The Body-Glitter-Loving Apple Fell Like Three Fields Away From the Evil Tree

Submitted into Contest #57 in response to: Write a story about someone breaking a long family tradition.... view prompt

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Funny

Sitting with his legs politely crossed over each other at a three star restaurant two blocks from their apartment, Alex asked Maxwell, “Do you know why I invited you to lunch?”

“Because you’re in love with me and you’re going to confess.”

“No.”

“Because I’m broke?”

“Well yes, but actually no. I have news and I think it would be best to break it in a public place.”

“I knew it.” Maxwell took a bit of bread and continued with a mouthful of food. “You’re breaking up with me.”

“We never dated? We’re roommates.” Confusion spun in Alex’s eyes.

Laughing too hard, Maxwell almost choked on his bread. “I know. You’re just so easy to confuse. So what’s the news?” His eyes lit up. “Are you moving out so I can have more room for evil inventions but still paying rent?” He asked eagerly.

“That’s not the news.”

“Oh. Can it become the news?”

“No.” As he fidgeted with his water glass, Alex confessed, “My parents are coming to visit me tonight…”

Maxwell raised an eyebrow. “And?”

“And I could really use some support. I’ve been lying to them for a long time about who I am, but tonight’s the chance to come clean. I would really like it if you could be there to support me.”

With a snort, Maxwell said, “If you wanted emotional support, you should have asked Mack or Leela. You know I’m an affectionate person like you or them.”

“Mack said they’re busy. Maxwell, please. Can’t you be an evil genius hellbent on taking over the world some other night?”

Maxwell dramatically stood. “Evil waits for no man.”

“This is really important to me,” Alex pleaded.

As he sat back down, Maxwell caved. “Alright. I’ll be your emotional support and sit through an awkward dinner with them. What’s the deal with your parents anyway? It’s 2020, if you can’t be cool about your son being a stripper, then don’t have children.”

“They’re not the understanding type. I’d be ending a long family tradition that dates back to Genghis Khan’s time.”

Maxwell slurped his soup. “God, you say that like they’re total villains or something.”

Alex’s face paled. Leaning over the table, he said in a whisper, “How did you know that?”

“It’s an expression—wait, are your parents actually villains? Alex Khan… Are your parents Boloraa and Altan Khan? The tyrannical rulers that took over the tiny country of Nanion back in ‘09?”

Alex slowly nodded.

“So when you say this ‘family tradition’ dates back to Genghis Khan’s time..”

“Yeah. Genghis Khan was my great, great, great…” Alex started counting off his fingers, “great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather. I come from a long line of blood-thirsty, power-hungry rulers. It’s like they’ve never had a good meal.” He picked up his burger. “How sad.”

Maxwell did a spit take with his soup. “No freaking way. I can’t believe this. A descendant of Genghis Khan. And I’m going to met the Boloraa and Altan Khan. This is a dream come true.”

“Remember, you promised to support me.”

He ignored Alex. “Oh my god, this is every aspiring evil genius that’s trying to take over the world’s dream! I have to show them my inventions—oh, but what’s the best one?”

“Maxwell—”

He snapped his fingers. “My time machine! Oh, but it’s still disguised as a curling iron so Alex wouldn’t mess with it.”

“I’m sitting right here, you don’t need to talk about me like I’m not.”

Again, Maxwell ignored him. “I need to go and make it look like something cool. How long until the Khans get here?”

Alex sighed and rested his chin on his elbow leaning on the table. “They get here at seven.”

He bolted up from the table. “Then I gotta hurry.” And he sprinted away.

“Well,” Alex said to himself and the weird raccoon watching him from the knocked over trash can. “That was fun.” Alex stared down at Maxwell’s abandoned, half-eaten meal. “He didn’t even finish his food.” He turned to the raccoon. “Would you like to have lunch with me? You seem much more well mannered.”

The raccoon hissed at him, then scurried off. Alex turned back to face the food. “Figures.”

