The Latter Day Knights of the Balding Peaches
"I want you to capture your partner's essence," Mrs. Dreibel had instructed her fourth grade art class. It was a cold Wednesday afternoon at South Park elementary, and half the class was ready for the day to be over. Unfortunately, they had to endure the boring assignment of painting portraits of their fellow classmates.
Mrs. Dreibel proceeded to pair the children in groups of two. She picked their partners at random, causing a general sense of dismay for the resident Super Best Friends of the class Stan Marsh and Kyle Broflovski. The two shared an annoyed glance as their teacher paired Stan with Eric Cartman and Kyle with Bebe Stevens. Kenny McCormick was paired with Wendy Testaburger who had nothing but complete exasperation for her teacher's selection. How was she supposed to capture the essence of her fellow classmate, if the boy constantly refused to show his face?
Despite the groans and half-hearted protestations, the kids found their partners and found a case of paints. Bebe and Kyle played a quick round of Ro Sham Bo to see who would paint first. Kyle lost so he took a seat on a low stool, sitting up straight and puffing out his chest. He thought of those stuffy looking portraits of old men. They always had an air of importance about them, despite their sagging cheeks and hound dog eyes.
Kyle shifted in his seat, suddenly very aware of Bebe's gaze upon him. She glanced around the side of her easel, holding out her thumb as a form of measurement. She stuck out her tongue in concentration and then dove behind her easel once again.
Back on his stool, Kyle fidgeted with his hands. He wasn't sure what to do with them. First, he laid them in his lap, one on top of the other. Then he dropped them at his sides. But he felt stupid doing that and quickly crossed his arms over his chest. Bebe jerked her head out from behind the easel.
"Quit moving!" she barked.
Now, Kyle Broflovski was not a bad looking boy. He had narrow green eyes, a skinny face, long nose, and several smatterings of freckles still left upon his cheeks from the summer weather. He was pleasant to look at, if one enjoyed looking at young boys who constantly scowled. His brows were furrowed in concentration, as if somehow thinking intently on the situation at hand would allow Bebe to paint a far more attractive portrait of him.
"Take off your hat," Bebe appeared from around the easel again.
Kyle felt his heart skip.
"Take off your hat, Kyle," Bebe repeated.
The boy shook his head. "I don't take off my hat.
"I can't paint your picture unless you take it off," Bebe explained. She moved out from behind her easel and placed both hands on her hips. Her fingers brushed paint against the smock she wore.
Kyle tugged the flaps of his green ushanka further down over his ears. He clung to the flaps, glaring at the girl. Bebe huffed.
"How am I going to capture your essence if you don't take off your stupid hat?" Bebe countered. Kyle bristled.
"My hat is not stupid."
Bebe rolled her eyes.
"It kind of is."
Kyle wheeled around on his stool and called across the classroom.
"Stan, is my hat stupid?"
Stan replied without looking up from his own easel. "It's the nicest hat I've ever known, Dude."
Kyle spun back around on his stool, smirking.
"See. Told you it's an awesome hat," Kyle said, crossing his arms over his chest. Bebe gaped at him.
"Oh, yeah cause Stan's an authority on fashion," Bebe laughed. "He was wearing that butt-ugly bolo tie all last week."
"Hey," Stan shouted over the noise of the room. "That was from my grandpa!"
Bebe stood on her tiptoes. "Well, you're grandfather has no taste either."
Mrs. Dreibel pounded her fist against the top of her desk. The classroom grew silent once more.
Stan turned back to his painting. Kyle glared at Bebe who glared back.
"Take off your hat," Bebe commanded. "Or I take it off and stick it in the turpentine cabinet."
Kyle blanched. He wrinkled his nose, thinking of the paint solvent. He let out a low sigh, but reached up a hand and plucked off his green hat. He revealed a massive bush of red curly hair. It sprung up the instant his hat was removed, wavering atop his head like a great cloud. Self consciously, he tugged at a stray curl that fell across his forehead.
Kyle Broflovski hated his hair. Unlike the rest of his male classmates whose hair was straight or slightly wavy or in Butters Stotch's case like a cute little puff of fluff, Kyle's hair was a massive red bushy embarrassment. Kyle didn't know anyone in South Park whose hair was as ridiculous as his.
