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January 7, 2013

A Very Hraet-y Non-Canon Holiday Special (3)

Beat 1-3: Nothing but Successes Here, to be Sure

Lloyd pulled back a few inches, suddenly treating Trixie like a swarm of bees.  “Eh wha?!  Y-you’re going to try and teach me how to swim?”

“Not try.  Teach.”

“Ah.  Er…well, I wish you the best of luck, because I’m certain you’ll need it.”  He pressed a hand to his chin.  “I seem to recall that the last time I came across a large body of water, I tried to moonwalk my way through it.  The end result was not exactly something worthy of acclaim or footage for a music video.”

“Well forget all that, ‘cause when I’m done with ya you’ll be a lean, mean, swimmin’ machine!”  She patted a hand against Lloyd’s shoulder.  “Just leave it all to me, and I’ll be sure to make a real man outta ya.  ‘Cause when ya get down to it, ya just ain’t all the way there if ya can’t swim.”  Almost as soon as the words came out of her mouth, Trixie got a bad feeling -- like a phantom pain, or gas from a poorly-cooked burrito.  And she could immediately guess why.

“So you’re saying that I’m not a man?” Patton asked.  “Because I can’t swim, either.”

Trixie’s head swiveled jerkily toward him.  “N-n-no sir!  It was…I was just usin’ a figure o’ speech.  Ya know us Rockwood folk -- always makin’ up crazy sayings and all that!”

“So in Rockwood, if you don’t know how to swim, you’re not a man?  What is it, like some kind of bar mitzvah?” 

“I-I dunno!  It’s just…look, it’s just a figure o’ speech!  Just somethin’ I came up with on the spur o’ the moment!  Ya can’t think I was bein’ serious, can ya?  Just playin’ around, that’s all!”

Patton folded his arms.  “Mmmm…I never got into swimming as a kid.  Kiddy pools didn’t exactly agree with me.  Or normal pools, while we’re at it.”  He glared at Trixie.  “If you’re teaching my boy how to swim, then I’ll learn, too.  You can teach us both at the same time.”

“Uh…I’d be glad to.”

Patton flung an arm behind him, seizing JP by the shirt and dragging him back into view.  “And JP here will learn along with us.  He could stand to build a little muscle.”

“Oh come on -- I don’t need to learn how to swim!  All I need to do is scrounge up enough money to buy a boat!  Or barring that, some kind of raft.  Or assuming that the technology’s perfected and made affordable by the semi-common man, a jetpack.  But really, a boat is all I need.”

“And what happens if you fall out of that boat?”

“Then one of my servants will save me.”

“…We’ll take you up on your offer, Trixie,” said Patton (earning a particularly loud and drawn-out swear from JP).  “Us Hoigleheimers are in your hands.”

“Uh…that sounds great, I guess.  I mean, I dunno if I’m that great a teacher, but I’ll do my best for all o’ y’all.”  She turned to Mrs. Overdose, who stared blankly at all the rest.  “And what’re ya gonna do while we’re busy?  I hate to leave ya out and home alone, but…”

Mrs. Overdose turned away, and gnawed fiercely on her reed.

“Wait a sec.  Ya DO know how to swim, don’cha?”

“I think I can manage.  At least I would if I didn’t have this bad back of mine.  It always goes nuts whenever I get in a big body of water -- been that way since I was six.  So if you don’t mind, I think I’ll just nap whenever you guys head out.  I gotta take care of myself now that I’m in my twilight years, you know.”

“But didn’t you say earlier that --?”

“So I suppose you’ll have a full classroom of students, then,” said Lloyd (oblivious to his lady’s icy stare).  “Very well, then.  I can think of no better maiden to entrust our lives to.  I certainly hope it doesn’t come to a life-or-death struggle, but things tend to go awry in the most hilarious way possible, I’ve found.”

“Oh boy.  We’re all gonna die,” said JP.  “Because THAT’S how I wanna spend my winter break.  En route to a cemetery.”

