“And then what happened?” Joe asked the next day at school.
“Whatcha think? I called the cops!” I said.
Alex froze when he saw me, but his drop-out-loser brother Jeff grabbed him and ran for it, so did the third guy. I tried to catch them but they jumped into a car and almost ran me over.
They got arrested two hours later. Man, that felt good! Let them rot in jail for all I care.
“What about the money?” Joe was still in shock.
“I’ll get it back once the investigation is over I’m sure. But that might take a while” I replied.
“You’re good man. You really pulled this off. You look like he#@ though!” Joe said.
“I’m so beat I don’t remember the last time I closed my eyes. Third grade was it?” I half-joked.
“Does anyone know about this yet?” Joe wondered while we walked to swimming class.
‘No, but I’m gonna go to the scout council and tell the truth; see what they say!”
18 laps later, swimming practice was finally almost over. I was struggling between two massive extremes of wanting this day to end and wanting time to pause so I don’t have to face my family.
Four hours to go, and no cookies to sell.
Now would be a good time for Tanya to be swallowed by an alien from outer space.
I was suddenly curious about her sales, not that it mattered though. I looked for Timmy boy before going back to the locker rooms. He probably keeps track of every girl scouts’ sales, including the names of their customers, their phone numbers, addresses and shoe sizes!
I couldn’t find him, which probably meant the coach made him stay behind and do 10 extra lapses to help build his upper body.
Poor Timmy boy; Even teachers pick on him.
I heard a splashing sound and my heart stopped for a sec. I ran to the pool area and had to rub my eyes to make sure what I was seeing was real.
Someone was still in the pool, sinking to the bottom of it, almost motionless. OH MY GOD! It’s Timmy boy!
I jumped into the water and fished him out.
No wonder no one noticed him drowning. He’s so small he could fit right in my back pocket.
I called for help and pressed both palms on his chest to pump the water out. I’ve seen it done in movies. Or do they press on the stomach?
I had no idea what I was doing. I’ve seen them do the mouth-to-mouth breathing thing, too. I might try that next and by ‘might’ I mean find him a grave coz no way in HE#@!
Timmy boy was coughing out water by the time paramedics came in and then his parents arrived shortly after that.
Was that really Timmy boy’s dad? He looked like one of those hotshot businessmen in $5000 dollar suits.
And his mom… Like one of those uptight ladies in the Congress or something!
“He must have flexed his foot wrong and got a cramp. His vitals are stable and there seems to be no reason to worry, thanks to this young man over there. He saved your son’s life!” The paramedic said, pointing at me.
Timmy boy was shipped into an ambulance. His dad was obviously really shaken up. A lot more than the mom, who seemed really mad. I think she might sue the school and close it down.
Uh-oh! His dad’s walking over here.
He better not cry and hug me! Coz that would make him a rich weirdo!
“What’s your name son?” Timmy boy’s dad asked.
“Ali Salem. Ali with an ‘I’ not a ‘Y” I smiled.
“That’s good to know” His dad finally smiled too. I think my little name- spelling lesson calmed him down!
“Thank you for saving Jim’s life, Ali! I need to go to the hospital now, but I’m sure we will meet again soon.” He said, shook my hand and left.
I hopped on a bus after school to go to the police station. They wouldn’t release the stolen money, though.
Apparently the simple privilege of ‘getting your own stuff back without having to involve your parents coz they’ll ground you for life’ doesn’t apply till you’re 16!
I’m pretty sure this falls under Human Rights Violation. Dad’s anger issues + bad news + no helmet.
Yeah, that adds up to one funeral….MINE!
I went to dad’s office and told him exactly what had happened. He punched the wall, flipped his desk, broke the window, cursed me for a solid 15 minutes, yelled at his secretary then broke the phone.
Those anger management classes mom insisted he takes are really paying off. He’s totally transformed. Proud of you dad!
Dad went back to work after signing some documents at the police station and giving me back the money. Mom and Sara weren’t home. They were gonna meet us at the ceremony after Sara’s doctor’s appointment.
