CHAPTER ONE:
Sunshine and the Case of the Missing Water

"Really?" he asked, eyebrows raised, mouth hanging open and his hands (curled up so they were almost like paws) were hovering around his face. It grew more difficult to tell the difference between the kid's tendency to overreact to things and the genuine emotion.
"That's annoying. Stop doing it."
"Reeeeeeally?" he repeated. The pitch of his voice hit an annoying high and the state of his "manhood" was called into question.
Eunuch? He thought to himself. Or not? But the question of Kidding's unusually high pitch was not interesting enough to ponder for very long- especially since the likelihood of a modern day eunuch living in Newport News, Va had to be the statistical equivalent of the Holy Grail washing up on the beach behind Hilton Elementary out on the James river. Sure-it COULD happen but somehow the image of snot-nosed sticky-fingered kindergartners picking the Holy Grail out of the sand just didn't congeal in his mind. And he was a pretty imaginative guy.
No-Kidding's manhood was probably intact (he'd have to remember to have Todd or Phynn check next time the Kid took a shower) and the paste- eating populace of Hilton's kindergarten would never make sandcastles with the help of the holiest cup known to Christians. It wasn't Kidding's equipment that was cut off at the root, it was the brains behind it.
"No. I often tell you to do things I don't want you to do."
Kidding had that mad gleam in his eyes that preceded a movement of extreme stupidity and just as he pursed his lips together to whine out yet another 'reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally' the front door shook in its place. There was an incredibly loud thud followed by an "Oh poopie! That hurt!" Then silence, a bag was rustled outside the door, then more mumbling.
Kidding looked at him and sighed. He dropped his hands away from his face and flopped back in to the beanbag chair that had been stalking Kidding since childhood. (Heller sincerely considered the threadbare, hideously purple non-chair to be an enemy of the highest degree, one that must be dealt with decisively. The only problem was that he didn't own a blowtorch or a machine gun.)
"Hey guys!" the idiotess yelled through the door. The knob rattled but didn't turn and poor Sunshine was stuck on the other side. "Come on! Let me in!" There was silence then the knob rattled again.
He looked at Kidding, Kidding looked at him. Together they silently considered ignoring her. After all with the consistently low level of intelligence she displayed it was entirely possible that Sunshine would never figure out she should have been hurt. Kidding sighed though and got to his feet. The dilapidated chair sagged and bulged awkwardly without the familiar weight of its stalkee to hold it in place.
"Thanks Kidding," Sunshine said, "Darn knob. It's always so slippery." (Really the fact the knob was 'slippery' had nothing to do with the oil he poured on it once a week in a half-hearted attempt to keep the idiots at bay.) "Hello Heller!" She blushed when she said this because to say his name she had to say the 'H-E-double hockey sticks' word. To say Hell in Sunshine's world was the moral equivalent to running over a family of one-eyed orphaned kitties with a backhoe twice. Either offensive would send one straight to 'H-E-double hockey sticks.' For a brief while she had called him Hecker but that ended when Todd called her a 'brainless amoeba with bleach-induced mental paralysis.'
(Heller had laughed so hard he forgot to point out Todd's redundancy.)
"Hello Sunshine," he said. She kissed him, he slid his hand up her skirt to her thigh, she smacked his arm and giggled before walking away. "Heller-you clown!"