***

After taking his lonely time finishing his meal, Alex revealed to their apartment to find Maxwell tearing the place apart. “Whatcha doing?”

“Looking for something to impress your parents.”

Alex sighed. “You seem pretty busy with this, so I’m just gonna try and ask Leela and Mack again to be there and support me. You know like friends do,” he hinted at.

“That won’t work.” Maxwell held up a note from Leela and Mack, their neighbors and friends. “The girls took it when theirs broke. They must have mistaken it from a regular curling iron.” He paused. “This probably isn’t going to end well.”

“Yeah, imagine their shock when—”

For me, Alex. For me. Now I don’t know what I’m going to show them.” Maxwell tossed over a stack of rotting pizzas. “I have a death ray somewhere in here, but I just don’t know if that’ll be enough, you know?”

Alex plopped down in a chair with a frown. “Well, I’m sure you’ll think of something. You always do.”

Maxwell paused. “Thank you, Alex.”

“Anytime,” he grumbled.

***

Much to Alex’s obvious dismay and Maxwell’s surprise dismay, the Khans arrived early. Dinner was still sizzling on the stove and Maxwell was still racking his brain trying to figure out a way to impress them when the door rang. Alex made it three steps before Maxwell leapt over the couch and screamed, “I got it!”

Standing by the door, he smoothed his hair over not once, not twice, but seven times before deciding it was perfect and opening the door. With his best evil grin, Maxwell said, “Terrible evening, Mr. and Mrs. Khan. I’m Maxwell, Alex’s roommate.”

With a sly smirk, Mrs. Khan held out her hand with black poison nail polish that would kill you if she ever cut you with it. She keeps it on at all times in case her husband did something as devious as stage or a coup without her, or even worse, suggest having another child. No, to Mrs. Khan, childbirth shouldn’t be labelled a ‘miracle’. It takes away from her true miracles like her shrink ray that she wired to run on two double A batteries back in college when she was broke.

Mr. Khan is actually a rather bland person for an evil dictator—he doesn’t even salt his eggs. So, we’re gonna skip his introduction (not that there’s much to skip).

Maxwell gleefully shook Mrs. Khan’s hand. “Alex has told us so much about you. Always gushing about how he’s so proud of your achievements.”

For a second, Maxwell blushed, then returned to his straight face. “Really?”

“Yes, he genuinely said he was proud of you ‘learning to wash and fold your own laundry’. Apparently, it was a really big step for you. And just a bunch of other things.”

With a smile, Maxwell asked, “Oh he did?”

Mrs. Khan retracted her hand, then slathered it in some hand sanitizer she kept in her purse. “Yes, but I didn’t say I was proud.”

“Besides,” Mr. Khan stepped in, “being genuine is such a terrible trait to have.”

Alex bit back some choice words before calling out from the kitchen, “Why don’t you come in Mom and Dad. I have some news to share with you.”

“Don't call us Mom and Dad, that’s too informal. It’s King Altan and Queen Boloraa to you.”

Oh boy, he was just biting back a buffet of choice words today, wasn’t he? “Sure. Can do. Dinner’s ready.” Alex strode out to the dining table, shirtless with body glitter, carrying two platters of foods. “So, what I wanted to talk to you about was my job—”

“Yes, about your job. How come you aren't the supreme ruler of this country already?”

“Because I’m—”

“Hey, look at this!” Maxwell pulled out a huge death ray, purposefully hiding the side decorated in Hello Kitty stickers by Alex—they were on sale.

But he would have bought them off sale anyway. He’s a stripper, he’s the kind of money one can splurge on Hello Kitty stickers.

“This baby could pulverise LA in ten seconds.”

Mrs. Khan raised an eyebrow. “That long? Disgraceful.”

“Well—well I also have this big idea for taking over LA. Because you know, why destroy a city when you could rule it.”

“For the fun of destroying it,” Mrs. Khan said.

