"Tricker Tweat, Rosie. Tricker Tweat!"
Ben And Rosie
“Being funny and being plain stupid are two entirely different things,” Rosie said feeling exasperated. “Now which one are you?”
“I’m funny and stupid!” said Ben with a big smile on his face.
“See what I mean?” She threw her hands up in the air, and then collapsed into the chair. “You can’t be both, Ben! It’s one or the other.”
“Come on, Rosie, don’t yell at me, okay?” He stuck out his lower lip, faking a pout. Then his face took on an enlightened look, as though he had just come up with the most brilliant idea. “Let’s do it again, Rosie! I bet I can say it this time for sure.”
“No, Ben,” she whined. “Not again, we’ve tried it a hundred times already.”
“Just give me one more chance, Rosie. Come on, Rosie, just one more chance. Please?”
She sighed heavily. Ben was two years older, but had the mental capacity of a first-grader. Though mentally challenged, he was big, built like a football player, muscles bulging all over, and probably, if things had gone differently at his birth, would have been an all-star. All and all, he was very handsome, and to look at him, most people wouldn’t even be able to tell he was slow. But as soon as he opened his mouth there was no hiding the fact that there was something definitely wrong.
“Okay, Ben,” she said, giving up. “Pay close attention this time.”
“I will, Rosie. I will!”
“Good. Now say, ‘Trick-or-Treat’!”
“Tricker Tweat!” Ben said, then started laughing again, almost rolling over on the floor.
“No, Ben! It’s ‘Trick-OR-Treat! OR! Get it! O-R! Trick-OR-Treat’!” She fell back into her chair, thoroughly spent.
“I like Halloween, Rosie. Happy Halloween, Rosie. Happy Halloween! Tricker Tweat!”
“I know, Ben, I know, Happy Halloween.”
“You gonna go with me, huh, Rosie? You gonna dress up and go with me? Tricker Tweating, huh, Rosie?” Ben annoyingly tapped her arm every time he asked a question.
“Yeah, yeah, sure. You already know I’m going with you. You don’t have to beat me up over it, okay? I’m gonna be the only sixteen-year-old wearing a costume and going Trick-er-Tweating with her big brother.” She had always used Ben as a sounding board and would tell him just about anything that bothered her. “So what, if all my new friends see me hanging out with you. No big deal. They're gonna find out about you sooner or later anyhow, right?" I just wanted to make a good first impression, that’s all. Now I have to go to everybody’s house and introduce them to my big brother right off the bat.” She buried her face into a blue throw pillow and screamed.
“You’re funny, Rosie. I’ll let you have some of my candy, Rosie. I’ll share! I promise!”
She dropped the pillow to her lap. “You say that every year, Ben. But you always eat all your candy, and then you want to eat mine too.”
“I like candy, Rosie. I like it a lot!”
“I know, Ben, I know.”
“I’m gonna be a cowboy, Rosie,” he said, tapping her arm again. “Mom said! A real cowboy, Rosie. I’m gonna be a cowboy with a gun and . . . and a cowboy hat.”
Yes, Ben, I know. And I’m gonna be the Invisible Girl.”
“In-vis-ible. That’s funny, Rosie. That’s fun-ny.”
Rose had promised her mom to take Ben out on Halloween. She always got stuck with that job. To Rose, it just didn’t seem fair. All the other kids from school would be having the time of their lives at the big “Halloween Bash” over at Joey Zimmerman’s house, but she’d be baby-sitting, baby-sitting her eighteen-year-old brother who thought that the biggest hoot on Halloween was to go knocking door-to-door and saying, “Tricker Tweat” to everybody. But this year, it was going to be different. This year, Rose was going to do what she wanted to do. She had everything planned. She’d get Ben to wait outside the Zimmerman home just long enough for her to run in and make a smashing appearance, and then she would slip back out again to meet up with Ben as if she had never been away. “Wait’ll that cutie pie, Joey Zimmerman gets a load of me.”
That night Ben came running into Rosie’s room. “Look at me, Rosie! Look at me!” He was dressed all in black wearing an old cowboy hat that didn’t quite fit and a toy gun and holster hanging between his legs.
“Ben! You’re supposed to knock! Remember?”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right, Rosie.” He stepped outside again and knocked on the already open door. “Tricker Tweat!”
Rose had to smile. “Very funny, Ben. Very funny.”
“I’m a cowboy, Rosie!” Ben pranced around the room.
Rosie’s mom hadn’t shaved Ben that day, and his five o’clock shadow gave him the appearance of a real desperado -- definitely the handsome Clint Eastwood type.
“Yes, Ben. You’re a cowboy. But for pete’s sake, fix your holster! It’s supposed to be on your hip, like this!” She adjusted it for him. “Now, would you mind leaving so I can finish getting ready?”
“Hurry up, Rosie. I want'a get some candy!”
“I’m almost done, Ben! Just hold your horses!”
“Ha! That’s fun-ny, Rosie. Fun-ny!” He started to leave, and then ran back to her and gave her a great big hug. “I love you, Rosie! I love you a lot! You look beautiful!” Then pretending he was on a horse, he rode out of the room.
