Masterblaster! The Rise of Melvin

(A middle grade reader of super-hero proportions. Join Melvin as he finds out that Skittles lead him into a world he had only previously imagined in his Walter Mitty like dreams. Fun and mystery ensue in a Cajun-voodoo laced  coming of age story that teaches lessons for both young and old.)

Chapter One

Red Sunday

I hate my name. It’s Melvin, rhymes with Smelvin. Momma named me after my great grandpa who prob’ly thought it was a dumb name too. Maybe during the Revolutionary War or whenever he was born there were a lot of guys named Melvin. That’s the thing about history – it’s doesn’t make sense. Like why would Indians walk around in leather flaps with their butts hanging out or Roman guys wear bed sheets and lady jewelry? Either way they looked kind of dorky. Then again I bet they weren’t named Melvin.

I live with my mom and granny and my dog, Teddy. We stay in granny’s house which is about a hundred years old. It’s got secret places to hide in but I can’t because I’m allergic to dust and my face puffs up like a blowfish. Smelvin the twelve year old fat-faced blowfish with a buzzcut, that’s me.

Did I mention the rest of me is kinda fat too? Not just a little chubby but a lot of blubby. And its way more than baby fat like momma and granny say (like baby fat is a good thing?). It’s one-hundred percent rib-stickin’ peanut butter hanging off me like a mountain of melting ice cream. And I don’t even eat candy ‘cause momma says it will rot my teeth and turn them into little white balls of goo. But candy or not I’m still shaped like a Halloween punkin’ ready to get the orange mush carved out of me. The only good thing is I’m strong enough to play center on the sixth grade football team. “Melvin, just hike the ball and smash the guy in front of you,” Coach Banning tells me. So that’s what I do. I blast everyone out of the way so the fast guys score touchdowns and make the cheerleaders go crazy.

But someday…

Someday things get different. I line up behind the quarterback and wait for the hand-off. I dig my spikes in the dirt like those bulls running through the streets in China or wherever. Hot air snorts out of my nose like a chimney full of smoke. The crowd goes crazy ‘cause they know what’s comin’ – Melvin the Freight Train. “Choo-choo! Choo-choo!” they yell. The defense knows what’s gonna happen and they prob’ly wet themselves a little. “Hut, hut, hike!” hollers the quarterback. Then he slams the ball in my gut and my legs of steel ram ahead. I bowl into those guys like a snowplow in the winter. They fly left and right until only one guy is left. He tries to tackle me but he doesn’t have a chance. “Choo-choo!” the crowd screams louder when he climbs on my back. Then my elephant-strong legs carry the poor sap into the end zone for the winning score. “Melvin, Melvin, Melvin!” the crowd chants and they stomp their feet —

“Melvin!” called my mom from downstairs. “Come down for Sunday dinner before it gets cold.”

I hardly heard her until my brain came back into my head and I’m just Melvin again. I never told anyone I daydream a lot because they might say I’m nutsy-coo-coo and send me to old Doctor Jones (the guy has grey hair growing out of his ears! Gross!). Anyways, I filled my gut at dinner and then went outside and sat on the front porch with Teddy. We like to sit on the first step and watch the cars go by. And maybe see my next-door neighbor, Ana. She’s a girl in my class, but not a girly-girl at all. She likes to talk and I like to listen to her voice. It reminds me of raindrops on the window at night. Like a tap, tap, tap that comes in soft and nice. Tonight I’m lucky when she stuck her head out the door looking to see if I was there. Lucky for me I was.

“Melvin,” she said as the screen door slammed behind her. “What’s up muchacho?”

That means “boy” by the way. Ana is Mexican, like a lot of people in my neighborhood. Sometimes she uses Spanish words and most times I understand her (at least sort of). I think she does it just for fun. I’m a little Mexican from my dad but only like a squirt full. He died when I was a baby. He was in a construction accident and I don’t remember him at all. I wish I could but I can’t. Momma tells me stories about him and they make me feel good. She says he was big and strong like a super-hero with muscles bulging out all over the place. And I believe her.

“Hi senorita,” I say back to her. I hardly know any Spanish but I do my best to keep up. “What’s happening?”

She makes her way over to my porch and plops down next to me. Then she rubs Teddy on his neck. He groans because he likes her too. Maybe it’s because she smells good. Like bread from the oven. She has hair like the night sky and eyes even darker. Best of all she has a smile that never goes away.

“Not much, Melvin. Just, you know,” she said with a shrug.

