Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Let’s all take a mushy-moment so I can be thankful for you all. You’re amazing. Thank you so much for reading my stories. ❤
On to the story and the reason you’re here in the first place.
Last week, a bomb dropped and Fnu showed up, ending up to be Charley’s friend.
Let’s all see the fallout of that.
Catch up below:
And part 11!
It wasn’t an easy thing to be mad at someone like Fnu Lnu.
But let me tell you, I was pretty darn ticked at Fnu right then.
His usual hug greeting and all the freaking out that it was so good to see me again and wow this was so stellar that we were both here . . . I barely registered any of it. I could only stare at him, my mouth open.
The one who’d been taking Charley away from home all this time. Who’d been going behind her parents’ backs for who knows how long. The reason for the whole circus we’d just been through.
I mean . . . it was Fnu.
So it wasn’t as bad as I thought it could be.
But still . . . randomly running off with a little girl in the middle of the night? And while Fnu was . . . good, in his own way?. . . he was definitely still sketchy company.
Fnu’s stream of excited chatter slowed and came to a stop. He let out a big, happy sigh, clapping his hands on my shoulders and grinning at me. “So, dude, how’ve you been?”
Footsteps crunched on the leaves and Charley came back into the circle just then, her arms full of twigs. She stopped and blinked at me, her eyes widening.
I took a breath and bit on my lip for a second before meeting Fnu’s gaze again to reply. “How have I been?” My voice was low. “Well, for one . . .” I pushed one of his hands off, “I’ve been busy having a heart attack over where my niece has been running away to all this time. And planning how to kill whatever homeless creepshe’s been running off with!” My words gradually got louder as I talked, finally ending at a volume that made Fnu flinch back with his hands up.
His grin of pure joy from a minute ago had faded into a slightly nervous smile.
I narrowed my eyes at him.
Charley looked between the two of us, blinking again.
Fnu gave a one-shouldered shrug and a bit of a laugh, absently tucking his hair back behind his ears. “Well . . . y’know . . . good thing it’s just me, right?”
“Well, I don’t know, Fnu. Is it?”
I grabbed my flashlight and knife from the ground and marched back down the path away from the campsite. I turned to walk backwards for a few steps and pointed between both of them.
“Both of you. Back to the car with me. Now.”
Fnu raised one hand. “Um . . . I gotta . . . clean up camp really quick. Put out the fire and get my hammock and all.”
I stopped for a second. “Quickly. Follow me right after.”
Charley and Fnu exchanged a glance.
I gave them both a meaningful look and then turned and kept storming back to the car, probably leaving them both behind by a good stretch.
It was fine. They could probably follow the trail of the steam coming out both my ears, right?
For once, my orders were followed.
The car alarm went off the second Fnu came into view. And it took a while to figure out how to make it stop.
So that majorly failed in improving my mood before the drive home.
And it was a very quiet drive after that.
Even Rudy kept his mouth shut. Penrod, Tiny and Charley all sat quietly in the back with Fnu crammed in between all of them, his long limbs accordioned up to fit into the small space.
I think the quiet was part from fear of cranky Uncle Micah, and part from pure . . . confusion beyond words for a few of the kids.
I’d gone off saying I was going to kill a guy and then come back and tell them he’s coming home with us?
I just stared blankly out the windshield as we came to a stop sign.
What the . . . flip am I even doing?
Well he’s my friend. Just bringing him back to chew him out on my own turf, I guess? And get all these kids to freaking bed.It’s way past midnight now.
There were sounds of Fnu shifting around in the backseat, turning towards Charley. “Well I mean we did see that one UFO, right?” he kept his voice quiet like he thought I couldn’t hear.
I glanced in the rearview mirror to see Charley give a single nod in response, then yawn.
Rudy poked at my arm. “Uncle Micah?” he whispered.
I looked down at him before looking back at the road and hitting the gas again. “Yeah?”
“Why is Quinn with us?”
I opened my mouth and closed it again. “He . . . is coming back to the house for a bit.”
“But you said Quinn . . .” Rudy trailed off, squinted, adjusted his glasses a little, then shrugged. “Okay.”
All those years he went off that weird story that he didn’t have a real name. That he wouldn’t tell me his actual name no matter how much I bugged him about it and how I never had anything but “Fnu Lnu” to call him.
I looked in the rearview mirror again to see Fnu. He was busy jiggling his legs in place with an obedient expression on, looking quite a lot like the other kids in the back, only a lot bigger. Tiny was asleep on his arm, used to his presence already.
I cleared my throat. “Fnu?”
He looked up to meet my eyes in the mirror, raising his eyebrows. “Yeah?”
“Is it . . . actually Quinn?”
My friend froze, looking caught for a few seconds. A hesitant, guilty smile came across his face and he gave a slow shrug. “It’s . . . uh . . . yeah. Yeah, it is, actually.”
“Your birth name?”
“And you told . . . a few random kids you barely even know, but you never told anyone in highschool?” I asked incredulously.
“Dude, kids are way cool with stuff like that, I’ve told you,” Fnu/Quinn countered. “And besides, I knew Charley way back since last year. I came by here before and we hung out a lot then, so I mean I know her. She’s definitely cool.” He gave Charley a proud look.
Charley smirked back.
Our driveway was coming up on the left and I just about missed it, lost in trying to process the change in name.
Fnu. Was actually . . . Quinn.
That’s what all the kids knew him by, and all this time . . .
I shook my head and pulled us into the dark driveway.
“Wait, what did you call Mr. Quinn?” Penrod asked, poking forward as I put my car into park.
