The next few days passed uneventfully. Robin had told me that she and Nate had gone out only as friends. I, for one, didn't believe her.
Robin and I decided to keep ourselves entertained by playing pranks on the Blondie Barbies and both our parents kept getting phone calls about it. I don't think my dad really cared but he seemed a bit annoyed at all the calls he was getting.
"I think we ought to do something about this," he finally said one evening, while we were browsing through old family photos. "You kids are acting like those three stole your boyfriends or something."
"Well dad, Robin is the bully in the school; she has to live up to her reputation."
Nick sauntered into the living room.
"Robin called," he said his voice dripping with boredom. "Said that she has a bunch of water balloons and wants you to help her fill them up."
I glared at him. Why couldn't he ever keep his mouth shut?
"Sorry," Nick said. "She said she wants you to enjoy the moment with her." He shrugged.
My father raised an eyebrow at me.
"I guess I'll have to tell her to wait until summer."
I got up. My back was sore from sitting down all afternoon. I wondered why I could never control Robin. She always could persuade me to do things, even things I promised myself I would never do; I couldn't ever get her to put make-up on, even if it was for a wedding.
"I'm going to run over to Robin's house." I told my dad.
I got my jacket and walked out the front door. Robin's house was around the block. I decided I didn't need the car; I needed the exercise anyway.
I was thinking what I would have to do with water balloons as a weapon. Recently, Robin used things like, firecrackers and paintballs. I hoped that she wasn't planning on getting us into too much trouble; our parents could hold only so much presser from the 'Blondie Barbies' and their parents.
I walked down the block to one of the smallest houses on the street. I marveled how it fitted Robin's parents, younger brother, little sister and one of her older brothers that had just turned eighteen. I always wanted an older sibling.
I searched for a doorbell, before remembering that this house didn't have one. We never met up at her house; always at mine or some other place.
I knocked twice, and waited. I peered into the small window on the door. I knocked again.
This time I heard a squeaky voice answer on the other side of the door:
"I'm coming; I'm coming. It's hard work to walk to the door."
Tyler's tiny footsteps where heard, making their way to the front door.
I could hear him grabbing at the door handle; five year old Tyler was small for his age.
The door swung open and I was greeted by a panting Tyler.
Robin came before either of us could say a word.
"Tyler, how many times do I have to tell you not to open the door? What if it's a kidnapper, come to take you away?"
Tyler frowned at his sister.
"Kidnapper's only steal babies." He pointed out.
But she ignored him.
"Char," she kissed me on the cheek. "Come to my room; Alison's helping."
"Wait until Mommy and Daddy find out what you're doing." Tyler screamed after us.
"Does he know?" I asked a little concerned, once Tyler was out of earshot.
"He was with me when I bought the balloons." She said sheepishly.
Robin's room was a bit different since the last time I last saw it. The posters of her friends and family had been rearranged on her wall and the wallpaper was a light beige. The bed had been moved to face the window. Her sister's bed was placed on the opposite wall.
Alison was sitting on the floor, opening a bag of water balloons.
"Hey Charlotte," she said happily.
"Bar dodged a paintball that I shot at her yesterday when you were casing Katlyn." Robin explained. "Al was standing right behind her and got the full blast of it. And here's the weird part; she's not mad at me, she's-"
"Mad at Barbra for dodging." Alison gave a little laugh. "To the Barbies it'll make sense."
"How many are you planning to make?" I gestured to the balloons.
"As many as it takes." Alison said.
We each picked up a handful of balloons and walked to the bathroom.
Alison was telling us all the latest gossip at school, but I didn't hear a lot of what she said.
"I think the paintballs were the worst thing we did on the Blondie's." Robin mused.
Alison frowned deeply. It was clear that paintballs were the farthest thing from her daily life problems.
"Rob, were you even listening?" she exclaimed
Robin turned to me.
"I think that we shouldn't go to much worse on them." She said.
I blinked and stared hard at her. Was she joking? What happened to my best friend? I knew spending too much time around those three was a bad idea.
A mischievous grin played on her face.
"I think we should go way way worse."
Alison laughed aloud.
"Worse? Worse? What could possibly be worse? You're making them look like a bunch of babies, which, as we all know, they are. But still Rob, I really don't believe you could do any worse to them."
