Chapter One: The Friends Meet
Traffic was stopped along the highway, choked and congested. Much like the occupants of the Hyundai Elantra near exit 34.
“That was DISGUSTING Belle!” The driver of the silver Elantra, Peter, rolled down the window choking from the stench. His brother, Bill and their father, Joe, were doing the same.
“Sorry Daddy.” Belle rolled her eyes, staring blankly out the window. Her eyes were blank for a six-year-old, and her father was worried about her. So worried that he was moving her away from the city of Brisvegas and relocating her to the town where he'd grown up – Pleasantville.
A young boy walked into a two-storey house some distance away in Pleasantville. He was upset. A few days ago he'd been told that his friend who lived in the house next door had to move as the owner of the house was coming back. It was the fourth friend he'd had in that house, it seemed no family wanted to stay there.
“Charlie! Go and check on your sisters for me please.” His mother, Betty, was elbow-deep in pastry. The boy, Charlie, trudged upstairs to check on his twin sisters, Isabelle and Elizabeth (or as they will be known, Izzy and Lizzy).
“Oh my – GROSS!” Charlie bolted out of the room. One or both of his baby sisters had dirtied their nappies.
Betty sighed, set the pastry aside, washed her hands and went upstairs to tend to her daughters. For a long time no matter how disgusting his sisters were, Charlie had been willing to help with anything. Since the neighbours had moved (again) he'd been distant – too distant for a seven-year-old.
The Masters family and their now stinky Elantra pulled up to the house in Pleasantville. There still wasn't a fence between it and the house to the East of it – instead there was a very large eucalypt which bridged between the bedrooms and the ends of the houses. Peter wondered if his old friend was still in that house.
He knelt down to Belles height and pointed to the bedroom whose window opened up to the tree. “That's your new room – where your Aunt Jessie used to sleep.” His eyes darkened as he thought of the sister who had walked out on them a long time ago.
“You mean the little bitch who was so up herself she didn't think we were good enough?” Belle asked innocently.
“Yeah…please don't use that sort of language again.” Peter ushered her towards the house, making a mental note to smack his younger brother senseless – who says that sort of thing in front of a six-year-old?!
Belle walked inside the house. It was very open-plan, with the entrance opening out into the loungeroom, which was framed with the open kitchen at the back and the dining room next to it. Off the dining room looked to be a bathroom of sorts, and next to it was a bedroom, where Joe was unpacking boxes. Right in front of his door was the stairs, so Belle climbed up them. Upstairs was another bathroom, and at one end was two bedrooms and at the other there was only one. Belle headed towards the bedroom at the East end and found herself in a tiny room, barely big enough to hold a queen-sized bed and a desk. At one end of the room was a HUGE wardrobe though, so it made up for the fact it was narrow.
“Watch out, coming through!” Bill called. Belle skipped out of the way against the wardrobe as her uncle brought in a huge queen-sized double bed. “Er…I guess you can climb on over the end, right kiddo?” He looked at where the bed was going.
“I guess.” Belle nodded. “At least I won't be able to fall out of bed.”
Her father then brought in her desk, which he set up with a mirror opposite the window that looked out onto the big tree. Next to the desk was her big set of drawers, and finally there was about five boxes of clothes and toys that needed to be sorted out.
Charlie was lying on his bed. His room was big and square, with a desk, toybox and a huge poster of Jackson Blue, the courageous Captain of the Brisvegas Leos. He heard something coming from the house next door, and looked up and through the window to see a little girl with bright yellow hair and brown eyes putting papers into a chest of drawers. He watched her for a few minutes, before heading downstairs.
“Mum, Dad, the new neighbours are here!” He said as Betty Begly was busy playing with the twins.
“Are they?” Thomas, Charlies father, perked up from his newspaper. “Well, let's go and say hello and see if we can give them a hand.”
“I can't take these two over, they'll just get in the way. Take Charlie and the dog with you.” Betty said. Thomas looked at Charlie, shrugged back.
“Woof!” Charlie called. “We're going over next door!”
A large Beagle bolted through the loungeroom and skidded to a halt next to Charlie. He barked loudly.
“What are we going to do with you Woof?” Thomas shook his head.
The three went over to the other house, and knocked on the door.
“Tom?” Peter answered the door.
“Pete?” Thomas replied
The pair glared at each other, before laughing and hugging.
“You're weird Dad.” Charlie muttered.
“It's good to see you mate, I haven't seen you since Belle was born!” Thomas said.
“Well, you'll be happy to know I finished my law degree in Brisvegas.” Peter grinned.
“So you ARE a blood-sucking scumbag after all!” Thomas laughed.
Charlie let the men talk. They walked inside and sad down at the table.
“You'll have to meet my daughter, Belle.” Peter smiled.
“Is that the girl I saw?” Charlie asked.
“Yup.” Peter grinned. “Hey Beauty, someone's here to meet you!”
“So, did Jill come back?” Thomas asked. Peter shook his head.
“I'd rather not talk about it, especially in front of Belle.” He replied. “How about you?”
"Nice work! Who'd have thought old Tom Begly would be shackin' up with old Booty Betty?" Peter laughed
“I'd rather you not call her by her old nickname in front of Charlie.” Thomas turned slightly pink, but still grinned. “I told you she loved me.”
Just to inform our readers: Thomas Begly is 170cm (still taller than Peter!), rather solid and was balding by the age of twenty. Betty Begly ne Howsat, even after three children, is 180cms, with a gorgeous figure and long red hair.
Just then, Belle walked in shyly. Peter frowned slightly. The last year or so had changed Belle from a very outgoing, sarcastic and loud child to a shy, meek one.
“Hi.” She said.
“Hello there!” Thomas smiled kindly. “Say hello Charlie.”
