My Henry Puffer party was literally the worst. But what hurt more was Mom and Dad didn’t even care. It seemed like I was always by myself these days. Mom was pregnant and usually tired, so I was left to deal with Zack half the time, and Dad was always out of town, doing something. Tears dropped on my pants as I made a huge sniffling sound.
“Um…Liam?” My best friend, Kadan Vargas, walked up to me.
I felt kind of embarrassed for crying in front of him. I thought I was alone. So, I acted like I didn’t know he was there. Maybe he’d go away.
But he didn’t get the hint.
He sat down next to me and sighed. “You know it stinks having those creeps at your party.”
I nodded, watching a crab poke its head out of a tiny hole in the sand.
“But if it were me and Henry Puffer actually visited my party, I sure as heck wouldn’t be upset.”
It took a minute for my brain to process what he was saying. “Henry…Puffer?” I asked.
“Yeah. And he told off those assholes for you, too. Me and Carlee filled him in on why you left.”
I drew in my eyebrows, I was so confused. “You’re not playing a trick on me, are you? Henry Puffer. THE Henry Puffer is here.”
“Would I lie to you? Yes. THE Henry Puffer. The actor, Randall Dancliff. He’s here and he wants to meet you.”
I gave him a look. “W-Why…would he come here? To MY party?”
Kadan shrugged. “How the heck would I know? Why don’t you ask him yourself?”
My heart lurched as we both stood up and I spotted a teenager who looked a lot like Henry Puffer. But still. There’s no way it could really be him. I glared, wondering if someone was pranking me.
“Hey, Randall. I found him for you!” Kadan said, beaming like this guy was the real deal.
But then he answered, “Right, mate. Thanks a lot. Hello, there. I’m Randall…er…Henry Puffer. You must be Liam.”
I’d recognize that voice and British accent anywhere. He WAS Henry Puffer!
My heart sped so fast I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I asked, “W-What are you doing here? I thought you lived in England!”
“No, mate, I’m actually living in Del Sol Valley, working on another movie. Your dad asked me to come out and it fit in with my schedule, so…here I am.”
“Oh my gosh…would you do me a HUGE favor? Can I have your autograph? Pretty please with magic wand sprinkles on top?”
“Of course. I happen to have a picture handy just for you.”
Swooning, I almost screamed. This was the BEST day of my life!
I couldn’t believe I was actually in the presence of THE Henry Puffer. THE Randall Dancliff. It was almost too much to take.
As he was signing, he said, “So, you want to head back to the park? I’d love to play Crossing Wands with you.”
Omg. Randall Dancliff just asked me to play Crossing Wands. I thought I was going to be sick.
“Yes, I’d like to do that! And I’ll even let you win!” Henry Puffer could never lose to a goofy kid like me.
Still scribbling, he said, “No…we play fair and square otherwise, it wouldn’t be any fun.”
When he was done, he handed the picture to me.
“Thank you so much!” I held the photo like it was made of glass and could break into a million pieces.
Next we took some pictures together. I’d remember this day forever!
I could tell he was about to head back to the park, but I didn’t want to share him with my friends just yet. I asked, “So, before crossing wands, would you like to play hide n seek?” Oh, what was I saying? Of course he wouldn’t want to do that.
“How did you know it’s my favorite game?”
And before I knew what was happening, I was hiding my eyes as I heard him shuffle off.
He was pretty bad at hiding though.
I spotted him instantly.
And he was super slow, but I had fun anyway.
Thankfully, after I’d had a great time at Crossing Wands (I beat him five times!), I said good bye to all my friends, and Aunty Elara took her monsters inside my house, leaving me alone with Randall.
We sat together and he asked me a whole bunch of questions about myself, really wanting to get to know me. I ended up blabbing about my troubles at home. How my mom and dad don’t seem to care about me. Not enough anyway.
“Look mate, I get it. Having another sibling creates a lot of stress, but I can tell you this. Your parents really love you. Why else would your dad go through the trouble of asking me to visit?”
But I knew the real reason Randall was here. My dad’s famous, and Randall is probably a big fan of my father. Dad was a superstar like a million years ago when Randall was my age. “I bet you’re disappointed my dad isn’t here, aren’t you? I’m sorry about that.”
He shrugged. “Okay, I’ll admit I came as a bit of a favor to your dad. And true, I’m an absolute fan of the Heartthrobs. I actually still have a poster of your father in my closet. When I was your age, I was a true blue Flamer…but…after spending this afternoon with you, I think you’re an amazing kid. In fact, I’d fancy another visit, if you’d wish it.”
Randall Dancliff wanted to visit me again? I thought I was going to cry. But I didn’t. I couldn’t be that lame in front of him.
When it was time for him to go, I couldn’t help it. I jumped up and gave him a hug.
He didn’t seem to mind.
And when I got back to my house, even jerk-face Dusty Murdick couldn’t annoy me.
Because Randall Dancliff, THE Henry Puffer, was my friend.
And no one could take the memory of this day away from me.