INTRODUCING THE BARNETTS (an excerpt from the classic children’s story & novel — Shark Fin Soup)

Frankie and T.K. were talking to Detective Koulax, who, in the hot summer morning, dripped layers of fat like a greasy cheeseburger. A policewoman and an ambulance nurse were trying to console poor Dayna who was still wailing and shaking like an old, fat Elvis during liposuction.

“Sir? Mr. Detective?”

“I’m busy, Son. I’m not a detective. I’m with Interpol.” Bernie was kneeling next to the covered corpse. Expecting a morbidly curious teenager, Bernie waived the voice away. “Scram! You kids should not be over here.” He looked up to see, instead, a dapper old couple. “Sorry, folks, I thought you were kids.”

“Sir!” said the old man leaning on a walker. “We can tell you who dropped the body over near the Yellow-Water Keg ride.”

Bernie looked up at the codgers. “What did you two see?”

Jules turned to Claire instead of answering Bernie, “Don’t you recognize him Claire? Look at those awful Bermudas. He’s a big celebrity! Bernie Benedict from the Bolsa Chico surf patrol? The poor schmo with the corpse-grinder wife! He became famous for Talking to apparitions, like Jesus on his eggs and …”

“Okay, kid. Enough. Stop, please.”

“Your friend, the totem pole guy…”

“The tiki? Oh. I see that you’ve met T.K.”

“A police dog just peed on him,” said the old woman. “The poor thing looks like a constipated sequoia,” said the old woman.

“My name is Bernie, folks. And you are?”

They had matching walkers with bicycle horns attached. “We’re Jules and Clair, young man. We’re the Barnett’s. We saw the punks who dropped the body, dragged it past the Up-Chucky Cheese’s Pizza Wheel, and then moved it over to the Virtual DUI Simulator ride.”

“Listen, young man,” Claire said to the much older Bernie, “I should tell you that earlier we saw a group of thugs circling around that poor boy when he was alone outside the Cop-a-Feel Exploratorium. Punks were stalking him.”

“The young fool was wearing Worcestershire Sauce cologne,” added Jules.

“Were the ‘stalkers’ also teenagers?” said Bernie, turning to his pal Frankie and waving him over. “Get detective Koulax over here, Frankie.”

“No. They weren’t normal kids. Just odd,” said Claire.

Odd, thought Bernie. There was something definitely odd about senior citizens hanging around Raging Hormones theme park.

#

“Wait here for the police detective, you two,” said Bernie.

Frankie pulled Bernie aside and began to tell the new agent about the new trend among American teens. “Those two ‘old bats’ really are kids, Eggs. It’s the fashion trend of last resort.” Frankie had read about it in a Newsweek article last month. “What we have here, Bernie baby, is a couple of bored, rich, teenage jokers who have started a new clique.”

“Those are kids?”

“Yeah. A bunch of spoiled teenagers got together and purchased the retirement community named Geezer World near Sea Lion Point, a few miles from your old stomping grounds at Bolsa Chico. They spend most of their time complaining about aches and pains and doctors. This ‘old’ routine is their idea of recreation. Total Kooks-ville. A few times a week they get together for miniature golf, shuffleboard, canasta and shots of Geritol. They’ve got a style all of their own, buddy boy.”

“This boy Jules dyed his hair white?” asked Bernie.

“And shaved his head to look like he’s got male pattern baldness!” said Frankie.

“Claire dyed her hair blue! She must have on a gallon of cheap perfume.”

“Today’s kids are recycling the bottom of the fashion barrel, Clyde,” said Frankie. “One of their gang, a kid named Morris, had his back surgically bent. A fifteen-year-old known as Gramps drove that white Dodge here last night. Crazy cats.”

Dr. Green chimed in, “I’ve got grandkids living at Geezer World. Everyone there uses a walker.”

The Barnett’s were only sixteen.

Jules wore an “Old Guys Rule” T-shirt and belted “old guy” slacks that were pulled up; any further and he could have used them as a body bag. Claire wore an “Old Girls Rule Old Guys” T-shirt beneath a blue housecoat, along with bath slippers, and support hose.

Some got canes they use as weapons against a gang called the YW or the Young Whippersnappers,” said Green, who was lifting the sheet to get a look at the body.

Bernie asked the Barnett’s to tell him more about the apparent killers.

“Sure. Really ugly mugs. Mouths full of nasty teeth. That’s all. But we know who they are, Eggs. I mean Agent Benedict.”

“They’re a musical group called The Claspers,” said Claire. “They’re a band from New Guinea,” said Claire. “All they sing about is eating meat. They opened for us last night.”

“They file their teeth into points—very sharp points,” said Jules.

“What did you say, Julie?” said Claire.

“Pardon her, sir. “ The boss lost most of her hearing playing rock ’n’ roll with our band, Geezer. Have you heard of our band?”

“Should I have?”

“We used to be known as ROF, or Rich Old Farts. Then we went punk and called ourselves the Irritating Bowel Syndrome. We have a number one single out called ‘The Sound of Sirens’ from our hit CD called Elevator Music. You should check out our blog on geezer.baldspot.com.”

“We’re sorry that we couldn’t get better descriptions for you,” said Jules. “We can’t see as well at night as we used to. Their band truck, with the shark fin on top, was parked next to ours. Ours is the Handi-Van over there. Their truck had a name on it. Coral something—painted on the side.

Dr. David “Soylent” Green pulled Frankie aside. “Agent Samidino, this may be the onset of rare epidemic form of a disease that we call progeria. It is normally a rare genetic condition where symptoms resembling aspects of aging manifest at an early age. In the Barnett’s’ case, the premature aging could possibly be blamed on a new recreational drug these kids use, called X-Lax-Tasy, that reportedly gives its imbiber what they describe as ‘a spiritual bowel movement of biblical proportions.’ You’re looking at our future, agent. X-Lax-Tasy.”