Botheration: Part Four: Tipping Point

The alpenglow of the rising sun appeared in the distance, reflecting its brilliance on the sides of the enormous, shimmering San Diego Times newspaper building. As I pondered this joy, a gust of wind blew a newspaper off the magazine stand across the courtyard and took flight. It almost escaped before I stepped on it to end its brief freedom.

Wiping the morning dew out of my eyes, I reached down and opened it. Plastered across the top of the San Diego Times Newspaper, I excitedly read the following words:


“Where are they,” I thought? “Who or what is behind the abduction?”

Ricky Right, the current Scotsbourgh high star football quarterback, must have been listening because he blurted out the following with a laugh:” I guess the police will now issue a Silver Alert for the disappearance of the moons of our Earth.”

The words were barely out of Ricky’s mouth when a much deeper voice cried, “Dummy, those are the moons of Mars, not the Earth.”

I turned around and saw that the voice was none other than my old nemesis and new friend Mark Paige. Mark earned letters in baseball, basketball, and football at Scotsbourgh High School. He was a superstar. “Ha, ha, ha,” I said guardedly.

“Hey, has been,” Ricky said as he stared at Mark. “Loser! What the heck do you know about anything? You failed out of a record two colleges in less than one semester! That’s right, loser, we know all about it. You barely graduated high school! And by the way,” he laughed, “I’m the starting QB this season. If you come back on the squad, you’ll be warming the bench with that skank of a girlfriend. She has no place on our cheerleading squad next to my girl, Sam!”

I tried not to say anything nor look up in his direction. Samantha, with this guy?

Mark crossed and uncrossed his titan-like arms. His face became redder and redder. Finally, he took a Thor-like stance, expanding his chest and bellowing, “How would you like a fat lip?”

I was nearby Mark and Ricky; what could I do?

Ricky, facing away from Mark during his antics, suddenly turned when he heard Mark let out the last remark. His arms were raised in a defensive stance.

But before Mark could pull back his fist to strike Ricky, I jumped between them and said, “Sorry, Ricky, but Mark is correct; our Earth only has one Moon with no name. Mars has two moons: Phobos and Deimos. By the way, the police wouldn’t issue a Silver Alert for three reasons.

Number one: those alerts are for people, not non-living things like Moons. Number Two: the Moon’s ages are much older than sixty-five years old, and Number three: the State Troopers issue those alerts, not the police.”

I had hardly finished my last sentence when Ricky jumped on me like I was carrying the football.

“Shut up, squirt,” Ricky said as he readied a fist with my name. “Matty Weber, you’re that skinny twerp who thinks that my pretty cheerleader girlfriend, Samantha Carter, likes him. Ha, Ha, AS IF.” Looking at me closer, “Besides, I throw the little fish back.”

With that, Ricky pushed me aside and squared off with Mark.

The newspaper flew out of my hands and landed on the sidewalk, after which I joined it, landing on my side with a thud.

Attempting to stand, I uttered, “Ouch, Ooo!”

No one paid the slightest attention. Then, shutting my mouth and staying quiet, I saw Ricky and Mark standing with clenched fists.

Determined faces. Two tectonic plates were about to collide. This wasn’t good. Someone usually gets injured and not just the combatants.

It was obvious! Mark’s and Ricky’s eyes were focused on one outcome: upend the other. But before one fist flew, the school bell chimed, disrupting and ending the attempted entanglement of arms and bodies.

“We’ll finish this after school,” Ricky laughed.

“If you’re in first period gym,” Mark snarled, “You won’t have to wait long for your beating.”

The school bell rang again!

Everyone, including Mark, Ricky, and all the kids, flew past me through the open doors for Monday morning classes.

After everyone had walked by me and the coast was clear to stand, I surveyed my aching body and painfully moved myself to a position to rise.

But before I pushed myself upward, a gush of air swept the newspaper I was reading into my face. Momentarily, I closed my eyes as the sting subsided on my cheek.

Opening my eyes and quickly pulling the newspaper far enough to read, I saw something I had missed. It was a much smaller article on the backside of the same page.

AMBER ALERT ISSUED IN San Diego county for a suspected teenage abduction as reported by Mr. and Mrs. William Carter of Scotsbourgh, Ca.

“Here we go again,” I thought.