Helloooo peoples, it be Thursday again. And therefore, here is Say Uncle.
But before we get started, I have some big news.
You guys are reading a lot more prestigious novel now. Because last night, Say Uncle won 1st place in the OYAN novel contest!!!
So yeah. I’m still freaking out about that. 😀
THE STORY. ENJOY.
Catch up on other parts here.
“Alright kiddos,” Fnu clapped his hands together as he stood in front of the kids in the living room. Like a hippie general in front of his elementary-school-aged troops. He grinned. “How many of you have heard of Bigfoot?”
Charley raised her hand. Rudy absently raised his while still continuing to squint out the window.
Penrod frowned and scratched at the back of his head. Tiny blinked, just looking down at Fnu’s bare feet.
Fnu noticed her look and nodded. “Feet. Like that. Only waaaay way way bigger. And hairier. And they’re on like this ape man thing that roams the woods all over the country.”
“Oh.” Penrod looked impressed.
I sighed and shifted on the couch, stuffing my phone back in my pocket and quitting the text conversation with Henry before he decided to ask anything else he wouldn’t like the answer to.
Rudy didn’t look like he was paying any attention, still just staring out the window intently as a black pickup truck puttered past.
I poked at him. “Hey, listen to Fnu.”
“But I saw the kidnapper out there!” Rudy hissed back, pointing.
Fnu’s eyebrows went up. “Kidnapper?”
“He keepsgoing past our house!” Rudy insisted.
Tiny chimed in. “He does.”
“Dude, and I thought this was a safe neighborhood . . .”
I rolled my eyes. “I saw him at the school. He just lives around here and one of his kids goes to school with you guys. Anyone driving past isn’t casing the joint.”
“But he sometimes stares at us!”
“Maybe you’d do the same thing if a bunch of kids grouped up and stared at you in terror every time you drove past,” I shot back. Shifting my position, I gestured to Fnu. “Anyway. Back to Bigfoot?”
Fnu blinked once, then launched right back into his subject. “Yeah. I mean, we’ve seen Bigfoot a couple times around, haven’t we, Charley?” Fnu gestured towards her and she nodded. A grin broke across his face. “Well guys. A pretty legit sighting came in early this morning. And since your Uncle Micah said I can help keep you guys busy ‘til your parents get back . . . wanna guess what we’re doing today?”
All kids immediately dropped all thought of the car that had just driven past, staring at Fnu.
Rudy jumped up in his seat. “We’re gonna hunt Bigfoot?”
“Right-o, my dude.” Fnu clapped his hands together and grinned bigger. “We’re leaving for the hills as soon as we get the cameras and jerky.”
I stared at him, wondering if I’d heard right. “You said you had . . . professional supplies. Cameras and jerky?”
“Oh, and baseball bats, right. Duh. Just in case things go sour. Thanks for the reminder.” Fnu made a grand motion. “Alrighty, let’s get going, kids!”
I stood up as the kids all rushed off to get their shoes. “No but . . . jerky? What does jerky have to do with . . .?”
Fnu gave me a weird look. “You’ve seen those commercials, right?”
“Commercials . . .?”
He just shook his head. “Sasquatch bait, dude.”
And so Sasquatch bait it was.
There we were out in the woods, setting jerky out on random stumps around the area of the latest Bigfoot sighting. Carrying baseball bats and cameras and probably all looking like complete morons.
But Fnu was used to looking like a moron and the kids were excited for the rare chance to, so I was the only one grimacing about it.
I propped my bat against my shoulder, waiting by one of the trees until Fnu and Tiny finished their delicate jerky arranging. Really . . . judging by the place we were in, I was starting to wonder if this whole bigfoot sighting thing might have actually just been a bear wandering through the area.
But Fnu seemed pretty convinced it was the real deal. And hey if the kids seemed happy to spend the whole day watching jerky on tree trunks in the woods . . . that might just end up being my easiest day ever. I was keeping my mouth shut.
