Our first novel in the series featuring Josh, the underdog and Eddie, the bully is now available at Amazon.com.  Read the first two chapters below FOR FREE!!!

THE UNDERWEAR DARE

Chapter 1 

            “Josh Miller, I’m gonna get you!” 

            I didn’t have to turn around to know whose voice that was.  Eddie was a legend at our school, plus he’d been yelling that particular phrase at me since kindergarten. I thought once we started fifth grade, he’d be tired of picking on me. Not so! If there was ever a record for longest time span for a bully, Eddie would be the champion.

            “Hey, Josh. I’m right behind you.” Eddie huffed and puffed between words. 

             I was short for my age, even though I had grown two inches over the summer. Eddie was gigantic. He was taller than most of our teachers and he was also pretty wide due to his love of cookies and fruity drinks. Even so, Eddie’s size didn’t slow down his speed. He was fast, but I was faster as I sprinted from the bus stop through our neighborhood.

            I picked up the pace. I pumped my legs as fast as I could. It didn’t help that my backpack was loaded down with library books.  Hardbacks. I told Ms. Bullard, the Media Specialist, I preferred paperbacks, but she just laughed. 

            Small beads of sweat slid down my face. I tasted one, very salty. I heard Eddie’s footsteps slow down and I knew he was tired. He was running out of steam. I didn’t stop. I still had to pass three more houses before I was safely at my doorstep. Piece of cake!

            “You’re a dead man!” Eddie yelled. He was doubled over holding his side. 

            I slowed down a little, but not much. It could be a trick. I’d been fooled before, plus I only had two houses left.

Dang, just when I thought I was safe I saw old Miss Jenkins walking her French poodle, Gigi. Gigi had one of those poofy, silly, poodle cuts and pink toenail polish. Miss Jenkins was very talkative and never, ever, fastened Gigi’s collar properly. Plus, they both wore too much perfume.

“Good afternoon, Josh. Why are you in such a hurry?” Miss Jenkins asked as she blocked the straight shot I had to my house.

I had no choice but to stop. Gigi worked her way out of the collar and ran around in circles excited to see me. I bent over to pat her head and she took off down the street. Luckily, there were no cars driving by.  But no Eddie either. Where did he go? 

“Oh my! Gigi! Stop, stop right now! I don’t know how she gets out of that collar. Josh, can you please…?”

I threw down my backpack and sprinted to catch her before Miss Jenkins could finish her sentence. I scooped Gigi up just in time to save her from a truck that came flying around the corner. 

Miss Jenkins was overjoyed with relief, “Thank you so much, Josh.  I don’t know why that keeps happening.”

“Maybe you should tighten her collar a few notches,” I suggested as I scanned the area for Eddie. 

“Oh, I couldn’t do that,” Miss Jenkins said. “Gigi doesn’t like anything tight around her neck. Do you baby?” She cooed to Gigi.

I was about to ask her how she knew this, but I didn’t want to be rude. Instead I told her I had lots of homework to do and better get started. I ran at full speed to my front door and dug in my backpack for my house key. After removing four hardback books, I realized my key was gone. It had to be Eddie!

I knocked furiously on the door and rang the bell several times.  From inside my house, Eddie pulled back the front window curtain and waved.

“Let me in, now! This isn’t funny!” I yelled and knocked on the door again.

“Who is it?” Eddie asked, purposely making his voice sound like a girl.

“Come on Eddie,” I pleaded.

“There’s nobody here named Eddie,” he mocked again in that high voice.

I was way ahead of him today. I had left the garage door opener hidden in the bushes for such emergencies. I sprinted to the bushes, retrieved the opener and presto! I was in the garage. I yanked on the door leading into the house. It was locked. I banged with all my might.

“Yes, who is it?” Eddie asked on the other side of the door. “It’s a good thing I locked this door so no robbers could get in.”

“Come on, Eddie. You win, let me in.” I pleaded.

“There is no one here by that name,” he said and snickered.

“Fine! Oh, Great and Strong Ruler who is ‘Master of all in the Fifth Grade Realm’, please let me in,” I quoted.

“Who goes before the Master?” Eddie answered in a low booming voice.

“It is I, your humble servant Josh, who in no way can defeat the Great and Strong Master,” I answered.

“Because why?” he bellowed.

“Because I am much too puny,” I finished completely humiliated.

The locked clicked open and Eddie stood there laughing,Someday I gotta record that on my phone.” 