“Nobody’s dyin’ on my watch -- I can promise ya that much,” Trixie said with a swell of vigor.  “So come on, then.  Let’s all get ready to --”

“To what?  Go get our swimming lessons?  The sun isn’t even up, and it’s Christmas morning.  Nobody’s open.”  He scowled at her.  “What, don’t tell me you were planning on heading to the coast to practice?  In winter?  After a snowstorm?  We’ll all freeze our legs off.”

“F-fine.  Then we’ll wait.  There’s gotta be a --”

“A ol’ swimmin’ hole?” Mrs. Overdose chimed in.

“…There’s gotta be a pool around here for us to use come tomorrow.  Maybe in a rec center, or a Y.”

“Oh, Porbeagle has one of those,” said Lloyd.  “Except we don’t call it the Y.  We call it the Z.”

“The Z?  Why?”

“Presumably so no one would be able to make a pun-based joke or be confused by its name in casual dialogue.”  Lloyd waved the thought aside.  “So, swimming lessons at long last?  I await your instruction, my dear Miss Walters!”

“Same here,” said Patton.

“Guess I don’t have a choice,” JP grumbled.

“I ain’t touchin’ that water,” Mrs. Overdose snapped.  “Not unless you pay me.”

Trixie’s shoulders slumped.  What have I gotten myself into this time…?

December 26th

 Lloyd rubbed his hands together and grinned.  “Oh ho, so this is it!  In mere minutes, I’ll finally become an aquatic ace!  This is nothing less than a dream made real!”

“Mmmm,” Patton hummed as he drove the van across frosted streets.  “Me, swimming.  I never would’ve guessed.  Maybe now I can finally try rustling up some shark meat.  I’ve always wanted to give it a try.”

With his arms folded (and still angry that he’d lost the window seat to the ladies), JP shifted tersely in place.  “Hey.  If we’re about to go swimming, maybe we should have start focusing,” he explained, nudging against Trixie and Mrs. Overdose with each new turn.  “I say that we all take a temporary vow of silence.  Or we could just extend it indefinitely so we don’t embarrass ourselves any further.  I could go either way.”

“Nobody’s takin’ up a vow o’ silence.  We’re swimmin’, not turnin’ into a buncha monks.”  Trixie looked out the window; they’d started nearing a decent-sized building, one just a little bigger than an elementary school.  It certainly didn’t look too fancy -- beige and brown paint, with its colors dulled further thanks to the wintry filter -- but the hefty Z on a nearby sign offered more than enough pizzazz.  “So we’re here, huh?  Is everybody ready?  Y’all got yer stuff so ya can get changed?”

Lloyd looked back at her with wide eyes.  “Changed?  What do you mean?”

“I mean ya gotta get changed into yer swimmin’ trunks.  Ya brought ‘em, right?”

“…Define ‘brought’.”

“Aw, dammit, Lloyd!”

“Don’t worry,” said Patton.  “I think the Z lets you borrow trunks and bathing suits if you need them.  So we should be fine.”  He turned aside.  “Unless I just dreamed that.  I dream a lot about the Z for some reason.”

“So even you two --?”

JP pressed a palm to his face and shook his head.  “Well, I was going to use it as an excuse to NOT go swimming, but this works just as well.”

Mrs. Overdose met Trixie’s gaze.  “The hell are you lookin’ at me for?  I don’t swim.”

Trixie hung her head and sighed.  “Okay, let’s go back.  We’ll…we’ll just try again tomorrow or somethin’.”

December 27th

Lloyd rubbed his hands together and grinned.  “And thus, we have returned!  In mere minutes, I’ll finally become an aquatic ace!  This is nothing less than a dream made real -- for real this time!”  He jiggled his legs around.  “I must say, this netting against my thighs is quite a pleasant experience!  I especially like how --”

“Don’t!  Don’t -- just don’t say any more, pal,” Trixie blurted with hands raised in defense.  “All right.  Now has everybody got their swimmin’ stuff on under their clothes?”




“Still ain’t swimmin’.”

“Okay, good.  Looks like we’re here.  So let’s get these lessons o’ ours started, all right?”

“Heh ha ha!  Finally!”  With one tug of his arm, Lloyd ripped off all but a pair of pink and white trunks, and flung himself out the van.  “Steel your soul, Poseidon!  Lloyd Beatrice Hoigleheimer shall visit your submerged halls by the next dawn!”  He dashed across the Z’s lawn at top speed.

