Scene Six

Bernie smacked at his lips. “Maybe we can talk about this over dinner.”

Lonnie stood up. “Oh my god, Bernie! Are you kidding me?!”

“What?” I can’t think straight when I’m hungry. You know that.”

Lonnie growled under her breath, but acquiesced. She was hungry, too. “Fine,” she said. “I really don't want to cook or eat in this kitchen at the moment.”

“Really?” Melody glared at her mother. “You’re seriously going to let him get away with this again? I’m going to go mad. You realize this.”

Lonnie shrugged. “It’s either that or we listen to him whine until his tummy is full.” She turned to her husband. “How’s pizza?”

Bernie shrugged. “Have I ever said no to pizza?”

Lonnie sighed. “It's just an expression, Bernie.”

“I think it's a given that you've never said 'no' to food in general, Dad,” Melody said, pushing herself away from the table.

What was most important, when it came to restaurants, was how Melody Jackson felt about a given restaurant. There were certain rules that an establishment had to follow in order to get this coveted seal of approval. These were as follows:

1. Atmosphere cannot be too dark or too bright: Melody liked to be able to see what she was eating in case there was something weird that needed to be picked out, but she also didn't like to feel like she was in a hospital room.

2. Not overly crowded or noisy: Melody wasn't overly comfortable in social situations, and could become overloaded in overly busy places. ex. Yarn convention, easy breezy; Electronic and Entertainment Expo – burnout city.

3. A preponderance of vegetarian options: A vegetarian by birth, Melody didn't exactly mind another's choice to eat dead animals, but she personally wanted more options than a grilled cheese sandwich, which she thought as food for five-year-olds.

As far as the list above, the pizza establishment known as Flying Pie, which her mother had just mentioned, violated rule #2, but Melody found that most things violated at least one of these rules. While this is a pretty major flaw, she found that they could usually find someplace less objectionable to sit in one of the dark corners of the establishment.

Both of her parents were staring at her, as if for some kind of response.

“What?” she said. “Oh, you want to know if it passes the checklist.” She sighed. “It’s fine.”

Bernie grinned inanely. “I'll go and grab my coat.”


