Friends Are Friends Forever
“Boy, Hugh, old Mike is really going to get a charge out of this one,” Jerry said, as they hauled the enormous grasshopper suit across the beach toward the lodge. “It’ll be the best joke ever. He thinks he is coming here for a fishing trip!”
“The weather will stay cool here on Grasshopper Island,” Hugh replied. “I don’t think Mike will need the cotton suit like the stuntmen wear. By the way, what will happen if the weather does change to much warmer?” he asked.
Jerry replied, “The suit will adhere to his skin with very painful removal. He will think it is a part of him. The weather man said it would stay real cool. By the way, Hugh, we used some of the real grasshopper skin to get the color correct in my makeup class.”
“Don’t tell me the details. It looks real enough to me and that’s all I care about. He will only be wearing it for a short time anyway,” grinned Hugh.
“I have never laughed so hard as I did when we removed our sheets to convince Hank we were not really Obe Wan Kenobi…not even he was ready for the sight of us in our bikini underwear. It was smart of Kathy to call us to get him out of his character. I don’t think he would have let anyone else on the deck of his imagined space ship us,” replied Hugh.
“Two weeks is a long time to stay in a rented Halloween outfit. I thought we had lost him to Darth Vader for sure. I hope he doesn’t go off the deep end in this grasshopper outfit. That head sure looks real to me. Are you sure it is not going to spit at me? If it were not for the place for his arms, legs and face, it would scare me just looking at the immense suit,”retorted Jerry.
“Got the knock out drops?’ asked Hugh as he lowered the temperature in the hallway.
“Yes,” answered Jerry, while he shut the grasshopper suit up in the closet. “It is on the cabinet. Do you think we should spike his whole bottle of Heavenly Hash or just one drink?”
“One drink will be enough,” Hugh assured him.
They installed light dimmers in the main room where the mirrors were so when Mike awoke and looked at himself, he would be fully convinced he had turned into a grasshopper.
“Well, here we are Hugh, on old Grasshopper Island again,” Jerry said, a few days later. “Where’s Mike gotten to, anyway?”
“He’s loading his gear onto the boat first. He’s talking to the grasshoppers. Sometimes I wonder how much longer before he goes off the deep end. Can you hear that song again?” quipped Hugh.
“Is he playing ‘Friends Are Friends Forever’ over and over? You do know he recorded it over and over on the same tape so it plays for an hour straight. I am glad you told him we had heard it all we ever wanted to. Still, when you think about it, it is our friendship song. Where did you tell me that cave is located?” Jerry questioned.
“The cave is inside the cove facing the other islands. When the tide is out, you can get a boat in it. If the big fish are feeding there, we can get a mammoth one first. There is a ledge in here big enough for our chairs, fishing equipment and ice chests. Once inside the cave we can travel from this side of the island to the other by following the current,” Hugh answered.
“Oh, yeah, how come we never knew about the cave before now? We’ve been fishing here for years.” Jerry growled.
We never swam or investigated until last year. I kept it a secret from Mike on purpose, thinking we might use it in our joke on him. Look at him down there, bow tie and all, putting his equipment aboard.” Hugh explained.
Mike put both his brand-new $300 rod and reel in the safest place aboard the thirty-foot fishing boat. He then hid his bait in the most secret place he could find on the boat. “Yes, sir, you grasshoppers are gonna love me this year. Look here, I have the newest bait for the largest catfish in fresh water. I will catch the biggest and best fish ever with this scientific bait especially made compact with fifty-foot radius odor drawing capability!”
“Make me leave the Dark side for reality, will they? I’ll show them a thing or two. HA! Watch my smoke, Mr. Grasshopper. Look here at the knock out drops I bought for their Jim Beam. One drop each and they will be out for twelve hours. Just the right amount of time I will need to launch the board and get my fishing done before they come to,” Mike told the grasshoppers.
Later that night Jerry asked, “Are you sure this is going to work?”
