Authors: Michael Gerard Bauer
An Omnibus Book from Scholastic Australia
To my son Joe â for all your input into the Ishmael books,
but mostly just for liking them
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world.
, act 1 scene 2, lines 133â134
I clicked on my Inbox. I had three emails. The first one said
My heart shot up like it had launched itself off a springboard. I think it nailed a perfect reverse triple somersault in the full pike position.
I had an email from Kelly Faulkner.
Did you hear what I said? Kelly Faulkner, who could stop the world with her ice-blue eyes and kick-start it again with her smile had sent one of your
emails â to me.
Ishmael Leseur â the world's one and only sufferer of Ishmael Leseur's Syndrome. And if you've never heard of Ishmael Leseur's Syndrome (ILS for short), consider yourself lucky. It's been known to destroy the ânormal behaviour' gene and expose a person's innermost idiot to the world. And I should know, because I
that person. If you don't believe me, maybe you should read my last two journals. Just a warning though, they're not for the faint-hearted.
But don't worry, you're safe. ILS is not contagious. In fact, in order to get it, you actually have to have the surname âLeseur'. Then, following some sort of bizarre birth ritual, your parents have to decide to call you âIshmael' after the narrator of Herman Melville's old whaling novel,
So basically, what all that means is, you're pretty much in the clear unless you happen to be
Then you're in big trouble.
But maybe things were looking up. Surely a personal email from Kelly Faulkner was a clear sign that I was finally cured of ILS and from now on my life was going to pretty much totally rock. It certainly rocked the last time we were together.
That was about six weeks ago at the end of Year Ten â the night of the big reunion concert for my dad's old rock band, the Dugongs. That was the night my life catapulted from pretty pathetic to potentially perfect. It was the night Kelly Faulkner accidentally found a poem I'd written about her and kissed me â right on the lips. I still had those lips and they still tingled every time I thought about that kiss (which averaged around ten times a day, give or take a few â mostly give). After that Kelly and her family left for New Zealand to visit relatives and I hadn't seen or heard from her since.
But now her name sat before me on my computer in thick, bold font, like a big chunky Christmas present, the best I was ever going to receive, screaming out to be opened. But I didn't open it. Not then. I wanted to save the best till last so I shifted the cursor to the email below, the one that said
, and clicked on that instead.
It was from a Mr Mbootu in Nigeria. Huh? Mr M-who-tu? I read on. Wow, it was my lucky day! Even though I didn't know Mr Mbootu from a Thomson's gazelle, apparently he was going to give me half of the 50 million dollars he'd found lying around in a bank vault somewhere. Talk about
! And it just got better and better, because all I had to do was send him my name and address. Bargain! Oh, and some silly little bank detaily things. Hey, no probs! I could give him Mum and Dad's. I'm sure they wouldn't mind. Just wait till Kelly Faulkner found out that I was going to be a multimillionaire. I bet she'd be impressed. Maybe I could use some of the money to help find a cure for ILS. Thanks heaps, Mr M! What an awesome guy!
My 25 million dollars vanished into the ether. What did I
care about money when I had an email from Kelly Faulkner? I was dying more than ever to read it, but first I had to get rid of all other distractions. Kelly and I needed to be alone. I checked out the next email down. This one said,
I clicked on it.
Someone wanted to enlarge my âPennis'.
Hmmmmmmmm â¦ tempting. But was I willing to put my âpennis' in the hands of someone who was so careless with their spelling?
(Miss Tarango, my English teacher, would be
proud of me.)
I gave the
button another jab.
Only one email remained â Kelly's. I moved the cursor over it and watched the little I-shape on the screen morph into a chubby pointing hand. My heart had abandoned the springboard and had climbed right to the very top of the highest of high-dive towers. It was now peering down at a teensy-weensy square of water far, far below. As I clicked on Kelly's email, my heart lurched forward and plunged into free fall.
A bunch of purpley-coloured words leapt into view. The first two were
It was the best thing I'd ever read. I wanted to pump the air with my fist but I didn't have time. My eyes were already ripping back and forth across the screen.
I tried to make myself slow down. I wanted to take my time so that I could enjoy every letter, every syllable and every punctuation mark that Kelly had written for me. I failed miserably. With my heart still doing that âplummeting-off-the-top-of-the-highest-of-high-dive-towers' thing, the words just whooshed past.
â¦ holiday going well â¦ sorry didn't email sooner â¦ bad internet connection â¦ lots of snow â¦ skiing â¦ fun â¦ freezing â¦ staying with relatives â¦ heaps of places â¦ Lord of the Rings â¦ the not so good news â¦ father â¦ new job â¦ change in plans â¦ can't believe it â¦ parents have decided to â¦
I read that last bit again.
Then I forced myself to read it one last time.
My heart wasn't racing in free fall any more. It had come to a shuddering
Someone had emptied all the water from the high-diving pool.
âBummer, man. Bum-mer. I mean, that's, you know â¦'
âThe mumma of all bummers, dude. The mumma bummer!'
Just in case you may have missed it, my best friend Orazio Zorzotto, more commonly known as Razz, Razza, or the Razzman, was pointing out in his own delightfully subtle way that the news about Kelly Faulkner and her family deciding to stay in New Zealand
(yes, you heard it here first!) was, in fact, a âbummer'.
Razz blew out a long breath before presenting his final, concise summary of the situation.
We were in my room the day after Kelly's email had arrived and two days before we were due to start a new school year. Razz screwed up his face.
âSo the Kelster's family is staying in New Zealand because her dad got offered some kind of a hot-shot new job or something?'
I didn't really feel like talking but I did anyway.
âYep. He gets to be head of some big weather station. Kelly's not very happy about it.'
âYeah, Sal's cut up too, man.'
Razz was talking about Sally Nofke. She's Kelly's best friend,
and ever since the night of the Dugongs' reunion concert, I guess you could say she was also Razza's girlfriend.
âMan,' Razz said as he gave his head one last, slow shake, âall aboard the Bummer Express. Next stop â Bummer Central.'
I had to hand it to Razz. He was really hitting the bummer nail right on its bummer head. And to think I actually thought this year was going to be different. I thought I might have kissed goodbye to Ishmael Leseur's Syndrome for good. After all, hadn't Barry Bagsley (chief tormentor and expert make-my-life-miserable guy) kept his promise about leaving me and my friends alone? And hadn't Kelly Faulkner (supreme goddess and expert make-my-life-awesome girl) walked straight out of my dreams and into my real world? Do those sound like the sorts of things that would happen to a victim of ILS? No way! I was over all that! This was going to be
year! I was going to totally
Incorrect. The correct response is:
âThis year is going to suck big time!'
Thanks for playing. Next contestant, please!
For a while it went quiet in my room. I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling and Razz sat at my desk twirling a pen in his hand.
I guess we were both trying to comprehend just how seriously bummer-like the whole situation was. We stayed that way until Razza grabbed the pen in mid-twirl and snapped his head up.
âWell, it's gonna be a bit tricky, so we better get to work.'
âGet to work? Get to work on what?'
Razz looked at me as if it should have been blindingly obvious exactly where his thoughts had just that second transported to in hyperspace.
âOn finding you a new girlfriend, dude.'
âDon't get me wrong â I really like the Kelster and everything â she's way cool â but she's left the building, man.
So it's game back on. No use putting all your eggs in one basket and crying over spilt milk.'
âSeriously, you gotta move on, dude.'
I really wasn't in the mood for another dip into the well of Razza's bottomless enthusiasm.