The Trouble With Bernie

The Initiation - 3

When Clark Olsen found out that Alex Appleby’s parents were buying the old Lincoln Theater, an idea ignited in Clark’s teenage brain, like fireworks on the Fourth of July. In full panoramic color, he imagined Mr. Appleby giving his son enough free movie passes that Alex would then pass them along to other kids. Kids he wanted to get in good with. Clark imagined free popcorn being passed to him over the counter. Maybe he could even get a part-time job. If Alex felt indebted to him, maybe Mr. Appleby would hire Clark to be an usher at the theater. That would really dazzle the many girls on whom he had a crush.

To get the ball rolling, Clark called an emergency meeting of the Blazing Bandits. After school they met in the old abandoned shack in the neighborhood apple orchard. When all the members of the club arrived, Clark banged his gavel against the clubhouse wall and spoke in an authoritative tone. “Knock it off, you birdbrains! Let’s get right to the point. I’ve been thinking ... it’s about time we brought a new guy into our club. I nominate Alex Appleby.”

The other four boys exchanged looks of shock and surprise, for this truly was an outrageous suggestion. One of the best parts of being a Blazing Bandit, or a Scorpion, or an Amazing Man from Mars, was keeping other kids out of the club.

The truth - and they didn’t want anyone else to know this - was that they didn’t really do all that much at their meetings, except read comics and argue a lot. Plus, if they let Alex Appleby in their club, they would also have to allow Bernie Jones in too, because Alex never did anything without Bernie. So there’d be not one but two ten-year-olds in their midst. There’d be nobody in the neighborhood to exclude.

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Katie's drawing of the old shack
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