Home of the Bellingwood Series – Nammynools

Prelude – Vignette #2 – Doug & Billy

“Here,” Doug Randall said, tossing a bag of potato chips to his best friend, Billy Endicott. “Mom said I’m not eating enough and sent a ton of food for lunch today.”

“Dude,” Billy held up two bags of chips.

“We should sell them to the rest of the crew.”

“Like contraband.”


“What are you doing tonight?” Billy asked.

“Dunno. Wanna come over?”

“Yeah. What’s your mom cooking for dinner?”

“Dunno. I want pizza, but she’d have a cow. I hate it when she’s in the middle of a health and fitness stage. It doesn’t last long, but here I am, suffering with her choice of food. Not mine.”

“We have jobs. We don’t have school. We’re still living at home,” Billy complained. “This morning I had to tell Mom what time I’d be home after work. I mean, are you kidding me? Just because I’m still living there, she thinks that I’m still a kid.”

“We are,” Doug said. “Last Saturday when we went to Ames to look for comic books? I had to tell Dad exactly where I was going and when I would be home. It’s like I’m still in high school.”

“Dead in a ditch,” Billy muttered.


“That’s what Mom always says. If I’m not where I’m supposed to be when she thinks I’m supposed to be there, I’m obviously dead in a ditch somewhere.”

“Well, there was that one time,” Doug said with a grin.

“We were nowhere near dead. We were just stuck in a snowdrift.”

“Way out in the country.”

“Because you thought it would be fun to see if we could blow through snow drifts. If Mr. Beedle hadn’t come by with his truck and chains, we might still be there. I was so late that night. Mom was furious. I didn’t dare tell her what we’d been doing.”

Doug laughed. “I told my parents. Otherwise I’d still be grounded. But it was an adventure.”

“We gotta find a place to get everyone together to play games,” Billy said. “When we were in school, we could at least stay late if there were other activities going on. We haven’t seen everybody in forever.”

“I know. That Sword Lords game looks way cool. Did you know the creators grew up in Bellingwood?”

“Duh. Everyone knows that. They live out in California now, making billions of dollars working on video games. Dang, I wish I could make billions of dollars and design video games.”

“You want to design games? I didn’t know that.”

“Even though it would be cool to make all that much money, I think I’d hate it. I didn’t like programming classes in high school. And you’re the artist. You could do it.”

Doug nodded. That was another thing that drove his mother crazy. The walls in his room were filled with tack holes from all the drawings he’d hung up. She told him that if he ever moved out, he was going to fill them all in and repaint. No big deal, Mom. He liked drawing characters from games and comic books. Not that he’d ever do anything with them. He wasn’t that good, but it was still fun.

“You should send your artwork in,” Billy said.


“Like, to one of those guys. That JJ Roberts wasn’t all bad.”

“Dad said he was, especially when he was in high school. Those guys were always getting up to something. Dad said he couldn’t believe any of them grew up to own a business. Really couldn’t believe they made something of themselves. Then Dad told me he despairs of me ever making something of myself. I’m working, aren’t I?”

“But you don’t love it.”

“Running electrical cable? Yeah, whatever.”

“It’s not a bad job.”

“Hey, boys.” Jerry Allen, the owner of the electrical company Billy and Doug worked for walked into the room were they were eating lunch.

“We’re almost done here,” Billy said, rushing to gather up his lunch debris.

Jerry put up his hand. “No. You still have twenty minutes. I just got a call about another job. Would you two be interested in helping at the old school building? Some lady from Boston bought it and Henry Sturtz is going to renovate the place. He called and asked us to bid on the electricity. Just want to make sure you two will be around for a while. I’m going to need all hands on deck this fall. You planning on sticking?”

Billy stood up and put out his hand. Doug hesitantly watched it happen, then got to his feet and brushed his hands on his jeans.

“I’m sticking, Mr. Allen,” Billy said. “Dad says this is a really good job and I’m lucky to have it. He’s right.”

“What about you, Doug?” Jerry asked.

“Yes, sir.” Doug put out his hand and Jerry shook it. “Don’t know how many years, but I’m in it for now.” He chuckled. “You know me. Something else might light a fire under my butt. Until then, though, I like working for you.”

“Good enough. I have enough guys that I can say yes to this bid. It’s kind of a big project for us. Would really help build the business.”

“Someone’s renovating the old school?” Billy asked. “That’s a big deal. It’s going to cost a lot of money.”

