of them was Argyle's insistence in making dinner and that's not something I want to remember.) I knew I should know better than to ask, but my curiosity beat the crap out of my good sense.
“What kind of church is that?”
“It's not a church,” said Mona. “It's a temple. In honor of-” She sneezed.
“Oh, we don't say that, Jay-Rod,” Argyle cut in. “We say 'Up you go!'. You see, the great,” sneezes, “is all about reaching high, reaching for the stars.
More like reaching for a tissue. Something strange was going on. “Is this a new religion?”
“It's not a religion, Jarod,” Mona explained. “It's a way of being.
Argyle then proceeded to explain to me how the great (sneezes) came from a far away galaxy, with the sole purpose of helping human kind reach its maximum potencial. Here's the short version: a long time ago, in a place far away, there once lived a man, a good man, a powerful man, who traveled to our planet and inspired others to be like him, then he died and some people continued to do as he said, while others would make up as they went along. The end. Trust me when I tell you don't want the long version. Especially the part with the goose wearing the pink dress. That's just wrong.
Speaking of wrong outfits, that was when a man dressed in a weird rainbow custom approached us. The color of his clothes were so vivid I could barely look at him. He stopped by us and seemed to notice something. “Ah man! I made a stain! (Sneeze)damn it! Please forgive me, (sneeze)”
I did my best to find out where that stain was, but it was as hard to spot as a red dot on a Seinfeld episode.
“Are you...” he produced a piece of paper from his pocket and read, “Argyle and Mona?”
“Yes. And this is Jarod.”
“Nice to meet you,” I said, offering my hand.
The rainbow-man grabbed my hand, but didn't shook it; instead, he swooshed it around three times, clockwise, then he tilted his head back and made a noise that sounded like a croak.
“What was that?” I asked, as soon as he let go off my hand and started to walk away.
“He was welcoming you.”
“That was nice of him. I think...”
The inside of the building was even weirder than the outside. I didn't believe such a thing could be possible, but there it was: so painful to look at, it almost made me miss The Centre. Despite how evil most of the people there were, at least they had better taste.
We were lead to a large room shaped like a triangle. The two side walls were decorated with pictures of planets and galaxies, which, judging by the way they were were cut, had probably been done by someone with poor motor skills. Suddenly, the idea of having Argyle swept away to another planet made me smile.
“You like it?” Argyle asked, pulling me away from my reverie. “Junior here did it all by himself!” Argyle patted Junior on his back with pride.
Against the back wall stood four row of plastic chairs, each row had five chairs, all in different colors. I had no idea they met so many people.
“I told Junior to pick any color he wanted,” said Mona. “He chose brown.”
I thought about saying something, but quickly reconsidered it and just smiled. “He is truly his parents' son.”
“He sure!” she said, happy. “Oh, Jarod! Thank you so much for doing this! You have no idea how much this means to us!”
“I'm very glad for you. Although, I must admit, all of this is kind of big surprise for me. I thought Argyle was catholic.”
“He was. But after his pop died, Argyle lost his faith.”
“What about you?
“I just want what's best for him?”
“And he found that here?”
“For now. This a good place for him.”
“Not exactly your regular belief, is it?”
“It's different,” she replied.
Not exactly the word I'd choose, but all right.
“Hey, Jay-Rod! We're about to start,” Argyle called.
I nodded and, as I looked around, I realized all the seats were filled with men and women of all ages and ethnicities. At the peak of the triangle, standing on a marble platform, was a public water fountain. Like the suit rainbow-man was wearing, and the chairs where the guests were sitting, it had too much color. I wish I could pretend to blind just for a little while. Oh! How am I? All right, Jarod. You can do this. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and... And someone was pulling my sleeve. I opened my eyes and looked over, expecting to see Argyle or Mona, but instead I found...
Then it hit me. If Broots was here, then Sydney and Miss Parker shouldn't be that far. Damn it! I knew this was gonna be trouble!
“Hey, Jarod! I didn't expect to see you--”
I pushed him aside and made a dash for the exit.
And that is where our story began.
I was almost reaching the door when Mona appeared before me, with the baby in her arms.
“What did you do that for?” she asked with a surprisingly angry tone. Before I could think of any explanation, she handed the baby over to me. “I hope you don't throw HIM on the floor too!” she said and went to help Broots get up.
What the hell am I waiting for? I have to get out of here!
“Are you okay, cuz?”
“Yeah, I'm fine. Jarod's an old friend.”
“Well, pushing someone over is not a friendly thing to do, if you ask me.”
“Don't worry about that. It was my fault, really.”
As I watched the interchange between Broots and Mona, I noticed Debbie chatting with Junior. Debbie was a bright kid; I couldn't think of a single topic she and Junior could have in common.
Argyle called out for me again: “Hey, Jay-Rod! I called you like ten paragraphs ago! You coming or what?”
“Huh... Sure. Why not?”
Everything was ready to go. Apparently, they were just waiting for me. I returned the baby to Mona, apologized to Broots and walked over to the water cooler.
Now, allow me to push things a little faster and just go to the part when rainbow-man asked: “And what name shall the child receive?”
After Argyle Junior, I thought I was ready for anything.
“We're gonna name him... Jargyle!” he said, proudly.
I was wrong.
“Jargyle?” I asked. “What kind of a name is that?”
“It's a tribute.”
An offense is more like it. Not glad that he already has the Argyle gene, they decided to add a bad name in the mix.
“I don't think it is.”
“You're just being modest.”
“If I may proceed?” Rainbow-man interrupted. “The Big (sneeze)... Someone, please, there's a draft I here here!” A door closed. “Thank you. As I was saying, the Big (Sneeze) doesn't like to wait. Can we wrap this up?”
Please! Let us do that.
After the ceremony, there was a small buffet. I called dibbs on the pop-tarts, much to Broots' dismay.
“I had no idea you were related to Mona.”
“Neither did I.”
As I arched my eyebrow, he explained. “After one of your trips here, back when Argyle and Mona first met, I did a background check on her and discovered she's the daughter of a half-brother of a half-uncle of my father.
“I can imagine that family tree.”
“Really? You think you could...?”
“I said imagine, not pretend. I'm on vacation here.”
Rainbow-man approached us. “So, Jarod, what do you do for a living?”
“I pretend,” I answered, as truthfully as I could.
“You should do something real instead. Did you try the fruit-cake? It's very good!”
“They have fruit-cake?” Broots asked.
“Dibs!” I called.
Argyle came over to us, with (sorry, I can't say his name yet) on his arms.
“Once again, thanks for coming, Jay-Rod. This wouldn't be the same without you.”
You got that right.
“I think next time we're gonna aim for a girl. But I need a cool name.” He turned to me and asked: “That lady that's always chasing you? What's her name?”
Oh, I'm so getting in trouble with Miss Parker...