I pulled out my keys, leaning back in the seat. “Fnu. Fnu Lnu.”
Rudy sputtered out a laugh. “Fnu? What does that mean?”
“First name unknown,” Fnu supplied helpfully, scooping Tiny the rest of the way into his lap. “Micah always calls me Fnu.”
Charley snickered as she opened the car door and got out.
Rudy looked back eagerly. “Can Icall you Fnu?”
“You sure can, little dude.” Fnu/Quinn caught my eye in the rearview mirror again. “You too, man. It’d be weird if you just started calling me Quinn all of a sudden.” He lowered his voice. “Plus, you have your phone. So . . . y’know.” He narrowed his eyes and gave a sideways nod, mouthing “ears everywhere.”
“Well.” I opened my own door. “Nice to know.”
And if I planned on chewing him out, I needed to know the right name to do it with anyway.
Everyone got out and trooped back inside, Fnu carrying Tiny in his arms. I got the kids up to bed . . . again . . . and then came back down to face my wayward friend.
A few lights were on downstairs that hadn’t been on before and I heard the microwave running. Which meant he’d probably found my pizza rolls.
I huffed out my breath and ran a hand over my hair, walking into the next room.
Fnu stood in the living room, shifting his weight from one foot to another and clasping his hands behind his back while he looked over a cutesy little painting on the wall.
I came up behind him and cleared my throat.
“Hmm?” he turned.
I raised my eyebrows. “Fnu, we gotta talk about . . .”
The microwave dinged and he held up a hand, brushing past me. “Be right back, hold on just a sec.”
Right. Pizza rolls were urgent. Couldn’t stand in the way of that.
I blew out a slow breath through my nose and stood there, waiting in the exact same position until he came back. With pizza roll in hand and mouth full, of course.
Fnu swallowed and licked his fingers a little. “So what was that you were saying?”
“I was saying,” I began again slowly. “That I need an explanation. For all . . .” I pressed my lips together and made a few harsh gestures before crossing my arms across my chest. “All this junk.”
Fnu blinked and frowned around his next bite.
“What were you doing with Charley? Why didn’t you tell me you were in town or . . . knewmy nieces and nephews . . . or . . . any of that?”
“Mm,” he gave a more understanding nod and held up a finger while he swallowed. “That stuff. Okay. Weeelll . . .” Fnu stretched a little. “See, I actually bumped into Charley back last year when she was walking back from school. She missed the bus or something and we walked together. And since I was around and she was a pretty stellar kid, we hung out more after that, when school got out. I told her about all the good cryptids in the area and all the stuff I was looking for. And told her about the big wide world and how she should go barefoot more often.” He chuckled, wiggling his own bare toes a little. “She liked that. Never wore shoes for the rest of the summer. Her mom made her this time.” A wistful sigh.
I held up a hand. “Wait, wait. She . . . does she talk to you?”
Fnu looked taken aback. “No. Does she talk to you?”
“No, I just . . .” I squinted. “How did you know her mom . . .?”
“Dude, there are other ways than just ‘words’ to communicate things. Plus . . .” he rolled his eyes. “The government isn’t the only one who can spy on people sometimes.”
My turn to look taken aback. “Fnu, you didn’t . . .”
“Oh relax, it was like oncewhen I was waiting for Charley to show up. Anyway. Last summer. I had . . . y’know . . . kind of a busy schedule with some other stuff.” Fnu gestured vaguely and shrugged. “So we made it Tuesdays. Tuesday nights we’d get together and look for UFOs. Or roast marshmallows or just hang out. Late at night because that’s when you can see the UFOs best.”
And now the pieces were clicking together.
“End of the summer I got some crazy good Bigfoot reports coming from up in the northwest so I had to take off and we were both bummed. But I promised I’d come back next summer because this was a pretty decent extraterrestrial hotspot. And . . .” he spread his arms. “Tada, here I am!” He grinned, dropping his arms again and taking another bite of pizza roll before speaking. “And I’m telling you man, it’s an even better hotspot than last year. We’ve seen so many UFOs it’s crazy.”
“Okay, so . . .” I trailed off for a second, sorting through everything he just said. “You didn’t tell me you were in town . . . why?”
Fnu laughed. “That’s what’s so crazy, dude! I had no idea! You know how we gotta keep locations on the downlow and all when we’re texting. And I told you not to say where you were? I mean . . . neither of us had a clue! And here we are. Almost like . . .” his expression changed to show a mix of awe and fear. “Dude. We’re right in the UFO hotspot. What if . . .?”
I waved a hand. “The last name though. How did you not know that . . .?” That last question was answered in my head before I even finished voicing it.
Charley was the one he was hanging out with.
It wasn’t like she could exactly tellhim.
Right. Great. Okay, so what were we doing from here?
Kids are off school. I now have a friend in town. And who knows how many days left to watch the kids and occupy them with non-school stuff . . .
I bit my lip, thinking for a little bit, then looked up.
Fnu was staring over my shoulder, still wrapped up in thought about alien conspiracies. A state he probably lived about half his life in.
Well. It had already been proven that he loved the kids and the kids loved him. And extra hands for a few days . . .
Besides, he wouldn’t be mad about having an actual house to crash in for once, right?
I snapped my fingers. “Hey. Fnu.”
Fnu looked back down at me like he’d had some huge revelation. “Dude . . .”
I smiled. “Wanna have a whole crew of little alien hunters?”
There was a second of stunned silence, then a smile broke across Fnu’s face.
Take it easy, guys. -salute-
I for one know what I’m doing tonight….
Have a great thanksgiving, everyone. ❤