The Elderly Delinquents: Rumble at Roo Oaks
“Son, now that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, I say, the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
“But Gramps, I swear, that’s what happened!”
“Manny, stop that.” A wrinkled pink claw reached out and grabbed the old Grarrl’s shoulder, pushing with such strained force that she could juice an orange.
“Gerroff me,” growled Manny. “You stop that!”
Manny pushed off his wife’s claw and leaned in closely towards the cowering little creature in front of him.
“Now you listen here, boy, and you listen well!” muttered the green Grarrl. “A young boy of your age shouldn’t be going around telling such tall tales, because that’s what’ll get you booted out of school and you’ll wind up playing Bilge Dice in the back of an alley until you’re my age. Now scoot to school, and for gosh sakes, Myrtle, gerroff me!”
Little Grag looked up as his grandfather with both a cute scowl and smile combined into one joking expression. His grandfather, unfortunately, did not seem to appreciate the humor of it.
“What’s so darn funny?” grumbled Manny with a huff of annoyance. “You kids today, all smiles and no hard work. You won’t be smiling, though, when you’re playing Bilge Dice in the back of an alley until you’re my age!”
Myrtle, meanwhile, was having none of this. As her husband ranted, she dusted off the little beanie cap that had fallen to the floor and placed it gently back on top of her grandson’s head, lovingly bestowing a huge grandmother-esque kiss on the top of his scalp.
Little Grag blushed at his grandmother and scowled at his grandfather, but kissed both grandparents’ respective cheeks, and scampered out of the retirement home and down the path towards his kindergarten.
“What a sweet boy,” said the pink Grarrl, smiling as she admired her grandson through speckled glasses. Then, she turned towards her husband and slapped his head. “No thanks to you!”
“Not yet! But soon, all my advice will come roaring into action.”
“Oh, please,” she grunted. “All that comes roaring out of you lately is all your snoring while I’m trying to sleep.”
“Now Myrtle, we’ve been through this,” murmured Manny, grabbing his wooden cane and hoisting himself up from the squishy armchair. “I’m just trying to teach him right from wrong.”
“He was telling us what they serve for lunch at school! How is that right from wrong?”
Manny gave a giant harrumph in Myrtle’s direction and hobbled over towards the refreshment table, eager to get his hands on some rice cakes before the 9:00 AM Meerca rush began.
“Enough is enough.” Manny licked his lips. “Time to have me some rice cakes!”
Roo Oaks Retirement Home for the Retired was well-known for its phenomenal rice cakes, as well as its further abundance of elderly-specialized foods. In fact, the rice cake recipe had been so widely regarded that Queen Fyora offered quite a hefty sum to the owner of the home, a Kacheek by the name of Hank Wiildemaker, just so she might create them in her Hidden Tower.
“Those dang Meercas,” grumbled Manny. He picked up a bunch of cakes and stuffed them into a handkerchief. Then he took a few extra. And then just a few more. And then he opened Myrtle’s purse and put a few more cakes (and some dinner rolls) in as well. “They’re always rushing to grab more of these things than they deserve.”
Myrtle looked at Manny’s handkerchief and her own handbag with a scowl on her face. “You know, just because they’re free doesn’t mean you can take the whole batch.”
“Oh, pssh,” he huffed. “They’re free access! Besides, Hank can always just whip some up whenever he wants. He’s like that.”
Myrtle’s eyes widened. “Do you even HEAR what you say sometimes?”
Manny grunted and maneuvered past his wife, who sat with arms crossed in the other squishy armchair in the center of the room. As he sat down in his own chair and began munching on the cakes, he heard the clamor of pots and pans from the next room over.
Suddenly, a cane-burdened pair of Bruces came hobbling in, almost in a sort of hurry, followed by a Kau with orthopedic shoes.
The first Bruce, a blue male wearing wide, dark sunglasses, led the troop, but unfortunately so; as he walked past Manny and Myrtle’s sitting area, he overshot it and banged straight into the mantelpiece above the fireplace. Portraits and trinkets fell to the ground.
“He’ll be lucky if he doesn’t go deaf, too,” groaned Manny, covering his ears.
“I heard that!” cried the Bruce, whirling around. “And I’m not blind, Manny, contrary to popular belief around here! It’s just quite dark sometimes, and my eyes don’t quite work as well as they once did. Speaking of working, Manny....”
The second Bruce, a jolly yellow female, trotted over to his side and wrapped her arm around his, giving him a peck on the cheek.
“Don’t mind Jerry, Manny,” said the second Bruce. “He’s just babbling now. You come work on the cart when you feel up to it.”
Manny grunted and nodded in the general direction of the two Bruces, eager to change the subject. But they went on.
“Yeah, Manny,” said Jerry excitedly. “It’s coming along really well now... I think we might actually have a shot at this thing! And then we’ll win that prize money, buy Hank’s recipe, and live it up when we’re making millions as entrepreneurs!”