Penrod seemed like he was the only other skeptical one now that we were out in the woods. He watched his siblings with his forehead scrunched up and his little plastic baseball bat trailing on the ground.
“ . . . and so if we set the jerky here and over there and all around . . .” Fnu was saying.
Penrod raised his hand. “Mr. Fnu? How do we know if Bigfoot was really here?”
Fnu straightened up and pointed to Penrod. “That is an awesome question. Let me show you guys.” He pulled off his plaid shirt and sloppily tied it around his middle before bending over and motioning for the kids to come closer. I stepped over in spite of myself, looking over his shoulder to see what he had.
“See this?” Fnu pointed to what looked like just a pile of munched up sticks.
The kids nodded. Rudy leaned in closer.
“The pattern of the breaks . . . here and here especially . . .” Fnu gestured to a couple of spots that didn’t look any different than the rest of it, “indicate for sure that this was stepped on by a Bigfoot.” He sat back on his heels, smiling and raising his eyebrows.
“Oooh,” Tiny breathed, staring at the sticks.
Well, I wasn’t any expert like Fnu claimed to be, but that still sounded . . . not really like bulletproof logic.
I opened my mouth to bring up my problems with this, but Rudy beat me to it.
“How do you know it was Bigfoot? How do you know it wasn’t just something else?” He adjusted his glasses, pushing them up on his nose as he looked over at Fnu.
Fnu looked insulted. “Just look at the sticks! Something with big feet definitely stepped on that. And Bigfoot was seen in this area. Do the math, dude.”
“Yeeeaah, but . . .” Rudy squinted. “It still could have been something else in the forest?”
Fnu shook his head mildly and rested one bony hand on Rudy’s shoulder. “It never is, dude. That’s just what they want you to think.”
Charley nodded in agreement.
Penrod looked miffed. “Who’s ‘they’?”
Fnu put a finger to his lips. “They’re always listening. Gotta watch what you say, or . . .” he made a sudden snatching motion that made his already wild hair go flying around his shoulders with the jerky motion.
Penrod jumped back, his eyes wide. Tiny gave a small squeak and latched onto my leg.
I blew out my breath in a sigh. “Maybe not the best topic, man.”
“The truth’ll set you free,” Fnu said mildly, tucking his hair back and going back to examining the sticks. But he dropped the topic of the Evil Government.
Rudy didn’t look disturbed by the talk of being listened in on and pressed on with his questions. “How else do you know Bigfoot was here?”
Fnu sat up straight again. “Well, Squatch is known for a really . . . y’know . . . smelly smell he leaves behind? And if you smell the air . . .” he waved a hand in the air and closed his eyes as he inhaled deeply through his nose. “There has definitely been one here in the past . . .”
He stopped, his eyes snapping back open.
Rudy blinked. “What?”
“Shh!” Fnu held up a finger, looking up at the sky and scanning the tops of the trees.
I frowned and listened. Just the wind in the trees. A bird called somewhere in the distance.
At the sound of the birdcall, a wide grin split Fnu’s face again. He shot to his feet. “C’mon, quick! To our hiding spot!” He herded what kids he could reach and ran back towards the spot where he’d decided we’d hide behind a different stump and a couple of bushes.
I followed his lead and hobbled my way over as best I could with Tiny still clinging to my leg like a little monkey.
Penrod needed the most herding, still looking very confused about what we were even doing here. Rudy dove right for the bushes and Charley was ahead of even him. This was probably a practiced drill for her after spending so much time with Fnu anyway.
I was the last one to drop down behind the bushes, sitting right behind Fnu as everyone sat there eagerly watching the stump-jerky and waiting for Bigfoot to show up.
“Hey,” I hissed, leaning over to him. “What was that about? What did you hear?”
“Bigfoot,” Fnu hissed back, even quieter.
“All I heard was like . . . a bluebird or something.”
