the_star_child: (guilty smile)
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"Psst! Dani! Dani, wake up!" Elliott called, standing below Dani's window. It was in the dead of summer when summer break was just starting to drag on and yet the idea of school in the fall wasn't oppressive either. Next year they'd be starting middle school so she was looking forward to it. They'd likely still have most of the same classmates but it felt different than being stuck in the same building as the little kids. It was a hot day and neither of their houses were air conditioned. She'd been in her room with an old oscillating fan turned all the way up in jean cutoffs and a tank top reading Archie comics but not feeling too into them. It was better than putting up with his stupid sister's cartoons on the TV.

When she heard Elliott's voice, she immediately sprang up and hurried to the window. She knew that tone of voice. It was one he always got when mischief was afoot. Growing up in a household of three older brothers, Elliott had developed quite the skill at pranks and getting them blamed on someone else. Peeking her head out, she grinned down at him. "What?"

"The Kaufman's are re-doing their bathroom and tossed a bunch of stuff out back. Come on! I have an idea," he answered, pushing his glasses up further on his nose. The frames were too big for him but they'd been discounted for being returned to the store. Mrs. Gilbert just said he'd grow into them but they looked a little goofy on the boy's face. That didn't matter when it was just the two of them, but she feared how he'd fare once school started. Right now, his smile was almost as bright as his strawberry blonde hair in the sunlight. Dani loved it when he was in moods like this.

She had no idea what he had up his sleeve, but she grabbed her old sneakers and hurried downstairs. It was only a few minutes before she was outside running with him down the street. The Kaufman family was a retired couple who had a thirty year old son with Down's Syndrome. They were friendly even though they mostly kept to themselves. Elliott and Dani sometimes stopped by to talk to Mrs. Kaufman and Jerry, the son. Elliott found them fascinating since they followed so many of the Jewish customs but then enjoyed things like hot dogs and pork rinds. When he was around ten, they'd given him one and he'd thought he was such a rebel. Dani just laughed since her family wasn't strict on those things either. She'd just always been careful of what her mom fed them whenever Elliott was around. After that hot dog, Elliott stopped caring as much.

As they crossed over a street to get to their neighbor's house, they saw several workers around. In a pile at the corner of the property was the old bathroom fixtures that would end up either in the landfill or be picked up by some hoarder. Elliott had other plans as he ran up to the toilet. "Come on, grab one end," he instructed picking up the other side. Dani was terribly curious where this was going, but enjoying the suspense too much to ask. They took the old toilet back to their own street and he put it in front of Elliott's house. "Okay, wait here. I'm going to go grab a newspaper and a camera!"

She frowned in confusion and watched him run inside. It was near impossible for that boy to stay still for longer than a few minutes at a time. His mind was always active, getting all these crazy ideas. Coming back out, he handed over the camera to her. Pulling off his shirt, he handed that to her too. "Ready to freak out some people?"

"I have no idea what you're doing, stupid," she tossed back with a laugh. "What are you doing?"

"I'm going to make the cars going by think I'm taking a dump in middle of my yard naked."

She stared at him like he was crazy and then laughed. "You're what?!"

"I'll show you! Just.. go hide behind our van and see if you can get some pictures of people's reactions," he explained- though not very well.

"Okay? I think this heat is melting your brains," she replied. When he stuck his tongue out at her, she did it back before doing what he said.

Slipping out of his shoes that he hid behind the toilet, he sat down and opened up the newspaper. The view blocked sight of the shorts he was wearing so people driving by would see just the top of his head and his bare calves and feet.

"Oh L.. you're such a dork," she mumbled to herself and got the camera ready.

Over the next half hour, they had more than a half dozen cars nearly drive off the road as Elliott's 'display' had them gawking at him in disbelief. Dani couldn't keep from laughing every time she caught a horrified expression with the camera.

Just then, she heard a screen door slam and looked up to see Abe coming out with an angry look. "What the hell are you two doing?"

"Run Elliott!" She screeched and took off running toward her house. In a cloud of newspaper, Elliott leaped off the toilet, grabbed his shoes, and bolted down the road following her. Even though his feet were burning from the heat, she could hear his laughter all the way back to her place. Out of breath and sweaty, they dashed into the house and collapsed on the living room floor in a fit of giggles.

"What're you two doing?" Heidi demanded as she looked up from her show.

"Nothing," Elliott answered still breathless and wiping tears from his face from laughing so hard.

"You're such an idiot, L," Dani told him in her warm, affectionate way.
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Elliott Gilbert

November 2016

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