Oh Thank Heaven, For Mouthwash

A fictional short story based on true events. This is version one, will see many rewrites

In Jack's defense, it was really hot that day.

Heat will make people do things they'd rather not. A health nut will buy ice cream. A serious business man will frolic in the sprinklers in his best suit. A middle aged woman will think that wearing a bikini is OK, even though she's let her body go in recent years.

Throughout human history, heat has lead to all kinds of horrible things, none any worse than what my best friend for life, Jack Pattywack, did that hot summer afternoon.

It was mid-August, which is the only month in Idaho when the asphalt actually melts enough you can write dirty words into it. Me, Jack and our other best friend Brian Batowski had been out mowing widow McGrady's lawn and trimming the edging.

We had tried to out smart the heat by starting really early in the morning before the sun had a chance to warm up and really start convincing people to do crazy things like play strip lawn darts.

There's only one real problem with this plan, no matter how early you start you have to actually finish quickly or the sun comes back. We'd been at it most of the day because we only actually worked when she'd come to the back door and holler at us.

It was a system that had served both parties well over the ten years since her husband died and we started doing her yard work. It gave us motivation to keep working and it got her off the couch once in a while after she cracked her hip.

Finally, by the time the heat was making swimming in a public pool sound hygienic, we decided to call it a day. We'd been at it for hours and old ladies don't play baseball or anything in their backyard anyway so it didn't have to be done anywhere she couldn't see from the house.

Being extremely financially responsible for three high schoolers, we decided that the way the ten dollars we'd earned would best serve us in the future was by buying Slurpees to keep us from dying from heat stroke.

We had to go halfway across town to find a Seven and/or Eleven that didn't have our pictures behind the counter. Once we found one that were our money was considered good the three of us when up to the Slurpee machine to make our selections.

“What ya gonna get gentlemen?” I asked.

“I'm gonna get the frozen Coke,” Brian told me.

“Don't you always get that?” I asked even though I knew full well that he did. Sometimes it's best to give the neurotic a chance to explain themselves.

“Well yeah, but why not?” he asked in that know-it-all tone that always accompanies a rhetorical question.

“Because you should really expand your horizons my friend.”

“I don't think so,” he responded. “It not like I've never tried the other kinds, I have and I like Coke best, it's a classic flavor and and American original.”

“What do they sponsor you now?”

“No but they should,” he grinned. “Besides, even if I hadn't, it's not like there's a lot of other horizons available to me. This is a four color Slurpee machine: red, blue, my brown and gree– Jack get your mouth off of that!”

I turned around a saw Jack suckling from the green Slurpee nozel like a baby calf.

“Dude, this is why Burger King doesn't have a soda fountain in the lobby anymore,” I reminded him pulling him back.

“I just wanted to know what flavor it was,” he muttered, as if it justified his lack of tact and candor.

“What do you mean you wanted to know what flavor it was?” I whispered harshly, trying to to draw the attention of the attendant who obviously didn't see what happened in the big round mirror they use to make sure no one shop lifts or takes the latest edition of “Shiny Cars and Skanky Women” out of it's protective plastic bag. “You know what flavor it is; it's green.”

“Green's a color not a flavor,” he said.

“Green is so a flavor,” I retorted.

“No it's not,” he said sounding a little to high and mighty for a guy who was just caught red-handed sucking on a public beverage dispenser. “It could be lime, green apple, watermelon or something entirely new and yet they just have it label as green. They're practically requiring I taste it. They probably want me to to try it so I can tell everyone else what it is.”

I sighed. “Everyone else already knows what it is. We're in Idaho, it's either lime, lime or lime. No fancy flavors here.”

Brian and I decided to delay our serious philosophical discussion until later and hurried out of there before Jack decided to put another part of the store in his mouth. I got a cup of red cherry, Brian filled up with his precious brown frozen Coke and Jack decided to stick with his green flavored one.

We payed and made our way outside to enjoy our spoils.

I squinted as I stepped out into the light. I stared up smugly at the sun, grinning that I had beaten him at his own game.

We took shelter under a large tree, full of leaves and home to several birds who treated us to a victory song. If you've never heard “Eye of the Tiger” performed by robins, you're missing out.

We sat down to discuss our big plans for the rest of the day.

“I say we go fishing down in the river,” Brian suggested.

“Nah,” I said, shaking my head “I lost my pole while we were running from the bees last time, remember.”

“Oh yeah.”

“You could just throw rocks at the fish,” Jack suggested. “You just throw sticks in the river most of the time anyway.”

I shrugged. I had to admit he had me there. I did think throwing sticks was more fun than holding one for a long time.

“I mean honestly Skippy, why do you even bother coming fishing with us?” Jack continued waving his Slurpee hand enthusiastically. “Do you truly understand the simple joy of the struggle between man and fish or are you jus–” he was interrupted by subtle plopping sound.

We all looked down and saw a sticky green fluid on his shoe.

Jack chuckled. “I must have split some Slurpee on my shoes,” he said. He bent down, wiped it off and licked his fingers clean.

In the matter of about a second and a half, I watched Jacks face changed from confusion to disgust and finally to horror.

“That's not Slurpee!” he yelled in terror. He dropped to his knees, looked up at the heavens and cried out “Nooooooooo!” just like in the movies.

His yelling scared the birds out the tree.

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