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Bobby is one of the best paper boys in his neighborhood. He wakes up bright and early every day. Then he dresses in jeans, his favorite red color T-shirt, and tops it all off with a cap that helps keep his thick brown hair out of his eyes. By dawn, he is already riding his bike down the street. Every morning he is joined by his Chihuahua, Taco, who happily runs alongside his companion. Bobby loves riding his nice red bike and especially loves being the best paper boy in the entire neighborhood. Then, one day Bobby found out he had some tough competition.
Max, Bobby’s neighbor form across the street, was the new paper boy on the block. Word on the street was he was something to watch out for. He could deliver papers faster than all the rest of the boys. He woke up so early no one ever saw him on his route. Worst of all, he had the sweetest red bike on the street. Rumor had it that he had become the best paper boy in the neighborhood.
The news was upsetting to Bobby. Max did not tell him about his becoming a paper boy. He and Max had always been competitive. They were both fifteen, athletic, played on opposing teams at school, got decent grades, and now they were both being deemed the best paper boy in their neighborhood. It was just another thing for them to battle for.
Bobby had had it. The rivalry between him and Max was finally getting under his skin. Enough is enough. It was time to settle who the better paper boy was. With that in mind, Bobby hatched a plan.
The next morning Bobby woke up earlier than usual (about two hours earlier, to be exact). If Max was really all he was said to be he would be up earlier than Bobby for sure. He had to beat Max and go through his route first. But Bobby needed to find out how he did it. How did Max manage to deliver all his newspapers before Bobby got up to deliver his own?
Bobby was about to find out.
Bobby changed as fast as he could. He raced downstairs, quiet enough not to wake up his parents, but loud enough to wake up Taco. He followed Bobby to the garage. There Bobby did the usual: put the new morning papers into his sack, opened the garage door, and sat on his bike. When he was ready to go he was disturbed by a loud engine. Immediately, he saw a large red truck pass in front of his house. It was headed east down the road, and in the trunk, throwing newspapers across the street, completely unaware that Bobby was watching him, was none other than Max.
Bobby’s jaw dropped. The truck quietly disappeared into the darkness, its engine deafening in the distance.
“Ah hah!” Bobby exclaimed, “So that’s how he’s been doing it. He’s been cheating all along. He must know paper boys aren’t allowed to use a car to deliver the paper. That must be why no one ever sees him on his route. He wakes up early enough in the morning, right when everyone’s dead asleep, to go through his route. And then he delivers them quick enough so no one knows… except for me. Finally, I’ll reveal his little secret. I bet he’s cheated at everything else too, except this time he won’t get away with it.”
Bobby stayed awake for the next few hours. He was ready to confront Max about his drive at daybreak. So, at about ten o’clock that morning Bobby rode his bike to Max’s house. When he arrived, he went up to the front door, realized he could’ve just walked there, and cautiously rang the doorbell.
“Uh oh!” Bobby realized he hadn’t thought about what to say. How was he supposed to approach Max about this? Should he be subtle or assertive? Bobby thoughts raced in his head. He thought out loud. “Subtle, after all he is my neighbor. No, no assertive. He deserves it. No one should get away with something like this. But then he’ll know I’m…” Bobby’s thoughts were cut short when someone answered the door. Who could it be but a tired, cranky Max?
“Dude,” said Max, “What do you want?”
Bobby could already tell he was annoyed. “So, I heard you’ve been delivering some papers around our neighborhood.”
“So I think you should quit it. Everyone knows this is my turf, so I suggest that you find yourself another paper route or, even better, another job.”
Max raised his eyebrows.
“What’s wrong Bob? Not afraid of a little competition are you?”
“Of course not, but-
“Or are you just jealous?”
Now Bobby’s eyebrows were raised.
“Me? Jealous of what?”
“Don’t play dumb. We both know this isn’t the first thing we’ve been competitive about. Do you remember the football team?”
“…and who was quarterback?”
Bobby was the annoyed one now.
“Right. And remember our tenth birthday parties? Who got the most presents?”
“That was you, too.”
“And let’s not forget preschool? Who was student of the year?”
“We all know that was you. Look, Max. I don’t see the point in this.”
“The point is we both know I’m better than you. If you ask me you should be the one giving up. Face it Bobby. I’ve beat you at your own game. You’re no longer the best paper boy in the neighborhood. I am.”
“…or the best cheater. Max, you’re a liar. After all, you were the one who pushed me out of the tree house before football season started. You were the one who sneaked off with some of my presents. And you were the one who spilled all the glue on the floor and blamed it on me. You’re the one who’s been cheating all along. You’ve been the one using a car on your paper route.”
Max’s smile faded away.
“So what? As usual you have no proof.”
Max was right. Bobby had no proof. Max won again.
“I’ll get proof this time. You won’t get away with it. We get paid to deliver newspapers from our bike, not our car. When the boss finds out, you’re toast.”
“You’re just mad they’re paying me more.”
“What the - that’s not fair.”
“Time is money, and that new truck has been a fine investment. I think I better go check on it. See ya later Billy,” laughed Max.
“It’s Bobby, retard!”
Max shut the door in Bobby’s face. He rubbed his nose and felt something rubbing against his leg. It was Taco. Bobby got on his knees to pet him, and in return Taco gave him some solace. Bobby was about to ride away when he heard a commotion coming from Max’s garage. He saw the door move a little.
Bobby knew Max’s garage had a loose lock. It wouldn’t hurt to try opening it.
When Bobby successfully lifted the garage door he couldn’t believe his eyes. Max and his best friend, Tom, were stashing all the newspapers from the truck into sacks. Bobby hastily reached for his pocket and got out his camera phone. Snap! Finally proof! Max was caught in the act.
“Hey Max. Hey Tom. What are you guys up to?”
Max’s eyes widened “I can explain.”
“Explain it to our boss.”
“Bobby, please don’t snitch. I’ll do anything.”
“Fine then, I want you to start delivering papers the old fashioned way.”
“Is that it?”
“No. How about we… switch bikes?”
“Okay, but how do you expect me to deliver papers with your bike?”
“If I can do it so can you. Unless you’d rather me tell the newspaper company.”
“Fine, take it. Just don’t tell anyone about this. I still need to pay back my parents.”
“Wait a minute. I thought it was yours.”
“It will be, when I get my license. Until then I let Tom use it anytime, as long as he drives me around every morning.”
Bobby glared at Tom. “I should’ve known you were a part of this.”
Tom had a confused look on his face. Now he had had enough. “You’re on your own, dude,” he told Max. As Tom sneaked off, Max loudly shouted “Don’t tell anyone!” His bellow frightened Taco.
Max turned to Bobby. “That goes for you too.”
“Let’s shake on it, then.”
Bobby and Max shook on it. As Max frantically shut his garage door, Bobby realized how stupid he had been to believe the rumors about Max in the first place. Like anyone could really beat him at his own game.
Although, Bobby did have some things that separated him from Max and Tom: his honesty and dedication. Max cheated his way through nearly everything and never liked to fully commit to anything. As a result, he finally had karma bite him in the butt. However, this was the first time in a long time they hadn’t settled things with a fight. Perhaps Max had changed for the better. Maybe the rivalry was finally over.
So, as Bobby rode his new bike down the street, with Taco barking along his side, nine words could not escape his head: “Revenge is sweet, but compromise is a lot sweeter!” Then he smiled to himself and said “Yeah right.”