Part Three: Tryin' to tell the world somehow of how I feel.
It was a Thursday—the third one in March. The third Thursday was Popcorn Night.
Micky was the reigning champion. Olivia, a friend of Mike's, had won in January—a dark day for Micky, indeed!
The others weren't very good at the game. Peter and Autumn were too easily distracted, so they never came close. Mallori had no hand-eye coordination whatsoever, and Davy sat out so his girlfriend wouldn't be lonely. Gia preferred watching, and Mike usually wouldn't stay in when it started getting personal.
It was Autumn and Gia's duty to cook the popcorn for the contest. Normally, with one of them working at their house and the other at the guys', and with one pan on each burner, it only took them two batches each. But it was going to have to be different this time. Working together, they were able to cook at the popcorn in just under twice the time it normally took.
At this point, Popcorn Night will be explained to the readers.
Most of us have played the game where you throw a popped kernel of popcorn straight up in the air and try to catch it in your mouth—think of that as the 100-meter dash. Welcome to the marathon starting line.
You know the runners, so let's review the rules, shall we?
1.) Only legal throws allowed.
2.) The following constitute the legal throws:
-"Boo!" Popcorn is thrown at a television in operation (usually because of a bad joke.) AKA TV Toss.
-Game toss. Popcorn is thrown in the air with the intent to catch in your mouth (even if missed, toss is legal. Just bad.)
3.) All other tosses are illegal.
4.) Follow the rules.
5.) If popcorn is eaten by any method other than a toss, then you are disqualified.
6.) No dumping!
Thank you for your time. And now, back to the story.
"Five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . begin!" Mike officiated the beginning of Popcorn Night—a leadership thing, y'know. Popcorn Night always began at the stoke of eight by Mike's watch. It could last until two or three in the morning, but usually it didn't.
Everyone participated in the official beginning—a swig of soda followed by the first game toss. Mallori caught hers—for once—as did Peter, Autumn, Micky, Olivia and Mike. Gia attempted once more, and Davy had to try two more times before catching one, but they were satisfied with their work. Davy, Mallori, and Gia all promptly disqualified themselves by eating a handful of popcorn as soon as they'd each been successful.
So far Mike was ahead—he'd caught five kernels of seven game tosses. Micky had only caught three, and Olivia was still trying for her second. Peter was on counting duty and Autumn had calculation duty—both of which were rotating roles. The counter and the calculator didn't have to play, but usually started off with the others.
"Mike has, so far, almost 75 percent accuracy. Micky's not doing so well this month—just under 43 percent. Olivia's trailing with 14 percent," Autumn updated.
"Toss!" commanded Peter. They were all successful.
"Mike—exactly 75 percent. Micky—37 percent. Olivia—25 percent."
"Micky," whispered Gia, sitting down behind Micky on the chaise lounge.
"Yes now," she insisted without raising her voice.
"Mike—66 percent. Micky—44 percent."
"But I didn't get to toss," protested Micky.
"Too bad, calculations are up. Olivia—33 percent."
"Man," muttered Micky. "Gia, look what you did."
"What I did?! Look what you did!"
"What did I do?"
"You should know very well what you did!"
"Mike—70 percent. Micky, man, pay attention. You're down to 40 percent. Olivia—40 percent."
"How am I supposed to know what I did? Why don't you just tell me?"
"If you don't already know, I'm not going to tell you."
Micky turned back to the game and tossed. He was too distracted to catch it.
"Mike—almost 73 percent. Micky—36 percent. Olivia—45 percent. Micky, you're losing."
"Look what you did, Gia! Now I'm losing."
"Is that all you care about?—"
Micky ignored her, tossed, and caught.
"Mike—back up to 75. Micky—42 percent. Olivia—50."
"Micky! Listen to me!"
Micky tossed, and missed.
"Micky! Concentrate! Mike—77 percent. Micky—32 percent. Olivia—64 percent."
"Micky! Cut it out and pay attention."
"Gia, be quiet. Can't you see that I'm busy?"
"Busy?! Throwing popcorn?!"
Gia had been whispering, and no one else had heard her complaints. But they all saw her scream in frustration and angrily dump her popcorn, giving the empty bowl on Micky's head a slap for emphasis. She then stormed out of the Monkees' pad.
"What was that all about, Mick?"
Micky pushed the bowl further back on his head so he could see, which sent cascades of popcorn down his shoulders and chest. "I don't know. She didn't say."
"Micky," said Autumn with exasperation as she got up. She took the bowl off his head. "Nice hat," she remarked, and set it on Olivia's head. Autumn brushed the popcorn off Micky's head and shoulders, eating a handful or two. "Listen, Mick, you gotta go out there and talk to Gia, and explain things to her."
"But I really don't know why she did that. She said that I did something wrong, but if I didn't know what it was, then she wasn't gonna tell me."
"Typical," muttered Davy very, very quietly—hoping Mallori wouldn't hear. She did, but let it slide.
"Micky, Micky, Micky, Micky," Autumn said in a patronizing tone. She slapped the back of his head. "Oops, missed some popcorn. You need to go out there and talk to her."
Micky gave her a skeptical look and continued with his turn by throwing a kernel of popcorn in the air. Before he could catch it in his mouth, Autumn, with her open palm, batted it back up into the air even higher and caught it in her mouth.
"Go," she commanded. Micky sighed and rolled his eyes, but got up and walked out the back door.
"Gia?" he ventured.
"What?" she snapped irritably.
"Micky, tell me the truth—why didn't you hug me this morning?"
"Well . . . I . . . . ," he stammered.
"Well what?" Gia snapped.
Micky looked down at his feet. Even without looking her in the eye, even in the dark, Micky couldn't admit the real reason he hadn't hugged her earlier. "I . . . Well, y'know, the cameras . . . and like I said before, y'know, we don't want to turn the evening news into a social tabloid . . . ." His voice trailed off.
"Micky, I know that's not the truth. What is?" Gia demanded.
Micky avoided looking at her. He thrust his hands into his pockets and turned to look at the sky above the ocean. Great, just great. No stars out—can't change the subject that way. Stupid clouds.
"Micky, speak now or forever hold your peace."
Micky turned to her and opened his mouth to speak, but couldn't find the right words to tell her what he wanted to say, so he turned away again.
"Fine. You had a choice—you chose forever. That's just fine, fine with me. Maybe you'll see me around. Maybe." With that, Gia turned and walked away.
No Time Part Four
back to No Time Part Two