This is a standalone story that is part of a larger
series called Growing up a Superhero. Other stories in the series
are archived at my site, Due
West of Nowhere.
The droplet plunked off his sandy colored forelock, running down
his high forehead, catching for a moment in eyebrows that weren't
yet bushy. There was a moment's hesitation, then the drop raced down
past clear blue eyes that carried not a care in the world. It slowed
over youthful, slightly sunburned cheeks, then hurried around a turned
up nose, down onto pink lips where it was snatched by a tongue that
wasn't really even aware of what it was doing.
The boy was much too intent on the car before him to worry about
droplets falling off his hair. He couldn't be bothered with the fact
that his freckled shoulders and bare chest were starting to burn in
the afternoon sun, either. He was worried with far more important
matters. Such as wetting the car with the hose in just such a way
to soak one of his best friends, Jack.
Jack got a faceful of water as she looked over the hood of the car,
and Bobby cackled in delight.
"Very funny, prankster," Jack said, sticking her tongue
out at him. She pushed long, soaked brown hair out of her face and
used her rag to wash her side of the car. "I'm not going to help
you when I'm all done washing my half of the car and you haven't
even started yours."
Bobby shrugged and reached down to pick up a soapy rag. Down the
street, one of the neighbors shouted if they would wash his car next,
and Jack shouted a price. The neighbor laughed and kept mowing his
It was the middle of summer in the midwestern town, and all the picket
fence houses were busy with cleaning and Sunday business. Large trees
rustled in the slight breeze that fought valiantly to keep it from
getting too hot and somewhere dogs barked.
"Did you hear Aphrodite got pregnant?" Jack asked, jumping
up on the car hood to get the top.
"Really? I want a puppy!"
Jack nodded, her eyes dancing. "Me, too. They think the puppies
will be golden retriever/lab mixes."
"Cool." Bobby knew only vaguely what those were, but he
wasn't about to let Jack show him up. At twelve years old, he didn't
feel funny about playing with her still, but there was no way she
was going to be smarter than he.
"Hey! Guys!" came a familiar voice from behind Bobby. He
turned to see his other best friend, Danny, walking up waving a magazine.
"Washing the car," Bobby answered, picking the hose back
up. "Dad said he'd pay us each three dollars. Wanna help?"
Danny eyed them both--Bobby wearing shorts that were heavy with water
and about to fall off his lean hips, and Jack in a soaked through
black shirt that looked like it had once been clean a very, very long
time ago, and shorts hidden under its hem.
"Looks more like you're havin' a water fight to me," he
Bobby grinned widely and shot the hose water at Jack without turning
around. "What gave you that impression?" he asked, not seeing
her duck the stream and pick up the bucket of suds. She ran low, hurrying
around the car until she stood right next to him.
"Boo!" she shouted, dumping the water, soap and dirt all
over his chest.
"Aw, man!" Bobby moaned, glaring down at--and this he was
certain about--the bug guts spattered across his chest. "You're
He grabbed Jack by her long hair, shoving the hose right above her
head and soaking her as she squealed and squirmed. Finally, under
the fall of water, she shouted "Get Danny!"
Bobby turned on his heel, shooting the spray of water at Danny as
the boy yelled and tried to run away. He wasn't fast enough, though,
and found himself soaked to the bone.
"You--you--weirdo!" he shouted, unable to think of anything
meaner. His wits weren't quite as fast as either Jack's or Bobby's,
though by no means was he stupid. He just couldn't think of the witty
remarks like they could. Physical things, though, that's where
he came in. He lunged at Bobby, tackling him and tossing him into
the grass. Bobby 'oophed' and rolled, hose still in hand.
Jack ran into the backyard, filling her bucket up with the water
from that hose before scrambling back out, the filled bucket almost
as heavy as she was. With a mighty heave she splashed the water over
both the boys, laughing the whole while.
"Get Jack!" Danny shouted, and the melee turned to consume
her. Jack squealed, rolling up into a little ball as the two older,
bigger boys tried to unwind and spray her. In spite of her size, however--or
perhaps because of it--they were unable to make her hands let go of
her legs, and couldn't quite seem to get her un-balled.
Finally, Bobby's father came out, glanced at his car and then leveled
an eye at the boys. They both grinned cheekily and shut the hose off,
letting Jack get up.
She sputtered, spitting water and hair out of her mouth and wiping
her eyes with her fingers. She sat there for a moment, breathing,
then smiled and tackled Bobby, grabbing the hose out of his hands.
Jack shot at Danny with it and he shouted loudly.
Bobby, laughing, ran to get the bucket and fill it with hose water
from the backyard as Jack had done only a few minutes before. He ran
out, much faster than Jack had since he didn't have to stumble along,
and threw the water all over his two best friends.
"I'll be right back!" Danny shouted, breaking free and
running to Bobby's door. Jack obligingly filled Bobby's bucket for
him, then shot him with water as he splashed her. Danny came running
back then with a pitcher from Bobby's mother, and Jack filled that,
The grass squished underfoot as the threesome ran back and forth,
grabbing for the hose and spraying each other until it was wrested
away by someone else.
"Take this!" Jack yelled, throwing both bucket and
water at Danny, who held the hose. He yelped as it hit his shin, then
sprayed her mercilessly with the water. Bobby tackled him from behind,
grabbing the hose and stuffing it down Danny's white shirt. Then Jack
was on top of them both, dumping water from the pitcher down over
Bobby's head and letting it drip onto Danny. Danny grunted and struggled
up, throwing both people off him and snatching the hose.
"Take this, evildoer!" he shouted, laughing while spraying
Bobby and Jack both.
Jack stumbled away, gasping for air and laughing at the same time.
