The Bad News Band (a.k.a. Fairview Dreamin’)

          Chad Laurel pushed the A, X, B, and Y buttons rapidly on his XBOX.  He just had to beat the aliens in Halo 2!  A Nuclear Man comic book was on his side for when he got bored.  Chad’s door burst open.  It was his pal, Connor Hardy.

          Chad was a ten-year old boy who lived with his dad, Parker, in the suburban town Fairview, New Jersey.  The two of them also lived with Chad’s older cousin, Janet.  Chad also had a half-brother who will not be appearing in this story.  Janet’s boyfriend was Connor Hardy, who was a snotty jerk sometimes, but a really good help in things such as video games.

          “Chad!” shouted Connor.

          “What the hey?”

          “Ditch the catchphrase.  Anyway, you’ve gotta come quick!  Your dad wants to show you something freakin’ sweet!”

          Chad dashed downstairs, to see his lazy drunken father, Parker, and two of his friends, a whisky brewer named Kirk Hacker…and Coach David Watterson, Chad’s former bowling coach, who was fired because he knew nothing about bowling.  They were all in the living room.

          “Chad, it’s about time you learned,” Parker drawled.

          “Learned about what?” Chad wondered.

          Parker chuckled.  “I never told you I was in a rock band.  But I was, back in old 1987.  Parker and the Ions, we called them.”

          “What did you play?” Chad asked.

          “Ah.  I played the drums.  Kirk worked well on the electric guitar, and Watterson played acoustic.”

          “So, there wasn’t a lead singer?”

          “There was.  Robert Plant.”

                    *                                       *                                       *

          Chad walked into the kitchen, where his teenage cousin, Janet, was reading some magazine.

          “Is that MAD?” Chad wondered.

          “Like, that’s none of your business,” Janet snapped.

          “Hmmm.  Must be Playboy.  DAD!  I’m going on a walk with Connor!”

                   

          Chad and 13-year old Connor Hardy walked along the street.  “Do you know this kid named Howie?” asked Chad.

          “Yes.  Howie Ripley.  I am I correct?  He’s my age but he got held back four times.”

          “Uh-huh.  He’s in my class.  Can’t stand him.”

          “That sucks.  I heard he was on drugs.”

          “He most likely is.”

          *                                                 *                                                 *

          Connor was not an optimist at all.  He was one to get depressed, believe it or not.  Chad thought the glass was half-empty.  Connor viewed the glass as a worthless piece of junk that he desired to burn.

          Chad’s 10-year old neighbor, Tristan Weinstein, came into sight.  Tristan was a bookworm that Connor had forbidden Chad from being friends with, though that didn’t work because they went to school together.

 

                              The Next Day…

 

          Chad’s house was No. 237 on 7th Avenue.  And as Parker drove Chad to school that Monday, Chad had no idea that he would see Parker at school again.

          “Hello, Chad!” brainy Tristan called.

          “Hey Tristan!”

          “Sorry I couldn’t come over to your house.  My cousin Daniel was getting married.  He lives in Los Angeles.”

          “I saw you yesterday!”

          “Nuh-uh!  Must have been my brother!”

          “You don’t have a brother, Tristan.”

 

          At the start of school (Fairview Junior High), Mr. Coleman, the loathed principal of the school, spoke.  “This is your principal, Craig Coleman.  We have a band assembly.”

          Some of the band kids shouted, “What the heck?”  Howie Ripley, a punker himself, stuck out both of his index fingers and pinkies in the air—the evil eye.

          “Who is it?” asked Sheldon Prankton, one of the band members.

          “Parker and the Ions,” read Coleman, “will be playing before lunch.”

          Chad blushed.  Connor chuckled rudely.  “I bet your dad sucks, Chas!”  Chad’s birth name was Cassius, but as Parker and his late wife wanted him to be called Chas, Chad couldn’t pronounce his “z” sound until the age of five.  Oddly enough, he pronounced it as a “d.”

          Ms. Winslow, the teacher, scolded Connor.

                    *                                       *                                       *

          Chad walked with Tristan to the assembly.  “I just can’t believe it.  My dad’s band’s gonna do horribly.”

          Tristan nodded.  “I hate rock.  Beethoven’s very intriguing.”

          In the auditorium, you could see Parker with a fake blond wig, Kirk with a fake brown wig, and Watterson, with his usual red hat.  All three of them were dressed in rock suits reading: “P&I”.  Parker had lied.  Watterson was the lead singer.

          Kirk put the amplitude up on his silvery guitar.  “THIS IS A SONG I’M SURE ALL OF YOU DON’T KNOW, ‘CUZ IT ONLY APPEALS TO GENERATION X’ERS!

          THIS SONG,” Kirk yelled too loud over the gossip in front of him, “IS CALLED, “I WANNA ROCK ‘N’ ROLL UNTIL THE MAN TAKES ME AWAY TO HIS HOME FOR KEEPS!  WE LIKE TO CALL IT, ‘SONG #1138!’”