Alex clapped his hands. “Well, alright then. But there’s something I really need to tell yo—”

“This death ray isn’t even my best evil plan,” Maxwell desperately blurted out.

“Oh, it isn’t?” Mrs. Khan said.

“No, actually, I’ve noticed some holes in the security at Santa Monica Water Treatment, along with a couple of other water supply plants. So, I figure, if I blow up a few of them, it’ll cause mass panic—because you know, California and drought. Then, while they scramble to not die of dehydration, I take over the remaining water treatment plants and use them as leverage to force them to hand the city over.”

For the first time in Alex’s life, he saw his mother smile like she was proud. “Interesting plan, Maxwell.”

“I… umm.. I actually already have all the explosives I need and the security guards’ schedules.”

“Well, then,” Mrs. Khan stood. “What are we waiting for? I would love to see this master plan in action.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Maxwell agreed. “Let’s take over the city right now.”

As the three of them headed for the door, Alex called out, “Guess I’ll just put this turkey that took me three hours to prepare and cook in the fridge so the flavors can dull overnight. It tastes so much better that way.”

Alex stared down at the cooked bird. “Don’t look at me like that.” He covered it back up. “Ugh.”

***

Since his parents were leaving later that night and Alex didn’t want to deal with their assistant to book another meeting three months from now—nor wait three months with this weighing over him—he tagged along as last ditch effort.

After they took out the circuit system and guards—none are dead, just knocked out—Alex’s parents headed upstairs to rig explosives. A sinking feeling took over his stomach as Alex walked past the unconscious guards. If the explosives didn’t kill them, Alex made a mental note to come back tomorrow with homemade cookies and a sincere apology. In the meantime, the roommates headed down to the basement to take out the foundation.

“Hey, Maxwell,” Alex said. “Can you please just stop trying to take my parents’ attention for one minute so I can talk to them. They’re leaving tonight and I don’t know if—”

“Oh shit, they’re leaving tonight? Damn, I really gotta make sure this plan works.”

“Or, you could support me.”

“Psst, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to impress my idols that I’ve looked up to since I was five. Why would I ruin that?”

Alex set down the explosive. “Because that’s what friends do, Maxwell. I’ve supported you through all your crazy schemes and everything else. Every time. It was me who taught you how to cook so you didn’t starve on the nights I was working late. I taught you how to do your laundry. How to shave without cutting yourself. I supported you through every one of your terrible break ups—I was your fake alibi when you keyed Anna’s car. I went to every single one of your improv showcases when you went through your theater phase in college. I’ve supported you and been so proud of your growth for the past five years because I thought we were friends. But if you can’t do this for me, then I guess we never were friends to begin with.”

Alex marched off towards the staircase.

“Alex—wait,” Maxwell called out, following him upstairs.

Above ground, the Khans waited. Masters of explosives, they had set them up in record speed. “Oh, Alex. There you are. You know, why don’t you ever do successful schemes like this?”

Keeping up pace with his epic storm-out, Alex snapped, “Probably because I’m a stripper who doesn’t give two flying fudge pops.

“You mean you’re a stripper as undercover work to kill your club owner, take over his night club, then open many more successful ones. Then, use them as a front for an undercover drug ring or human trafficking, right son?”

“Nope.” Alex grabbed the front door. “I just like dancing, body glitter, and feeling comfortable in my own body. But the good news is: you don’t need me anymore! You can easily disown me and make Maxwell your only son. He can maintain this family tradition. I hope you three live very happily together.” Then he slammed the door shut behind him and never looked back.

Staring at the front door with wide eyes, Maxwell felt an unfamiliar knot twisting in his gut. Oh no, could this be… a tapeworm?

No, it’s guilt. Ew. He had never felt guilty before and he most certainly didn’t like it.

But why did he care some much that Alex was upset. It’s not like he had been wanting a break from him and all his body glitter and Hello Kitty stickers for forever. Hadn’t he?