When Kyle had removed his hat, Bebe's lips twitched, but she said nothing. She ducked behind the easel. Back on his stool, Kyle sighed, no longer thinking his portrait would have any shred of dignity to it.
With five minutes left of art class, Mrs. Dreibel told her painting students to wash up. Stan and Wendy walked to the sinks to wash off brushes. Kenny tugged up his hood and walked around the easel to check out his portrait. Cartman scowled at his, mumbling something under his breath about Stan making him look fat.
Kyle dropped from his stool, pulling with great relief his green hat back over his Jewfro of red curls. Bebe stood back from her picture, smiling with satisfaction.
"I think I've got a real knack for painting," she informed Kyle. She tossed her soft blonde curls as if to emphasize the point. Kyle hurried around the easel to check out his portrait.
Bebe was right. She was a good painter. Her lines were sharp and steady. She blended colors seamlessly. For a fourth grader, she appeared to have grasped proportions decently well. However, there was just one problem.
"Who is this, Bebe?" Kyle asked, screwing up his face as he studied the picture.
Bebe scoffed. "It's you, silly." She waved her hands over the picture. "See there's your orange coat and your freckles and your green eyes."
Kyle squinted at the picture. He shook his head.
"This doesn't look like me, Bebe," Kyle repeated. "My hair…um…it's not straight."
Bebe twirled around to study her picture of Kyle. The boy in the portrait wore the same clothes as Kyle, he had the same scowl over his lips and brow, and his eyes shone with a vibrant emerald hue. However, picture Kyle sported straight hair that flipped slightly around his face, framing his cheeks. No massive Jewfros or even a hint of a curl could be found.
Bebe spun back to face real Kyle.
Kyle frowned. "But aren't we supposed to draw each other as we are? Like that isn't what I look like, Bebe."
Bebe collected her paint brushes and made her way towards the sinks.
"This makes you look loads better. Plus, don't you hate your hair anyway?" she called over her shoulder.
Kyle frowned, turning back towards his portrait. He reached under his green ushanka and touched his curls.
"Who's that?" asked Stan from behind Kyle. Kyle jumped.
"Er…it's supposed to be me."
Stan narrowed his eyes as if x-raying the portrait. He laughed. "That isn't you. You don't have straight hair, Dude."
Kyle ducked his head. "I know."
Wendy appeared at Stan's elbow. She too gave the picture a puzzled look.
"Who's that?" she asked Stan.
Wendy blinked. She turned to Bebe as the girl approached.
"Bebe, you're going to get in trouble. You didn't paint Kyle right."
Bebe shook her head. "No, that's him."
"But he doesn't have straight hair, Bebe," Wendy challenged. "Mrs. Dreibel's going to be annoyed that you didn't follow directions.'
Drawing herself up to her full height, Bebe said, "It's called 'artistic license', Wendy. Plus, Mrs. Dreibel said to capture our partner's essence. On the inside, Kyle's handsome."
Kyle perked up. "You think I'm handsome?"
"On the inside, Kyle," Bebe corrected. "That's why I painted you this way and not how you normally look."
Stan scratched his head. "Wendy might be right, Bebe. I don't think Mrs. Dreibel wanted us to alter anything."
"That didn't stop you from painting me fat, Stan." Eric Cartman slunk up behind them with Kenny in tow. Cartman look at Bebe's picture. "Who's that?"
"Kyle," Bebe explained cheerily.
Cartman let out a short laugh. "That ain't the Jew. Where's his huge-ass nose?"
Kyle kicked Cartman in the shin. Eric swore and tried to thump Kyle in the back of the head.
"What's going on here?" Mrs. Dreibel loomed over them. "You need to clean up your space, Ms. Stevens. The rest of you line up."
Wendy stepped forward. "Mrs. Dreibel, Bebe didn't paint Kyle right. His hair is wrong."
Mrs. Dreibel turned to the portrait and examined it.
"Bebe, I told you to capture your partner's essence. That means capture what they are truly!" Mrs. Dreibel said in a lilting tone.
