It was May in the year 1995, the middle of an era of creative children's toys and the jingles to go with them. Burger King Kids Club mascots were constantly seen on TV, McDonald's had its own McWorld, and Wendy's was in competition with the two of them. Long before the anime craze had begun and children wanted to be Pokemon masters. Disney had 2D animated cartoons, and many of its animated movies were musicals. Nickelodeon was led by its popular lineup of nicktoons: Ren & Stimpy, Rocko's Modern Life, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Doug, and Rugrats.
Today was a late Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, Max had no one to play with. After playing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on his Sega Genesis for the past few hours, he decided to play with his green tennis ball. Since he couldn't play with it in the house, he had to play with it in the hallway.
Max was a tan-skinned, 5-year-old boy. He had short, black hair and small, dark brown eyes. His square-shaped head featured a short, wide nose, a round chin, and small ears. He was wearing a short sleeved, red, yellow, and dark blue, horizontally-striped shirt. Also, he wore a blue pair of jeans and white sneakers, with Simba's face on the sides.
The sound of the tennis ball bouncing off the white walls echoed throughout the silent hallway. A dark blue carpet covered the long hall, including the stairs. The doors were maroon, and their numbers were golden.
Max threw the ball and couldn't catch it this time. It bounced, then rolled a few yards away from him and he grabbed it just as it was about to roll down the stairs. When the boy picked up the ball, he looked to the side and noticed a girl whom he never saw before, sitting beside a door around the corner.
The girl was wearing a light blue shirt, with blue jeans and white sneakers. Her brown-skinned knees were up to her chest and her head was resting on them.
Max walked over to, and stood before her.
"Um, hi," he said, waving at the girl.
The girl lifted her head and smiled friendlily at Max.
Curly, black hair flowed down to her back; it was held into a ponytail by a light blue scrunch. Large, brown eyes were spaced a little far apart. The tip of her thin nose was round.
"Hi," she said in a high-pitched voice.
Her front teeth was fairly large.
"What's your name?"
"My name's Kimmy. What's yours?"
"Max. You live there?" He pointed at the door next to her. It read, '2H'.
"Yeah. I got locked out and my mom is at a friend's house."
"Oh." Max nodded and looked down. "I like your Mickey Mouse toy." He indicated the doll that was standing against the door.
Mickey had a wide grin and large, shiny eyes. He was seven inches tall, and had the trademark white, four-fingered gloves, red shorts, and yellow shoes. Specks of dried, red sauce were on the left side of his mouth.
"Thanks. My daddy gave it to me for Christmas when I was, like, two years old. I took it everywhere with me ever since." She picked up the soft toy and hugged it tightly. "It's my favoritest toy in the whole world."
"Wanna play with me?"
"I was playing with my ball." He held the ball out to her. "Wanna play catch?"
"Okay." Kimmy stood Mickey against the door, but he quickly fell forward. Then, she stood up -- a couple inches taller than Max -- and walked a few feet to the right of the door. "Ready." She caught the ball with both hands after Max underhandedly threw it. "How old are you?" she asked, tossing the ball back to him.
"Five" he replied as he threw the ball back to her.
They silently played for a few more minutes.
"Wanna to play something else?" Max asked when the ball left his possession.
"Okay," replied Kimmy. She walked over to him and gave him the ball. Max put it into his pocket, forming a noticeable lump in the side of his pants. "Wanna play tag?"
Max rubbed his chin with his index finger, momentarily looking at the ceiling as if in deep thought.
"Hmm... you're it!" he giggled and ran away.
Kimmy picked up her doll and carried it with her right hand. She then chased Max around the corner and tapped his back. "You're it!" She turned around to run, and he ran after her.
Max chased her halfway down the stairs that were on Kimmy's side of the hall, and tapped her arm. "You're it!" He turned around and headed for his apartment.
After tagging Max's arm, Kimmy tried to run, but he instantly spun around and grabbed her right wrist, causing her to have a great fall on her left side, landing elbow first and pulling him down with her. Beside her, Max fell on his stomach.
"I'm sorry," Max apologized, beginning stand up.
"That's okay," Kimmy responded, getting on her knees. Slightly bending over, Max held both hands out. She took his hands and stood up. Just then, they heard the sound of a door opening and closing from down the hall, prompting Kimmy to look in the direction of her apartment. "I think my mom's home."
"Wanna go see?" asked Max.
"Yeah. Do you want to come with me?"
"Aight." (A/N: That is not a typo.)
They walked down the hall and turned left at the corner. They walked to door 2H and Kimmy knocked on it. Light footsteps were heard until a tall, 30ish replica of Kimmy opened the door.
The woman had black, shoulder-length hair. Her large eyes were brown and her skin tone was the same as her daughter's. She wore a short sleeve, yellow shirt that was tucked into a blue pair of jeans, and white slippers.
