A Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
It was Friday afternoon at Mandy's house and it was actually quiet for once. She had arrived home from school to find both her parents still at work. She allowed herself a small smirk, being a latchkey kid had its advantages at times. She was appreciative of the solitude and sat down in front of the TV, not expecting to really find anything, but still hoping nonetheless.
Kicking off her shoes she grabbed the remote, aimed it at the TV and clicked it. Strangely, when she did so she heard a loud, annoying pounding at her front door! Frowning oddly at the remote, she aimed at the TV again and tried a second time. Once more she was greeted with an overbearing thudding!
"MANDY, MANDY, MANDY! Opens up, I has some news for ya!"
Mandy pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration, the noise was Billy! Just once she wished she could come home and not be bothered by Billy or Irwin or Grim! She wanted to change out of her humidity soaked school uniform and get some Mandy time, dangit!
Flinging the remote on the sofa she stormed over to the door and flung it open! She saw not only Billy, but Grim who looked sour and annoyed as usual.
"WHAT DO YOU WANT?!" Mandy glared at Billy like he was some contagious germ under a microscope. She shot an especially harsh glare at Grim that let him know she was NOT pleased that he allowed Billy to visit her in the first place!
"Guess what Grims told me, GUESS, GUESS!"
"You have the IQ of a hubcap?"
Grim mumbled to nobody in particular, "That's not being nice to da hubcap, ya dig?"
"They're tearing down the old Doolin place. There's a sign that says so!"
Mandy was now interested in what Billy had to say and very much so. During the brief time she had known Ms. Doolin, Mandy had come to actually respect her, something she rarely gave an adult, ghost or not. Ms. Doolin had been a woman who didn't take no for an answer and who had carved her own niche in the world, having been a world class champion in several sports. In her time, it had been apparent that Ms. Doolin had fought for woman's rights, her previous treatment of Billy a solid testimony to that fact. Had Mandy known her when she was alive, Mandy would have considered her to be a positive female role model, someone she could look up to and really admire.
Mandy frowned, looked at Grim, and asked, "What is doody-for-brains talking about, Grim?"
"He speaks de truth, there's a sign down by de old place. This coming Monday it's being bulldozed to make room for some Endsville urban renewal plan. Can't says I'll be sad to see it go. Soon it'll be flatter than a steamrolled pancake, mon!" He began to laugh gleefully, but was halted by a peristant beeping. Reaching into his robe he pulled out a pager that looked like a small tombstone. Reading the pager's information caused him to smile.
"Duty calls, another housing slump suicide. A reaper's work is never done." With that, Grim vanished in a cloud of light grey smoke leaving Billy and Mandy to themselves. Billy took advantage of the situation and began to talk to Mandy.
"Mandy, when they tear down the place, it won't be haunted no mo', and Jeff will have to move! That scary old lady ghost, and that spider will be gone, out of my life FOR-EVAH!" Billy began his patented Billy Dance as a celebratory gesture.
"Jeff is living there?"
"Yeah, my folks finally booted him out of the basement. Hoss Delgado had to help. When he left he moved into the attic of that creepy old dump!" Billy pointed firmly to the Doolin place and stopped dancing after noticing it was not helping Mandy's mood any.
Actually, Mandy could really care less about Jeff. A spider the size of a volkswagen could pretty much fend for itself. In fact, ever since Jeff moved into the neighborhood the level of stray animals had dropped considerably. Still, Jeff deserved better as it seemed he was always getting some kind of raw deal. Mandy thought for a moment, maybe she could go over there after ditching Billy and see if she could contact Ms. Doolin, find Jeff, and tell them about the scheduled bulldozing.
"Billy, scram! I have to start my homework!" Billy knew it was Friday and gave her a look of total disbelief.
"OK, you got me. I want to change clothes, maybe take a hot shower, plop my butt in front of the boob tube, and take a large chill pill before my folks get home. Go play with Irwin, I hear he has some new limited edition Dinobinoids!"
"LIMITED EDITION DINOBINOIDS, REALLY?" Billy lunged towards Mandy to give her an appreciative hug. Realizing recently that she would actually miss Billy if anything really happened to him, she didn't punch his lights out. Instead, she merely stiff armed him. He cut a flip and landed square on his large nose!
"SCRAM, I have to change!" Mandy booted him on his fanny and sent him on his way. Slamming the door shut, she made a beeline for her bedroom. She had to change alright, she had to ditch that prim and proper school uniform and get into her usual clothes. She wanted to get to the Doolin Mansion before anybody else came to the house!
A short while later Mandy, wearing her familiar pink dress, was making her way through the dense overgrowth in the yard of the Doolin Mansion. It was still pretty much the way it was the last time she was there. The old, tattered scarecrow still hung askew on its post and the property was still full of decades of trash and weeds. Stopping to give it an appraising look, she tried to imagine what the delapidated multi-storied Victorian house might have looked like in its heyday. As it was, the place was over a hundred and fifty years old easy! Pretty impressive in its time, she finally thought, but sad, now that old age and disrepair had took over, the house had to come down. She had read the notice staked out in the front yard. Full of legal mumbo-jumbo, it basically said the demolition was being done because the house was so old and unsafe and afterwards the property would go towards an urban renewal project since no living owner could be located.