"But this is Kyle's essence, Mrs. Dreibel," Bebe tried to argue. "Kyle looks very handsome on the inside."
"But it's wrong," Wendy urged. Stan nodded behind her. Kyle kept his head down.
"I don't know. This is easier on the eyes," Cartman commented. "He ain't as ugly looking as he normally is."
"Shut up, Fatass," Kyle snapped before he could stop himself. Mrs. Dreibel gave him a stern look.
"Mr. Broflovski, I don't think I've ever seen you without that hat on," she said in a stiff tone. "I'd like to compare the portrait to you and see what Ms. Testaburger is talking about."
Kyle sighed and tugged off his hat.
Mrs. Dreibel stared. She glanced back at the portrait, then back at Kyle, then back at the portrait again. She glanced at Bebe.
"Well, I can't very well stifle artistic creativity," she rushed out, avoiding Kyle's eye. She held her hand over her mouth, trying not to smile as she continued. "Ms. Stevens can continue her portrait as is. I think she's understood the assignment. She's captured Kyle's inside. Which is, after all, most important."
With that said, Mrs. Dreibel shooed the students towards the line at the door.
Stan and Kyle walked home together. The wind nipped at their faces, and Kyle had to keep a tight hold on his green hat to keep it from flying away. Stan hummed to himself. He mused to Kyle about what he thought the new Terrance and Phillip episode might be like that night.
"Hey, Stan?" Kyle mumbled so low that Stan wasn't sure his friend had spoken.
"What do you think of my hair?"
Stan looked anywhere but at Kyle.
"Well…it's different," Stan began, rubbing at the back of his neck. Kyle gave him a haunted look.
"What do you mean by that?" he croaked.
Stan pinched the bridge of his nose. "Look, Dude, I don't know. What do you want me to say? It's your hair."
Kyle clenched his fists. "But do you like it? Or do you think I'm…do you think it's weird?"
Stan stopped walking. "I guess I like it okay. I mean it's just makes you Kyle. Like I can't really imagine you without it, you know?"
Kyle frowned. He wasn't sure he liked this answer, but Stan looked uncomfortable, so Kyle dropped the subject.
At around half past nine that night, Stan Marsh received a hysterical phone call from his Super Best Friend. Kyle screeched through his end of the phone for Stan to get over to his house immediately. When Stan asked why, Kyle simply cried cryptically that he was never going to school again. Sighing, Stan got up from his computer and searched for a pair of jeans. He slipped out of his pajamas and snuck out of the house.
Ten minutes later Stan stood in the Broflovski's backyard. Picking up a handful of pebbles Stan chucked one at the last second-floor window on the left. A light shone within and when the pebble clacked against the glass, the curtains rustled.
Stan waited for less than a minute, before the backdoor flung open and a small figure wrapped in a bed sheet pelted across the lawn.
With the sheet still wrapped securely about his head and body, Kyle grabbed Stan's arm and without further explanation, dragged his friend into the house. The two crept their way up the stairs and locked themselves in Kyle's room. Letting go of Stan's hand, Kyle huddled near his closet door where a full length mirror hung. Stan stood facing his reflection.
"Dude, what the hell's going on?"
Something smelled strange in Kyle's room. Stan glanced around and noticed a couple of plastic bottles on Kyle's desk.
"Stan…," Kyle moaned. "Oh, Dude, I fucked up big time."
Stan frowned, moving closer to his friend.
"What is it? Are you okay?"
Kyle let out a shaky sob, before dropping the bed sheet from around his head. Stan started and stepped back. Kyle noted Stan's look of revulsion and quickly flung the sheet back over his head. He sniffed and rubbed at his eyes.
"I'm such an idiot," Kyle wailed. "I can't let anyone see me ever again."
Stan regained his composure.
"It's okay, Kyle," Stan said though not really meaning the words. Kyle's hair had been quite frightening. "How…how did you do that?"
Kyle sniffed. He pointed at his desk. "They're relaxers…it was supposed to make my hair…better…but I didn't do it right."
"Dude…it's okay," Stan offered sympathetically. "It's not that bad." He lied.
Kyle glared at him. "Not that bad? Stan –" He dropped the sheet again and Stan flinched. "See, Dude, you can't even look at me."