Eddie wiggled the remote control in his hands as if it were a prize. Of course, that meant he had complete control over the big TV until his mom got home, or my dad got off early. Yes, that’s right, my dad married Eddie’s mom and now he’s my stepbrother! This was definitely the worst year of my life. Thing is, I really liked Eddie’s mom, Allie. She was nice, nothing at all like Eddie. 

My mom died when I was really young and I don’t remember much about her. But as much as I liked having a cool step-mom, the price of the step-brother was too high!

I walked into the living room and was instantly assaulted by a horrible smell.

Eddie laughed and said,Silent but deadly, for your smelling pleasure!”

“Nasty fart." I said but he just laughed again. It smelled like boiled broccoli.

“Found this on the playground,” Eddie said as he tossed me my house key.

“Yeah, if the playground is in my backpack,” I mumbled.

“That’s funny and true,” Eddie said and turned his attention to the TV. He was watching some pirate show on the History Channel. And not a good one like Pirates of the Caribbean, but a show that explained what it was really like to be a real pirate. Boring. I sat at the table and began doing my homework. 

“Aren’t you gonna do your homework?” I asked.

“Got it covered,” he said.

When Eddie said, “Got it covered” it meant some poor kid was doing it for him. Eddie walked to the kitchen to get a soda. On the way back he released another Silent but deadly” right next to me.

“Dang it, Eddie,” I said and covered my nose. “I’m trying to do my homework.”

“There is no safe place to hide from the Master!”

And that was the truth. There was no safe place to hide from Eddie. It wasn’t fair that we had to share a bedroom. The only time I got a break from Eddie was when he visited his father every other weekend. And half the time his dad backed out with some lame excuse.  I wanted him to move in with his dad permanently but my dad said that wasn’t going to happen because he would have to change schools. For me, no Eddie at home or at school would be perfect. If I had my own room, then I would have a safe retreat.  But that was just wishful thinking.

Chapter   2

            Later that evening in our room, I slid into the bottom bunk bed while Eddie climbed the narrow ladder to the top bunk. I was mesmerized by how huge Eddie’s feet were. They were almost as wide as they were long. They were very flat with no arches. Just looking at them made me think of caveman’s feet. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

            “What’s so funny, shrimp?” Eddie asked, as he flopped down on the mattress.

            When his bed bowed above my head, I stopped laughing. A horrible vision of Eddie and the mattress falling on top of me during the night entered my mind. What a terrible way to die.

            “I said, what’s so funny, peewee?”

            “Nothing,” I wished I could come up with names to hurt him, but I couldn’t think that fast on my feet. Oh, wait. I should have called him caveman. Darn. I reached over and turned off the light. The room went pitch black, just the way I liked it.

            “Hey, turn on the nightlight. I can’t sleep in total darkness,” Eddie said nervously.

             I flicked on the nightlight and laughed again. Big Eddie was afraid of the dark. I bet all the kids at school would think that was hilarious, I thought to myself.

            As if reading my mind, Eddie said, “If you so much as tell anyone I’m, I’m...anyway I will pound you so hard your dad won’t recognize you.”

            I stopped laughing. Eddie would probably do it, too.

            My dad knocked on the door and peeked inside. He flipped the light back on. Boys? I know you’re not asleep yet.

            “Yeah, Dad?” 

            “Yeah, Jack?” Eddie said.

            “Allie and I just had a long talk and we decided to give you each your own room,” he announced.

            “But Dad, we only have two rooms. Where will you and Allie sleep?” I asked.

            “No, no. In the attic,” my dad said and laughed.

               “You and Mom are gonna sleep in the attic? Cool! I didn’t even know there was one,” Eddie exclaimed.

            “No, Eddie,” my dad explained. “Not us. We are going to convert the attic into a bedroom for one of you.”

            “I think I should get it because this was my house first,” I said.

            “I should get it. This was your room first, you should have it back,” Eddie countered.

            “No way,” I replied. The attic was huge. I really wanted that room. It would be like living in a mansion.

            Eddie yelled at me, So, I had to leave my house and come live here with you.”

            My dad interrupted, “Hold it. Whoa! Allie and I have already decided who gets the room.”

            Eddie and I both shut up. It was so quiet you could hear the music playing downstairs. Allie played music almost every night. At first, I didn’t like it but now I was getting used to it. It was opera. Allie told me that opera calmed her down and kept her in a good mood.

            Not being able to take the silence anymore, Eddie caved in, “So Jack, who did you choose?”

          “We’ve decided it’s up to you,” he answered.

