Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 190,692,040 Issue: 582 | 15th day of Awakening, Y15
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Jewel's Journal: Summer - Part Three


by gelert548

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Art by gelert548

Dear Journal,

      I could just scream. Seriously, it hasn't even been a week since my last entry. Judging at the rate we are going, sooner or later, I might make it a habit to write on you every day.

      I need somewhere to write this down, though, so the plan for the New Soup Kitchen Menu Contest (I can take credit for that name. It has a nice jingle, hmm?) is something like this:

      What you're supposed to do: You pay a fee for registration. That's the major CHARITY part of the event. After you fill up the registration form with the typical registration things, you sashay over to the competition area, and make your soup.

      The fee: Over 500 NP, if possible. The amount depends on the contestant.

      Competition area: In the Soup Kitchen. We need a lot of pots, though.

      Prize: The top 10 soups get to be part of the new menu. Also, lots of adoration and recognition because man, the same old Minestrone and Chicken and whatever else are so boring.

      I brought up the possibility that we might not make enough solely on registration fees. It's not like we can expect some zillionaire to walk in and dump the entire Neopian mint on us. So, Silva, as usual, wanted to find some sponsors. Sponsors to provide us free meals and supplies and hopefully, donate. And then, there's advertising (I will talk about that later). There's a whole lot of logistics that come into organising an event (it's no walk in the park!), and unfortunately, guess who has to handle all that? Me.

      Wait, you interrupt me, I thought Silva was in charge? Yes, she is the Head Organiser of the event, but then it so happens that she assigned herself to finding the sponsors, which I imagine, would only require her knocking on doors and looking extremely gorgeous to manipulate them into signing up. So, until she's done with that, I have to like, handle people: training the volunteers, finding people for the event, etc, etc.

      And that's not the worst part either; Trot expressed it really well when I called her about the competition.

      "What! It's on the day of the concert?!"

      "Hey, it's not my idea! The Soup Faerie was really, really bent on that Sunday." That Sunday is two weeks from now.

      "But how are you supposed to go? Don't tell me I wasted my hard work for our future for nothing!"

      "Dude, I CAN still go. I think the competition ends three hours before the concert. So it's like, if you help me out for the competition, we can leave together to Tyrannia by Eyrie Express. How's that sound?"

      She let out a strangulated grunt at the other end of the Neomailer line. "Do I really have to help out?"

      "YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND." Wow, I wasn't so sure if it was because she used up her motivation in the three weeks of her journey in the bottomless pit of her Voltage obsession, or if she really doesn't want to work. Whatever the case, she is my eternal best friend, which gives me certain privileges, such as forcing her to do things. "I want you in the Soup Kitchen by Wednesday, day after tomorrow. I'm supposed to train people, and I'm really scared, so you better be there, ok?"

      That took care of finding me a helper; Trot's the best choice because she's my only friend, and since she's a lot more insane, in comparison, if I suddenly snap and become cuckoo, I would never look as bad as her in her normal state. I still care about wanting to be that Cool Chick with Tons of Inner Beauty, or at the very least, not becoming that Insane Lenny sputtering out Tons of Gibberish and regressing to Level 1 in the Popularity scale.

      I wasn't going to the Soup Kitchen on Tuesday. Neither was Silva for the whole of this week. If I wasn't her 'assistant' (servant, more like!), I would have enjoyed that break from her constant yakking that sounded like an extract of a long, heavenly operatic musical.

      I gave myself that Tuesday to gather up my army. I couldn't trust the volunteers to do some of the work even if my life depended on it. I would rather jump into a boiling pot of soup. I needed a photographer, an emcee, someone to handle the registration, and an artist for the advertisement.

      Finding the first three was super easy though: that's my family! That's probably because of my leftover karma points that made it a breeze. I was really surprised of Safey though, because he actually volunteered to be the emcee. Safey, an emcee, doing something that isn't playing a prank on anybody? Picking him as emcee is like asking a hot-tempered Elephante to guard a crystal shop. There are a lot of people coming to the competition (hopefully), and that means a lot of victims to play a prank on. But he assured me that "I'm going to be fine, trust me, I am not bringing my friends either". Well...

      So what was left was finding an artist. That was why I needed the entire Tuesday off. I was going to see Adrien.

      You're a new journal, so you probably don't understand the big deal about Adrien. If Silva didn't exist in my life (I wonder if my karma points can make that happen??), I would consider him the most gorgeous Lenny alive. Apparently, Trot and other people don't seem to think the same way, but that's probably because Silva (as well as all of the handsome athletes in Neoschool) existed in their lives also. Adrien is Neopia Central Neoschools resident artist. He's so good, that even the principal pays him! I have been in the same art classes as him since Primary Neoschool, and I have had a crush on him since (getting beef rouladen flashbacks again), but I am so over it. I am so over him now. Like I mentioned in my first entry, it's never going to happen.

