“Listen to this.”
Frank talked excitedly. His upbeat style buoyed me.
“Who would have thought assembling a flotilla would be so easy,” Frank said.
“You were grim a few days ago.”
“Right, right, that was then. Just listen.”
I listened. Frank tapped on his laptop, pulled up a screen and read.
“Seven Club Dead members have access to kayaks, one a double. I have secured six canoes. Eighteen can fit in them. And guess how many rowboats?”
“No. Six. What do you say, four in each?”
“Why not five?”
“Because I won’t need to. You can’t believe how many boats are out there.”
“You are new to town Frank. Lake Haloke is a fund of recreation for the locals.”
“Sun fish too. Three. Later, I’m headed up to Graystone College to see if we can use one of their competitive crew rowboats.”
“But how cool would that be! Maybe I can be the helmsman? How’s this “Stroke! Stoke!’”
“You mean coxswain. You communicate through a cox box.”
“I am not. My dad was a coxswain. His crew won two championships at Graystone. Beat Princeton. Twice.”
“I’ll have to remember that.”
“I like to remember things you tell me. Anyway, I don’t think getting seventy-seven of us out there will be a problem.”
“Let’s hope the weather is on our side.”
“I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Don’t. That’s just me worrying. I feed off your optimism. Tell me more.”
And Frank did. Frank seemed slightly dejected after his Awareness Club went nowhere. And while he’s been eager to jump onstage at lunch with Club Dead, I sensed he wanted something of his own. He couldn’t have me. But he could organize. He shined.
“I wonder about Screen, and what boat I should put him in.”
“I don’t think he likes me.”
“Why say that?”
“I can’t really say. It’s the way he looks. Like he wants nothing to do with me.”
“He does that well, doesn’t he? It’s true, I don’t think people are his favorite species, but he’s very approachable. Besides, this is important to him. Show him you care and I bet he’ll be your friend for life. Look, here he comes. Ask him.”
Frank watched Screen hop onto the stage, sit on the floor off to the side and pull out a sandwich on dark bread.
Frank was not gone for a minute before Dawn sat down next to me.
“Will you be in the play?”
“Why not? We have an great role for you - zombie number six.”
“Why is zombie number six so great?”
“First, all zombies are great. Second, you have special powers that no other zombie has. Third - ”
“You are the clear-headed zombie.”
“What’s so marvelous about that?”
“Because zombies are out of their minds. They can’t do what they are supposed to do without zombie number six.”
“You know there is nothing clear about my mind,” I said.
“We’re talking about zombie number six,” Dawn says.
“You are not. You’re making veiled references about me. I don’t like it. I think you should eliminate zombie number six.”
“That’s impossible. There would be no story without zombie number six.”
“Find someone else. How about Carrie?”
“She doesn’t speak.”
“Too angry. Zombie number six has a calm.”
“Zombies can’t be calm. They wouldn’t be zombies.”
“Okay, CJ. We need you.”
“Forget it. I don’t want to be needed.”
“What’s happening to you? You used to be accommodating.”
“That was depression Dawn. I was depressed. So I yielded.”
“I don’t know. But I don’t want to yield.”
“That would add a dimension of complexity that I think zombie number six could use.”
“But - ”
I jumped off the stage and headed for the exit. I liked Dawn and didn’t feel good about cutting her off. In fact, she’d be perfect for zombie number six. She calmed people down, even if it required her to yell. I looked back on the stage and saw her squat next to Charlie Buzztree, who cried. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled his head to her chest. I thought of my mom and wonder if she’d mind doing the same for me. When was the last time I saw her?