I looked tentatively from my hot dog to Gerry's stoic expression. I had enjoyed some pleasant games of Destruct-O-Match with him, had given amused looks at the more ridiculous claims in the articles of that week's Neopian Times with him, and had even bought him (and myself) a hot dog. I had yet to lift the veil of ambiguity from him.
Gerry had moved into my general neighborhood in Roo Island not too long ago, during the Month of Hunting. He and his owner both seemed like two sticks in the mud who could ruin any sort of nice conversation, whatever the subject matter may be. Regardless, Marty, my owner, had insisted that I make friends with Gerry. Somehow, I found it in my heart to begrudgingly agree. So I here I was, sitting on the green, green grass in Neopia Central, slowly chewing on a extraordinarily long hot dog from Hubert's while Gerry sat beside me in an uncomfortable sort of way.
It was... silent. By silent, I mean that weird silence that occurs when it seems like you don't know what to say, and the other person looks far from willing to speak up as well.
A familiar tune from a Neovision commercial came to my mind during this silence, and I slowly slapped my paw against the grass in remembrance. It was a funny little jingle, one that made you think of gumdrops and gingerbread (which begged the question of if the creator originated from Happy Valley). Gerry's interest was slightly piqued by the tune I was bringing into his red Jetsam ears with soft patters, and he turned his head to me.
"That's from the Pizzaroo commercial on Neovision, correct?" Gerry asked, though his eyes told that he already knew the answer.
I was startled. He'd communicated through facial expressions, gestures, and short grunts all day. This was the first time he'd spoken to me, much less spoken at all. In response, I could only stammer like a babbling fool.
"I... you... I don't... um... agh."
"Are you surprised?" he probed, giving me a small smile to accompany his obvious question. In turn, I gave the obvious answer.
"Well... yeah," I answered, some of my previous stammering fit remaining in my speech. "You haven't been very talkative at all. Actually, I've never heard you speak."
Gerry gave a hearty laugh, making me notice that his voice had a bit of a merry tone to it, which surprised me even more as him just speaking in general.
"You're a bit of a funny fellow," Gerry informed me, his small smile turning into a warm one. "You know that?"
"Well... not really," I replied honestly. He gave an amused chuckle, and I wondered if I should be insulted or not. I wasn't given much time to consider it.
"Thank you for the hot dog," he said graciously, taking another bite and quickly swallowing. "It's very delicious."
"You're welcome," I mumbled, sipping on a Starberry Smoothie. A shake of the head and a grunt had let me know Gerry didn't want one when I had gotten it.
"How much did it cost? I could pay you back," Gerry suggested, clearly attempting to be nice. I told him that I appreciated his offer, but he didn't have to do such a thing.
"Um... I was wondering," I spoke up, hesitating. Gerry perked up, nodding at me to continue. I did so. "What's your owner like? He seems... tight-lipped. That would be the best word."
"Oh, well, my owner is a bit of a stickler, you know, so I guess that you're right," he chatted, pausing briefly to take another bite of hot dog. Not only was he speaking, he seemed eager to speak, like it was something he wasn't able to do often. "Always telling me how I should dress in fancy places, and telling me to be quiet around others and whatnot. To be honest with you, I don't like him much. He got me from the pound, though, so I suppose I'd be more attached to him if he had created me."
"You were pounded?" I asked, raising my eyebrows. This was an intriguing tidbit of news.
"Yes, unfortunately," Gerry stated, sighing glumly. "It's a sad tale, really. My original owner was the most superficial, possessive, whiny brat you'll ever see. I was her first Neopet, and she pounded me for a Baby Ixi, which she pounded less than a week later."
"Ouch," I said simply, cringing to give the word effect. "Pounding you for a pet she didn't keep a week... that must feel bad."
"I think we both already knew that," Gerry pointed out, laughing heartily yet again. My face turned red in embarrassed anger, and I swiftly flipped my head away to the side.
"Oh, come on, now, don't pout," Gerry requested, though he wasn't too convincing about it due to his bemused face. "It's not like I meant to make you look stupid."
"No, it's not that," I replied, turning back to him. "I DO know that, how it feels, I mean. I was pounded for my owner to get another pet, too. I'm on my third owner."
Gerry's eyes widened.
"No, no, no, it's fine," I told him, shaking my head. "I was being stupid, anyway. I shouldn't get shaken up over that stuff. It's okay."
He face was still apologetic. "It really was my fault. Don't take the blame."
"Would you stop it?" I asked, my tone and expression both irritable. "You don't have to be the good guy. It's okay, seriously."
He looked somewhat worried, but he ultimately backed off. In about three long minutes, the conversation devolved back into meaningless chatter.
"Hubert sure makes some great hot dogs," noted a grinning Gerry. "Seriously, what does he use? Incredible, just incredible."
"Yeah, they're good," I agreed, wasting no time in gobbling up mine now that there was no tension in the conversation.
"Just good?" he asked, staring at me with disbelief. "They're fantastic! Really, the best hot dogs in Neopia. I'll probably get another one later."
"If you say so," I retorted carelessly, shrugging my shaggy shoulders. Gerry rolled his eyes at me.
"Hey, wait a minute," Gerry stated, licking his chops after he finished the hot dog. "I never caught your name. What is it?"
"The name's Kal," I informed him, licking my furry green Lupe chops as I turned to him. "Weird. I guess I forgot to say."
"Yeah, a bit," he agreed, asking if he could have a sip of my smoothie, to which I answered yes.
We sat there in silence for longer than I can remember, taking in the sights. Neopia Central was a place I rarely got to visit, and I bet he never had gotten the chance to come often, either, as he seemed to be just as wondered as me by the overwhelming greenness. It beat out even the quaint, bright grass and blue-tinted lake water of Roo Island, which is an amazing feat.
"You're... um..." Gerry began, looking down at his lap awkwardly. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion as I looked over at him.
"You're the closest thing to a friend that I've ever had," he commented. I noticed there was a slight crack in his voice.
I laughed at that, surprising even myself.
"Are you insane? You're not close," I informed him.
He looked shocked. Crestfallen, even. "Huh?"
"You ARE my friend."