“No, that was it.” He turned slightly. “Did you catch that extra rasp in the tone? That was a Bigfoot call, but it was disguising its voice. Trying to call to other Bigfoots as a bluebird . . .” he trailed off, thoughtfully muttering under his breath. “Bigfoots? Bigfeet? Never been able to get that one right . . .” Fnu shook his head and went back to peering out the bushes with the kids. “Anyway. That was what I was waiting to hear. We should get something really soon here.”
Bigfoot does bird calls.
So there we sat. And Fnu’s definition of “really soon” was tested to its limits.
We sat there. And sat there. And sat there some more. And sat even more, in different positions.
Still no Bigfoot.
Penrod looked like he was starting to doze off on Charley. Tiny was silently moaning from her flopped position in the leaves. Rudy was still ramrod straight and watching just as intently as Fnu.
Actually more intently than Fnu. Fnu was getting a little distracted now.
He sighed and leaned back a little, crossing his legs and tucking his hair back. Glancing over at me, he raised his eyebrows before speaking in a whisper. “So, Micah . . . babysitting been treating you well?”
I just stared at him for a few seconds. “We were really talking about this a lot over the phone before you even showed up. You should know better than anyone.”
“Ah, yeah.” Fnu waved a hand dismissively and slouched back over.
Rudy and Charley glanced back at us.
It was another minute of bigfoot-less quiet before Fnu spoke up again. “Your parents out of the danger zone for divorce yet?”
Ohhhh I wasn’t supposed to bring that up.
I winced at the question, clenching my teeth. “Fnu, don’t- . . .”
Penrod’s eyes popped open and he sat up. “Who, Grandpa and Grandma?”
That got all the other kids’ attention. Every eye was on me all of a sudden and our whole “be quiet and wait for Bigfoot” act was gone with the wind.
“A divorce? Like they don’t love each other?”
“Is that why Mom and Dad left?”
“Will we never see them again?”
“Whoa, whoa, hey.” I put up my hands. “Calm down. There’s nothing to be worried about. And I’ve been getting updates from Henry. Mom and D . . . I mean Grandma and Grandpa are fine.” I shot a meaningful look at Fnu with the last word.
Fnu put up his own hands in an imitation of mine. “Dude, I was just asking.”
I lowered my voice, “The kids weren’t . . .”
“Uncle Micah, what . . .?
A gruff snorting sound and a loud crunching around in the trees on the other side of the clearing reached us. Some distant . . . big . . . dark colored thing.
Rudy gasped in delight. “Bigfoot!”
All attention shifted from me onto whatever that was crashing through the bushes. Cameras came out. Excited whispers shot back and forth. Grins broke wide across everyone’s faces.
Except for my own.
Because I didn’t have my face stuck behind the viewfinder of some cheesy camera and I saw just what was coming into view.
“That’s a bear,guys!” I croaked.
“No, it’s Bigf- . . .” Rudy trailed off as well, now able to see even through his smudged up glasses that what had just walked out into plain sight was definitely not an ape man.
Fnu froze. Blinked a couple of times.
“What do we do?” Penrod whispered desperately.
Tiny snapped out of her shock and heroically raised her bat. “We fight.”
I grabbed my little kamikaze niece before she could rush the bear and scooped her and her bat up into my arms. “No, we run. We run now.”
And run we did. The most disorganized escape run ever. We looked like a troop of clowns.
Thankfully, the bear was too absorbed in his jerky-eating to notice.
It wasn’t until we were back in my car that I took full stock of exactly how we looked.
Which was a lot like crud.
How many times people had fallen over in our dash for the car hadn’t helped. We were all more or less splotched with dirt and mud. Almost everyone had sticky jerky hands. And don’t forget the sweat and bug bites from sitting out in the Missouri woods for that long.
“Baths all around when we get home I guess,” I muttered, hitting the gas to get us out of there.
Fnu shrugged in the passenger seat. “Okay, so that went a little south . . . but sometimes Bigfoot hunts do that.”
“Of course.” I turned the steering wheel to get us back on the main road. “Well do you have any other genius ideas that don’t put us in the path of bears?”