There was a moment's silence, which Robin broke almost immediately.
"You're not planning on becoming blond on us, are you Alison?"
"No no, of course not. I just thought that maybe you could do something less destructive. Like let's say, taking away their make-up."
"Actually Al that's pretty destructive. No one needs and probably doesn't want to see them without make-up." I said.
"Oh c'mon; how bad could they look?"
Robin gazed at the ceiling and I knew that she was thinking the same thing I was.
"I wonder if they take off their make-up when they go to sleep." Alison mused.
Robin looked very bored.
"With all these water balloons, I think you'll have a chance."
I laughed and picked one of the water balloons that we had just filled.
"When are you planning to do this?" I asked.
"Today," Robin said, obviously glad for the change of subject. "After dinner."
Alison left the room, saying she needed to check on Tyler.
"Would your parents mind if I ate here?" I asked.
"Ask Al." Robin replied simply. "She likes cooking so mom gave her the heads up to cook tonight; I personally think she let her because she won't be here. Don't get me wrong, Al's an excellent cook." She said quickly. "It's just that she often forgets that she has something on the stove."
Two hours later, Robin and I were waiting outside her house for Alison to join us.
"Are your parents mad about what we do to the Blondie Barbies?" I asked.
"Well, most of the time they're not here so we only got about two calls." Robin replied. "Alison usually answers the phone. Whenever she asks who it is she says-"
"Sorry, wrong number. Hope to never hear from you again." Alison said in a high pitched voice, making her way down the steps.
"You really are taking after your sister."
Alison grew suddenly solemn.
"I'm not that sure that's a good thing." She said after a short pause.
Robin glared at her.
"What have I ever done to make you think that?" Rob asked, putting on her puppy face.
"Never mind, never mind." Alison said with wave of her hand.
Rob and I looked at each other, and then shrugged; Alison had a weird way of explaining things.
"So let's show those girls whose boss." Robin towed the bag of water balloons gently into the car.
Alison jumped out of the back seat almost immediately after we parked the car in the small parking space near the kindergarten park.
"You two are so mean. You always stuff me into the back seat and if this car had four doors, I'd jump out and plague you until you'd let me sit in the front."
"Whatever Al." Robin rolled her eyes.
We hid behind a small hedge that was growing behind a pair of swings and waited.
We didn't need to wait long however, when three slim figures walked up the street, flashlights in their hand.
"What are they doing?" Robin whispered.
"Let's wait for them here girls." Came Michelle's soft voice on meters away. "They should be coming really soon."
"Something only a blond would do." I whispered back.
I was actually quite clueless to what three girls would be doing with flashlights when the streetlamps were on since about half an hour ago.
"Let's do it now." Alison said anxiously.
"No wait. I wanna make sure no one's with them." Robin replied.
The girls waited patiently behind the long slide. After five minutes, Barbra jumped from her hiding spot.
"Ugh, they're never going to come and it's like 100 degrees out here. I really think you heard wrong Michi; they're probably still having dinner, lets just go home."
Right then my watch caught the light from the streetlamp and Michi jumped.
"Did you see that." She asked the others. "Over there in the bushes."
I felt Robin leave my side.
Michelle was now searching the playground for her friends. I could see her put a thin finger to her lips as she gestured to Katlyn and Barbra to follow her.
Robin's outline could be seen behind the three girls as they drew closer to me. She raised a water balloon above her head. Rob's balloon fell from her hands just as Michelle shone her flashlight on the hedge. Alison jumped up and with amazing speed, started throwing the balloons from her bag. I grabbed mine and ran as close as I could.
Screams echoed everywhere as the water balloons flew at the Blondie Barbies.
"RUN!!!!" Michelle screamed when she realized that their plan had obviously backfired.
"GET OUT OF MY WAY MICHELLE!" Barbra yelled when she tried to make a run for it but instead fell on top of Michelle.
"THEY'RE EVERWHERE!" Katlyn screeched as she unsuccessfully tried to dodge the balloons flying at her from all directions.
"Get their faces." Robin shrieked with delight.
Alison climbed up a miniature tree and started aiming at the girls with a material sling that she made.
"Why didn't we take a car?" Katlyn shouted above her sister's and Barbra's howls.