“Sounds like she has an inheritance to spend.” Jerry shrugged. “She got the building for a steal. Last I saw, it was listed for less than fifty thousand.”

“No way,” Doug said. “That’s like, totally affordable. Billy, we should have tried to raise that money. We could have renovated it on our own time and lived there. No more parents telling us what to do and when to be home.”

“You’ll miss the safety net when you finally move out,” Jerry said.

Doug glanced at his friend. Old people never remembered how much they wanted to get out on their own when they were his age.

“As I understand it,” Jerry said. “There are bonuses for work that gets done faster than the schedule.”

“Wow,” Billy said. “You’d give those to us? I heard about a company in Des Moines that just absorbed the time bonuses. Their people did all the work and the company took the money.”

“That’s not how I do business,” Jerry said. “You should know that by now.” He pointed at the floor where they’d been sitting. “Sorry for interrupting your lunch hour. Take an extra five, okay? I’ll mark it for you.”

“The old school building?” Billy asked. “What do you think this lady is going to do with it.”

Doug huffed a laugh. “Probably turn it into a knitting store. Or she’ll sell cute puppies and kittens.”

“It’s not right to sell puppies and kittens in a store. You rescue them.”

“Fine. She’ll rescue puppies and kittens. There’s all that land back there. She could put kennels in. Some cutesy-wutesy, pink and lavender building with frilly curtains in the windows.”

“Why would some lady from Boston move to Bellingwood Iowa?” Billy asked. “Could we be any more boring? I wonder how old she is. Probably some ancient spinster whose parents died and let her a ton of money. She doesn’t know what to do with it, so she buys a building in the middle of nowhere. It will become a tax shelter. It would be nice if someone cleaned up that corner, though.”

“I don’t care. Don’t care at all,” Doug said. “All I want to see is the green of the money flowing into my checking account.”

“Seriously. Bonuses,” Billy said. “We could totally afford that Sword Lords game. A bunch of copies. Then we could pay for everyone to have one and have big gaming nights.”

“But where?”

“Yeah. I could spend time cleaning out our garage. There’s so much junk in there that if we worked on it, we could make a space. Mom’s got a couple of card tables. That might work.”

“For the summer. But what about when it gets cold.”

“Silver lining, meet the cloud.”

Doug frowned at him. “What?”

“For every silver lining, you work hard to find a cloud that will rain on my parade.”


“No, you’re not.”

“What?” Doug said. “I said I was sorry.”

“But you’ll do it again. You’re a bummer in a box.”

Doug burst out with a laugh. “That’s weird. Can you believe we’re going to be some of the first people to see inside the building in, like, over ten years? I wonder what kind of stuff got left when they closed it?” He turned up his nose. “I hope they emptied the refrigerators. That would be way gross.”

“Again with the cloud.”

“What? It would be gross.”

“After all this time, it would be mummified.”

“Oh, what if there are mummies hidden in there?” Doug asked. “Wouldn’t that be weird? And creepy, but weird and kind of interesting. Oh, maybe the lady who bought the building is some kind of weirdo witch and medium. She’s going to read people’s palms and tea leaves.”

“Your imagination is off on a weird tangent,” Billy said. He stuffed the trash from his lunch back into the lunch container his mother had bought for him. At least she’d gotten one with Darth Vader on the front. He grew up with Sesame Street. That would have been embarrassing at this age.

“Mom said she was going to get me a Star Wars lunch box, too,” Doug said. “Won’t that be cool?”

“We could buy our own lunch boxes.”

“But they like doing things for us. We should let them until they kick us out.”

“You know that them taking care of us all the time is why they think we’re still responsible for answering to them,” Billy said.

“I gripe about it, but it’s kinda worth it,” Doug replied. “She buys everything. I just keep putting money in my account.”

“And that doesn’t bother you?”

“Not really. If they want to take care of me, I’m making them happy by letting them, right?”

Billy made a sound of disgust as he stood up.

“What?” Doug asked.

“We’re never going to grow up, are we?”

“Someday, but not today. Today we’re working and talking about games and thinking about weird ladies buying the old school building. I hope she isn’t really that weird. It would be nice if someone cool bought the building and, like, built good stuff in town. Still can’t figure out why she picked Bellingwood, though.”

“Because there was a fifty thousand dollar building rotting away and she has money burning a hole in her pocket?” Billy said.

“I hope she doesn’t mess this up. It could be so cool.”

“You be sure to tell her that when you meet her.”


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