“Hmm.” Fnu rubbed his hands on his knees. “Well I . . . have a few games we could play . . . we could set up my hammock . . . watch for UFOs (you guys are right near the hot spot you know) . . . roast marshmallows . . .”
He had a good few more he came up with on the way back.
So my newly found secret weapon for babysitting wasn’t a complete flop then, right? The kids sounded pretty on board for the marshmallows.
I pulled my car up into the driveway of the house and put it into park. “Alright, everybody out.”
“What are we having for lunch?” asked Tiny as she scrambled out over Charley’s lap.
“I don’t know, but it probably has kale involved. Go on inside.” I pulled my keys out and pocketed them, popping my door open at the same time as Fnu.
We both stood up to follow the herd of kids inside, me coming around to the other side of the car.
Fnu elbowed me as I came next to him and pointed into the neighbor’s yard. “Dude, is that your girlfriend?”
I stiffened, looking over just as Alice looked up from rooting around in her garden. Oh please . . . please tell me she didn’t hear that.
Alice squinted at both of us, her gaze coming to rest on me. “You and the hippie go pig wrestling or what?”
I rubbed at the back of my neck and cleared my throat. “No, we . . . uh . . .”
“We were hunting Bigfoot,” Fnu volunteered. “But a bear got there before us.” Ignoring the way Alice’s left eyebrow was slowly up, he grinned and gave an enthusiastic wave. “I’m Fnu Lnu, by the way. Micah’s told me a lot about you. You’re definitely hotter in person.”
Rudy was still hanging out by the door and barked out a laugh.
This. This is why I shouldn’t tell people things.
“Fnu I did notsay . . .” my voice cracked. I just dropped my face into one of my hands, shaking my head and groaning. Hopefully hiding how red I could feel my face getting.
Alice was silent for a few seconds. “Excuse me?”
Blessedly, my phone decided to ring just then. I snatched it from my pocket and held it up to show how it was ringing without making eye contact with anyone. “I gotta take this, guys. Be right back.”
It wasn’t until I’d gotten myself out of sight around the corner of the house that I looked at the caller ID.
I hit the button to answer and put the phone up to my ear. “Hey, what’s up?”
“Hey, Micah, I . . .” Henry trailed off for a second. “Are you okay? Is this a bad time?”
Oh, I’m so glad my embarrassment was that obvious even over the phone.
“No, I’m good.” I cleared my throat and straightened my back a little, still feeling the heat in my face.
“If you say so. I just wanted to call and let you know that . . . I think we’re just about done up here. Tell the kids we’re coming home on Friday.”
Two days from now. I only had two more days to babysit.
And . . . Mom and Dad . . .
“They’re not . . . like divorcing or anything?”
“I think we talked them down from it,” Henry responded. “There were just a lot of past problems brought up with Ingrid dying and . . . honestly, now was the best time to address them. I think they’ll be better in the long run.”
I felt like some overfilled balloon that had finally gotten a tiny bit of air let out of it. I took a second to process, then nodded. “Good. Yeah, okay. I’ll . . . tell the kids.”
“Thanks. Everything going alright this morning?”
Don’t remind me.
“Yep, everything’s great. See you Friday.” I hung up a split second before realizing that probably wasn’t the most reassuring way to put it.
So, I stood there, caught in between two humiliations and having a staredown with the tree in the backyard for another minute. Then I took a deep breath, let it out, formed an explanation for Alice, and headed back around the corner to the front yard.
Alice zeroed in on me immediately. “Micah!” she barked out, her hands on her hips.
I flinched. “Alice, I promise . . .”
She ignored me, indignantly gesturing to my friend who was still standing there grinning. “What sort of name is ‘Fnu Lnu’?”
Oh so maybe . . . I wasn’t quite as dead as I thought.
I stammered for a few seconds before Fnu broke in.
“I told you, it’s Hungarian.”
Fnu was a horrible liar. He said that more like a punchline than something he actually thought she’d believe.