"Hi, mommy," said Kimmy.
"I was wondering where you were. I see you made a new friend. What's your name?"
"Max," he told her. "I live in apartment 2C."
"Oh, that's good that you live so close." She turned to Kimmy. "If you want to keep playing with Max, go ahead."
The mother shut the door.
"Could we go outside?" Max requested.
"Yeah, let's go," decided Kimmy.
They walked down three flights of stairs and through the gray exit door. Outside of the wide, brick building, there was grass on either side of a gray concrete path that led from the brick steps to the sidewalk. To the kids' left, there was an Exxon gas station; to the right were several small stores. Across the street in front of them was a line of houses.
Max and Kimmy quickly resumed their game of tag. The front yard had a lot more space to run around, which inspired a shift from tag to hide-and-seek, and back. They got along well and had a fun time. Before they knew it, two hours had passed.
A silver Lincoln Town pulled up in front of the building, beside a large tree, and a very dark-skinned woman stepped out. The driver was a chubby, middle-aged woman with brown eyes and shoulder-length, black hair. She was wearing a red, short-sleeved shirt with black pants and black shoes. The name, 'PATRICIA', was on the white nametag that was pinned to the right side of her shirt. When she saw Max, she called his name and he turned around and looked at her.
"Who's she?" Kimmy asked.
"My mommy," answered Max.
He walked to the car and Kimmy followed him.
"Hello." Patricia said to Kimmy.
"Hello," she said, waving at the woman.
"Kimmy's my new friend," Max said proudly.
"Oh. Max, do you want to go to Pizza Hut?"
"Can Kimmy come with us?"
"I don't care. Ask her parents."
"I'll ask mommy right now," said Kimmy. "If she says yeah, can she come, too?"
"Yeah," said Patricia. She turned to Max. "I'm going to change my clothes. Get in the car."
"Alright," obeyed Max.
He opened the unlocked door and climbed into the backseat, while Patricia and Kimmy went into the building.
The interior smelled of pine-scented air freshener. The seats were cream-colored and had dark gray seat belts.
Usually, Max would want to sit in the front seat, but he chose the backseat because he wanted to sit next to his new friend. He looked out the open window.
Kimmy walked up the stairs with Patricia. They went their separate ways and she made a beeline to apartment 2H and knocked. Moments later, her mother opened the door.
"Can I go to Pizza Hut with Max and his mommy?"
"Yeah." She started to close the door, but Kimmy's voice stopped her.
"I wanna leave Mickey here." She gave the doll to her mother, who began to carry it into the apartment and close the door. The door was nearly closed when Kimmy's voice interrupted again. "Max's mommy said it would be okay if you wanted to come with us."
"Let me get my purse."
The woman went back into the apartment and came back a short while later, with a small, black purse. She was just about to close the door, when...
"Hold on." Kimmy said, opening the door and disappearing inside.
After a while, she returned to the hallway, carrying Mickey Mouse in both hands.
The mother and daughter walked outside together to the car, in which Max and Patricia were sitting.
Gripping the silver handle, Kimmy pushed the silver button with her thumb and pulled the door open. She sat on Max's left, while her mom sat in the passenger seat.
"Hi, I'm Patricia." She was now wearing a white shirt with thick, blue stripes. The shirt was tucked into a pair of gray blue jeans.
"My name is Karen."
Patricia adjusted the rear view mirror.
"Get that seatbelt on, Max."
Max and Kimmy picked up their seat belts and fastened them in their laps. Patricia stepped on the gas and they were on their way.
"So where do you work?" Patricia wanted to know.
"I work at JC Penny," replied Karen.
"The one at the mall?"
"Yeah. Do you work on Dame Street?"
"Yes, that's the street."
While the two women were talking, Max and Kimmy were quiet. They mostly looked out the windows, but they stole a few glances when the other wasn't looking.
Pizza Hut was a 10 minute drive away from where they lived. When they got there, the parking lot had seven cars in it. Patricia parked in a spot facing the chain of buildings.
Pizza Hut was between David's Groceries and Blockbuster Video. Its roof was red and the logo had white letters. David's Groceries had a green roof with a large image of a paper bag next to the logo, and the logo's letters were white. Blockbuster Video had its trademark yellow and blue logo on top of the building.
Patricia and Karen casually got out of the car, while Max and Kimmy excitedly got out and ran up the steps and inside. The mothers quietly walked up the steps and through the glass door.
The aroma of freshly baked pizza cooking in the ovens filled the small restaurant. The walls were brown, and the floor had red and white tiles. Ten four-sided, white tables were surrounded by four wooden chairs each.
"Look, It's Pizza Head," Kimmy pointed out.
A poster of Pizza Head, "standing" outside of a haunted house with a spooked look on his face, was on the wall. Steve was beside him. The poster also advertised four glow in the dark Casper hand puppets. The toys were Casper, Stinky, Fatso and Stretch.