Her appraisal done, Mandy climbed the steps and went inside the main lobby. The inner screen door gave a loud creak as she entered. She tried to catch the spring powered door as it shut, but it slammed with a loud bang, obviously the rusty spring was still functional. The noise startled a stray cat that had been asleep just inside the doorway. The cat made a rapid dash inside the dark house to safety, but suddenly disappeared upwards with a panicked MEOW and a frantic flailing of legs! Mandy blinked twice to make sure of what she saw, something had lassoed the cat and took it upwards, but what? A moment later Mandy heard a muffled shriek followed by enthusiastic, wet crunching! Mandy thought for a second, frowned, realized what it was, and yelled up into the darkness.
"Jeffy, did you just EAT a stray cat?"
"Oh! Hi, Mandy, did you want some? I'm sorry, here." Mandy heard a whoosh and jumped back as the mangled remains of the just killed cat landed with a sickening splat at her feet. She resisted an urge to upchuck. Jeff was nothing if not polite.
"Umm...Erkkk...No thanks, I just ate." She grimaced and stepped away from the dead cat. Looking back up into the darkness she yelled, "That could have been somebody's pet, you know!"
"Hey, if they have collars I leave 'em alone," came the reply. "Anything else is fair game. Besides, I'm not exactly your average ennsey, weensie, climbed up the waterspout type spider. Regular bugs don't cut the mustard with me."
Mandy had to admit Jeff had a point. Shrugging, she answered, "Fine, works for me, big spiders need a big cereal. Now get down here, I have some important news about this house!" She stepped back as she sensed, rather than saw, Jeff preparing to leap from his lofty perch.
About the same time Jeff thudded in front of Mandy she was startled by a familiar voice behind her!
"What about the house, Mandy?"
Mandy turned and saw Ms. Doolin entering the lobby from an adjoining hallway. She was dressed exactly as she was the last time they met. Walking across the room, she nodded to Jeff who greeted her with enthusiasm.
"Hi, Ms. D! Say, do you know Mandy, too?"
"Yes, Jeff. I do. We've met before." Ms. Doolin gave the dead cat a quick look, but didn't say anything.
Before Jeff could respond, Ms. Doolin asked Mandy again about the house. When Mandy explained that the sign outside said the house was being torn down the upcoming Monday, Ms. Doolin got real anxious and dashed out to the front yard! Mandy and Jeff quickly followed and found her staring intently at the sign!
"WHAT? THEY CAN'T!" Mandy looked at Ms. Doolin who had quieted down, but was mumbling under her breath. She couldn't be sure, but Mandy thought she caught a few words, something about..."searching and not being ready yet?" Unsure, she let it go.
Jeff joined in the discussion, "TEAR IT DOWN! Golly, where will I go? There's good eats around here, just look at me!" Jeff turned a few quick circles in the brush and it was plain to see he was putting on weight. Strays, obviously, agreed with him.
Mandy shushed the large spider, "Just hang on, Jeff. If it's one thing I've learned it's that you CAN fight City Hall. Of course, it helps to have some ammo." She looked at Ms. Doolin, her expression clear, "Do YOU have any ammo?" she wondered.
Ms. Doolin, still somewhat distraught, continued on, "Some nerve, this house has been in our family for generations. In fact, our ancestors built the place!"
Mandy, somewhat ticked at Ms. Doolin now for not answering her unspoken question offered up a sarcastic comment, "OK, it's got sentimental value, has it got anything else besides dust, dead cats, and a yard Tarzan could live in?"
It was then Ms. Doolin did something that caught Mandy totally off guard. She called her by her first name, rather the actual first name on her birth certificate.
"AMANDA, don't you ever talk to me like that, or speak ill of this house, ever again. You understand?" She pronounced each syllable clearly and leaned into Mandy's face to drive the point home! Still quite agitated now, she turned, focused her anger on the sign, and gave it a swift kick! The kick splintered the post and sent the rest of the sign flying. With her anger seemingly abated, she turned to face Mandy and Jeff again.
Mandy was honestly startled at the intensity of her outburst, so she tried a different approach. Jeff just stared, not sure of what to expect as he looked at the remains of the ruined sign.
"How do you know about that name?" she asked quietly. "My folks don't even call me that, I won't permit it."
"I know more than you think, I know your Mom and Dad are named Claire and Phil, and I also know you have power over that bag of bones, the Grim Reaper." Ms. Doolin looked at the surprised Mandy for a moment and then continued talking.
"Why is she SO upset over a rundown mansion you ask? I'll tell you tomorrow, right now it's getting dark and I have urgent business inside. I promise I'll answer all your questions when you return." She then spoke to Jeff. "You may remain outside and hunt if you wish. Oh, and clean up the cat on my floor first, you know how I feel about scattered leftovers."
Jeff answered with his usual enthusiasm, "Sure thing, Ms.D. It won't happen again." After saying goodbye to Mandy he dashed back to the house with surprising speed for one so large, no doubt to finish his meal and then continue hunting.
Ms. Doolin chuckled to herself and waved bye to Mandy, "He makes an excellent watchdog, don't you think?"