"Doesn't matter anymore, does it? It's entirely your fault Michi," Barbra said, turning on Michelle. "You thought they wouldn't hear us if we came without one."
"Really?" Robin said. "Well then one of you does have a brain. Congrats 'Michi'."
We scurried after them, pelting them with water balloons. I stopped Alison and Robin about two streets from the Harrling's house.
"Let's go," I said, clutching a stitch at my side. "Tomorrow we'll see what to do with the rest."
Robin disagreed and seized a balloon and threw it at Alison.
Alison squealed as the cold water hit her from the side.
Robin grabbed the rest of what was left of the water balloons and ran away, throwing them at us.
Why were some people rude enough to wake other people from a nice well-deserved sleep? Saturday mornings were not a good time to get me up, particularly early in the morning.
I waited, sure that if no one picked it up, it would eventually stop. But, like always, when you want something to stop, it doesn't. I groggily slipped out of my warm comfy bed to where that annoying phone was ringing.
Inside I was cursing whoever would be stupid enough to wake anyone up at six-thirty in the morning.
I looked at the phone with displeasure. It took me a minute before I decided to pick it up, thinking of all the people it could be.
Just as I picked the phone off the hook, it came to me. But I was too polite to hang up on someone, even if I disliked that person.
"Helloo?" I spoke into the receiver.
"Who is this?" a gruff voice said on the other side of the phone.
I resisted the urge to ask Mr. Harrling to guess.
"Charlotte Decoda." I replied.
"You are the last person that I want to talk to." He said.
"My parents are still sleeping Mr. Harrling, and I doubt that they will be awake for at least a few hours."
Hopefully they won't be for the whole day. I thought to myself.
Mr. Harrling started jabbering to me about all the 'bad' things I did to his sweet daughters and their best friend. That man was really hard to shut up.
Just then, Nick walked out of his room. His hair was all messed up and his T-shirt was hanging off his shoulder. His eyes were only partly open as he snatched the phone from my hand and put the phone on the stand without taking a second glance at it.
Nick pointed at his door.
I hadn't realized that the phone was stationed right outside his room.
"Sorry." I whispered.
He nodded sleepily and went back to his room.
I stood by the phone, uncertain if it would ring again. I finally gave up and went back to bed.
I couldn't believe it. Nick had the nerve to go bouncing up and down on my bed, shouting my name.
"What?" I practically yelled.
"You're in loads of trouble." He sang.
"What; why?" I asked, rubbing my eyes and pulling myself into a sitting position.
"Oh, I won't tell you." Nick replied. "I'll let you find out by yourself."
"Nick, you already woke me up; can't you just tell me?"
That boy knew how to annoy the hell out of people.
"Oh no," he said "I just came to tell you that you are as good as a dead rat."
"You're as useful as a dead rat." I mumbled under my breath as Nick skipped out of the room.
I heaved myself out bed and picked out a light-blue long-sleeve shirt and a pair of sweats. My dad wasn't going to yell at me much, probably just going to say that I wouldn't get my allowances for a week or so. I brushed through my knotty hair.
Besides, I told myself, what's the worst thing that could happen? My dad wasn't one to get mad at people very easily and I knew how all this with the Harrlings was a bit annoying for him. I ran down the stairs after Nick, who was grinning like a maniac and was waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs.
"So why am I in 'so' much trouble?" I asked him, not really caring what his answer would be.
"Mr. Harrling called." He replied simply.
Again. He must be really mad. I wonder what he told my parents; probably exaggerated everything. Katlyn might not be such a bad person for an enemy, but her dad was a bit of a handful.
I headed towards the kitchen, where I found my mom in a bathrobe cooking over the stove and my dad at the table in his usual house clothes.
"Harrling called," my dad said as soon as I sat down next to him and grabbed a piece of toast. "Said that his girls where ambushed last night by water balloons and three girls in black. You don't know anything about that, do you?"
"Huh?" I said, trying to look like I didn't have a clue about what he was talking about.
"Oh c'mon sweetie. I thought you stopped picking on those three. Seriously, I bet the girls aren't-"He stopped when I glared at him.
"You were going to say 'aren't so bad', weren't you?"
"Hun, I just don't think they've done something bad to you, that's all."
"But picking on people is fun." Nick blurted.