He drew the sheet back over his head and then slumped to the ground sniffing. Stan stood awkwardly at his side. Kyle let out a strangled sob.
"I can't go to school like this."
Stan knelt beside him. "No one will know, Kyle. You wear your hat all the time."
Kyle rubbed at his eyes. "Stan, what about art class?"
Kyle snapped his head up, frowning. "Yeah."
Stan sighed. "Look…I'm sure you could just, you know skip that day."
Kyle tugged his sheet tighter over his head. "But what about the week after that and the week after that? My hair's going to be stuck like this for a while.
"We could cut it off?"
Kyle started, shaking his head so hard that the sheet slipped from his head. Stan bit his lip, trying not to smile at the horrible mess of red that had once been Kyle's Jewfro. Kyle snatched at his blanket, ducking beneath it.
"You're no help," Kyle mumbled. Stan pushed himself up.
"Well, I don't know what to tell you, Dude," Stan said testily. "Why did you go and do this anyway? Your hair was fine before."
Stan watched Kyle struggle to his feet, keeping a tight hold of the sheet as he did so. He shuffled past his closet and slammed the door shut. He stared at the bottles on his desk.
"I don't know…," Kyle moaned. Stan sighed, moving to Kyle's side.
"I liked your hair before," Stan confessed. "It was just curly. Lots of people have curly hair, Dude."
"Not the way mine is. Bebe's hair is curly, but nice to look at. Mine's like an ugly clump of frizz."
Stan frowned. "You know Bebe's stupid. She should have gotten in trouble for not drawing you right."
Kyle sat down on the edge of his bed.
"But I looked better like that. She made me look like I was normal."
Stan was starting to feel angry. He rarely let his anger flare up, but seeing Kyle's dejected behavior had started a spark. Stan was angry at that stupid art assignment and angry that he didn't get paired with Kyle in the first place. If that had happened, Kyle wouldn't be in this mess. Stan was also angry at Bebe ever daring to think Kyle looked anything, but normal. However, in the end, Stan was mostly angry at himself for not being able to come up with the right answer to Kyle's current problem.
All Stan could think to do was sit next to his best friend and wrap his arm about Kyle's bed sheet-covered shoulders.
"I really think you look fine the way you were," Stan assured. "I never thought anything different about how you looked. You were just Kyle, and Kyle has bushy red hair."
"And my nose is too big," Kyle added, his face still hidden by the bed sheet.
"It's not that big, Dude," Stan sighed.
"It is. It's like my mom's."
"Ah, now don't say that. You look loads better than your mom."
Kyle raised his head. "Are you saying my mom's ugly?"
Stan panicked. "No, no, Dude! I was just saying you – er – well I think you personally look better than she does."
Kyle curled his hands into fists. "But I'm ugly…so you saying I'm better looking means you're saying she's really ugly!"
Stan did not know how he got himself into these arguments with Kyle.
"Fuck, Dude, that's not what I said at all!"
Kyle was on his feet. "Yes it is!"
Stan jumped off the bed.
"First off, I don't think you're ugly, Kyle. I've never ever thought that. Ever."
"Whatever. You have to say that…'cause you're my best friend."
"I don't have to say shit," Stan turned on his heel and marched toward the door. "You call me, screech into my ear, and I come running over. And then you just bitch at me! I'm not dealing with this anym-"
Kyle shuffled to his friend's side still holding the bed sheet around his head.
"I'm sorry, please don't go. I still don't know what to do." Kyle's tone had shifted dramatically. He sounded lost and dejected again. Stan crumbled, turning away from the door.
"I don't know what to do, Kyle," Stan confessed, holding out his arms. "I mean, I don't think cutting it would be so bad. It'll grown back eventually."
"But…if I go to school with my hair cut, everyone will know I did it 'cause of Bebe's picture."
Stan rolled his eyes. "You did do it because of Bebe's fucking picture."
"Yeah, well I'm sorry we can't all look like Stan 'perfect hair' Marsh. I mean no one's ever tried to alter a picture of you before, have they?" Kyle challenged, holding himself to his full height the bed sheet still covering his head.