Kidding flopped back into his chair. There was a grin on his face that was singly representative of the difference between the kid's stupidity and Sunshine's. "How do you stand it?" he asked yet again when the girl had safely disappeared into the kitchen. "I've heard you guys at night-and she giggles."
Heller regarded this for a moment. "That's Phynn, dumbass. Sunshine doesn't giggle-she-" But he didn't say the rest. Some ridiculous secrets had to remain secrets.
"Phynn-really?" A moment or two passed then kid's face went utterly white, he had the terrified look of a boy that had just been caught doing something naughty in the confessional-something VERY naughty. "NO!" He yelled. "REALLY?" A garbled noise of shock, dismay and fear the Kidding was on his feet again. "I've got to take a shower."
Heller grinned. "Be careful," he said. "Phynn's been known to giggle there too." He honestly wondered sometimes how it was they came up with these euphemisms. Giggling did not equate to sex in his mind, yet here it made perfect sense.
The footsteps, which had been rapidly mounting the stairs stopped, Kidding made another garbled noise.
"Hey-Heller-hoooooney could you come here a sec?"
Heller stood up, looked at the pasty-white kid on the stairs and because it was just too good of an opportunity to let slide he said: "The kitchen too." Then he left the room to see what his dear girlfriend could possibly want.
But then, Sunshine was in the kitchen, she could want anything from a can opened to sex. (Yeah-Sunshine Miller could not say the H-word but she had very little objections to putting that infamous F-word into practice as often as possible. Marriage or no. Besides, Sunshine figured they would get married eventually.)
Heller tried valiantly not to conjure up an image of bleached-blonde- brilliance (BBB-like lighting a puddle of liquid to figure out it's gasoline or kerosene.) But the image of it came anyway. The most infamous being the "honey I plugged the toaster in but nothings happening." He hadn't had the heart to tell her she forgot to put the bread in the damn thing. Instead he promised he'd look at it and fixed her a nice breakfast of leftover pizza and eggs. When he got to the kitchen this time he found her standing in front of the open fridge tapping her fingers on the door.
"Honey," Sunshine said again. "Where's the bottled water I put in here yesterday?" Her voice adopted that glazed quality it took when her mind flipped from 'manageably moronic' to 'neurotic girlfriend who visits too often.'
He didn't even waste a thought before informing her: "Slick drank it." It wasn't the truth-the truth was that Todd had drank it, realized he drank Sunshine's water (CLEARLY LABELED FOR THE ESPECIALLY OBLIVIOUS) and woke Heller up at six in the morning to apologize to him profusely before swearing on his mother's grave he would replace the consumed H2O by the end of business hours today. There were two problems with Todd's swear. One: his mother was a rather sweet-sounding harpy bitch from hell that lived on the corner of Bedford and Wood (where she had been living for sixty one years) in a nice white house with blue shutters. That woman was possibly the only woman that hated Todd. In fact, her son probably would have felt no guilt for putting her in the sweared-upon grave but since he didn't have a viable defense planned-he couldn't. The second problem was Sunshine (Marie) Miller did not abide by business hours. Nine to five meant nothing to her.
All that didn't matter much. Sunshine's heat (much like the fiery ball of gass that she was named for) was safely directed at Slick.
Slick was a chovie (chauvinist for those that do not have a handy Sunshine-dictionary) of the worst sort. Why, he was the man single handedly responsible for the proving all those horrible things her father had told her about men.
"That-NAZI-bastard!" Sunshine shouted. The empty bottle of water dropped to the floor.
"Sunshine-come on," he stepped closer to her, fully intended on calming her down with a few well-placed kisses when there was (yet again) a convergence of the stupid people.
At approximately the same time, Todd walked in the side door bearing the replacement bottle, Kidding appeared in the doorway behind him with a "Reeeeeeeeally?" and Slick stumbled up from the basement in his boxers (which proclaimed proudly: Ask Me How I Do It?)
"Really what?" Todd asked.
"Nothing!" Kidding snapped.
"Hey Sunshine. Your tits look great today." That last one was Slick (real name unknown) who was the troglodyte with a perpetual hard-on that all men secretly wished they could be.
"My breasts are none of your business," she snapped. Then as if to prove this point she grabbed his hands and used them to cover her breasts.

So here he stood. In the middle of a lie (Slick was innocent of water-theft) with two handfuls of his girlfriend's breasts. He considered if this was a bad thing. After all, his hands were in one of the maybe three locations he often wanted his hands to be. There could be worse things.
Kidding bit his lip, circled around to look at Heller, leaned forward and said: "What about the upstairs closet?"
It took him a few moments to drag his attention away from the breasts in his hand and focus on the yet once more-moronic question he was being asked. Upstairs closet? (Breasts?) What about it? (Nipple.) He struggled, especially when Sunshine breathed deeply.
Oh right! He was torturing Kidding by telling him that Phynn giggled everywhere. (Again, giggling was a horrible euphemism for sex.) "Oh yeah," he said finally. "Sometimes twice a week!" He thought it was enough an exaggeration that Kidding would have to catch on.
But the kid just rose his damn paw-like hands to his face and whispered: "Really?"
Heller ignored him, turned his attention to Sunshine and said: "Todd went out special to get you water, Sunshine. Look He has it right now."
Normally this thinly constructed lie would be enough to make Sunshine nod and bounce about her day in the ignorant cloud of bliss she lived perpetuated. But today she narrowed her eyes, turned to look at Todd (poor guy looked so guilty) and then she informed him: "Todd drank the water." She swatted his hands away.
Slick took advantage to skip between them and he pinched Sunshine's nice little bottom. To which she made a noise that was an illegitimate quack. Slick smirked and set about his morning (mid-afternoon to regular folk) ritual of drinking two bears in less than five minutes.
"I'm sorry Sunshine. I didn't see your name. I was stupid. I bought you two to make up for it." Then he flashed her one of those patented 'only Todd can do it' I'm-so-sorry-and-cute-(and gay)-won't-you- forgive-me? smiles.
This look saved Todd yet again. (Heller was convinced that it was only because Todd was gay-like there was some kinship between him and all the women of the universe because they were all just looking for that one mythical guy-Mr. Right.) The look naturally also condemned Heller.
Sunshine rounded on him and said: "Didn't your mother ever tell you not to lie, Heller Joseph Loop?"
He wanted to say no but his sarcasm was interrupted by Kidding, who said: "What about the laundry room?"

END CHAPTER 1