Jerry shot a lamp an eager, happy look. Hilda cleared her throat, though, and Jerry then gave the look towards her direction. Myrtle, however, gave her husband a bothered glance. “Manny?”
She looked up away from Manny and towards the Bruce couple. “Hilda, Jerry... would anyone like to tell me what’s going on here?”
Hilda looked surprised. “Oh? Manny never told you?” Myrtle shook her head, and Manny stuffed his mouth with more rice cakes. “Why, our husbands are building a race car to enter into the 25th Annual Faerieland County Racing Championships!”
Myrtle’s expression turned deadly.
“Excuse me?” She slapped the handkerchief full of rice cakes right out of Manny’s hands. “Mannithew Sundance Graackowitz! You never told me you were entering a race car derby!”
“Because that’s not what it is!” shouted Manny back, crumbs falling out of his mouth every which way. “It’s not a race car derby... it’s the Faerieland Championships!”
Jerry and Manny reached over to each other and bestowed a great big high five in mid-air, a feat they’d tried multiple times in the past and had yet to fully complete until a few days earlier.
“Why didn’t you ever tell me about this?”
“Well, I wanted it to be a surprise! And I know how you don’t approve of anything that gets my heart level up...”
“No, I don’t! And that’s exactly why I forbid you from entering that tournament!”
“But honey!” cried Manny, “I want to do something with my old life! I don’t want to just sit here eating rice cakes and playing Bilge Dice in some alley somewhere...”
Myrtle’s expression showed no remorse. “You... are... forbidden.”
Myrtle shot a look at Hilda, who returned it with a pleasant smile before she understood and shot the same look at her husband. “You too, Jerry.”
Both husbands stood straight upright, Manny’s cakes falling to the ground and Jerry’s cane accompanying it. Immediately, they began to shout out reasons why they were the men of the home, why they didn’t need permission to compete, why they could do what they wanted, why they didn’t need to listen to their wives.
“But we’re the men of the home!”
“We don’t need your permission to compete!”
“We can do what we want.”
“We don’t need to listen to our wives!”
Manny and Jerry’s hands immediately flew up to cover their mouths. The line they had crossed was miles behind them now.
Myrtle’s face began to turn a bright maroon as she stood up and faced the two grown men. However, before she could bellow and reprimand her stubbornly stupid companion and his stupidly stubborn best friend, the purple orthopedic shoe-clad Kau stepped forward and uttered (no pun intended) a gigantic MOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
As he stepped forward, Myrtle took a seat in a jealous huff. She hated it when he would screw up her conversation just as she was about to make a point. She hated few Neopians in this world, but one of them at the top of her list was him. She hated the Interrupting Kau.
“Nau nau,” said the Interrupting Kau, “No need to be so harsh.” He pushed his glance outward towards both Hilda and Myrtle. “Your husbands merely want something to occupy their time as life passes them by and rice cakes continue to be produced. Nau, if you wanted to talk about the –”
“Really, must you?”
The Interrupting Kau turned sharply towards the voice, which was undeniably Myrtle’s.
“I mean, really, Kau!” she said, staring down the hoofed figure. “Why must you constantly be interrupting our conversation? I mean, what’s your purpose here? You’re always here, following us around, lurking throughout the home, treading on the heels of anyone who walks slow enough.” (At this, Jerry looked ashamedly down at his feet as Hilda patted his back.) “Really, Kau, leave us! Leave us now—”
Myrtle was fuming by then, with Manny looking on as scared as a grumpy old Grarrl could be. Still, the Interrupting Kau remained unfettered by the elderly blob of disapproval.
“You hear me out this time,” mooed the Kau. “I’ve been employed by the good people here at Roo Oaks Retirement Home for the Retired to look after the residents and make sure that I stop anything crazy from happening here. And so ends all craziness that could have possibly stemmed from any conversation you four have just had.”
“What are you going on about?” harrumphed Manny. “You can’t just step in here and stop us.”
Jerry courageously agreed. “This isn’t your place!”
Hilda looked at the bright shining sun outside, then at her husband, decked out in sunglasses, canes, and enough padding to insulate an igloo. She patted him on the back.
“Dear, it isn’t yours, either.”
But Myrtle wouldn’t have any of it. She went on and on to the Kau, complaining about his lack of professional judgment in interfering with the lives of others that clearly he had no right to aptly interfere in.
“Look, lady,” said the Kau suddenly, a stern look sliding across his face. “That’s it. You stop. I stop. We all stop. Yield to traffic, light a fire, stay in school, the whole she-bang. No more crazy. That’s my job. That’s all I do. And if you can’t respect that, then maybe your hair needs just a bit more gray in it!!!”
Having said that, the Kau gave a huff and fluttered away, scuffing the bright purple rug that covered the wooden floor.
Manny, Myrtle, Hilda, and Jerry looked incredulously at the bottom of the now-scooting creature, and then at each other.
“Well,” said Manny, breaking the awkward silence of it all. “I think it’s time for some rice cakes.”