Stan thought for a moment. "Does Shelley drawing a mustache on my picture in the family photo count?"
"No," Kyle deadpanned.
"Then I guess not. I don't think anyone's ever drawn me different or taken a weird picture of me. I've always just looked like me."
Kyle pointed at him. "See, it's 'cause you aren't ugly."
Stan frowned. "Kyle, you are not ugly. Stop saying that!"
"Then why did Bebe not paint me the way I really look like? And why did Mrs. Dreibel seem okay with it? She looked at me…." Kyle's shoulders drooped. "She looked at me and thought Bebe's picture looked better."
"Well, I like how you look," Stan tried once more. He lowered his head. "I thought that mattered."
Kyle gripped the sheet tighter. He didn't look at Stan.
Sighing, Stan pulled at Kyle's arm, dragging his friend across the room to the bed.
"You should just let me cut it off. I promise I won't make you look stupid," Stan offered. Kyle eyed him cautiously.
"Do you know how to cut hair?"
"How hard can it be?"
Kyle hid his face under the sheet. He shook his head.
"No way. You'll just hack it all off."
"…Or whatever's left of it," Stan mumbled under his breath.
Kyle peeked an eye out from under his sheet. "What was that?"
There was a long pause, and then Kyle sighed. "Get the scissors."
A half hour later, Kyle's bedroom floor lay littered with clumps of frizzy red hair. Stan had tried his best to salvage what had been left on top of Kyle's head. In the end, however, Stan had no other choice than to sneak into Mr. Broflovski's room and steal his electric razor. When Stan had finished, Kyle's hair was nothing more than a thin layer of peach-fuzz quality hair.
As Stan went about trying to pick up the mess of hair on the carpeted floor, Kyle got out of his desk chair and shuffled to his closet. He pulled open the door and stared at his reflection in the mirror. He raised a hesitant hand, running it slowly over the fuzz on his head. He dropped his hand.
And then he burst into tears.
Stan jumped getting red hair down the front of his black t-shirt. He quickly brushed it off and rushed to Kyle's side.
"Dude, what's wrong? I didn't like accidentally cut off a piece of skin?"
"I want my hair back!" Kyle whined. He made a hiccupped sob and rubbed his fists against his eyes. "I want my old hair back, Stan!"
Stan pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Kyle, it'll grow back. Don't worry." Stan placed his hands on Kyle's shoulder. He gazed at both of their reflections. Without his hair, Kyle looked to Stan very…different. It was almost like seeing him naked, but not quite. Sadly, without the distraction of his poufy hair, Kyle's long nose stood out more prominently.
Kyle hid his face in his hands.
"Cartman's going to have a field day."
Stan threw out his hands in exasperation. "You always wear your ushanka! No one's going to know!"
Spinning around, Kyle spat, "Except I do! And what about art class?"
"Skip that day!" Stan suggested, turning back to the hair on the floor.
Kyle watched his friend clean up for a few moments. He sniffled and gasped for breath as he tried to hold back his tears. Stan ignored him.
"I hate everything about myself," Kyle finally spoke. Stan looked up from the floor. The two boys stared at each other. Then without a word, Stan stood and turned to the desk. He picked up the electric razor and clicked it on. He held it up to the level of his eyes. Kyle watched him nervously.
Then with one swift movement, Stan yanked off his red poof-ball hat and ran the razor straight down the middle of his head. He sheared off a long chuck of black hair which fell to the floor to mingle with the red frizz.
Kyle stood in horror as one stroke after the other Stan lopped off his entire head of hair. With the last piece falling to the ground, Stan shut off the razor and set it back on the desk. He turned to look at Kyle.
"There. Now, we can both look stupid together," Stan announced. "And," Stan added grinning, "Our hair can grow back together."
Kyle took a small step forward and then another. He reached Stan's side and slowly lifted his hand. He touched Stan's head.
"I can't believe you just did that," Kyle said in awe. Stan laughed.
"Of course, I did, Dude. You're my best friend, and I didn't want you to look stupid alone."
Kyle's lip trembled, and he found he couldn't look at his friend. He blinked back tears.
"I still can't believe it. You'll get made fun of too…."