"We could get those cool Casper toys with our pizza!" said Max.
When the parents caught up with their children, the four walked up to the cash register.
The cashier had blond hair and blue eyes. She was wearing a red Pizza Hut hat with a matching shirt. Her name tag was on the right side of her shirt and said, 'Regina' on it.
"Mommy, I want extra, extra, extra cheese," stated Max, who put his fingertips on top of the white counter, which was several inches past his height, and hopped up and down, trying to see over it.
Regina smiled at the goofy 5-year-old.
"I want the regular kind," said Kimmy.
"One extra cheese, and one plain pan pizza..." Patricia began.
"One pepperoni," added Karen.
"And one sausage," ended Patricia.
"Anything to drink?" asked Regina.
"I'll take a Pepsi."
"Me, too," added Karen.
"Me, three," said Kimmy.
"Me, four," piped Max, jumping as he said it.
Kimmy giggled at the enthusiasm in his voice.
Pausing, Max smiled back at her, then continued hopping with his legs together.
"Go find us a table," suggested Karen.
Most of the tables were taken except the left table that was closest to the register, and the two tables by the door. The kids ran to a table beside the door and sat facing each other with their hands on the table.
"I hope I get Casper," Max announced, softly pounding a drum roll. "I got Stretch," he counted the name with his left index finger, "Stinky," he pointed to his middle finger, "and Fatso." He showed his three fingers to Kimmy. "I just need Casper."
"I don't have any of those," said Kimmy. "I did see the movie."
"I didn't see it."
"It was really cool. Especially the part where Casper went into that thing and turned into a giant egg."
Max giggled uncontrollably. He leaned backwards and softly clapped his hands. Kimmy grinned at her friend as his face began to go crimson. She looked around and noticed people staring at them.
Karen arrived at the table with a stack of four brown boxes in one hand, and a medium-sized, Pepsi-designed cup. She set the cup down in front of the empty chair beside Kimmy. Then, she placed the pizzas beside it.
The tops of the square pizza boxes had the logo in the center of a red border.
At the same time, Kimmy and Max reached for a box. She picked out the top box and opened it.
The thick, curvy edges of the pizza were crooked in some areas. Brown, slightly burnt pieces of sausage dotted the white cheese and red sauce.
The 6-year-old pushed the box to the empty space beside Max and grasped the third box.
Patricia appeared with three cups -- one medium and two small -- and sat them in the middle of the table just as Karen left. Then she sat down and dropped three straws near the drinks, keeping one for herself.
The Pepsi cups were white, with thick, red stripes under the round symbols. Blue letters, vertically spelling out "Pepsi", were in the spaces between the stripes. Two hand puppets -- Fatso and Casper -- also came with the meal.
Max looked the lid of his cup. Five buttons were there. Each had the word "Cola", "Root Beer", Diet", "Iced Tea", or "Other" above it. Although he was clueless as to what they meant, Max always found great amusement in pressing them. He pushed them all counter-clockwise.
Karen returned to give Max the Fatso puppet and Kimmy the Casper puppet.
Fatso had a bluish-gray, round body with a mischievous smile on his face and his pudgy hands were up, as if trying to scare someone. Casper was white with a friendly smile and both hands up, as if waving with two hands.
"Aw, junk," Max said disappointed.
"Wanna trade?" asked Kimmy.
Kimmy nodded her head for confirmation. "Uh-huh."
"You're welcome," Kimmy beamed and they exchanged the toys.
"Cool. Now I have all four Casper toys. Can't wait to show Stretch, Fatso, and Stinky."
The foursome ate all of their food and put the boxes and cups into the red, rectangular trash bins.
Night had fallen by the time they left. Orange streetlights bathed the otherwise dark streets.
All four of them got into the car and sat in their original seats. Patricia backed out of the spot and drove into the street. Max had Casper on his right hand and Kimmy had Fatso on her left hand. Amused by the puppets glowing green in the dark car, they waved them around at each other throughout the trip.
Patricia pulled a small ring of two keys out of her left pants pocket and put a bronze key into the keyhole. Karen and Kimmy stood there, watching.
"Bye-bye, Kimmy." Max waved at her.
"Bye, Max." Kimmy wiggled her fingers at him. "Thank you for the pizza... Max's mommy."
"Call me Patricia," 'Max's Mommy' chuckled. "Bye."
She opened the door and went inside.
Karen turned around to walk away. Kimmy spun around and followed her mother.
Max watched Kimmy and Karen, who hadn't reached the corner yet.
Karen disappeared around the corner, but Kimmy stopped walking when she reached it. She then looked back and noticed Max looking at her. She waved at him once more.
He smiled and waved back at her, before stepping into his apartment and closing the door.
Karen was already inside with the door open for Kimmy. The little girl scampered into her apartment and closed the door.