(Not So) Squeaky Clean
My name's John, but I bet you didn't know that. Almost no
one does, these days. They know me only as Squeaky. Squeaky Clean.
It hasn't been that way forever. When I was
a young Lupe and I first started playing Yooyuball, my team was respected by
everyone, even our opponents. We were from Brightvale, the land of knowledge.
The honest, hardworking souls who spent a lifetime trying to be the best. I'm
not saying that my teammates didn't want to be the best. I'm saying that they
took the easy way out.
I'm saying that they cheated.
Orie - that yellow Ruki you can often see in
goal - tried it first. It was the championship game, us against Darigan. They
were tough, and, according to Orie, they were too tough.
It was an accident at first, or so she claimed.
The center forward sent her flying while attempting to score, and, as she landed,
a small patch of dirt was kicked up over the goal line. She went to brush it
off, but changed her mind.
Ten minutes later, we were halfway into the
game at the goal line was completely invisible to the entire Darigan team. (As
was my bright red fur…I've since learned not to stand too close to the goal.)
We won the game.
Our next games were no better. We won every,
single one, but, the cheating was getting worse and worse. Reb (a spotted Nimmo)
started keeping a thin sheet of metal in his elbow pad. Montecito (a shadow
Kacheek) and Kayn (a plushie Skeith - but don't be fooled - that tail is HARD!)
began to trip the other teams when they thought that no one was looking.
The referee never caught us, and, if he did,
he could never prove it. The fans were a different story.
With each game, our side of the bleachers became
emptier and emptier, and the other side's was seemingly getting fuller every
The scary part was…my team didn't care. We were
the best. Not due to talent or wit, but we were suddenly beginning to come out
on top. And, for once in my life, I suddenly wanted to be average. No, worse…I
wanted to fail.
I realized it suddenly one day, in the middle
of one of our training sessions. If I could prevent them from cheating, just
once….and if we won…well, let's just say…I'd sleep a lot easier from then on.
My teammates agreed. One match. No cheating.
I was absolutely thrilled. Even though, for the first time in over a year, we
were destined to lose.
The match wasn't even close. If our bleachers
had been empty before, they were even worse, now. There was only half an hour
left in the match, and the score was twenty seven to nothing. My teammates resisted
every urge to cheat, letting opposing forwards pass without a struggle when
the unfortunate players would have received a sharp jab to the ribs a week before.
Orie did her best to block incoming shots, but her best just didn't seem to
be good enough. One of my teammates, I think it was Kayn, yelled at me to pick
up the pace and score us a couple of goals, which I did.
There was one minute left in the game, and,
with the much needed help of Reb and Montecito, I had raised the score to nineteen
to twenty, the nineteen being ourselves. The clock above our heads beeped, and
the screaming fans began the ritual countdown, starting at ten seconds until
the end of the game. It seemed hopeless. And, then, I did something unexpected.
Elbowing the opposing defenders right in the
side as I sped towards the goal, I prepared for the referee to blow his whistle
so that the other team would receive a foul. But the whistle never blew. No
one noticed…save for myself and the other team. I scored. Then again. The clock
beeped. We won.
But I cheated.
My team treated me like a king, carrying me from
the arena on their shoulders, while fans slowly made their way around to our
side of the bleachers. The sound of several screaming Neopians nearly burst
my eardrums as I was carried to our changing rooms. And then they set me down.
They congratulated me, and cheered for me, and told me how good it felt not
I left. I didn't want to think about cheating.
The streets were still surprisingly deserted
as I made my way home. I was almost sure that I was alone when I was suddenly
ambushed by a young Gelert, frantically waving a pen and pad of paper in the
"Hey!" he cried. "I saw your game. You're Squeaky
I shook my head sadly.
"No," I said. "Not anymore." But, I signed the
paper anyway, not wishing to disappoint the first fan I had met in months. The
difference was, I signed it with my real name; John. The Gelert looked confused
for a moment, but he then smiled as if he understood, and left. I turned to
walk away, but he called after me again.
"Hey, Mister. Everyone slips up once in a while.
But…" He smiled. "You're still my hero." I was surprised.
"You knew I cheated?" I asked. The Gelert nodded.
I continued. "And you don't hate me?"
"Your teammates cheat. Do you hate them?"
"Well, no…I…" The Gelert didn't wait for me to
"Exactly." And with that, he left.
I just stood still, for a moment, contemplating
what the Gelert had just said. He was so much younger then me…yet he knew so
much…But I knew something, too. I knew that my teammates and I had to talk.
"And then, I don't know why I did it, but I cheated.