      "Hey, Jewel!" greeted Adrien. He was at the front yard with his little sister Olivia, a tiny adorable monster of an Ogrin. He was teaching her how to skate. "I haven't seen you in almost a month! You still look pretty as ever!"

      Normally, I would have melted into a puddle and seeped into the drainage underneath the sidewalk. But I am not a fool anymore; I am a confident, dazzling young Lenny who is going to rack up so many karma points that maybe one day I can actually afford living alone with a thousand Dandans. Still, I couldn't spare him from my irresistible charm. He's the only good-looking guy in Neoschool (or the whole of Neopia) to actually recognise my existence. I supposed I had to reward him in some form.

      "Sorry, I was busy!" I gave him one of my best tactics: I flicked my hair (which I let down that Tuesday; don't ask me why), and combed it. "I'm volunteering at the Soup Kitchen, and there's a contest we're planning to help change the menu, and we need an artist to help advertise, so..."

      Olivia screamed and crashed into the bushes.

      "Is she ok?!?" I jumped out of my bike. Adrien rolled down the tiny hill and pulled his sister out. She looked just like him the last day of school, with brand new leafy 'feathers'. She coughed and sputtered some more leaves like a reverse vacuum cleaner.

      "Yeah, I think she's fine," said Adrien, nuzzling his beak on Olivia's muzzle. "What do you want me to do; posters, brochures, leaflets?"

      "Anything goes, really!" I said. I pulled his skateboard from under the bushes. "Do I have to pay you?"

      He looked at his sister, and then turned his deep, dark brown eyes at me. This time, I really did want to melt into a puddle and seep into the grass as fertiliser. Seriously, I am so over him, I shouldn't have these feelings!

      "It's the Soup Kitchen, right? Charity stuff, and after all, it's you asking me. So nope, no payment; it's all free."

      I cycled home; my army is complete. I considered going around Neopia Central to look for Silva, but that meant I had to do more work that is entirely disproportionate to my like for her (which is none), even if it was just hiding in the bushes witnessing her cruel, beautiful act of mind-controlling her potential sponsors.

      The next day was, five words: Complete Cafeteria Disaster, the Revival. Well, that's what I get for being eternal best friends with a Peophin who caused the Beef Rouladen Explosion before summer, and cleverly asking her to help in the Soup Kitchen. This is the Cafeteria Monitor's big fat curse to us (as big and fat as she is); I don't know how much worse it can be if I hadn't had my karma points to protect me. We'd probably trip into a boiling pot of soup and be sent to the Cafeteria Monitor personally as her entry in the New Menu Contest.

      Trot came in looking like a victim of her three-weeks-of-absence. I have never seen her so transformed; her sweet blue mane was done in a bob, she wore everything she owned of Voltage (which is, 90% of her wardrobe), and she was actually wearing makeup!! I'm now counting the days until she reverts back to her original, plain self.

      "What's the plan?" she asked, hovering into the Prison like a new, na├»ve inmate.

      The plan on Wednesday was that, with our amazing power of friendship and cooperation, we would convince the Soup Kitchen volunteers to do more than they should. I had to tell these people what the contest was about, and the pot arrangements, and all those logistical things. It was still early in the morning.

      "FYORA, am I glad I am not you!" She turned and suddenly, "ATTENTION, YOU PEOPLE!!"

      If there's one thing you can rely on Trot to do, it's catching people's attention. Ironically, despite her ability, she's not very popular. I suppose living in a family with a couple of annoying sisters and a brother does create competition for attention, and even if Trot is completely devoid of any talent beyond the mastery of opening and closing her mouth and making sounds using air pressure at top speed, she knows how to grab attention at how horribly she does things.

      Anthony the Green Chia opened his mouth first. "Yes, what is it?"

      I told them about the contest. They seemed excited about it (except the Blumaroos who kept chopping vegetables). Some of them were already asking what they should do.

      "Erm, you just, help out with the arrangement of the pots? We have to arrange them, three in a row, outside the Kitchen. That's later, not now! Basically, just a few volunteers will do, helping out with the audience and contestants. Not everyone has to come; the food is already provided, so those involved don't have to make soup."

      I hoped what I said was correct.

      Anthony the Green Chia and several others raised their hands.

      Well, now I had my foot-soldiers. I told them how to handle people, basically: don't make people trip, the customer is always right, speak politely even if the person you are handling is the biggest jerk in Neopian history, and don't make the soup explode.

      A knock on the door; it couldn't have been a very desperate hobo, it was only 8 AM NST. The Prison only opens half an hour later.

      Adrien stood at the door, with a huge roll of paper in his feathers. "Hi, Jewel! You weren't lying about being busy!"

      "Yeah, haha, well, it's not entirely my fault..." I mumbled. I wondered where Trot was.

      "I finished it," he said, unrolling the paper to reveal the most gorgeous poster ever, so perfect that even if Silva stood beside it, she would look uglier in comparison. "Well, not really finished. This is the second draft; I will work on the final piece later."