“There you go again, doubting a year’s study and toil. Of course, it’ll work. Here we have a monster grasshopper with one big bright bow tie, human arms and legs sticking out, and a fly for his use on the front. His face fits the opening under the head perfectly. The eyes are big and the mouth is movable. Of course, it will work for an hour any way!” yelled Hugh.
“He looks real enough all over. His wings do spread out and move up and down. He could fly a few feet. Should we take his watch off?” Jerry inquired.
“No. We probably can’t get his wedding ring off anyway. Well, there he is, ripe and ready. I’ll turn the temperature to 65 degrees so the suit won’t stick to his body,” explained Hugh.
“Let’s have a drink, Hugh, and get some blankets to keep warm. You know, I feel like we are beginning on an adventure instead of playing a joke. I wonder why,” grinned Jerry.
“Its’s so cold in here,” groaned Mike a few hours later as he stumbled into the hall to turn the temperature up to 95 degrees. Staggering back into the living room, he fell on one of the couches and went back to sleep for a few more hours.
Mike awoke with a massive headache, sweating and the room spinning until he held on to the side of the couch where he was lying to stop the movement. The room was dim as he turned, he saw a glimpse out of the corner of his eye…a flash of a grasshopper. He looked full length and was stunned. He asked himself out loud, “What has happened to me? I see my
face, arms and legs, but how did I turn into a grasshopper? Give me a break you guys!” he yelled.
“Some joke”, Mike snapped as he tried to pull the suit loose from around his face. He pulled and pulled, but it would not move. It stuck fast. He staggered backwards from the effects of the strong knock out drops. He reached down to rub the suit that surrounded his body. It was as if it were his own skin.
“I feel like I drank a pint of Heavenly Hash,” Mike whispered, as he felt the room swimming again. “Hugh, Jerry wake up! I need you guys now,” he screamed.
Later Mike began to stir again and said, “Is this because I refused to fish with the grasshoppers that I have grown into one?” he asked as he leaned up against the wall in the hall.
“Maybe if I go in the bathroom with the mirror and all the light I will be back to my old self,” he said. “No!” he screamed over and over. What has happened?”
“Did I fish so much with the grasshoppers, they are getting even? I told them today I was never fishing with them again and I know they heard me. Then, again, maybe they have made me the King of the Grasshoppers to lead them. Yes…that’s it. I’ll go down to the boat…but where are Hugh and Jerry?”
He looked down to discover grasshopper legs. He touched them all over with his hands.
They were useless. Then he turned his head and noticed his wings. He spread them out and made them flap flexing his shoulders.
“Hugh! Jerry! Help me,” he yelled.
Mike stumbled into the main room filled with panic. There lay Hugh and Jerry, fast asleep. Mike moved them around some but his knock out drops worked longer than he expected.
“What can I do? Where can I go? I know. Fishing! I can get to the boat and beat them at their own game like I planned. That’s it.” He said in a whisper. “Oh my head hurts. The room is spinning again. If I can just get to the fresh air everything will clear up. I have to catch a bigger fish than they do. My head. I’ll be human by the time I get to the boat,” Mike said.
“Jerry, it’s so hot in here. Whew! I have a headache. Did we drink that much last night?
I’m turning the heat down. What time is it?” groaned Hugh.
“It’s eight o’clock. It can’t be. We had one drink and my watch shows eight on Thursday. We had our drink on Wednesday.
Where‘s Mike? You don’t think he drugged us, do you” asked Jerry.
“Oh, my goodness, he did,” replied Hugh as he ran for the front door. It’s dark. Mike! Mike! Where are you?” he screamed.
“With the heat turned up the suit must have stuck to him. We have to find him. I’ll turn all on the lights on inside and outside. Maybe he’ll be drawn to the lights and come back by himself,” Jerry remarked.
Mike walked the half mile from the lodge down to the boat muttering to himself, not believing and then again, seeing he had become a grasshopper with useless legs. Arduously he tried to climb into the boat but couldn’t get in. He made his way back to the lodge but instead of going in, he climbed the huge tree outside and laid on a limb, stomach and head down, thinking what to do next.