Stan hugged Kyle tightly to him.
"I don't care."
Kyle gripped the back of Stan's t-shirt, burying his face in Stan's shoulder. Stan tried to laugh it off. He shook Kyle a little.
"Come on, Dude, help me pick up the hair. I have to get home before I get busted," Stan said, pulling away from his friend. Kyle gave him a wet smile.
Together they collected the scraps of their black and red hair. They deposited it in Kyle's little trash can. With the carpet quickly swept, the hair relaxer bottles disposed of, and Kyle's bed sheet tucked back on his bed, the room looked good as new. Kyle and Stan stood in the middle of the floor, gazing at their reflections in the closet mirror.
Stan touched the top of his head, feeling the soft fuzz beneath his fingertips.
"It doesn't look all that bad," Stan said enthusiastically. Kyle made a face.
"We look stupid."
Stan grinned. "At least we look stupid together."
Kyle shoved him. Wordlessly, Kyle went to his desk and picked up his green ushanka. He returned to Stan's side. Stan tugged out his little red poof-ball hat from his back pocket. Together they yanked their respective hats back atop their heads.
For a moment, they stared at their reflections, and then Stan burst out laughing. Kyle gave him a sideways look, but smiled too.
"I guess no one ever really sees our hair with our hats on," Kyle admitted. Stan snorted.
"You know, Dude, we should start a cult."
Kyle's eyes grew round. "What?"
"We already got the bald heads. Now, we just got to get some followers to do the same!" Stan said energetically. "I mean you really enjoyed that Blainetology cult if I remember correctly."
Kyle rolled his eyes.
"I did not."
Stan laughed again. He pulled at one the earflaps on Kyle's hat. Kyle pushed his friend's hands away and moved towards his bed. He paused staring at his wrinkled bed sheet. Stan's smile slipped.
"You gonna to be okay?"
"What should we call our cult?"
Friday saw Mr. Garrison's students in art class and divided up into pairs once more. Kyle now sat behind the easel, with Bebe primping her hair as she rested upon the tiny stool. She flipped her blonde locks over the left shoulder and then the right. She ran her fingers several times through the thick strands. She pressed it flat against the back of her head, and then sitting up straight she turned to Kyle.
"Okay. You can start," she said cheerily.
Kyle rolled his eyes and disappeared behind the easel. For several minutes, he stared at the blank page before him. He reached out a tentative hand and laid out the first brushstroke. Then hating the mark he'd made, Kyle panicked and rubbed the elbow of his paint smock upon the canvas to wipe it clean. When the canvas was blank, Kyle tried to start again. He made a circle for Bebe's head, but thought it was too lopsided. Once more he started to erase the brushstrokes he'd made only to have Bebe bark at him to stop stalling.
Biting his lip Kyle glanced over his shoulder to watch Stan. The boy had taken his seat upon the stool, and Eric Cartman stood behind the easel. Cartman made a great show in measuring Stan's profile with his thumb before ordering Stan to remove his 'gay little hat.'
Kyle felt the air catch in his throat. Stan blinked as if taking a moment to register Cartman's request. The next moment, however, he plucked off his hat and tossed it on the floor beside him. Kyle felt his jaw drop. Cartman held a similar reaction. For a split second, Cartman was rendered speechless, and then the laughter started.
Rolling back his head, Cartman howled so loudly that the other students turned from their portraits. Some of the girls gasped at Stan's appearance while others let out short laughs. Not much else happened. Once the initial shock of a hairless Stan wore off, the class returned to their paintings. Kyle stood in awe of his best friend. Self-consciously, Kyle reached up under his hat and felt the fuzzy remains of his once vibrant hair.
"Kyle!" Bebe whined, hopping up and down on her seat.
Starting, Kyle turned back to his easel. He suddenly felt very confident.
Forty-five minutes later the class came to an end and students shuffled about the room picking up supplies. Stan replaced his trusty poof-ball hat and helped Cartman pack away the paints and brushes. On the other side of the room, Kyle stepped back from his painting and smiled. Bounding up beside him, Bebe scanned her portrait
The very same instant she let out an earsplitting shriek.