Ana has been my neighbor for a long time. Her momma looks a lot like Ana except her hair has ribbons of silver like streaks of paint. Ana’s didn’t have a dad at home either but she never wanted to talk about it so I didn’t ask. And right now that didn’t matter because I just wanted to be her cool friend and make her happy. I wasn’t cool but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try to be (actually I was so uncool I was almost hot. But not really that either).

But someday…

Someday things get different. I have on a new suit that shines like blackbird feathers in the sun. Principal Wayne’s eyes bug out when he sees me in school. Then he bows kneels down in front of me. “Melvin, what can I do for you today? Extra chocolate milk at lunch or maybe a longer recess?” I shake my head at the silly principal. “Candy,” I say. “I’d like some candy, my good man.” And I pat him on the head just to let him know he’s okay. The teachers nod their heads at how cool I am. “Melvin, you’re Mr. Freeze,” they say. Then I smile at them one by one. “Thank you, Mr. Clark. Thank you, Mrs.Kent. But you must all get back to work to help out the kids that are not so smart as me,” I tell them. They clap for me as they go back to their rooms. “Thank you, Melvin,” they say. “That Melvin, he’s so—”

“Melvin?” asked Ana. “Melvin?”

I think I shook my head but I’m not sure.

“Yes, Ana,” I said. I took a deep breath. “I was thinking.”

“About what?” she asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I answered. This wasn’t exactly true (I didn’t tell her what I was thinking about or she’d say I was Fruit Loops). “Just looking at the cars go by.”

“And the personas too.” she said and looked at people walking on the sidewalk. Then she dug into her pocket and pulled something out. “Skittles? I have a new supply. But I only have a few left right now.” She bounced them in her hand. “Pick a color.”

I licked my lips. Candy! Right there in front of me. And I didn’t care if my teeth turned to smashed potatoes right there on the spot. Anyways, momma wouldn’t mind if I only had one (at least prob’ly not). Ana had red, green and purple in her palm. I picked one.

“Red,” I said. “My favorite color.”

Rojo ones taste good,” she agreed. “But I like them all.”

She handed it to me and I put it in my mouth. It was like sunshine on my tongue and made my face squish together.

“Umm,” I said.

“Umm-huh,” Ana said as she shook her head. Then she looked at me like I was a bug or something. “You look funny,” she finally said.

I ignored her and chewed. When I swallowed my throat smiled deep inside. But my lips got tight when two kids walked towards us.

“Mugsy and Luther,” I warned her. They were in the gang of bad boys in school. Both of them had muscles coiled up like long and twisted snakes and pounded on you just because they could. Teddy growled and I patted him on the neck. “Its okay, Teddy,” I said and he quieted.

Bandidos,” Ana warned.

That one I knew. “Yes, like bandits. Boy ones.”

Maybe they heard me because they showed their yellow teeth. Luther’s hair always went three different ways like a hurricane was blowing. And Mugsy had a teeny mustache that looked like a fuzzy black caterpillar.

“Smelvin,” Mugsy said when he stopped right in front of us. He was the tallest boy in class and made a big shadow. Luther just laughed. They didn’t say a word to Ana like she wasn’t even there. Maybe they wanted to show off to her or prob’ly they were just chicken to talk to girls. I didn’t like what Mugsy called me but I stayed quiet.

But someday…

Someday things get different. At school I stand up when he calls me Smelvin. I stare in his beady little eyes and he knows he shouldn’t mess with me. I walk toward him and puff out my chest like a rooster and he steps back. The other kids watch and cheer me on. “You go, Melvin the Muscle Man!” they say. “Give Mugsy a present. Maybe a big, fat lump on his head!” But Mugsy won’t give in just yet. “You want something, Smelvin?” he asks. “You want a piece of me?” I nod and turn my eyes into hot lasers that burn that little mustache right off his face. It smokes like a campfire and sends Indian signals into the sky. He won’t dare ever call me Smelvin again. “Melvin,” he’ll say. “Melvin, I’m sorry. Melvin—”

“Melvin, what is that?” Ana asks. She looks at Mugsy’s face.

My laser eyes stopped staring at him when his hands went to his lips. He looked as if he was getting stung by a pile of bees. Then a big ‘ol smoke cloud covered his caterpillar mustache and filled the air in front of us. His eyes bugged out when he looked straight at me like it was my fault. Then he took off like a scared rabbit with Luther close behind.

I stood frozen in place until Teddy sniffed me like I was a creature from Mars.

“What just happened?” Ana asked.

But my red-colored tongue stayed stuck in my mouth and I couldn’t say a word.

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