“Let’s see, how was it Jerry told me grasshoppers made a sound? Oh, yeah with their back legs rubbing together,” Mike growled. He climbed down from the tree and rubbed the back legs together with his hands. The sound was a pleasant buzzing so he kept doing it over and over.
A few green grasshoppers came, then black kings, browns and yellowish ones flew into join with the whirring. They were
crawling, hopping and flying from everywhere around Mike. The more came, the more Mike enjoyed the sound; and strangely enough he knew, so did the thousands that showed up.
“Hugh, the sun is coming up. Maybe we can find him now but where to begin? Hey, what is that over there?” Jerry asked. “Oh, no! What in heaven’s name? It’s, it’s …his arms with his watch and ring! Look! There is no blood, just sinews hanging out. Get out of my way, I am going to puke!” yelled Jerry. Get them out of my sight… ohhh this is not a joke anymore,” Jerry lamented.
They used Hugh’s jacket to wrap the arms in as they walked slowly back up to the lodge.
“We can put the arms in the refrigerator. What have we done to Mike?” asked Jerry.
“I just do not get this. How could his arms just disconnect? I am scared. What will be next?” Hugh exclaimed!
Zoom! Whish! Hugh and Jerry looked up to see Mike dive bombing them. “Let’s get
Into the house,” screamed Hugh. Just then a big splat hit the ground. It was brown liquid like tobacco.
“What was that?” yelled Jerry as he ran through the front door.
Hugh was breathing so hard he couldn’t answer. “I think, I think it was the juice grasshoppers spit when frightened.”
“Look, he has flown right off the cliff over the water. Where is he going? How are we going to explain all this to his wife?” yelled Jerry.
“I am not worried right now about explanations. Let’s get inside the house, shut all the windows, lock the doors and turn the lights off,” exclaimed Hugh.
Before they could close the curtains a huge crash of glass and then another one occurred. Hugh and Jerry ran into the dining area where the French doors used to stand.
Grasshoppers were everywhere, buzzing and diving.
“Let’s get out of here, Hugh. Head for the boat. Make a run for it. My heart is about to burst out of my chest. I am scared,” Jerry quipped. They ran as fast as their legs would
carry them the half mile to the boat, but Mike was faster flying overhead, dive bombing them with spit.
They jumped into the boat. “I’ll start the boat, you cast off Jerry. Let’s get out of here and head for the cave. The tide is out so Mike can’t get inside. His wing spread is too large.” Hugh shouted.
While plowing through the ocean in the boat, Jerry ask why so many grasshoppers were on this island. Hugh explained,
“Their favorite thing to eat is the leaves of the dandelion plant which covers Grasshopper Island,” Hugh replied.
“Ok, Mr. Know-it-all, how is Mike going to hear when we try to talk him out of being a grasshopper the rest of his life? Will his ears fall off? “Asked Jerry.
“There are organs on some insects called tympanum which cause them to hear. I don’t know what will happen to Mike’s body if he stays in the grasshopper suit. We will just have to wait and see.” answered Hugh.
It seemed to take forever even with the engine full throttle to get to the cave and tie up inside. The smaller grasshoppers followed them. They shut the hatches inside the cabin to keep them out.
“We’re stuck in here, you know, until the tide goes out again tomorrow unless you want to follow the current around to
the other side of the island and leave after dark. What do you say?” asked Hugh.
“Sounds like a good idea to me. Let’s get and try it when it gets light,” replied Jerry.
Mike and his grasshoppers flew from island to island eating vegetation. It was strange, though. They did not eat everything. Just – half. It was as if some human thought guided them not to eat it all in their pathway as most grasshoppers.
It took Hugh and Jerry several days to circumvent the island in the cave and as they came out Mike met them. He seemed tired and moved slowly. His human face was gone – covered with the skin. The only thing left was his bright bow tie.
Mike landed on the boat, looking at them with his grasshopper eyes – seeming many Hugh’s and Jerrys. Somehow, he recognized them.