      "Wow! It's really great, Adrien!" I said, tracing the letters with my feather-fingers, narrowly missing a big, fat splat of boiling hot chicken soup aimed to maim me. It maimed the poster instead, making some kind of big, fat hole in the middle just the same way Trot's chickpea did to the Cafeteria Monitor's eye.

      My karma points saved me again!

      "Ohmigosh, eek!" squealed Trot, flinging the bowl of the violent soup right over our shoulders and onto the poster, obliterating its beauty completely. Adrien stood there flabbergasted; his feathers over his beak; like I imagine all artists do when they see how horrible their art is in comparison to the Mona Lupe.

      I turned around to face Trot, who looked pretty embarrassed, but I couldn't tell the degree of it because she's a red Peophin all over.

      "I'm so sorry, Adrien!" I apologised for the both of us. He picked up his wet poster and gave it a thousand-yard stare.

      "It's ok; luckily I have it in my head already..." He didn't sound disappointed, but I didn't want to guess with him. "I will see you next week with the finished poster, and then maybe some brochures."

      Because of Trot, even if I'm so not into him anymore, she made me lose my only chance once I got sick of being a confident, gorgeous Lenny with a thousand Dandans. Trot may be destined to become an insane spinster with her museum of Voltage memorabilia, whether or not she earns her own karma points, but no way, no how am I going to end up like her! I will make it known to my non-existent grandchildren that their grandma's best friend stole their grandfather and turned them into questions left for posterity. Journal, you are responsible for giving them a piece of family history.

      I figure that it's time for me to look elsewhere. Maybe the handsome athletes in Neoschool, or the handsomer supermodels I sometimes see in the Neopian Art Centre for Fashion Week, if Silva isn't in the way monopolising the competition.

      It was Friday (today) when Silva returned. I expected her to enjoy the time not having to do any work that risks getting her gorgeous feathers muffled. From what I gather, she already found something that actually uses her beauty to the evil purpose that it's designed for (mind-controlling offices and shops). She walked in, like she was going down the runway, with a surprisingly thick stack of papers attached to a clipboard.

      "Jewel, how's the stuff?" She was dancing on her toes.

      I wanted to kick her at the shins and run away screaming, but Trot wasn't around that day (I guessed she spent all of Thursday night trying to find an excuse not to go, and she actually found a really convincing one: Jewel, I'm so sorry! But my brother got kidnapped by Jhudora because I won that contest; I'm not going to be fooled again), so I couldn't get away with looking insane.

      I told her everything was ok. Everything was not ok. The foot soldiers weren't doing anything earlier beyond cleaning the 100 pots (which should be Silva's and my duty if we didn't have the contest). We plan to have a maximum of 100 entrants, and a minimum of hopefully, 100 entrants.

      "Great!" said Silva ignorantly, turning the clipboard she was holding to my face. "Look how many sponsors I gathered already! Look!"

      I admit: Silva's super-popularity and unnatural good looks did have a benevolent advantage. I have never seen a list of things so long before, not even the homework list our Mathematics teacher usually gives us, and not even the number of laps our P.E teacher so loves to torture us with. She not only collected sponsors, but donators! Neopians who would generously give all their hard-earned Neopoints away as if the Arcade exploded and all the money showered upon us like rain in the Lost Desert.

      "We are totally done finding sponsors! We don't even have to worry about the donations!" Silva snatched the clipboard away from me. "Now, it's just the organising, and the planning!"

      A pot crashed and rolled in our direction, and unfortunately not at Silva's, but mine. Like a graceful ballerina-slash-acrobat (Journal, this karma-points thing is really becoming too much, even for me), I leaped over the pot, and also unfortunately into Silva's arms (there are some things even karma can't save me from), sending the pot rolling over Anthony the Green Chia behind me.

      After we finished peeling Anthony off the pot with a shovel, we had to scrub the pot to get rid of Green Chia fur and assorted molecules and DNA.

      "You did a really good job while I was away," said Silva, inconsiderately flashing me her extremely blinding smile. If only she looked away and faced the pot we were cleaning, the light would incinerate much of the remaining Chia cell samples. Sad to say, it was my destiny to continue sitting there trying to scrub away (as loudly as I could) the implication that she doubted my ability to handle an event.

      "Thanks so much, though," she continued. "You know, about this time, I should be done volunteering for the Soup Kitchen. It's been over a month already."

      Dangit, why didn't my karma points force her to leave?!

      "I will stay for a bit these two weeks. I'm Head Organiser after all! Until the contest ends, and the night of that Voltage concert. Are you excited for it?"

      I assumed that she meant the concert, and not about her leaving in a fortnight, because if it was the latter, I would be doing an interesting, overexcited back flip atop the pot. And then we would have to clean the tracks of my feet off the surface.

      "I guess so?" I replied.

      I really can't answer this question. In a couple of weeks, we will find out.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Jewel's Journal: Summer - Part One
» Jewel's Journal: Summer - Part Two
» Jewel's Journal: Summer - Part Four



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