Chapter 14: It Must Be True!
The police found my coworkers tied up and unharmed in the storeroom, just as The Yeti had said. As they led him out, my boss promised me that, in return for everything I had done, he’d correct the damage the Ying-Yang Gang had inflicted on my character. I shook his hand and he flashed his best P.R. smile as the police drove him to the station for questioning.
Of course, the members of the Ying-Yang Gang, once revived, that is, claimed that they were simply innocent orphans searching for food. They claimed that I had parachuted out of a helicopter and started beating them up so I could perform horrible genetic experiments on them in my secret lab.
But Joe’s video said otherwise.
Joe had been filming since I had stepped out of the building, so he had captured Sinister Eyes’s entire confession. Unlike orphans, video doesn’t lie. The terrible trio was carted off to the local jail in the sheriff’s paddy wagon.
As for what he was doing at the Wappingers Falls Tribune offices, Joe was about to apply for a janitorial position when he saw me and smelled an opportunity for good video. Much to his delight, Joe got his job, all right – as the official photographer/videographer of the Wappingers Falls Tribune.
After everything calmed down a bit, Kara and Shannon were standing by the van.
“Thanks for everything, you two,” I said. “I don’t think I could have taken the orphans and Joe Shurize at the same time.”
Kara smiled. “Hey, it takes more than orphan gang members to stop me.”
“And I figured that I should help too,” said Shannon.
“Yeah,” Kara agreed. “Shannon and I were supposed to hang out, but then it really bothered me that you didn’t get an answer when you called your job. I thought you might need me for something.”
“So she dragged me here,” added Shannon. “But you really did need us, so I guess it worked out okay.” Shannon winked at me. I know it was supposed to be witty, but actually it was just creepy. There was an awkward silence for a few seconds, in which we all just kind of stared at the rocks on the pavement.
In the distance, the cops started leaving the scene, their sirens blearing.
“Sirens are so romantic,” I mused, a huge grin plastered on my exonerated face.
And the swan… well, the swan was nowhere to be found. (Insert eerie music here.)
* * *
The next morning, I dashed out of the house and looked in the mailbox for what promised to be a very special edition of the newspaper. Unfortunately, it hadn’t arrived yet. Those damn lazy delivery people! Is it too much to ask to have my paper delivered at a decent time, like 2 a.m.? I guess so.
Waiting for that paper was like waiting for Mom and Dad to wake up on Christmas. Sleep wasn’t really an option, and this time I couldn’t just set Dad’s clock ahead five hours. Instead, I resorted to counting all the blades of grass on my lawn. It was really hard to explain to the neighbors why I was asleep in the middle of their lawn when they left for work that morning.
But there was no time for that! After making something up about a failed robbery attempt to said neighbors, I sprinted to my mailbox and grabbed the paper. I unrolled it and was instantly elated. There, on the front page, was a picture of me that had been taken yesterday at the scene of the battle. I was standing over Sinister Eyes after knocking her down the last time. The headline was written over the top of the page in big, black letters: “Local man rises from the grave to devastate local cute orphan population!”
I held my arms triumphantly in the air. Ahh, it was good to be alive!
* * *
“Goodnight Mom!” I yelled through my closed bedroom door. She mumbled something. “No, I’m really still alive. …Yes, you too. See you tomorrow!”
I placed the cell phone back to my ear.
“Yeah, sorry about that Kara. I’ll talk to you tomorrow then.”
“Goodnight Matt,” she replied. “I’m so glad you’re alive again!”
“Me too, Kara. Me too.” I smiled, but Kara couldn’t see it because cell phones don’t transmit facial actions very well. Instead, I told her in great detail what my face looked like at the time for another 15 minutes. Then it really was time to go. “Goodnight Kara! Sleep tight!”
“Sweet dreams!” Kara replied. I hung up the phone and put it back in its charger.
Within minutes of slipping under the covers, I drifted off to sleep
That night, I had a dream. I was sailing in a beautiful Caribbean sea, all alone, marveling at the truly resplendent beaches and vegetation of my tropical island. That was the first good dream I’d ever had.
It was nice, like being alive.