NOT ANOTHER WORD
I hate mimes. They're so annoying. Especially the one who's always doing his act in front of city hall. I see him on the way home from school every day. He's usually on the sidewalk at the bottom of the steps, performing stupid mime stuff like pretending to sit in an invisible chair or pulling a rope. Sometimes, he's standing on the wide entrance area at the top of the steps, making fun of the way people walk.
"That guy is such a jerk," I told me friend Brayden as we turned the corner by city hall on a Monday afternoon. I'd never managed to catch the mime doing it, but I was sure he was always mocking me after I'd walked past him.
"I think mimes are kind of cool," Brayden said. "They're what clowns would be like if clowns weren't creepy. It takes a lot of skill to do that stuff."
"You've got to be kidding." I glared at the mime in his stupid long-sleeved striped shirt, with his white gloves and painted face. "Anybody could do that stuff. Most people just don't want to humiliate themselves."
"You couldn't do it," Brayden said.
"Sure I could. Watch me." I walked toward the mime. As soon as he spotted me, he moonwalked past me, waving. Okay, I didn't know how to moon walk, but I waited to see what he would do next.
He leaned over like he was resting his arm on a post or something. I did the same thing.
Then he stood up, bent forward, and acted like he was walking into a strong wind.
So did I.
I kept it up for a while. Whatever he did -- I did the same thing. People started to watch us and laugh at him. Nobody tossed any money in his hat.
"Come on," Brayden said. "I'm tired of watching you make a fool out of yourself. Let's get out of here."
I bent toward him and whispered, "No way. I think I can get rid of him if I keep this up. I'll be doing everyone a favor."
"You're on your own," he said. "I'm going home."
"Fine. But you'll thank me tomorrow." I realized that was my mission now. I was going to get rid of the mime. For good. Whatever he did, I'd do the same thing. After a while, I even managed to do a half-decent moon walk. I was definitely giving him lots of reasons to leave. But I guess he was too stubborn to admit he'd lost.
Then I realized I had another weapon. Just because the mime couldn't talk, that didn't mean I had to keep silent. Whatever I was doing, I yelled it out in a totally obvious way.
"Hey, look at me! I'm trapped in an invisible box!"
"Whoa! I'm walking against the wind. Isn't that amazing?"
"Oh, no! I have to carry this really heavy box."
Everyone who walked by stopped to laugh. I wasn't surprised. I had the sort of face that adults think is cute. I didn't mind. It got me out of a lot of trouble. It was amazing the things I could get away with just by flashing a smile.
I'm pretty sure the mime didn't think I was cute. I kept waiting for him to get angry, but he didn't react to me at all for a while. Finally, after another half an hour or so of getting mocked and laughed at, his shoulders slumped and he walked away from city hall.
I followed him down the street. Sure enough, when he reached the next block, he put down his hat and started miming again. So I started mocking again. I don't know why he though a new location would make a difference.
He tried moving again, a while later. And I followed him again. Nobody had given him a dime the whole time I was making fun of him. This was great. I promised myself I'd do this for as long as it took to get rid of him forever. I really hated mimes, and couldn't imagine why anyone would chose to spend his days like that.
"You've lost," I told him. "Find some other town. Go annoy some other people."
He didn't say anything to me, of course. But he obviously had no idea when to quit. He kept trying. I was getting tired and hungry. It was already past dinner time. And it was growing dark. I figured he'd give up sooner or later.
Eventually, we reached the old bus station. It had been closed down last year after they built the new one, so there was nobody going past us. Nobody had any reason to be here. Even so, the mime kept doing his mime routine.
The street lights flickered on. I looked around. There wasn't a single person in sight beside the mime and me. A slight tremor of fear rippled through my gut when I realized we were alone. But I was pretty big for my age, and I was a good runner. He wouldn't be able to hurt me. He wasn't a mugger or a gangster. He was a mime, which meant he was probably pretty much a wimp.
"There's nobody watching," I said while he pretended to reel in a big fish. "Give up."
He shrugged. "You win."
The words startled me. I figured he'd never talk.
He pulled a rag from his pocket and started wiping the thick makeup from his face. "You got what you wanted. You'll never see me again." His voice was deep, but soft. Something about it made my nerves tingle.
"Great." I backed away a step. He was too calm. I'd trashed his whole act for hours, and he wasn't angry.
He looked at the rag, which was no covered with the white face paint. "SPF one thousand," he said.
"Total sun protection. It's the only way I can go out during the day -- with paint on my face and my lips firmly sealed, since the inside of my mouth is just as vulnerable as my skin. Oh, let's not forget the special protective lenses." He reached toward his eyes and popped something into his palm. His pupils were dark slits, now. The whites of his eyes were shot through with blood vessels. His face was nearly as pale the makeup he'd removed.
"I know my little hobby is silly, and not very sophisticated, but it is so very much better than spending all day in a coffin, waiting for the sun to set. And so perfect for finding the sort of victim that nobody will miss very much. People who hate mimes are often unpleasant and annoying creatures, themselves. They are obnoxious little weasels who think they are important and superior."
He flashed a smile at me -- but not the closed-lipped stupid mime smile he'd used all day. He opened his mouth for this smile, showing four long, sharp fangs. Vampire fangs.
In an eye blink, before I could even turn away from him and start to run, he closed the distance between us and grabbed my shoulders in a crushing grip. He bent his head toward my neck. I could smell damp earth on his clothes and stale blood on his breath.
I opened my mouth to scream, but terror closed my throat and no sound came out.David Lubar created a sensation with his debut novel, Hidden Talents, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Thousands of kids and educators across the country have voted Hidden Talents onto over twenty state lists. David is also the author of True Talents, the sequel to Hidden Talents; Flip, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and a VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror selection; five short story collections, including In the Land of the Lawn Weenies, Invasion of the Road Weenies, The Curse of the Campfire Weenies, and The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies; and the Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie series. Lubar grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, and he has also lived in New Brunswick, Edison, and Piscataway, NJ, and Sacramento, CA. Besides writing, he has also worked as a video game programmer and designer. He now lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.