"Says the boy who never gets off his computer and has no friends."
I rolled my eyes.
Nick just glowered at me.
"I'm expecting a call from Jill as well."
Jill was Rob's mom; nice, simple, and the coolest mother around. If Jill was coming over, that meant all of our parents where, or at least one of each. Mr. Harrling, Mr. and Mrs. Milton, the Cason's.
The whole house will be packed.
"They're not coming here are they?" I asked innocently, knowing what the answer was.
"Of course they are." This time it was my mom who spoke. "Darling, this thing can't go on. I don't really mind what you do, but the other parents do."
I let out a groan.
"You don't have to be here." she went on.
"Of course she does; she needs to hear it from all sides."
"Ross, its Saturday. Besides, there's a sale in town; and I want Charlotte to get me a pair of boots." She winked at me.
My father agreed, but only reluctantly.
My mom put the frying pan on the table and sat down with us.
"What time are they coming dad?" Nick inquired.
"At three o'clock." Dad replied. "If you are going to town, make sure you get out of the house before they come, Charlotte."
I washed all the dishes and went to the living room, where the phone was moved.
I guessed Nick told my parents. He would do anything to sleep longer, besides give up his computer.
I dialed Robin's cell and waited. She picked up after three rings.
"Hey Rob; it's Char. The Barbies' and our parents are going to meet up at my house for a meeting about our behavior."
"You wanna come over?" she asked.
"Sure." I didn't mention about going into town; Robin hated shopping. "Be there in half an hour."
"See ya." She hung up before I could say anything else.
I looked up to see Nick leaning on the couch, obviously trying to hear what kind of conversation I was having.
"Nosy git." I muttered.
"Hey, that's what little brother's are for."
I looked at him curiously. What happened to the little computer nerd that lived upstairs? And who was this new annoying creep that claimed to be my brother?
"What's with you?"
"Me?" he asked stupidly. "Oh, my sister's just in a lot of trouble, that's all."
"Who have you been hanging out with?" I raised my eyebrows suspiciously.
"Me?" he asked again.
"No the idiot who is pretending to be my brother; yes, you!"
"I'm sorry." Nick said quietly.
"I meant, why aren't you upstairs?" I asked softly.
"'Cause a Decoda's striking a bit of trouble so I wanna stick around for the fun." He grinned.
I stuck out my tongue.
The phone rang and Nick immediately picked it up.
"Hello? Ben! Um, yeah. 'Course."
He put the phone down.
"So much for a normal conversation." I said.
Nick ignored me.
"Guess you'll just have to get into trouble some other time, sis."
He hugged me.
Nick Brandon Decoda hugged me.
"You stick with Ben for a bit, okay? And don't come back until he sets you right."
"Bye." He bounced to the kitchen. When I heard the front door slam, I finally got up from the couch.
I shook the incident off and decided to muse about it later.
Robin answered the door almost instantly, as if she had been waiting at the door for me.
"Interesting, eh? To think I hadn't gotten into trouble all these years."
"Um, Rob? You're forgetting the time Mr. Harrling chased you up a pine tree when you were fifteen."
Rob laughed at the memory.
"Good 'old fat man never could outrun me." She said with a proud smile.
We chatted about what we thought our parents would do to us for a while.
"Where's Alison?" I asked when Robin left the room, and returned with a soda.
"Out with Tyler and Gina. They went to town; there's a sale on today. How can people be so into shopping?" she exclaimed.
"Er, Rob?" I said timidly.
Rob raised her eyebrows. I always used that voice when I wanted something from her. But today, it didn't seem like I had to ask.
"No. No no no! No way. We-"she gestured to herself and me. "Are not going anywhere."
"We can..." she looked around the room for an excuse. "We can watch a movie. A comedy." She flipped through her Movies folder.
She stopped when I didn't say anything.
"Why do you wanna go down there anyway?" she asked.
"We'd only be there for ten minutes tops." I said quickly. I knew that Robin was letting her guard down and I had to use it for my advantage.
"Ok." She groaned. "Let's go."
I tried to look disgusted.
"Wear that sweater I got for you."
She groaned again and ran upstairs.
She came back wear a pair of jeans and the sweater.
"Much better." I smiled.
We locked the door and stepped outside into the chilly autumn air.