“Hello Charlie.” Charlie smirked as his father.
“Why do you two go outside and play?” Peter suggested.
“I'm still tidying my room.” Belle replied.
Charlie looked at his father in shock.
“You can finish that off later Beauty, off you go to play with your new friend.” Peter ushered the pair and Woof outside into the joint backyard. The Masters family and the Begly family had been friends for centuries, and the two homes had been built together so the two families could maintain their friendships. The two children made their way outside, where they proceeded to eye each other warily.
“You'd better be as cool as my other friends.” Charlie warned.
“Eh.” Belle sat down and started ripping up grass. Woof sat next to her and sniffed her ear. She waved him off.
“What's wrong with you?”
“Why don't you want to play?” Charlie frowned.
“My Mum says that you should always strive to make new friends.” Charlie tried.
“Mums suck!” Belle suddenly bit.
Charlie swung a fist at Belle, who dodged easily. Enraged, Charlie tried again, and missed again.
“You're a slow-poke!” Belle teased. She swung her leg to try and trip the boy up, but his leg was too solid and he was too strong. He went to grab her but she dodged again. Woof started barking loudly at the pair, trying to get between them.
“Hey, what's going on here?!” Bill ran outside. “Belle, why are you fighting with this kid?!”
“She said my Mum sucks!” Charlie cried.
“All Mums suck!”
“PETER! YOUR OFFSPRING IS FIGHTING WITH THE NEIGHBOURS!” Bill cried.
“Just shout it over the neighbourhood why don't you, you numbskull?!” Peter fumed, running outside.
“Well if YOU would get your act together as a parent-,”
“If YOU had any idea how to BE a parent-,”
“GENTLEMEN!” Joe growled from the kitchen. Thomas, who had run out with Peter, laughed.
“I see some things never change.” He chuckled. “I'll see you guys later.”
He took Charlie and Woof away.
“Charlie, Belle had a really hard time with her Mum. She doesn't know any better.” He said as the pair walked inside.
“Charlie, if Mum decided she didn't love you anymore and left you to die on someones doorstep, wouldn't you think she sucked?” Thomas asked.
“Well, yeah. Is that what Belles Mum did?” Charlie asked.
Meanwhile, Peter was talking to Belle.
“Belle, just because your Mum sucked doesn't mean everyones Mum sucks. I reckon you'll find Charlies Mum is really cool.” Peter said to Belle.
“Belle, Charlies Mum takes care of him. She loves him a lot and would never leave him.” Peter told her.
“She wouldn't?” Belle asked.
Belle was back in her room, putting the last of her clothes into the giant wardrobe, with its several hanging racks and shelves along the inside. It was almost a walk-in, except it was much smaller.
She could hear her father, grandfather and uncle fighting in the kitchen about dinner. They could never agree on anything, and were always having arguments. However, Belle knew that if someone tried to hurt her or any one of them, the fighting would instantly stop and the three would become an unstoppable team.
Her family was cool like that.
“Hey, Belle!” She heard Charlie calling from his bedroom.
“Hi.” She replied. She grabbed her chair and sat down at the window.
“I'm sorry about before.” Charlie offered.
“I'm sorry too.” Belle replied. “Can we be friends?”
“Sure!” Charlie replied. He slowly eased himself out of his window and into the tree between them.
“Is it safe?” Belle asked.
“Of course it is!” Charlie climbed across it.
“Oh look, it's monkey boy! And he has a little girlfriend too!” They heard a snide voice from below.
“Daryl Jones!” Charlie groaned.
“Daryl Jones?” Belle asked. “He looks mean.”
“He called you a monkey!” Another snide voice.
“And his little sister Sunny.” Charlie told Belle.
Belle looked down at the Jones siblings. Both had jet-black hair, and both were skinny with fair skin, compared to the suntanned look of Belle and Charlie. The two siblings had icy blue eyes and freckles, and almost looked like twins. There was a small scratch on Sunnys face, otherwise the pair were immaculate.
“You two are mean.” Belle pointed out.
“Yeah, and?” Daryl replied.
“You shouldn't be!” Belle snapped.
“Well too bad. I can so I will.” Daryl smirked.
Charlie snarled at him.
“Stop looking like a twit Begly and get down here so I can thump ya.” Daryl called out.
“NO.” Charlie replied.
Daryls smirk faltered.
“Oh look, a kitten!” Sunny squealed.
Daryl turned around. A little calico-coloured kitten, looking dirty and underfed, was struggling to get out of a drain. Daryl smirked again. He grabbed the kitten out of the drain and put his fingers around its neck.
“Well then, I guess I'm going to have hurt this kitten inste-ARGH!” Daryl cried as Belle rushed over and bit him – hard! He dropped the kitten, which looked confused.
“That was too mean Daryl!” Sunny cried as Belle scooped it up. She turned on Belle. “But you didn't have to bite him!”
She aimed a kick at Belle, catching her in the stomach. Belle groaned and rolled over, trying to protect the kitten.
“Leave Belle alone!” Charlie jumped out of the tree and stood beside his new friend. Daryl smirked at the pair of them, when suddenly a voice called out.
“CHARLIE! DINNER! BRING BELLE WITH YOU!” Betty summoned the children. “Oh, it's YOU two.” She looked down her nose at the Jones children.
“Smell you losers later.” Daryl walked away, taking Sunny with him. Betty looked at Belle and Charlie.
“Are you two okay?” She asked.
“Yeah.” Belle got up, holding the kitten. It meowed.
“Oh the little thing! Get up and bring it inside, we'll get some warm milk into it.” Betty helped Belle to her feet.
Belle smiled at Charlie, who smiled back.
And from that day forth, the pair were the best of friends.