I ate, showered, prayed, finished ALL my homework in two pomodoros and still had time to NAP!
I wasn’t tired anymore though. I felt so energized!
Oh my God! Wait a sec! Is this how people who don’t procrastinate feel ALL THE TIME?
Seriously?! GET OUT!
I did it one day and I already think they should teach my success story in college. To professors, after renaming it to the “Amazing-Ali-Salem” technique!
I ran to the convention center where the scout contest was taking place, gave in the money, took a couple more cases and set up a booth outside a nearby superstore. I figured since I had time, it was worth the shot!
I sold another 44 boxes. 1,001 in total. Things were lookin’ up.
The girls were giving in their final revenues. I could see Sara and mom on the other side of the room. Sara had to sit down coz of her cast.
Many of her girlfriends gathered around her, holding their breaths. But they were all excited over nothing! I already overheard Fatso-Tanya’s final number. 1,033 boxes. SO DAMN CLOSE!
I felt so bad my ribs hurt.
“And now, everyone please take your seats. The winner of the grand prize will be announced shortly” The old scout council lady said.
And then I heard a very familiar voice cry out hysterically,
“HOLD IT! NOBODY MOVE! Ummm please?”
Oh, my Allah . It was TIMMY BOY! He scurried up to the stage, whispered something to the lady in charge and gave her a big fat huge brown envelope.
Everyone in the auditorium was completely stunned. The old lady gasped, did those drama queen gestures, like fanning her face with her hands (what’s up with that btw?) and then hugged Timmy boy so tight I think she popped all his zits!
She whispered something to him and I saw him scan the crowd with his four eyes.
“That’s him!” He pointed at me.
What the…? What did I do????
“Speech! Speech! Speech!” All the students, parents and councils chanted at the same time. Of course, my drama queen sister was still crying, or leaking out two fountains of what girls call ‘happy tears’.
I’ll probably live and die and roll in my grave asking the same question. “How are we supposed to know the difference between sad and happy tears?”
I was completely, ecstatically, ridiculously AMPED! You have any idea how hard it was to keep my cool when they announced the winner was ‘Sara Salem’? I had totally given up!
But turns out Timmy boy had started an online campaign with virtual shopping carts and credit card payments and everything.
He then sent out emails to the thousands of employees working at his dad’s company, telling them my story and how I was helping out my sister!
He put up flyers in mosques and churches and parks, and even did a little animation video on YouTube! Timmy managed to make Sara and I celebrities of the week!
And he sold 10,000 cookies in the process. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
He’d been working on it since the day I gave him the idea of writing a book about the ‘Pomodoro’ technique and told him he’d hit it big one day.
“No one has ever believed in me the way you did Ali” Timmy boy came up to me later. “You gave me a goal to live for and then you saved my life. I know you don’t like me still, but even so…thank you!”
I hate those awkward emotional moments. Someone says something and the other one wells up and then there’s a hug in the end! Ughhhhh
“You sold 10,000 cookies! For real? That’s ten times more than I did. You made me look bad dude! I should kick your skinny butt all the way to China!” I smiled. “But seriously, thanks, Jimmy! That was really cool.”
“Wow! Did you just call me Jimmy?”
“Shoot I’m sorry. Timmy! Thanks, Timmy!”
He patted me on the shoulder and walked away shaking his head.
What did I say?!
Not only did Sara win the contest, her name is going in this year’s ‘Genius Book Of Records”
Timmy boy’s dad attended the ceremony, too. He came to congratulate me and then handed me a lifetime membership card to ‘Cray Jay’, best Italian food chain on planet Earth.
With all the stupid facts he’d told us over the years, Timmy boy never mentioned his dad practically owns the place! SICK!
This was the best day ever…. Sara won the contest, I got a VIP card and most of all, the greatest dream of my life came true. It’s every single guy’s dream to hear those three magic words that make your heart sing: Free Pizza Forever!
I helped Sara with her clutches and she finally made it up to the stage to give her winner’s speech. She started off by thanking God, mom and dad, and every single member remotely related to the cookies program.