"WHAT! What did you do? What did you do?" she moaned, shaking her head back and forth. She rounded on Kyle. "Why did you do that to me?"
Kyle shrugged. He scanned the room and noticed they'd draw an audience. Mrs. Dreibel was making her way through the sea of students.
Bebe grabbed a hold of Kyle's smock and shook him.
Kyle looked at her.
Bebe gave a frustrated yelp and turned to await the teacher. Stan appeared at Kyle's elbow and gave the painting of Bebe a thorough glance.
"It looks like seaweed's sticking out of her head, Dude," Stan sniggered. Kyle grinned.
Mrs. Dreibel arrived.
"What's going on?" she asked sternly, turning first to Stan and Kyle and then to Bebe.
With a shaking hand, Bebe pointed at her portrait. "H-he painted me all wrong. He made snakes come out of my head."
Kyle raised his hand. "Actually, it's seaweed."
Bebe glared at him.
"I don't have seaweed growing out of my head! Where's my real hair? All I see is green!"
"I like green," Kyle admitted, tugging at his ushanka."
Mrs. Dreibel examined the portrait. "Mr. Broflovski, the rule was that you were supposed to capture the essence of your partner. You were not to make anything up! This was not a lesson in surrealism."
Stan piped up. "Well, I think it's just Kyle using his 'artistic license'."
Bebe and Mrs. Dreibel glared at him.
"Yeah," Kyle agreed. "I mean on the outside Bebe has nice long flowing blonde hair. Sort of like Cinderella or something. But, see I wanted to capture what Bebe looked like on the inside."
Mrs. Dreibel placed her hands on her hips.
"You will start over, Mr. Broflovski. You will do the portrait right," she ordered.
"Then Bebe should start over too," quipped Stan. He moved to Kyle's side. "Shouldn't she? She did the portrait wrong too."
Mrs. Dreibel shook her head.
"That is different –"
"How?" Stan pressed.
The teacher opened her mouth and then shut it quickly. "It just is, Mr. Marsh. Mr. Broflovski needs to learn that this kind of behavior is uncalled for. These portraits are to be displayed in the hallway. You have to show your best efforts, and I will not tolerate any funny business."
Kyle frowned. "But I wasn't trying to be funny. You said last time, you wouldn't stifle artistic creativity. So, why are you doing it now?"
Mrs. Dreibel crossed her arms over her chest. She took in a long breath through her nose and then letting it out said:
"Fine. Keep the portrait as is, but you are not allowed to alter it anymore. Do you understand?"
Kyle smiled. "Yes."
Bebe tried to protest, but the bell announcing that school had let out rang through the room. The kids mad a quick rush to the door. Stan and Kyle stayed behind to collect the paints. Wendy approached Bebe.
"You brought this on yourself, you know," Wendy said, gazing at the portrait of the green-haired Bebe.
The blonde girl frowned. She said nothing as she kicked her stool into place next to the others. Gathering up her supplies, she threw her pencil bag on top of her books. She glared at it, not moving. Wendy shrugged her shoulders.
"Well, it's true."
"Shut up," Bebe snapped.
Wendy rolled her eyes. "I think you'd look really good with green streaks in your hair."
Bebe sniffed, but then looked up.
Wendy smiled. "Yeah."
"I have been meaning to try streaking my hair…," Bebe mused. Wendy nodded encouragingly.
"Come on, we can pick out some colors together. Maybe we can even match," she suggested. Bebe beamed.
The girls exited the art room arm in arm. Kyle watched them go in disbelief.
"Weird," Stan said shaking his head. "Girls are weird."
Feeling underneath his green hat again, Kyle touched the soft hairs. Stan watched him closely.
"It'll grow back. Good as new, you'll see." He smiled.
Kyle smiled too.
"So, I've come up with a name for our cult," Stan informed his friend. Kyle snorted with laughter as he moved about the room, putting up his easel and paints. He placed the portrait of the green-haired Bebe on a shelf with the other paintings to dry.
"What?" Kyle asked returning to Stan's side.
"The Latter Day Knights of the Balding Peaches," he replied grinning toothily. He pulled his hat off his head to rub what little hair he had there.