The Jackson's loaded into the family car, and strapped themselves in.
“So,” Lonnie said, starting up the motor. “Sylvia. She seems to have been taking these little skeleton figures pretty personally.”
“I'll get to that,” Bernie said, sheepishly. “I did confide in her at one point, and needless to say she didn't take it very well."
Lonnie tapped her husband hurriedly on the knee, which meant that he needed to continue on with his tale. "Don't repeat yourself, Maynard," she said. She pulled the car out of the driveway quickly, and then gunned the car down the street as though she were being chased. Once they were turned and moving swiftly down Powell Boulevard, the busy street, she looked at Bernie out of the corner of her eye. "Skip ahead to the juicy bits."
“Okay, okay,” he said, and acquiesced. “Back in the basement. At first I thought this might be a wine cellar. I think I mentioned the rough-hewn walls.”
“Again with the rough-hewn,” Melody said, raising up her hands.
“Well, a phrase I like it may be, but it's also very apt. I half expected small ferns to be growing out of the walls, like we were descending into a primordial world. “Anyway…”
“Anyway, once in the cellar, the layout was like any normal basement. Washer, dryer, furnace in the corner. All of it, though, seemed very old and rusty because the place was more than a tad murky, really. I didn't get the impression that people went down there very often.
“So Chuck tells me, 'I found them coming out of the crack in the wall of the back room.' He was all 'They thought they could get away from me'. Chuck was always wanting people to know that they couldn't pull a fast one on him. At first I thought he might be talking about centipedes or something – I was really afraid he was leading me down to a family of tarantulas. I could never tell if he was just cruel or crazy or both."
Lonnie held up a finger in front of Bernie's face, indicating that he should stop talking. She then turned into a side street, and motioned for Melody to hand her a tissue. Melody quickly produced the requested item from some secreted location, and slapped it in her mother's hand.
"Bernie," she said, not looking at his face. "Didn't your mother make you go to this church when you were a child?"
Bernie raised an eyebrow at her. "Um, yeah, and Sunday school, too. I told you about the nun who made me apologize to God, right?"
"Many times," she said. She then pointed her thumb behind her. "And Van Veen Nursery, back there. That's where she used to work, right?"
"Yeah. What's with the trip down memory lane, Lon?
"Just hold still," she told him, leaning forward. She held the tissue near his head. "Don't move."
Bernie's eyes grew wide. "Wha---," came out of his mouth. "What's going on?"
"Calm down," she told him. She then pulled the tissue back, rolled down her window and shook it out.
"Are you going to fill me in what just happened there?" Bernie looked somewhat annoyed. "Not that I don't appreciate being kept in the dark on most things."
"You know what it was, Bernard," Lonnie told him, equally annoyed. "Do you need me to spell it out?"
Melody blurted out, "It seems obvious to me that this was yet another spider incident. In a growing list, apparently." Although she thought she was being rather cool and collected about the whole thing, Melody felt as though her eyes were probably larger than normal.
"Lady gets a prize," Lonnie said, after making a bell sound. "It was a just a baby. It probably just emerged from an..."
"Gonna stop you right there, mom," Melody said. "There's enough information and there's too much information. At the moment, you're straddling the fence."
"What?" Lonnie said restarting the car. "It was cute."
"Yeah, cute," Bernie agreed, but couldn't seem to stop scanning at the ceiling of the car. "Right up there with Honey Badgers and pythons."
"At the moment, I'm trying to keep from thinking that my dreams might be starting to become a tad prophetic."
Bernie took his eyes away from the ceiling enough to look over to his daughter. "What was your dream exactly?"
"I don't recall all of the details. Something about baby fudges."
Suddenly, Bernie forgot all about the possibilities of spiders raining down on him from on high. "Fudge, you say?"
"Never mind," Melody said. "I don't want to talk about it." She tapped on the back of her mother's seat. "Driver, take us out of here."
Bernie was adamant that they not depart from this subject. "Fudge is delicious. If there's going to be fudge in our future, I have a right to know."
"It wasn't that kind of fudge, dad," Melody said, and Bernie blushed and seemed to stay quiet after that. Although forever after she wasn't quite sure what he thought she might have meant. She sighed and then clarified. "It was apparently baby spiders, all named 'fudge', and they were....well, let's just say that's the reason I got up so early to brush my teeth."
Lonnie checked the mirror and pulled back out into traffic. "The things you two worry about," she said under her breath.
"Yeah," Bernie said, now back to staring above his head. "Weirdos."
"Finish your story, Bernie, and stop obsessively worrying about things that are a million times smaller than you."
Bernie snorted. "Bacteria is a trillion times smaller, and ..."
Lonnie punched him in the arm and then started up the car. She then silently turned around and headed out into traffic. The look on her face told Bernie that pizza might no longer be in his future if he didn't take this a tad more seriously.
"I honestly don't remember where we..."
Melody flipped open her notebook and read off the following... "At first I thought he might be talking about centipedes or something – I was really afraid he was leading me down to a family of tarantulas. I could never tell if he was just cruel or crazy or both."
ait," Bernie said. "You're documenting this?"
"Have we not met? That's what I do. One day you'll thank me."
Bernie seemed more flustered than ever. When he seemed like he still wasn't going to continue, Melody began reading again from the same spot.
"Fine," her father said, stopping her. “It was in a little side room, same walls, same musty smell in the air. Completely empty except for some jars he had in the corner. Chuck got really excited when he saw the jars. 'See,' he said. 'I told you they were real.'
“It was then that I knew he was mad. He hadn't ever actually told me anything. There was movement in the jars, though, but at the time that was all I could see. And by that time I was pretty sure I didn't want to see anything more. I told him that I was uncomfortable and wanted to leave. But he wasn't having it. He grabbed me by the shirt and dragged me closer to the jars.
“'You see,' he kept rambling. 'It's just like I said.' Again, he hadn't said anything. Unless he was referring to some conversation we had in his head. You know, it actually seemed more like maybe he had rehearsed it a few times before I came over and by the time I was actually around he had left out some important bits.”
“Dad?” Melody asked calmly.
“Yeah?” Bernie turned his head as though snapping out of a trance.
“I was getting to it,” he said, somewhat annoyed. “Just check her your notes and I think you'll find that you were the one with the angry tapping finger when I wanted to make a long story short." Bernie turned to face the road, and continued. "So he dragged me over there, and produced a small flashlight from his back pocket. He made this big production about it, using the light to make his big reveal, and shouting “BEHOLD!
Melody just stared at her father, expectantly. “And?”
“And...Nothing. The jars contained a couple of large moths. And I tell you he seemed pretty disappointed. Picking up the jars and holding them close to his face, wide-eyed and frantic. Shouting 'NO. NO. THESE AREN'T THE RIGHT JARS!'”
“That's a little anticlimactic,” Melody said.
“Speak for yourself,” said Lonnie. “I actually missed my turn back there.”
“Okay,” Melody said, and sighed. “So someone swapped out the jars.”
“Apparently,” Bernie said.
“Is that what this story is? Bernie Jackson v. the misplaced cruet?”
Bernie raised an eyebrow at his daughter. “Cruet?”
Melody shrugged. “It was on my word of the day calendar last week.”
Bernie thought about it for a moment. “It sounds like the least manly wrestling match ever. Anyway, we know who swapped out the jars.”
“Let me guess,” Melody said. “The milkman?”
Lonnie jumped in. “A representative of Mason co. filing a claim of misuse of canning supplies?”
Bernie's eyes narrowed. “No,” he said. “And those are horrible guesses.”
Melody paused dramatically. “I believe Mason is actually owned by the Ball corporation...
"Stay focused, Melody, " Lonnie told her.
"Anyway," Bernie began, but was quickly told to put a pin in it.
Lonnie stopped the car, and pulled the parking brake. “Okay," she said. "It’s time to score some ‘za.”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode Four

Melody Jackson

vs. The Creeping Terror

by BMB Johnson

Scene Six

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