No More Mr. Nice Guy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I woke late. Yawning, I crawled out of bed and stretched until my back cracked. I turned and half-heartedly pulled the sheets to the pillow, disturbing my cat. As I trotted down the stairs, I draped my bathrobe around my shoulders. I grabbed a doughnut and glanced out the window. The mailman was stuffing some letters in my mailbox. I shoved on my boots and grabbed my coat. I followed my cat out the door into the morning sunshine.

There were two letters. The first was huge, nearly twenty inches long. Inside was a tiny note from the N.I.C.E. company, saying that nice guys would try to kill me today. My good mood dissipated and I shivered. I smiled weakly and tried to shake it off.

"Obviously, someone has a sick sense of humor," my voice shook.

The second was from Okay Dokey Horsey Coral Vacations, Inc., who gave me a ticket for a boatride out of town. Shrugging, I put them in my pocket and jogged back to the house.

After dressing, I hopped on my bike and rode to work. I sat down at my desk and surveyed the library. I was amazed, for all the patrons and workers were being civil to each other. In fact, they were being nice.

As soon as these thoughts crossed my mind, they all turned towards me. I blinked, and they changed. The library walls had no corners and everything else was crooked. The people were wearing everything wrong: pants for shirts, socks for belts and skirts for hats. Psychedelic colors blinded my eyes and I blinked again. When I next looked up, I was seized by fear. I remembered the letter as they advanced. I ran, twisting and dodging hands.

I reached the bathroom and locked the door. I was opening the window to the outside and freedom when I heard a toilet flush.

I turned and gazed upon a Nice Guy.

"Isn't it a fine morning?" he asked cheerfully as he pumped my hand in greeting.

When I recovered, I was sitting on a bleacher, watching a circus. Hippos were swinging from the trapezes as strong men in tutus danced on elephants. The crowd threw nuts and stomped their feet. I was wearing my clothes a little strangely, I noticed, for my pants were on my legs and my shirt on my back. Otherwise, I was enjoying myself.

I got up and wandered across the rings to the animals' stalls. I waved to the keepers and drank from the fountain. Refreshed, I walked over to the elephants. I gave a beautiful royal blue bull elephant a bunch of nuts. A purple one received some sugar as a reward for trying to trample me. A flash of grey caught my eye. It was an incredibly ugly elephant. It had smokey, baggy skin and its eyes were a plain chocolate brown. Its tongue, instead of being fluorescent orange or at least forest green, was a dull pink. Its ivory tusks were only slightly curved outwards. I felt pity and rubbed its trunk.

I searched through my pockets for sugar and found envelopes instead. I pulled them out and examined the contents. After reading the N.I.C.E. letter, a thought tugged at the back of my mind. I looked deep into the elephant's eyes and tried to remember. A man flickered in their depths. He got up from bed, dressed, ate, and went to work at a library. It was a reflection of my life. I remembered, and woke as if from a dream.

I glanced around me wildly and saw only the elephant. I stroked his tusks and whispered, "Thank you, my friend"

I turned to run and heard "You are very welcome, friend" from behind. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked behind me. The elephant smiled an elephant smile and his frame shook with silent laughter.

"You?" my voice cracked.

His eyes danced as he lay his trunk across my shoulders, "Come, friend, let us leave this place to nightmares." Unbelieving, I clambered on his broad back and settled behind his large ears. He trotted off, weaving his way through the tents and into a black void. A few minutes, or a few days, later, we emerged at a port filled with Nice Guys. He screamed a challenge and charged into their midst. We almost reached the dock when a Nice Guy grabbed his heel. He moaned in despair and shrunk rapidly to the size of a silver dollar. I stuffed him into my pocket and dove off the dock.

Down and down I swam, yellow-orange water swirling around me. Suddenly, a purple and pink polka dotted shark appeared in front of my nose. I shot towards the surface but felt my pants tear. The elephant floated into its mouth and it choked. I burst out of the water and shed a final tear of farewell. Seeing the Okay Dokey Horsey boat, I grabbed a trailing line and pulled myself to the deck. I gasped air for my aching lungs as we set sail on a pink cloud towards home and bed.

I woke late. I stretched and shoved my cat off the bed. I trotted down the stairs and fixed a bowl of cereal. I drank my orange juice and ran to meet the mailman, trying to remember my dream.

It was a new mailman. He had chocolate eyes, pale skin and the whitest teeth I've ever seen.

"Isn't it a fine morning?" he asked cheerfully as he pumped my hand in greeting.

That triggered my memory and I shuddered, "Yes. Thanks for the mail." I turned to go.

"You are very welcome, friend," he said solemnly.

I turned back, incredulous.

His eyes danced and his frame shook with silent laughter.

"Come friend, let us leave this place to reality."

I took his hand and followed him into the sea of dreams.n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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