“Mike is that you?” asked Hugh. “Do you remember us? We are your friends. We didn’t know you would turn into a grasshopper forever. I do remember you told us several times you should have been something other than a human. I am so sorry.”
Mike was shaking his body up and down as if answering them, “Yes!”
“We didn’t mean to hurt you. It was a joke,” Jerry explained.
“Do you like being a grasshopper?” Hugh questioned.
Once again Mike was shaking his body up and down. With that Mike flew off toward the sunset, then turned, came back and spit a huge blob of brown liquid on the boat. Then he disappeared toward Grasshopper Island.
“Remember the last time we went to Grasshopper Island, Hugh? It was ten years ago. We repaired the damage done to the house and made sure we put Mike’s arms in the chemical solution to preserve them.”
“Yeah, I still don’t know why we did that unless it was because it was all we had left of him. Mentally we should be basket cases, but the reason I think we’re not, is because Mike wanted to be something else other than human all along. At least this time of the year, it is warmer and we can swim. Bringing our families will keep us occupied so we will not get upset about the past. I do need this visit to check the cave and just look around the island again. That will bring me peace,” Jerry replied.
“I want to check on the fishing in that cave. I wonder if the grasshoppers are still around. There haven’t been any sightings of Mike in years, though. Are you depressed about all of this Hugh?” asked Jerry.
“Yes, I feel lonely, somehow,” replied Hugh. “Maybe it’s because we are older now. I still miss the nutty old Mike. It really wasn’t necessary to spit that last blob of us. He always did want to get the last laugh in, and when you think about it – it was funny. Wonder what we will find?
Hugh and Jerry beached the boat and ran up toward the house. The door was standing open. They looked at each other questioningly and ran to the refrigerator. Their families raced in behind them wanting to know what was going on.
“Where are the arms? There should be at least bones left anyway” Hugh shouted at Jerry.
Hugh’s wife thundered at him as he and Jerry ran outside frantically searching around the outside for the arms. “Have you two lost your minds? What is happening? You didn’t expect find Mike’s arms in the house did you?”
Jerry’s wife, June fixed herself a strong drink of whiskey and snuggled into a comfortable chair to wait for answers.
Hugh and Jerry sat down on the front porch steps confused and upset. “What could have happened to the arms? I just do not get it,” replied Jerry as he covered is face which was wet with tears.
“How did the front door get opened? From the looks of things in here, it has been open a long time,” retorted Hugh.
“Dad,” Hugh Junior proposed, “we better unload the boat and tie it up or it will float off somewhere. Come on Dad. We will be busy for an hour unloading everything.”
“Good idea son. Come on Jerry, let’s get after it,” Hugh replied.
“Later we can watch that movie we brought so do not forget to bring it in. Perhaps we can get our minds off all this disappearing of body parts,” June suggested The next day the families were found swimming and fishing from the beach to be fun for the day. Jerry and Hugh took the boat to fish inside the cave and talk about where the arms could have gone.
“What is that on the ledge?” asked Hu “It looks like a cage to me. Let’s get the boat tied up so we can examine it,” exclaimed Jerry.
“Oh, my God! It’s the frame from the grasshopper suit. Look Jerry! There are bones inside. A skull and a body with missing legs and a ragged bow tie. The arm and hand bones are beside it. Oh! No! It’s Mike!” screamed Hugh. “It’s Mike! It’s Mike!” Hugh repeated
over and over with tears streaming down his face as he knelt by the end of the cage and stroked the bones as if they were a pet.
Jerry stood there leaning against the cave wall staring, not saying anything, then heaving and throwing up in the corner.
After ten minutes, they both knelt by the cage sobbing and moaning in sorrow.
Looking up, Jerry asked. “What is that written in the sand all crooked on the other side of the rock over there?”
“I can’t make it out yet,” answered Hugh.
“It’s, it’s it’s…………………………………….
FRIENDS ARE FRIENDS FOREVER