Authors: James Kahn
Mouth was standing at the magazine rack, lookin' kind of sly. While Mrs. Keester was busy with Data, Mouth slipped a copy
inside a copy of
and casually started reading, mostly around the middle of the magazine.
Chunk was over by the junk food, and just like Mouth, he was lookin' pretty cagey. Suddenly he tore open a Twinkie, slurped
out the cream filling, then rewrapped the Twinkie and put it back on the shelf. It was really gross.
I walked up to him and waved the map in his face. “Hey, Chunk, c'mon—we were gonna look for rich stuff, we gotta do it
“Hey, don't get nervous. We gotta get provisions, don't we? We're goin' on an expedition, aren't we?”
He had a point, I guess, even if I was too excited to eat. I went over to Data as Chunk went to work on a Ding-Dong.
Data was still messing with the cash register, and that got me a little down.
“Data, what if they make us move?” I said. “Where we gonna go?” I was startin' to get depressed again, to have second thoughts
about our adventure. I mean, if we could get sidetracked by a two-byte computer, a skin mag, and a Hostess Ho-Ho, we weren't
gonna get very far on any treasure hunt. “Data?” I said again.
“Don't bother him while he's working,” said Mrs. Keester.
I walked over to Mouth, to try to charge him up again. “Mouth, what if they start tearin' down our houses?”
The centerfold was the only thing charging
up, though. “Take it easy, dude—let your folks handle this. That's their job.
job is to get through the weekend without destroying too many brain cells.”
I took a hit of Promotene Mist, I was feelin' that low. I picked up a copy of
off the rack, flipped to the back, and checked out the fold-in. I guessed it—as usual.
I happened to look down just then and noticed that all the way at the bottom of the stand was a section of dusty old tourist
maps of Astoria. I pulled one out, sat down on the floor, and opened it. Then I took out the pirate map and opened
, and lay the two side by side.
And they were the same.
I mean, basically the same. The coastlines were identical, and a bunch of the cliffs were exact matches, even though some
were different, probably because of earthquakes and tidal waves and stuff over the years. But the really important thing was
that the place where the
on the pirate map was at a place that looked exactly the same on the tourist map, and it was a place that I knew, knew exactly
where it was.
“I know where this is,” I whispered.
This was too great to believe. We were in business again. I was totally stoked. I jumped up and ran over to Chunk, to tell
him the good news. He was bent way over into the ice-cream freezer, though, licking the top layers of the Swensen's and then
replacing the lids. That was his favorite thing, so he wasn't about to be interrupted.
So I ran to Data, who was still diddling the wires in the register. “Data,” I said. Just then the machine beeped and lit up,
and Mrs. Keester pinched Data's cheek with a big smile, the way she does.
Suddenly Mouth's voice rang through the store. “Jerk alert!”
I looked over to the entrance, and Mouth wasn't kidding. Troy Perkins was coming in.
Like I said before, Troy wins Dork of the Year, hands down. And don't think it's because he's rich, because I know a lot of
guys from Hillside that play it just as straight as anybody. But like I also said before, Troy's got a big handicap to begin
with, just because his father is
. Perkins, who could use a few lessons in earthling behavior.
So, anyway, Troy strutted into the Stop-‘N’-Snack like he owned the place, which he probably did. He was wearing his cool-o
tennis outfit, and his hair was styled, and so were his
—what he called manicured. Get the picture?
But the thing is, he was walkin' in with Andy Carmichael and Stef Steinbrenner. Now Andy is the girl Brand was hopin' to take
out Saturday night, and she was like so foxy, it was intense. She was wearin' her cheerleader's
outfit now, but she was also wearin' Troy's letter sweater with his name sewn on the pocket. Dum-da-dum-dum.