           “Me!” Eddie yelled. “Great, I choose me.”

           My dad quickly said, “No, not you!”

           “Me?” I screamed. “Alright, this is the best news ever!”

           “No, not you either,” Dad said.

           “I don’t get it,” Eddie said and for once I agreed with him.

           My dad explained. “Allie and I know this hasn’t been an easy adjustment for either of you. Our marriage happened fast, and I know there’s been tension between you two for a long time.”

           “Try kindergarten,” I mumbled.

           Eddie leaned over the bunk bed and mouthed to me, “You’re dead.”

            “Boys, focus. There’s only one fair way to settle a decision this big. So we are leaving it up to the two of you to figure out who gets the attic. Construction starts next week. That leaves a month to decide.  Oh, and there better not be any fighting or arguing about it. Got it?”

            “Yes, Dad,” I said.

            “Eddie?” Jack asked.

            “Um, no fighting.”

            “Okay, ‘night boys,” He turned off the light and closed the door.

            “Hey, Eddie,” I whispered. “We can settle this right now. I have $17.31. It’s all yours if you give me the room.” 

            Eddie laughed. “I’ve got more than that in the front pocket of the jeans I just took off.”

             Seriously?” I asked.

            “I had a very profitable week at school.” 

            “Doing what?” I inquired.

            “Getting paid for protecting classmates.”

            “Protecting them from who?” I couldn’t wait to hear his answer.

            “From me, of course. It’s a new thing I started this year.”

            “Our classmates pay you to protect them from you?” I couldn’t believe it.

             “It’s very lucrative,” Eddie laughed. So, how much do you want for the room?”  

            “No way, I’m not for sale.” 

            “What if I told you I would give you three figures worth?”  Eddie said.

            “No.” I stood my ground.

             “How about four figures?” Eddie bargained.

            “You have four?”  I knew that was at least one thousand dollars.

            “Um, no. But I do have three,” Eddie admitted.

            “What if I give you all my video games?” I asked.

            “Your video games stink.  Mine are way better.” Eddie countered.

            I couldn’t argue with that. It was true. Eddie had a better collection. “How about all my DVD’s?” I offered. Silence from Eddie.  I tried again. “Final offer, all my money, my video games and all my DVD’s.”

            Eddie spoke up, “You have less money than me. Your video games stink.  Your DVD’s stink even more.”

            “Wait, I wasn’t finished. All that, plus I will do your homework for a week,” I added.

             “How about a month?” 

            “Deal!” I said.

            “No, just kidding,” Eddie teased.

            “Loser,” I said under my breath.

            “What?” 

            I quickly came up with more bargaining items. “What if I throw in my skateboard and dirt bike?”

            “Your skateboard is too girlie for me and the dirt bike is too small,” Eddie said.

            “What do you mean my skateboard’s too girlie?”

            “It has a hot pink swirl on it.” 

            “Hey, your Mom bought it for me!”

            “I know. I told her your favorite color was pink.”

            “You are such a jerk!”

            Eddie jumped down from the top bunk in one swift motion and pulled me to the floor. “No you’re the jerk! Come on, you little wiener.

             “Hey, Dad said no fighting,” I yelled hoping my dad would hear.

            “What are you going to do, snitch on me?”

            Through the headlock I mumbled, “Yeah.”

            Eddie released me from the headlock and pinned me to the ground. “Fine, I won’t fight. You couldn’t win anyway.” Instead, Eddie threw his head back and started gulping air.

            I knew what was coming. Eddie was legendary for it. If he didn’t fight you, this was his back-up move. Some say it was worse than being hit.

            “No, no!” I cried as I tried to turn my head away from Eddie.  I took a quick breath and held it in.

            “You have to breathe sometime.” Eddie tormented me.

            My face was turning red. I knew I would have to breathe soon.  No longer able to hold it in, I let out my breath. 

            Eddie leaned in close, real close. “Buuurrrp!”

            It was the loudest burp I had ever heard. And the smelliest! I didn’t mean to smell it but I had to breathe. “Agh! It’s in my mouth!” I could practically taste the spaghetti and meatballs we had for dinner a couple of hours ago. Oh, no! Another one was coming.

            “Buuurrrp!”

            I almost threw up in my mouth. Garlic bread! I could taste and smell the garlic bread on that last burp. I told Dad there was too much garlic on the bread, but Dad said you could never have enough garlic.  Boy, was he wrong!  Eddie let go of me and crawled back up to his bed.