Maxwell clenched his fists. He definitely didn’t like this feeling.

“Well,” Mrs. Khan said with a hand on her hip. “Glad we don’t have to deal with that sensitive drama queen anymore. You know, when he was a child he insisted on getting barbie dolls for his birthday? I thought he was at least going to rip their heads off or something, but no. He just set up a stable town with its own economy instead. What a strange child. Where did I go wrong?”

“Are you shitting me right now?” Maxwell said. “Alex is one of the most kind people I’ve ever met—that I’ve actually liked! Believe me, most people that volunteer make me want to puke, but Alex doesn’t. He makes me chicken noodle soup when I’m sick and other kind stuff like that. The only place you ever went ‘wrong’ was not supporting and loving him every chance you got.” He took a deep breath when it hit him like a bag of bricks. And from the way he had been acting, he deserved to be hit with an actual bag of bricks. “That’s the place I went wrong too. I gotta go after him.”

“Seriously? What about blowing up the water treatment plant?”

Maxwell held up a remote for the bombs. He pressed the bottom button. “There. Now all the bombs have neutralized themselves. Good luck blowing anything up with those.”

Just before he slammed the door like Alex, he turned around and said, “By the way Nanion is half the size of LA, so I wouldn’t pride yourself so much on taking it over. A three-legged goat could rule that place better than you do.” Slam.

***

Quietly, Maxwell crept back into their apartment. In the kitchen, Alex was stress baking, getting a head start on those guards’ cookies. He wore his Kiss the Chef apron, but tonight, he stuck a post-it note with the words ‘Stay Away From’ over the word ‘Kiss’.

Damn, he really must have been in a bad mood if he didn’t want any platonic forehead kisses.

“Alex, can we talk?”

“No. I’m busy being a disgrace to my family with no friends that support me.”

“Alex, please.”

He glared at Maxwell. “What happened to hanging with your super-cool idols?”

“Hanging out with super-cool people is overrated. I wanna hang out with you.”

Thanks.”

“Okay, I know you get sassy when mad, but right now it’s not helpful for this conversation. I’m trying to apologize, alright?”

“Words mean nothing.”

“How about actions? I neutralized all the bombs and blew off your parents.”

Alex paused. “You did? I thought you wanted to impress them.”

“Not as much as I want to be your friend. I’m s—saw—soo—” Maxwell cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. Can you forgive me?”

“Maybe. If you help me bake these cookies and give to the guards you knocked out and promise to apologize to them with me tomorrow.”

Maxwell cracked a smile. “Deal.”

He hoped over the counter and started preparing the baking sheets. “Did you really mean everything you told them about me? About being proud?”

Taking off the post-it, Alex platonically kissed Maxwell on his forehead. “Sure did, buddy.”

Smiling to himself like a little kid, Maxwell went back to work.

“Hey, what do you think happened to Leela and Mack?”

Before Maxwell could get the red yarn and start spinning conspiracy theories, the girls appeared in a flash of white light back in their living room. A mountain of gift baskets towered over Mack’s head while Leela held a bloody sword and said, “Vampire erotica fanfiction.”

The boys stared at them with their jaws hanging. “Just what the hell did you do with that time traveling curling iron?”


Author's note: I'll be posting a companion story to this about Leela and Mack soon :)

September 04, 2020 00:56

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4 comments

Yolanda Wu
07:09 Sep 04, 2020

The dialogue exchanges between the characters were so well-written, and I was just hooked the entire time, really gave me a good laugh. Amazing work!

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Lily Kingston
13:19 Sep 04, 2020

thank you for the king words :)

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K V CHIDAMBARAM
06:42 Sep 04, 2020

The kind of story you have sketched transported me to the work of fiction of John Barth's - The Floating Opera. A serious subject served humorously. Best Wishes.

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Lily Kingston
13:18 Sep 04, 2020

thank you so much!!

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