She collapsed on the grass near the flower-bed under the kitchen window
and watched the two boys tackle each other, alternately wrestling
and getting soaked with the hose. Finally, a truce seemed to be silently
agreed upon, and they both came to collapse next to her.
They lay there, three in a row all propped up on their elbows and
watching the street.
"Bobby," Jack wheezed, unable to catch her breath, "where'd
you put my inhaler?"
Bobby got up slowly, brushing grass off his shorts, and shuffled
to where he'd set her inhaler. He walked back just as slowly with
it, handing it down to her before collapsing once more.
For a few minutes there was only the sound of the boys' ragged breathing
and Jack's inhaler, then there was only the sound of the boys' ragged
"All better?" Bobby asked, looking at Jack.
"C'mon," Bobby said, using his head to indicate that they
should follow. "We should finish washing the car."
Danny pitched in after that, already soaking wet. Control of the
hose was a hotly debated issue, but both Jack and Danny agreed that
under no circumstances should Bobby have it. Bobby thought this was
a horrible thing to have happen. "I need the hose!"
he cried mournfully. "Without it I'll die!"
"Promise?" Jack asked cheerfully. She was promptly sprayed
in the face.
Finally, after many more sprayings, the car was washed. Bobby, Jack
and Danny padded to the front door, where they were forced to stop
and wait for Bobby's mother to bring out towels to dry off with.
"I see you three had a good time," Bobby's mother said,
smiling as she handed over bath towels.
"Uh huh," was the noncommittal reply.
"Are you hungry?" she asked, already knowing the answer
would be that they were not only hungry, but probably dying of
"I'm starving!" Bobby said, making a face.
"Me too! My stomach's going to cave in!" Jack agreed.
Danny looked at her disdainfully. "Stomach's don't cave in,
silly. Yes, Mrs. Drake, I'm very hungry."
She smiled at the three children and went inside to get them the
sandwiches she'd already made.
"Fanksh, Mom," Bobby said, grabbing three and stuffing
one of them in his mouth.
"You're such a pig," Jack commented, taking two of the
"Thank you, Mrs. Drake," Danny said politely.
"Jacquelyn," Bobby's mother corrected softly, "He's
not a pig. You shouldn't say such things about people."
Jack flushed. "Sorry," she mumbled.
Madeline smiled and touched her head lightly. Jacquelyn was a favorite
of hers. She didn't have any daughters of her own, and Jacquelyn was
being raised without a mother, so Madeline did what she could for
the girl. Danny was a good influence on both Jacquelyn and Bobby,
being so polite and getting such good grades in school. Bobby was
the peacemaker of the group, keeping things running smoothly and instinctively
loosening up tense situations with well-placed remarks.
"I'll see that your father gives you all your three dollars,
and I'll take you down to the supermarket this evening," Madeline
"Cool!" Bobby said, his mouth still full.
Jack smiled and nodded, and Danny said "Thank you, Mrs. Drake!"
She went back inside, leaving the three to eat ravenously.
"Whatcha got, D?" Jack asked, nodding toward the magazine
"Oh, it's really cool," he said, opening it up to a dog-eared
page and showing them. "There's this guy that can turn rocks
into plants, they say."
"Who's 'they'?" asked Jack, always ready and willing to
poke his buttons.
Sure enough, Danny got flustered.
"'They' are the pigeons that are going to take over the world,"
Bobby answered calmly.
"Oh." Jack grinned.
"I bet that's not real," Bobby said after reading part
of the article. "It's impossible."
"But he can! They say he's called a . . . a . . . mutant."
Danny beamed proudly.
"More like a magician," Jack said skeptically.
"He's fat. Maybe they meant moo-tant!" Bobby said.
Jack laughed, and Danny rolled his eyes, which made Jack laugh harder.
"Nope, I don't believe it," Bobby said, standing up and
brushing off his hands. "Whatcha guys wanna do until my mom takes
us to the store?"
Jack shrugged and stood up, followed by Danny. "I bet there
are mutants," Danny muttered. "And I'm gonna find
out all about them."
Jack and Bobby exchanged looks. "Thought you were gonna find
out all about the aliens, Danny," Jack commented.
He glared at her. "You know that was just a phase I went through.
There aren't really aliens."
Bobby cut in with "Wanna go find tadpoles?" before Jack
could say anything.
"Nah," Jack said, "we did that yesterday."
Danny sniffed, rubbing his nose. Overhead a bird eyed them. Jack
stuck her tongue out at it.
"How 'bout we ride our bikes down to the pet store?" Jack
"Don't wanna," Danny answered.
They stood there silently for a time.
"What haven't we done in a long time?" Jack asked finally.
There was more silence, then Bobby perked up. "I know! We could
have a water fight! It's been ages since we did that."
"Yeah!" Jack answered. "I dunno, my parents might
not want me to get wet," Danny said slowly.
"We're already wet from washing the car, and you can borrow
Bobby's clothes," Jack said quickly. "Come on, let's have
a water fight! It'll be fun!"
Danny hesitated, then grinned. "Okay. Why not. Besides, it *has*
been a long time!" Bobby grinned. "I get the hose!"
"No way, puke-head!" Jack shouted, diving for it.
Bobby cackled and lunged after her.
Danny watched them scuffle for a moment, then smiled and picked up
the bucket. Very calmly he went into the backyard, filled the bucket,
walked back and dumped the water over the screeching pair. He smiled
down into their shocked faces. "I got you wet first."
Bobby and Jack exchanged looks. "Soak Danny!" they shouted
The boy shouted and ran down the street, Jack and Bobby hot on his
The neighbor mowing his lawn looked up and chuckled as the threesome
tore down the street, hollering. Kids.
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