Rose looked into her mirror. She was wearing a belly dancer outfit she had found at a thrift store. She had even glued a red plastic jewel over her belly-button to further the effect. She didn’t mind that so much of her midriff was showing, but her top proved to be a little more revealing than she had anticipated. Her mousy brown shoulder-length hair fell down just enough to hide the fact that it was strapless, but she secretly hoped to get out the front door without her mom seeing her. Ben was right, though. She did look good. “Let’s see how you like this, Joey Zimmerman,” she giggled as she did a little dance in front of the mirror.
“Tricker Tweat!” Ben yelled as they came to the last house on the block. “I’m a cowboy!” The kind lady looked at Ben sadly, then gave him a whole handful of candy bars.
“Why, yes you are, par'ner,” she said glancing over at Rose knowingly.
“Say, thank you, Ben,” Rose yelled from the sidewalk.
“Thank you. Tricker Tweat!”
They walked over to the next street, then down to the middle of the block, stopping in front of Zimmerman’s place.
“Okay, Ben,” she said seriously. “Now it’s my turn. I want you to wait right here while I go to this house by myself, okay?”
“But I wanna come too, Rosie.”
She reached inside his bag and pulled out three candy bars. “You can eat these now, Ben. I’ll be back before you can finish them, and then we’ll go get some more, understand?”
“Okay, Rosie.” Ben sat down on the grass and tore into a Snickers bar.
“I’ll be right back, Ben. Now don’t move, got it?”
Ben grinned at her with candy stuck in his teeth. “Okay. Are you gonna get some candy too, Rosie?”
“Yes, Ben. It’s my turn to get some candy while you wait here.” Rosie patted him on the back, then made a mad dash for the front door.
It was open and Rose could hear loud music thumping from somewhere in the back. She straightened out her costume then walked in looking for Joey.
The Zimmerman home was huge, decorated with little paper ghosts and skeletons. Plastic orange pumpkins with lights stuck inside outlined the hallway leading out to the backyard. She wandered through without meeting anybody she could actually say she knew.
It looked like everybody from school was here. A large area around the swimming pool was used as a dance floor, surrounded by tables full of drinks and treats. She finally spotted Joey surrounded by all his friends, and then made her way toward him.
“Hello, hello!” said Brad Earlhart, cutting in front of her. “You’re that new girl, Rose, right?”
“Yes, that’s right. How are you tonight, Brad?” He was dressed as a Vampire with fake teeth and slick, greased-back hair.
“I’m doing a whole lot better now that you’re here! You’re looking awfully sweet in that outfit, Rose. I think I vant to drink your blud,” he said, imitating Dracula. “Hey, you wanna dance with me?”
“Uh...sure, Brad. I just wanted to say hi to Joey first, okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, all the girls go for Joey. Look at him, he’s got three hanging on him right now. Why don’t we dance first and give him some time to ditch ‘em.”
Brad led her out to a big cement area in front of the pool where everyone was dancing. “You look awesome in that costume, Rose. I bet Joey will get all pushed out of shape when he sees me dancing with you.”
Rose smiled at the thought of making Joey jealous. She glanced over in his direction. He was staring right at her. Rose gave him a shy little wave, and he smiled as he headed over.
“Rose?” Joey asked, approaching her. He was dressed like a wealthy playboy with a suave smoking jacket and a colorful ascot. He even carried one of his dad’s old pipes.
“Aw, come on, Joey,” Brad complained. “I saw her first!”
“Beat it, Brad,” he said menacingly. “This is my party.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever!” Brad walked off looking for trouble.
“So how do you like the party, Rose?” Joey asked. “Pretty cool, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess so. I just got here, really,” she said. “I can’t stay long. I’ve got somebody waiting for me.”
Rose laughed. “No...nothing like that.”
“Well, if you leave now, you’re gonna break my heart, Rose. You don’t wanna hurt my feelings, do you?”
Before Rose could answer, there was some kind of disturbance at the other end of the pool. It was Ben. He was jumping up and down like a monkey on the diving board. It looked like Brad and a couple of other guys were trying to get him to fall in. They were all laughing.
“Ben!” she screamed. Everyone looked at her, and then fell silent as their attention was drawn to Ben’s antics on the diving board. “Ben, get down from there! Right now!” The music suddenly stopped.
“Tricker Tweat, Rosie, Tricker Tweat!”
“Is that your boyfriend, Rose?” asked Joey, chuckling. “Man, what a geek!”
Rose glared at him for a moment, then took off running. Ben was now teetering on one leg.
“Ben! Ben, please, get down!”
He hung in midair for a second, looking at Rose, the smile straying from his lips, and then fell headfirst into the pool. Rose watched in horror as he sank straight to the bottom.
She pushed people out of her way as she tried to force a path to the edge of the pool. “He can’t swim!" she screamed. "Somebody help! He can’t swim!” Rose glared at the crowd, but saw nothing but a bunch of blank faces staring back. Panic gripped her. “Ben! I’m coming!” Without hesitation, she dove into the pool.