That speed didn’t go unnoticed.  Because at that very moment, a police siren sounded off.

December 28th

Lloyd rubbed his hands together and grinned.  “And thus, we make our third adventure!  This time, I’ll truly become an aquatic ace -- especially now that I’m in no danger of being arrested under suspicion of being a streaking malcontent!”  He rubbed his jaw.  “In other news, I’m happy to report that the aftereffects of my close encounter with a Taser have finally subsided.”

“Good to know,” said Trixie, managing to look almost as sour as JP.  “All right.  Everybody ready for the pool this time?  Got your trunks and junk all set?  Mr. Hoigleheimer, are the doors locked?”

“Locked tight.”

“Okay.  So this time, let’s actually start learnin’ how to swim.” 

Patton brought the van to a stop in the parking lot, and one by one the party started to file out.  A blast of cold air greeted them, but they kept walking regardless; just a few steps and they’d be in a (hopefully) well-heated complex.

Mrs. Overdose looked over her shoulder -- and then suddenly fell to the ground.  “Ow!  Oh, ow, ow, ow!  My back!  Ohhhhhhh, this cold air is not good for my back!”  She rolled onto her stomach and moaned, clutching her ribs with one hand and massaging her spine with the other.  “I don’t think I can swim like this!  Better head home!”

“Aw, hell no!  Yer not connin’ yer way outta this one, lady!” Trixie snapped.

But JP knelt beside Mrs. Overdose and gave her a close examination.  “She might actually be in pain, you know -- old lady and all that,” he said coolly.  “I think we should turn around and get her in a warm bed.”

“Hrk -- a bed, or a nice chair’ll do just fine.  Preferably one facin’ a TV.”

“This is way too damn convenient to be real.  Both of ya better cut this out!  There’s no way any o’ us’re buyin’ this!”  Of course, she’d spoken far too soon -- Lloyd had long since dashed across the street, and held a phone receiver to his ear.  “Lloyd, what in the --?!”

Lloyd looked back at her and gave her a thumbs-up -- just as an ambulance rounded the corner.

December 29th

Lloyd rubbed his hands together in a bid to get them back to their normal temperature.  “Well, that was an interesting little excursion,” he said.  He blew onto his hands for a moment.  “We should be thankful that the hospital was so good-natured about that little mishap -- but more importantly, Lady Overdose is fine.  She’s in good health, and that’s what really matters.”

No one said a word.  They just wore the sourest faces they could muster. 

“…Ah, yes.  I believe there was some business about me trying to become a visitor to Poseidon’s lair.  Suffice to say that desire remains with me.”

“Good to know yer still in this, Lloyd,” said Trixie as the Z drew closer.  “All right.  Everybody ready?  Nobody plannin’ on takin’ their clothes off in the street?  Or tryin’ to con their way out of swimmin’ on account o’ their bad back?”

No one answered her.

“Good.  So let’s go ahead and get movin’.” 

Patton parked the van, and the group filed out once more into the biting cold.  “Nice to see that the Z is still open ‘round this time o’ year,” said Trixie.  “And it looks like they’re gettin’ some good business.”

“Well, of course,” said JP.  “See those two guys over there?  They’ve probably got gym memberships.  No doubt they’re looking to get their money’s worth just as much as healthy bodies.”

“Huh.  Hey, wait a sec -- are we gonna need memberships to get in there?”

“I don’t think so,” said Patton.  “But just to be sure, I’ll go over there and ask ‘em.”  He started towards them, and hailed them with a wave.  “Hey there.  Mind if I ask you something?  We’re looking to use the Z’s swimming pool, and --”

They didn’t hear him, though.  They just kept talking with each other and laughing it up.  “Are you serious?  THAT’S the key to that new diet?”

“Yeah, man.  It’s all about this so-called miracle vegetable.  Artichokes.”

Lloyd and JP froze, and shared a panicked glance.  “Lloyd, did he just say --?”

“I believe he did, JP.”

“What?  What did he say?” Trixie asked.  But the low rumble coming from Patton’s direction gave her everything she needed to know and more.  And in case she didn’t get the message, she caught a glimpse of his massive arms rippling with muscles and thumping veins. 