Stef was Andy's best friend. She wasn't nearly as pretty as Andy, but she was tough enough. She lived in the Goon Docks, like
us. Andy was from Hillside. Stef wore glasses. Andy wore contacts. Stef once punched out Lenny Dole. That was before high
school, but the reputation stuck. She also had a rep about sex, like there was always some guy poppin' up sayin' he had a
with old Stef Steinbrenner. But you couldn't believe that kinda shit. Still, she did have a certain way she walked, and her
brothers were always in trouble, and she hung out sometimes with Macy and those motorcycle guys, and she smoked and had a
fake ID. Anyway, Stef and Andy were sort of opposites, but they whispered to each other all the time and went to the bathroom
together, so I guess they had a lot in common too.
Anyway, Troy walked straight over to the magazine rack, grabbed the
out of Mouth's hand, and started pagin' through it. Mouth glared at Troy like maybe he could kill him with his eyes, but
Troy didn't drop, he just kept lookin' at the pictures. So finally Mouth backed off, without mouthin' off even once, like
he couldn't be bothered to waste his breath on such a jerk. So instead he just picked up another magazine.
Stef came up behind Mouth. “You still smell like a plumber's son,” she said.
“You still smell like a fisherman's daughter,” he said back.
Which is what they both were. I think they sort of liked each other, though.
Andy walked over to them. Troy nudged her with this
really feeb grin and held up the
centerfold and said, “Can you measure up?”
Andy looked away, kind of embarrassed, like, of course, she would be, so then to make matters worse, Troy laughed, like you
knew it wasn't a real laugh, he was just trying to make a point, but the point was his head.
I don't know, it really made me feel bad.
“You're a lot prettier than that, Andy,” I said. She was too. She didn't have those huge Annie Fannie boobs, but so what?
You know what I mean?
Anyway, she smiled at me. Gave me this real flutter in the pit of my stomach, like when I had to recite
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
on stage at the spring assembly. Like I wasn't sure I'd said the right thing, but there was no taking it back.
I don't know, I just haven't had much luck with women. I mean, I know I'm supposed to, but I don't know where to begin. Especially
with anyone as pretty as Andy. Like, my braces alone are so ugly, it seems that most girls must be embarrassed just to look
at me. Not to mention which it probably wouldn't be fair passing on my wimpy, sick genes to a kid, so I'm not gonna get married,
so why bother dating and stuff in the first place, right?
Troy walked over to the freezer where Chunk was still in over his head lickin' ice cream—and he brought the freezer door down
on Chunk's back, trapping him there.
“My mom's makin' a Goon Pizza tonight,” Troy yukked. “She's gonna need some frozen dough.”
“Why don't you leave him alone?” I shouted. The poor guy was floppin' his legs all over like a fish. I mean, he was obviously
Troy let him alone then. But he came over to me. “Did
I hear you right?” he said. “Did I hear a Goony telling me what to do?”
I thought he was going to hit me. My chest got tight. I was about to crouch, but suddenly he grabbed my map off the floor.
The old one.
“Hey, let go,” I shouted. “That's art you're messin' with.” I mean, if he wrecked it, my dad was gonna kill me—and I sure
wasn't gonna tell him what it was really all about.
So he didn't know how important it really was, but he could see it was important to me. So he held it over my head—he was
pretty much taller than me—grabbed a pack of tobacco from the counter, poured it onto the paper, and started rolling it like
“Just can't get rolling papers like these anymore,” he said.
I grabbed for it, but he knocked me down. Big tough guy. Then he took a butane lighter out of his pocket and lit the end of
the rolled map. I couldn't believe it. He took a puff. The end of the map started burning!
I could hardly watch, and I had to put my hands over my eyes. The jerk was actually blowing smoke rings. Just then Mouth walked
up and raised his eyebrows. “Ya know,” he said, real cool, “the way you're puffin' on that cigarette, it reminds me of somethin'.”
“Yeah? What's that?” said Troy.
“The time I French-kissed your mother,” said Mouth.
Troy freaked. I mean, you'd have thought he actually had a thing for his mother, the way he looked. Whatever it was, though,
he dropped the map and went for Mouth. I stomped out the fire and grabbed the map. Unfortunately for Mouth, this time his
feet weren't as fast as his voice box. Troy tackled him and started punching.
Mouth covered his face, but Troy was a lot bigger. I
jumped onto Troy's back and got him in a headlock. But I was a lot smaller.
