Georgie felt his heart pounding and he was sure that everyone in the restaurant could hear him breathing. He watched through the crack in the ceiling as Smiley Zywatski poured the poison into the girl's beer. His tall body was unbearably squished into the small attic space and he felt the panic start. He couldn't shout. He couldn't move. The woman lifted her glass and took a sip. Beep Beep Beep Beep Georgie's alarm clock broke the vision. He banged his head on the wall and wished it was just a dream. Unfortunately this dream actually had happened. And after he testified in Smiley ZywatskiÕs trial, the threats started. He finally had to move from New York to Utah. Utah of all places. He rolled to the edge of the bed and slipped off. He went into the bathroom and looked into the mirror. Not much to see. Tan skin, blue eyes, tall skinny body. But the hair was good. He really liked the hair. The electric blue color was perfect for an electrician. He pushed it back out of his face. The clothes from yesterday were still on the floor. He gave them a quick sniff and muttered Well Georgie, you really got yourself in a pickle and you smell like one too.Ó He put the clothes back on and banged his head on the door as he walked out to go to work. As he walked down three flights of stairs his new neighbors kept calling out Hey ya Sparky!Ó, or Good morning, Sparky!Ó or How ya doinÕ Sparky?Ó And every time, Georgie muttered with his Texas accent ItÕs GeorgieÓ. On the bottom floor, Georgie knocked on the door of apartment number 13 and waited. His new friend from work opened the door a crack. Hey ya PerryÓ said Georgie. Hey SparkyÓ Perry groaned. It's GeorgieÓ Georgie said. WhateverÓ Perry muttered IÕm too sick to go to work todayÓ. ButÉbutÉwe got us a big job.Ó Sorry SparkyÓ. It's GeorgieÓ WhateverÓ You know we gotta re-wire the whole jail kitchen this week.Ó YouÕre gonna have to handle it today SparkyÓ. ItÕs GeorgieÓ. Whatever. You gotta get started without me.Ó Well. O.K.Ó He was hoping the day would get better but it got worse. He walked to work to get the truck and drove on over to the jail. The sheriff opened the gate and Georgie rolled down the window of the truck. Got bad news for ya SparkyÓ the sheriff said. It's GeorgieÓ. Whatever. The prisoners couldnÕt all be moved.Ó Oh isnÕt that just greatÓ Georgie muttered. But weÕre giving you a guard to go with youÓ. WhatÕs his name?Ó ZywatskiÓ WhatÉwhat.. what was that?Ó GeorgieÕs voice softened. ZywatskiÓ said the sheriff again. WhereÕs he from? ÓGeorgie asked. Be patient. YouÕll be with him all day. You can ask all your questions yourself. Now park the truck and letÕs get going SparkyÓ. ItÕs GeorgieÓ Georgie said. Georgie tripped going into the sheriffÕs office and banged his elbow on the door. Wait here. IÕll go get ZywatskiÓ the sheriff said. Georgie thought about Zywatski. Could this be Smiley? No way. Smiley Zywatski was in prison in New York. The guard who walked through the door wasnÕt Smiley. But when he held out his hand to shake hands, he smiled and Georgie was sure. This wasnÕt Smiley but he had to be related. Luke ZywatskiÓ said the guard. Glad to meet you.Ó GeorgieÓ said Georgie thinking that maybe it would be better to conceal his last name. But everyone calls him SparkyÓ said the sheriff. ItÕs Georgie.Ó Georgie said quietly. Georgie.Ó Luke said. He smiled and said I hated my nickname too. everybody used to call me SmileyÓ. LetÕs go to work Luke.Ó Georgie smiled. But inside he was still wondering. The morning went fast with Luke holding a battery powered lantern while Georgie worked. While they worked, Luke told Georgie about the day the wiring got fried. The jail cook was making his specialty, fried salami sandwiches. The prisoners call them Fried SlimeÓ Luke said. Everybody hates them. Seems like every time he makes them, somebody gets real sick. But the cook thinks theyÕre great.Ó So he made dozens and dozens and had all the grills going full blast. It got so hot the grease started a fire. The fire spread into the wall. It burned out pretty much all the wiring before the fire department put it out." So whatÕs everybody eating while the kitchen gets fixed?Ó Georgie asked. Oh, the cook said he didnÕt want anybody poking around his kitchen. So, he came in about five minutes ago and said he was going to make a cold lunch for everybody including you and me.Ó Luke answered. How nice of him.Ó Georgie answered, thinking how glad he was that he wouldnÕt be left alone with Luke Zywatski. LetÕs go get some food.Ó Luke said. Maybe if we get there first we can find something edible.Ó They walked into the kitchen and found the cook making cold salami sandwiches. He turned around when Georgie and Luke came in. The look he gave to Luke made GeorgieÕs stomach curdle. The cook handed both of them a sandwich but didnÕt say a word. Luke and Georgie looked at each other, said thanksÓ to the cook and walked back out of the kitchen. Neither one of them said a word when they tossed the sandwiches in the trash. There was one last piece of wiring left to fix. It was up in the attic. Georgie felt dizzy looking at it. It was a tiny little space. It was dark. He felt the panic start. WhatÕs wrongÓ Luke asked. You got a problem with attics?Ó IÕm kinda claustrophobic.Ó Georgie answered. Well, you gotta go up there anyway donÕt you?Ó Luke asked. Uh yeah, I guess I do.Ó Georgie said. He climbed up the ladder into the attic. He could barely see. He could barely breathe. He could barely work. Then he heard a loud yelp and everything went dark. Georgie started hitting and kicking the floor of the attic. Luke Zywatski must be down there killing the cook. There would be no witnesses when Zywatski killed Georgie. Georgie started kicking and pounding harder and harder. A loud crack sounded and Georgie began to fall. It hurt. But he knew he had to save the cook. He had to save himself. So he rolled over and stood up. He started out limping, but then broke into a sprint. At the end of the hall a door opened and Georgie saw two figures moving rapidly outside. He followed them outside and saw the two fighting on the ground. Luke was on top of the cook. Georgie ran to them , pulled Luke off the cook and started mauling him. The cook jumped up and began to run. As he ran, he turned and began to yell. IÕll get you someday! IÕll get you! IÕm gonna kill you! Your father killed my daughter and someday IÕll kill you!Ó Get off me!Ó yelled Luke. Go get him before he gets away.Ó Georgie let go of Luke but just stood there. He really didnÕt understand. (People named Georgie arenÕt too quick. ) Just when it looked like the cook would escape, the sheriff threw open the door of the jail office. The sheriff dashed across the prison yard like Benny in The Sandlot. He leaped into the air and tackled the cook. Later that afternoon the sheriff, Georgie, and Luke sat in the jail office drinking coffee. Smiley, Sparky, you guys got a little explaining to do.Ó said the sheriff. I donÕt think I can explain anything.Ó Georgie said. Well , said Luke, I think I can explain one thing.Ó What?Ó said the sheriff. Fried Slime really does make people sick. The cook was trying to poison me.Ó And Georgie tried to kill you too?Ó the sheriff asked. I thought he was Smiley ZywatskiÕs son.Ó said Georgie. I am.Ó said Luke. Smiley Zywatski Éis my father!Ó he said in his best Darth Vader voice. So you were going to kill me for putting your father in prison!Ó I despised that man!Ó Luke yelled. Why do you think I hated being called Smiley?Ó Georgie put his head down in shame. But pretty soon he started laughing. I guess I really screwed up this time. IÕm real sorry.Ó Luke was quiet for minute. And then he said with a smile ItÕs OK. SparkyÓ.
September 1, 2007