          “Quiet, Kirk,” Watterson pointed out.  “Now let’s begin.”

          The spotlight fell on Watterson, who began to sing: “It will be only a matter of time ‘til the man takes me away.  When he does, I’d like to say something in a matter of time oh! in a matter of spirit oh! in a matter of self oh! in a matter of doing what I want what, yes, what I want.  To be a straight man…”

          Kirk let off a riff.

          “…to be an ion in the vast world of molecules where everyone goes after death.  You may think it’s heaven or hell, but I’ll tell you bornos…you are wrong!  Yes, you are wrong and we are right!  What’re you, asking for a fight…don’t turn your back ‘cuz your rump STINKS!  Just give us a few whisky drinks!  Black cook!”

          Parker drummed.  “Black book…”

          Kirk got off of his guitar.  “Black men are futile.”

          Parker: “Damn right!  AUKH.”

 

          The whole school looked at the trio in shock.  The black kids were obviously in shock, and so were the religious kids, and the kids who didn’t use toilet paper.

          Coleman fainted.

          *                                                 *                                       *

          Coleman arose.  “I can’t believe it.  Chad, was that your dad, seriously?”

          “Yes, Mr. Coleman.”

          “And Billy, was that your dad?”

          Billy Watterson, Coach Watterson’s son, nodded his oversized head.
          “Chad and Billy, you are expelled from the school for bringing your fathers to wreak this much havoc.  TWENTY YEARS IN THE BUSINESS OF EDUCATION JUST LED TO RAUNCH!”

          “Raunch isn’t a word, sir,” Tristan commented.

 

          Chad left the school alone.  “Goddammit!  I had no idea this would happen!  And now I can’t get a job!”

          Parker came rushing to meet Chad.  “There are private schools, you know.  And private schools don’t use the No Child Left Behind Act.”
          “Yeah, but we don’t have much money for that.  You wasted thousands of bucks on getting wasted.”

          “What about Janet?  She lives with you, too!”
          “Yes, but she’s popular.  The unpopular kids get the blame for everything.”

          “You’re friends with Connor Hardy.”
          “Sometimes, yes.  But he and Tristan are my only friends!”

 

          The dad and son were soon snuck up on by the wicked principal.

          “That wasn’t all you did!  Mr. Wittman had a heart attack from all that raunch and is now being headed to an infirmary.  The secretary lost her identity!”

          “AUKH,” grunted Parker.  Coleman wasn’t finished.

          “Cassius Remus Laurel, you’ve done nothing but nasty things to me after all the heartwarming things I’ve done to you!”  Chad could think of only one example: that Coleman congratulated Chad on his birthday, and Chad punched him, leading in a three-day suspension.

          “Right.  Like I’m some sort of Howie Ripley.  I mean, he should be expelled not me.”

          “Leave the fighting for the wrestlers, Chad,” Coleman stated absent-mindedly.

          “What kind of half-assed line was that?” snapped Parker.

          “Respect my authority!  The world’s under my command!” Coleman cackled.

          Oh great, Chad thought.  Now he’s really gone insane.

          “I noticed there was no acoustic,” Coleman said.  “We only allow acoustic guitars to be played in the band.”

          “Jimmy Page played acoustic, but he was absent!” Parker lied.  “We tried to get a replacement, but all we came up with was…AUKH.”

          Watterson appeared in the scene.  “Coach Watterson sez: GET A LIFE!” speaking to Coleman.

          “You know how foolish you look talking with all that ‘Coach Watterson sez’ dreck, don’t you?” chuckled Parker.  “I mean, the poor fool’s not even a coach anymore.  He’s practically unemployed!”

          Howie also appeared outside.  “Man, that was one roxinatin’ concert!  I ‘specially liked the guitar guy!”

          “You mean guitarist!” Parker pointed out.

          “Coach Watterson sez: oh fine, I’ll quit it.”

          Howie scratched his back.  “Want some black blimps?”

          “No thanks.  Wouldn’t want an honor student expelled too,” drawled Coleman.  “Selling drugs is perfectly OK.  Unless some gangster buys ‘em.  Howie, you’ve just gotta keep ‘em in your case!”

          “But these aren’t drugs, Mr. Coleman.  These are…um, um…popsicles!”

          “Why didn’t you say so!”  Coleman took one.  “Howie, there are worse things than drugs, and I’m gonna find ‘em.”

          “Oh gee, now you just got Coleman stoned?” Chad asked Howie.

          “He’s in a psychedelic state.  He’ll get over it in approximately a week.”

          “What the hey was in those black blimps?”

          “Tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, opium, LSD, ecstasy, and…um, um…toxic waste to give the color.”
          “Oh my jeez!  That’s frickin’ bad!”

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