I'm…I'm sorry." I stopped and looked around at my teammates, who were seated
around the locker room in a sort of stunned silence. Kayn opened his mouth,
paused and closed it again. Montecito looked away. Reb stared straight ahead,
his mouth open in surprise. Finally, Orie found the words to speak.
"You…You cheated?" she said, leaning backwards
against one of the metal lockers. Yeah, I think we already established that,
"Oh." There was another pause. Kayn spoke.
"I thought that you said we weren't going to
cheat. I thought you said we were going to have a clean slate. Well, bang goes
"I, um…sorry?" I tried again, sitting down on
the hard, metal bench beside Reb, who promptly moved away.
"Look, we…we forgive you, I mean…you forgave
us, but…" Orie said, walking over to me and sighing. "But, if we were losing
until you cheated…then….we need to cheat to win, because we aren't any good."
"No," I said, firmly. "No, we're great! It's
"NO!" Orie screamed her last syllable, sinking
down to the floor. "What I mean is…I'm no good. I guess I'll…see you at the
game tomorrow. That is…if you even want me to show up."
"Orie, no! I-" But she was already gone, and
my teammates were right behind her. I closed my eyes, and put my head in my
hands. Slowly, I opened my mouth and whispered, "I think you're amazing."
"Hey, Squeaky! Squeaky, where's your team?" I
turned around to see my manager running towards me. It was the day of the big
game, and I was obviously the only Brightvale team member who had bothered to
"I…guess they aren't coming."
"Well, make them come!"
"I'm not letting you forfeit this, match, Squeaky.
So get your team. Now."
"I'll play on my own."
"I'll play on my own."
"Maybe, but you won't let me forfeit and the
team's not coming. I'll play on my own." And that was that.
Imagine the crowd's surprise when a good twenty
minutes of screams and hollers for Brightvale led to a single Lupe jogging out
onto the field.
Imagine their disappointment.
The whistle blew. The game began.
Darigan. Possibly one of the toughest teams to
have ever graced the field. The players were tall, strong, and eyeing me like
I was a chocolate Chia fresh from the bakery. Oh, crud. This was not my day.
The Darigans scored goal after goal. The crowed
booed at first. But by half time, they were cheering. For Darigan. Our fans.
My fans. Rooting on the opposition. I left the field along with everyone else
at half-time, and found myself seriously contemplating whether or not I should
Well, I did. Though I didn't have much say in
"What's the point?" I sighed to myself, shortly
after being herded back in by a not-so-thrilled manager. "I may as well go home…not
like anyone will let me." I rounded one of the many corners to the stadium,
my footsteps echoing off the metal floor. Which way was I going, again? Left.
I've never been lost in a changing room before now, you know?
Then, suddenly, I hear a bell. Half-time's ended.
I'm stuck in a changing room, and half-time's ended.
But, wait…if I'm in here, and the game's still
going…who's out there?
I'm running full speed, either towards the bathroom
or the playing field. I'm hoping for the latter.
You can probably guess what's coming.
That's right. After five minutes and about eleven
wrong turns, I've finally reached the field. Darigan's making for our goal.
"Oh, no you don't!"
I run out onto the field at full speed, towards
our goal. The figures around me are a blur. I only see the Yooyu. It's about
to cost us…I'm mean, me a win. I keep running.
Just as I make it to the goal, a whistle blows.
I stop. What's happening? Suddenly, I hear an all-too-familiar voice.
"Only the goalie's allowed past the goal line,
"Orie!" I can't help myself. I throw my arms
around her, and notice my other teammates waving at me over her shoulder. "But
how, I mean why…Why did you…?"
"We figure that even if you are a lying, cheating,
"Irritating, impossible to be around…"
"Orie, I get it."
"Right. Well, even if you are all that and more,
we, well…we want to win this. And…we figure you might need a bit of help, so…"
The Yooyu zooms past us, just missing the goal.
Why is it that in movies, the characters always get to make up before the game
Smiling, Orie shoves me away.
"Oh, it's on now!" She grabs the Yooyu, sending
it half-way down the field. My teammates begin to chase after it. I stay behind.
"Need to win this game? 'Cause I do. Get moving,
'Yeah. Exactly what I was planning to say," I
lie, before taking off down the field. Heck, I don't have to tell her now. There's
still going to be a million more chances. Maybe it's best. A love-struck Lupe
rarely scores goals. But, it's a bit too late for that, isn't it?
Oh, by the way, we lost the game.
But we didn't cheat. And we've never been happier.
Hey, it's a start.