Alice shot him a look, folding her arms. “Yeah, right.” She looked back to me, raising her eyebrows.
I nervously drummed the fingers of one hand on my leg, shifting my position a little. “Um . . .” Something to keep the topic still away from that “you’re definitely hotter in person” bit . . .
She looked down at the phone in my hand. “I guess that was another Hungarian friend of yours?”
I rubbed at the back of my neck with my other hand. “I . . . that was actually my brother. Just calling about . . . like, what’s going on with my parents and everything. He said they’d be coming back on Friday so . . . yeah I need to go tell the kids and I’ll probably be leaving about then too . . .”
I was rambling. I clamped my mouth shut.
Fnu looked between us, his brow furrowing. “Dude, that’s just in a couple days.” He fixed his gaze on Alice. “Have you guys even gone on a date yet?”
I closed my eyes, dying a little inside. There went the last of my chances . . .
But to my shock, Alice didn’t seem bothered by the question.
“Nah, hasn’t come up.”
Fnu spread his hands incredulously, looking over at me again. “You’re losing time here, dude! Only got a few more days and you guys haven’t even gone on a date yet?” He shook his head in disbelief, running a hand through his hair. “I mean . . . you’ve been watching the kids, right. But I’m here now and I could watch ‘em, so . . . heyyy . . .” Fnu broke into a wide, open mouthed grin. “Tomorrow would work. You two could go to see a movie or something.”
I just stood there, staring at him.
Fnu just kept going. “You down with that, Alice? Micah’s great to see movies with, I promise.”
Alice shrugged, a smirk pulling at the side of her mouth. “Yeah sure, why not?”
She . . . what?
I switched over to staring at Alice. “You . . . you would?”
She tucked her hair back, giving another shrug. “I’m not doing anything tomorrow. You’re a cool guy. I like movies. Why not?” There was a second of silence as she raised an eyebrow again. “That is, if you’re down with it too . . .”
“No, yeah! Definitely! I’m . . . yeah, I’m definitely down with it, I just . . .” I shook my head, rubbing my hands on my jeans. “I . . didn’t know you would be.”
“Well if the Hungarian Hippie’s cool with babysitting, then yeah, I’m fine. What’s the big deal, anyway?”
Before I could say anything in response, a yell came from back in the direction of her house.
We turned to see Alice’s mother. She gave a gesture for Alice to come over to her.
Alice stuck her hands in the pockets of her too-big jacket. “I gotta go. Well . . .” she turned to look back at the two of us. “See at least one of you losers tomorrow. I’m picking the movie.” She saluted, then headed back to her house.
I just managed a weak wave back as she left.
Fnu managed a more energetic one, then laughed and elbowed me as Alice went back into her house. “See? She’s totally into you! And now you got a hot date tomorrow.” He laughed, smacking his hands together. “Is this stellar or what?”
And I kind of had to agree with Fnu there.
It was pretty stellar.
I was lying back on the couch looking at my phone when I heard a half gasp, half scream. Like someone had just gotten bitten by some poisonous snake.
I shot upright, my heartbeat spiking. All the kids were in bed I thought and Fnu said he was just going to the kitchen for a snack so what . . .?
I craned my neck and realized couldn’t see my friend in the kitchen.
“Fnu?” I called out cautiously. “Everything okay?”
Another muffled sound like some sort of happy . . . squeaking noise. And then footsteps.
Fnu came around the corner from the hallway that went to the garage, reverently holding a big, metallic thing strung with twinkle lights. His hands trembled. A huge grin split across his face. It looked almost like he had tears in his eyes.
Realization sunk in.
He’d found Rudy’s . . .
“Micah,” Fnu said in a hoarse whisper. He slowly held it up. “It’s a UFO.”
I let out a sigh, resting my head on one of my hands and rubbing at the bridge of my nose.
“And it was in your garage! How . . .?”
“Sit down, Fnu. I have to tell you something.”
Hope you all enjoyed and have a good Thursday. ❤