Ben sat at the bottom, looking around confused. He was startled by the sudden shock of the cold water, but couldn’t quite make out what had happened. There was water everywhere, and he didn’t like it. He became scared and started thrashing his arms around.
Rose saw the trail of air bubbles coming out of Ben’s mouth as she swam hard toward him. The dive into the pool nearly ripped her costume off, but she didn't have time to fix it. She desperately came up behind Ben and grabbed his belted cowboy holster. Holding on tightly, she pushed off on the bottom of the pool as hard as she could. They both shot to the surface. Rose struggled to hoist her brother the last couple of feet to the pool's edge. She could see people reaching out to help. Somebody finally snatched onto him, and pulled from the water. She hung on the side, spent, and gasping for air. With her last bit of strength, she hauled herself up and over the side. Ben was moving, coughed, and then threw up a mouthful of water.
She crawled to Ben’s side and slapped him hard on his back trying to help clear the water from his lungs. From the corner of her eye she saw Joey kneel down beside her.
“He's all right, Rose,” Joey said, smiling and staring at her chest. Rose glanced down and noticed that her top was pulled down. She quickly tried to cover-up with her arms while she heard snickers from the crowd. Everyone had gotten an eyeful. Rose blushed red and felt humiliated. To make matters worse, Ben was up and laughing too.
“I fell in, Rosie,” he coughed. “I fell in and got all wet.” They laughed harder at that, but Rose felt they were laughing at her.
“Come on inside, Rose,” Joey coaxed. “I’ll help you get into some dry clothes.”
“I don’t think so,” she said, coldly. “I think you and your friends have enough to talk about already.”
“Aw, come on, Rose, don't be that way,” Joey urged. “The party’s just getting started. Besides, you don’t want to go off with a jerk like that, do ya?” Joey said, looking at Ben as though he were a pile of garbage.
“Let’s go home, Rosie. Tricker Tweat...I’m all wet!”
That brought on more laughter. “What a loser!" Joey jeered. "Where'd you find this guy, Rose?" He grabbed her hand. "Come on inside."
Before she could even think, she jerked her hand away from him. “You’re the only loser, Zimmerman. You and all your stupid friends.”
Everyone suddenly fell silent. “Get out of here then!" he yelled. "And take your freaky boyfriend with you. Just get out of . . . ahh!” He never got to finish what he was saying. Ben, reaching down to pick up his cowboy hat, had accidently bumped Joey into the pool. He floundered around in the deep end for a moment blowing water out of his pipe.
Everyone started laughing, some even applauded. Ben looked around a little confused at first, then started laughing and clapping his hands. He felt like he had done something really funny, and he felt like he finally fit in. He looked at his sister happily. “Was that funny Rosie? Fun-ny!”
“Yeah, Ben,” she said, feeling better. “That was funny! Let's go home now, okay? I'm cold.”
Joey tried to climb out of the pool, but Ben pushed him back in to another roaring round of laughter from the party-goers. Then he bowed to them all like he had seen a funny guy do once on TV.
Rose grabbed his hand and pulled him away from the crowd. As they started to leave, Brad and a couple of guys moved in to block their way. Ben stared at them, a big stupid grin still on his face. Brad pushed him, but it was like pushing a solid brick wall. Ben pushed him back, still smiling, and Brad nearly fell over. The other boys quickly lost their nerve and slowly parted to let them pass.
When they finally got out to the front yard, Rose helped Ben collect his candy. The whole thing had been a big disaster. Warm tears beaded through the screen of her long lashed. She knew she'd be the main gossip at school tomorrow, but she didn't care. Ben looked at her sadly. "Why are you crying, Rosie?"
Then, without warning, the electric sprinklers came on. They stood there looking dumbfounded at each other, water dripping off their faces. “Is it raining, Rosie?”
She looked up at the sky, and then busted out laughing.
“No, Ben, it's not raining. It’s just the sprinklers.” She grabbed his hands in hers and squeezed them tight. “Come on, Ben, let’s run. Let's run in the sprinklers.”
"Okay, Rosie. That's funny, fun-ny!"
They ran around in circles across the yard. Ben's deep laughter could be heard up and down the block followed by Rose's own giggling.
When they finally got back home, they were hit with a barrage of questions from their mother.
“It’s all my fault, Mom . . .” she started.
“Sprinklers!" Ben interrupted. "Sprinklers got us all wet.”
Rose looked at her brother with admiration. “Uh, yeah..." she stuttered. "Can you believe it? Some stupid people actually left their automatic sprinklers turned on. We got soaked right in the middle of a big old yard.”
“Yeah, Mom. It was a trick! Huh, Rosie, a Trick-or-Treat,” said Ben, smiling at her and gently tapping her arm. “It was a Trick-or-Treat. Or! O-R! Right, Rosie?”
She looked at her brother with a new found respect, unable to keep from laughing. “Right, Ben. It was for some people." She reached over and hugged Ben as hard as she could because sometimes a big hug just says everything the best.
Ben started laughing. “Trick-or-Treat, Rosie. Happy Halloween!”