“Artichokes…?” Patton asked with a growl.  “Artichokes?  Artichokes?  ARTICHOKES?!”  He leapt at them like a rabid tiger, and proceeded to [CENSORED] and [DOUBLE CENSORED], with no shortage of [LORD ALMIGHTY IS THIS GETTING CENSORED].  And as they [YOU SHOULD THANK ME FOR CENSORING THIS], he [OH SWEET MARMALADE AFTER CENSORING THIS I AM GOING TO NEED SOME SERIOUS THERAPY].


The four of them just stood there agape, watching Patton’s rampage go unimpeded.  Luckily, they didn’t have to do a thing; a police car and ambulance swerved into the parking lot.

December 30th

Lloyd rubbed his hands together and folded his arms.  “Say --”

“No more talkin’!” Trixie barked.  “We’re takin’ a vow o’ silence till we get in the pool.”

“But --”

“No!  No!  We’re not doin’ any more dang-ass talkin’!  NO!  Every time one o’ y’all talks, we end up losin’ a whole day thanks to some shenanigans!  Well it stops here!  So no talkin’!”

Lloyd opened his mouth to speak, but decided to clamp it shut and nod instead.  He stared out the window, as did Trixie.  As did Ms. Overdose.  As did JP (despite being denied a window seat yet again).  Patton just kept driving -- and sure enough, the Z started to slide into view.


The van slid off the road and onto a sidewalk, thankfully hitting little more than a particularly tall pile of dog poop -- and more importantly, leaving little more than a party of sour-faced swimmers.  “I was about to ask you, Dad,” said Lloyd.  “When was the last time you took the old family chariot to the auto shop?”


Patton rubbed his crown.  “Huh.  Knew I was forgetting something.

December 31st

Lloyd sat with his arms folded.  Trixie and Mrs. Overdose stared out the windows.  JP tapped his foot against the middle of the floor.  Patton drove. The Z drew nearer.

Lloyd didn’t speak.  JP didn’t speak.  Patton didn’t speak.  Mrs. Overdose didn’t speak.  Trixie didn’t speak.  They just sat there.  They stayed quiet.  They didn’t make a peep, even as the van -- now fully-repaired and outfitted -- came to a stop in the parking lot.   

They trudged out of the van and stood outside its doors for a moment, looking for any sort of disaster -- around them or amongst themselves -- that would stall their efforts once again.  But nothing came.  Nothing more than another frigid gust slapping them in their faces.  And so, like a squad of tired soldiers, they headed for the entrance to the Z.  All in silence.  All while onlookers did their best to avoid them.

Lloyd made it to the entrance first, with Trixie just a few steps behind on his right.  He put a hand on the door, and --

“Oh, hold on a minute. What day is it?”

Trixie looked at him with what she hoped wasn’t a grimace (it was).  “It’s the thirty-first.  By this time tomorrow, it’ll be the new year.”

“Oh, really?  Well, then.”  He dropped his hand from the door and trotted off at a brisk pace, waving at the party with a smile.  “So long for now, everyone!  I’m afraid I have somewhere to be!”

“The hell ya do!  Get yer dandy ass back here!”  With a loud groan, Trixie started chasing after him.  “We didn’t spend a week tryin’ to get here just so ya can ditch and go…go…”  She stopped and turned to the other Hoigleheimers.  “Where’s he goin’, exactly?”

JP shrugged.  “Same place he always goes, I’m guessing.  The High Tide Park…at least, what’s left of it.”

“The High Tide…wait, ya mean that place with the busted-up Ferris wheel?  Why’s he goin’ there?”

JP started to speak, but Patton held a hand in front of his son.  “Hold on.  We have to wait.  We need to save it for the next chapter; let’s just end on a cliffhanger for now.”



  1. That Random Game BloggerJanuary 8, 2013 at 2:39 AM

    So much for the aquatic ace, heh

  2. To be fair Artichokes are a viable rage component. Completely justified.

  3. I hear that. And it's justified in ways that you've yet to comprehend, my friend. Heh heh heh...evil laugh.

  4. One's skill in the water is no match for happenstance and a cadre of madmen.