She talked about what she learned and how it was a one of a kind experience. She sounded so mature it freaked me out a bit, and then she looked at me and said:
“And last but not least, I wanna thank my brother Ali for everything he’s done for me. Even though he can be annoying sometimes, and he teases me till I scream, and he once put cream cheese in my conditioner bottle, he’s the only one who can make me laugh so hard till I can’t breathe, and he’s the reason I feel protected! I remember back in elementary, he’d randomly storm like a tornado into my class to ask the teacher if anyone had bothered me that day. True story by the way.”
Everyone was laughing at this point, and then Sara continued.
“He is the reason I’m standing here today, and I know he’s gonna kill me for this tonight but…. I think it’s his turn to give us an inspirational speech. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Ali Salem!”
Damn! She’s so dead.
I climbed up the stage again and took the microphone.
“Before I start, for those of you who’d like to attend Sara’s funeral, it will be tonight at 1 am in our backyard.”
Another round of applause and lots of laughter.
“Why is that funny?” I asked, with a very serious face, which made the audience laugh even harder.
“When I offered to replace Sara in this contest, I was so sure of myself man. I promised her I would win it for her, no problem. And then came that shocking moment when I realized you actually gotta sell cookies to win! With only six days left, and me receiving awards for professional procrastination, I had no idea how I was gonna pull this one off. I mean two minutes after starting an assignment I’d reward myself with watching a video on YouTube, and then six hours later I’m still on the internet researching how long it takes for a giraffe to throw up! We think cramming is ‘cool’ coz waiting till the last minute before a deadline gives us a rush.”
“But life goals have NO deadlines. Being awesome has no due date. ‘I never started either’ used to be the most comforting words I could ever hear. But now that I’ve tried what it’s like to finish first, I’m never gonna take the back seat again. I must admit this contest has taught me a lot! Thank you, God, for giving me a chance today to change tomorrow. Thank you all for being here and a special shout out to my parents for being so great, and for giving my amazing sister the best brother in the world! Cheers!”
Three months later…
“You know what Sara, whatever makes you this annoying, REALLY works!” I snapped, tugging at my seat belt.
“It IS annoying to be always right.” She boasted. “The truth hurts, doesn’t it?”
“I’ll buy a new charger at the stupid airport, K? Will you shut up about it already?” I said.
“It’s my fault you know. I should’ve asked Magda to come with me instead of spending the next ten hours on this flight pretending I don’t know you!” Sara said.
“How dumb are you exactly? You can’t ask a friend. It’s a brother-sister RACE SHOW!” I said.
Sara was getting on my nerves so much I think I needed a nerve-transplant!
She never picked the design course thing after all. The grand Girls’ scout prize was a trip for two to Europe. And as a thank you, she decided we should go together to this brother-sister race thing in Switzerland and make headlines in foreign papers.
It sounded like a good idea back then, but now I know I should have squashed it like a bug! With all this complaining and teasing and calling me ‘irresponsible’, I doubt she’ll even be alive by the time we land.
“Yeah, looks like it’s gonna be a long flight.” The man sitting beside me sighed. He looked both old and young, I dunno. Like his teen outfit and sneakers didn’t match his face!
He reminded me of my ex-soccer coach in a way. His hair looked crunchy from too much hair gel, and he was making the most irritating noises chewing gum.
“I’m sorry okay?” Sara said, right before take off. “I don’t wanna start the trip like this, please. Plus you know how much flying creeps me out, so I need you to be all silly and funny to distract me.”
“Fine! I don’t wanna spend the next ten hours talking to this weirdo next to me either!” I whispered.
“What weirdo?” She leaned forward to check the seat next to me. “There’s no one sitting next to you. Oh, wait! Okay, I get it. You already started with your pranks. Funny!” She said.
I turned slowly to look at the guy sitting next to me. He smiled at me and winked.
“My name is Ali Salem.” He extended out a hand for me to shake it. “Ali with an I not a Y”
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