Data ran up and shouted “Smoke screen!” and held out his arm. A garden hose was sticking out from his sleeve, but instead
of shooting smoke at us, it just kind of smoldered and burned him, so he ran over to the ice machine and buried his arm in
Troy pulled me off with his left hand and cocked his right to smash my face in. Halfway to my nose, his fist was stopped short,
though, and was held in midair by somebody else's.
“Nobody hits my brother except me,” he said.
Troy got off me and stood up. He was scared of Brand, no doubt about it. He had this kind of sick grin bullies get when they're
not gangin' up on someone. I'd love to have seen him sweat himself into a puddle.
“Can't wait until Monday,” he said. I could hear in his voice that he was so scared, he was talkin' through his nose. “Monday's
when my dad kicks you all out in the street.” He stood back and did a golf swing, like he was supposed to be a pro or something.
“While you Goonies are pilin' all your stuff into moving vans, I'll be teeing off on what used to be your front lawns.” Then
he laughed and sounded like he was clearing snot, and he said to Andy, “Our court time starts in five minutes. I'll be waiting
outside.” Then he walked out, real casual, sat down in his red Mustang convertible, and turned on the radio so loud, we could
hear it all the way in the store.
Brand looked at Andy kind of angry hurt and jealous, and she looked back at him with a look I'd like her to have looked at
me, and then Brand kind of melted, and then Andy shrugged like this was a bad time, and then Brand
slumped like he was trying to be nonchalant, and then Andy turned and left.
I quickly unrolled the map. It was okay, only the edges were burned.
But Brand was really broiled. He grabbed the map and slapped my head.
“You know how I got loose?” he said. “
came home and unhooked me. She was totally pissed off, man, and so was I. And Rosalita was there with her brother, and
thought it was some kind of sexual torture device, thanks to Mouth. And then Mom told me that if I didn't find you and get
you back in thirty minutes, we were
you know what happened?
flattened my tires, so I had to
Data's sister's bike to get over here—'cause I
you bozos wouldn't get any farther than this on your great adventure.” Then he pinched my arm and shoved me ahead of him.
“You just blew your whole life, pal.” He stuffed the map into his back pocket and looked at the other guys. “The rest of you
guys too—you're all history. We don't need friends like you.”
Mouth put his arm around Brand's shoulder and started singing, real sincere. “Here's to good friends, tonight is kinda special,
the beer we pour, must be something more, somehow…”
And all the time he was singing, he was pulling the map out of Brand's back pocket.
Brand shoved him away. “You don't have to drink to make friends, wimp.”
That was when Mouth showed us the map, with his back to Brand. We all made a run for it.
We were on our bikes before Brand realized what happened and were out of the parking lot before he got to the neighbor kid's
bike, which was about three sizes too small for him, and no way he could catch us.
So we were outta there.
* * *
Mouth handed off the map to me at the next corner, but I didn't even have to look at it yet. I took us right to the coast
highway and turned north. We were on our way.
Springsteen was blasting from Data's tape deck, and somehow, with that cloudy wind and those darkish fir trees all up the
coast, it was just perfect discovery weather. Something was definitely happening.
One of the clouds on the horizon blew into a different shape so that it looked just like a pirate ship to me. I see pictures
in clouds all the time. Mom says it's because I'm a dreamer, but they look so real, I don't see how other people don't see
what I see. It's like jigsaw puzzles, I guess.
Anyway, the fact that this cloud was a pirate ship seemed like a pure sign, no two ways about it, so I knew my instincts were
right, and, if I just kept following my nose, I'd get a noseful of something soon enough.
I checked the map after riding about twenty minutes and took the first turnoff beyond the old schoolhouse, leading up over
Piedmont Ridge. In the distance we could see the edge of the Hillside Country Club. Mouth spat.
We went down the ridge and past the coast road to where we overlooked the ocean again, and the first thing I saw was these
three rocks sticking up out of the water in a
. And I knew them from somewhere.
I stopped pedaling, and the guys stopped with me. “I know this place,” I whispered. “This is it.”