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RTÉ Guide/Penguin Ireland short story short-list

Fed-Up Freddy or The Boy Whose Sister Turned Into The Mona Lisa in The Art Of The Neck-Chop by John Camillus was a runner-up in the 2011 RTÉ Guide.Penguin Ireland short story competion

Freddy was an ordinary boy. He went to school every day, did his homework and went to his karate classes three times a week, being very fond of the neck-chop. It could fell an elephant if one got in his way. He knew that for a fact.
One morning his sister Sonia came down for breakfast and she’d turned into the Mona Lisa overnight in her sleep. Yes, one minute she looked like his sister, and then the next, she looked like Leonardo da Vinci’s famous old oil painting.
“I don’t believe it Ma, look at my beautiful face and my enigmatic smile!” said Sonia.
This is how all the trouble began and turned him into a right fed-up-Freddy and nearly ruined his famous neck-chop into the bargain.
Word got around the neighbourhood fast and when Freddy got home from school on that first day, a knock came to the door. He was upstairs trying to do his homework as fast as possible, so he could get into his white karate suit, and practice his neck-chops.
It was his job to answer the door when he came home from school. His mother paid him each week and it was enough to pay for his three karate classes.
“Ok I’m coming!”
Freddy threw his pencil down on his copybook and went to the door. It was three female art historians from the local art gallery, which was next door to the chipper.
“Hello there young man. Is your sister Sonia in? We heard she looks like the Mona Lisa now and we’ve come to examine her so we can write an essay on her for the art newspapers.”
Freddy replied -
“Hold on a second, she’s in the living room listening to Indie music. I’ll ask her.”
They started to suddenly get very red in the face when they heard this nugget of information.
“Indie music!” said Jilly, head of their vast abstract collection.
“That’s terrible. She must be saved straight away. Quick Jenny and Tracy, get your lute and flute out of your handbags right now and start playing - to save the Mona Lisa’s face from peeling right off! For it surely will, if subjected to Indie music’s course guitars and drums for much longer.”
Freddy put the latch on the door and went in to the living room to his sister.
“Sonia there’s three female art historians outside looking for you. They want to write an essay on you for an art newspaper. Can’t you hear them at the door on their lute and flutes?”
Sonia just turned the music up on her ipod and said -
“Tell them to get lost. It’s Monday for god’s sake. I’m closed Mondays - just like all art galleries in Ireland. Tell them that! Anyway Rob is coming to see me soon to ask me out. Tell them, I’m busy washing me hair!”
Freddy said –
“Can’t you tell them yourself?”
Sonia looked stunned.
“No, it’s your job isn’t it? Ma pays you doesn’t she! Just do it Karate-man.”
He went back out to the door and told them to come back tomorrow. The three art historians refused to budge and tried to crash their way through the door playing their lute and two flutes even louder.
“We can’t let the Mona Lisa’s face peel off! We must save her with the soothing strains of the baroque.”
Just before they could burst into the hallway Freddy took his two hands up into the air and prepared to neck-chop the three of them. He swished and swooshed his hands a few times. With that, they jumped away from the door in surprise so Freddy was able to duck inside and lock the door behind him.
But they opened the letterbox and peeped in saying -
“Ah go on Freddy, please! please! please! We know Rob and what he’s like and if he’s coming to visit her he’ll surely try to kiss her on the lips. That’s even worse for an oil painting than Indie music. It’s sure to run, peel and god knows what!”
They played the soothing lute and flute music through the letterbox in defiance. Freddy left them to it. With all the noise in the house, it took him ages to do his homework which left very little time to practice his world famous neck-chops. They’d all laugh at him on Wednesday in karate class now, when he’d surely execute a lazy neck-chop in front of everyone - and all because of the art historians and their stupid essay!
The sounds of mad scuffling rose up from outside and made him cock his ears downstairs. They were trying to get in the downstairs kitchen window, it was left open he’d remembered. He could hear their flutes from his bedroom.
“Oh no!”
Once again he had to fling his pencil back into his homework copybook and rush downstairs to keep them out.
He ran through the kitchen and Sonia, the Mona Lisa, didn’t even bat an eyelid and was now swaying her head up and down to her ipod Indie music as if in a trance. Jilly’s head was halfway inside the window now.
Freddy got his hands out again and neck-chopped the air in front of her nose a few times making more swishing noises in the process. This made Jilly sneeze which threw her back out the window and into the arms of Jenny and Tracy.
Freddy locked the window straight away, then realised that the living room window was open as well. The three art historians ran around the house and Jilly managed to get her two legs in through the window and into the living room. She saw Sonia, the Mona Lisa, in the corner listening to her music and fell to her knees on the ground saying -
“She’s too beautiful! She’s too beautiful to look at without crying a river. Please Mona listen to my flute music instead of that Indie - your eyes will flake right off!”
Then she took her pen out and tried to start her essay, sucking the top for inspiration. Sonia jumped up and stood on the armchair in terror when she saw her coming towards her.
Freddy licked the sweat-beads crawling slowly down his face and the salt gave him an idea-jolt of lightning in the head. He shook all over.
“Sonia! Smile at them! It will knock them bandy!”
With her earphones swinging around her neck, Sonia smiled without thinking. The three art historians went into a fit of palpitations.
“We are not worthy of this Miss Mona No! No! No! We are Not! Not! Not!”
With the three art historians startled, Freddy lifted up his left hand and neck-chopped into the back of the nearby armchair. This sent all the cushions on it sailing towards them.
The neck-chop was so powerful that all the cushions hit the art historians in the stomachs and sent them flying out the window and out past the front garden and onto the pavement in front of the house. After a few minutes they picked themselves up and shook their fists.


“We’ll be back! Watch your windows carefully. We’ll be back! ”
Sonia ran over to Freddy and kissed him.
“Thanks. You’ve certainly earned your door-answering money this week! But make sure you don’t neck-chop Rob, he’s due any minute now. Ya sap.”
Freddy hunched up his shoulders and felt very tired indeed. It was thirsty work. He would be lucky to get his homework finished at all tonight. And he’d have no time to practice his neck-chops either. This he knew. It was getting rusty as he spoke, he could feel it in his water. Fed-up big-time he was now. He shrugged his shoulders and arched his back.
Maybe next time, he wouldn’t be so lucky at keeping the art historians at bay, he thought. Time would tell. Time would tell.

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