            With my ears still ringing from the vibrato of Eddie’s burps, I stumbled into the lower bunk. “You’re disgusting,” I spat.

            “You’re just jealous ‘cause you can’t do it.”

            Deep down I knew that Eddie was right. I could only burp if I drank lemon-lime soda really fast. Even then, my burps weren’t on the same Richter Scale as Eddie’s. longed to ask Eddie his secret, but knew a true master would never reveal it.

            “Hey, remember that time when Marina Ashton was giving that report and I...” Eddie was laughing so hard he couldn’t finish his sentence.

            Did I ever! It was at the beginning of the year. Marina was giving her report on horses and she asked if anyone had any questions.  Eddie raised his hand. The whole class grew quiet, because Eddie never participated in class unless he had to. He gulped air and burped really loud. Everyone laughed and Marina got mad and so did Ms. Waverly.   Ms. Waverly asked what his question was and Eddie replied, “What did I have for lunch?” The whole classroom lost it again. Eddie was sent to the principal’s office. 

            “That was great. Except that you got in trouble,” I said.

            “For once, I’d like to see you get into trouble,” Eddie said.

            “For once, I’d like to see you not get into trouble. I bet you couldn’t go a whole day without bullying someone or taking their money,” I replied snidely.

            “I could too, easily. I could go a whole week.” 

            It was times like this that my straight-A, honor roll brain jumped into overdrive. I knew there was only one way to beat Eddie and that was to play by his rules, which unfortunately were always dirty.  The plan that formed in my mind was not a nice one. “What if the person who completes the craziest dare at school gets the attic room?”

            Eddie was speechless. We were both engrossed in our own thoughts.  Eddie finally broke the silence. “I dare you to burp really loud in class,” he challenged.

            I was afraid Eddie would come up with something like that.  “Yeah, okay. can do that. But then I dare you to stop being a bully for one whole week.”

            Eddie let out a sigh of relief. “Easy.”

            “And you have to be nice to everyone you have ever been mean to.”

            “How am I supposed to do that? It would take forever!” Eddie whined.

            “True. But I’m giving you a week.” I said

            “Fine. But your burp can’t be a regular burp. It has to be loud enough for everyone to hear including Ms. Waverly. And it has to be at a time when no one expects it. Can you do it?”

            Not wanting to appear unsure, I said, “No problem. Do I get the whole week too?”

            “Yeah. We will start on Monday. Whoever doesn’t complete his dare by Friday loses. Agreed?” Eddie asked.

            “Agreed. Wait!”

            Eddie laughed. “Are you backing out already?”

            “No.  But what happens if we both complete our dares? Then who gets the room?” I asked.

            “I didn’t think of that,” Eddie said.

            “I know. We’ll have back-up dares for the next week,” I said.

            “Genius,” Eddie replied.

            The next week was poetry week. I knew there was some kind of great dare in there, but couldn’t figure it out. Eddie, on the other hand, didn’t have a problem with coming up with my next dare.

            “You have to fart really loud in class. And in front of Ms. Waverly. And it has to smell, too.” Eddie laughed.

            Dang, Eddie was picking all the things that he was good at. He was also a legend when it came to farting. There was this one time, in science class, when Eddie farted too close to the sulfur beaker and it exploded. The whole class had to evacuate. He got sent to the principal’s office for that one too.

            “Well, what about me? Can’t think of anything?” Eddie inquired.

            And just then it hit me, “You know how we have our poetry unit next week?”

            “Yeah,” Eddie said cautiously.

            “You have to write a love poem to Ms. Waverly and recite in front of the class,” I said.

            “No way. Ms. Waverly is so old and ugly.”

            “Can’t do it?” I smirked.

            “You little...I can do it. Wait! What if we both do our dares again, who wins?”

            “If we both do our dares, then the third week should be a shared dare. One so bad that whoever does it first, automatically wins hands down.”

            “I like the sound of that,” Eddie said.

            “You would. Hey, we have to make a pact. If either one of us tells anybody about these dares, especially our parents, then he automatically loses. Agreed?”

            “Agreed,” Eddie jumped down to face me. “I got it. The final dare. The ultimate dare!”

            “What?” I asked.

            “Whoever runs though the cafetorium in his underwear during lunchtime wins!”

            “Are you crazy? Do you know how much trouble we could get into?” I asked.

            “Are you in?” Eddie narrowed his eyes.

            “I’m in,” I said reluctantly. I didn’t sleep well the rest of the night.

 

 

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