And So it Begins...
"Oh you are going down!" Francine stormed over to Robby.
"Oh hey Cass," Robby smirked, "what's wrong, did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed today?"
"Haha," Francine glared, "you think you're so funny... But I am so going to kill you."
"Whatever for?" Robby asked innocently.
"You Saran-wrapped my bed!" Francine finally blurted out, "how the fuck did you get in?"
Robby dangled a key in front of her, "I have my ways."
Francine reached out to snatch the key away but Robby took it out of her grasp, “give it back!”
“Technically it’s not your key,” Robby chuckled, “It’s Angie’s.”
“Robby!” Francine whined, she was also thoroughly shocked that her roommate would betray her like this.
“What can I say she loves me?” Robby smirked.
Francine stifled a laugh when Robby sat down across from her looking completely exhausted, “Well aren’t you just looking sunny today.”
“Fuck off,” Robby grumbled.
Francine clucked her tongue, “You’re tainting my innocent ears, do I need to wash your mouth out with soap?”
Instead of saying anything Robby just flipped her off and plopped his head on the table.
Francine shook her head, but smiled feeling very pleased with herself. Over the course of the last three weeks she’d watched Robby’s dark brown hair get lighter and lighter, and yet somehow he didn’t notice. Oh yes, this was her best prank by far. She’d have to thank Ben for letting her into his dorm so that she could put Sun-In into all of his hair products. Pair that with a little sunshine? Well it turned a Grade A Italian American Jersey Boy like Robert Castelluccio into a California Beach Bum. Francine silently congratulated herself, maybe this was just a testament to how reliant Robby was on his hair products.
The only thing that Francine didn’t understand was how oblivious Robby seemed to all of this, if it was her she was certain that she would notice if her hair was getting lighter and lighter, especially if she woke up one morning to find herself looking like Marilyn Monroe. During these last three weeks she’d dropped a million and a half hints and he hadn’t clued in on any of them. She’d asked Ben not to say anything once it started to change but this was downright ridiculous.
“Yo Castelluccio clan!” Jake sauntered past briefly pausing by their table, “Woah nice hair, when did you do that?”
“What?” Robby looked up at Jake.
“I mean it’s a good look and all but-”
“What are you talking about?” Robby interrupted.
Francine let out a burst of laughter and Robby immediately set his sights on her, “You… What did you do?”
Jake looked at the two of them wide eyed, “You know I think I’ll go, don’t want to to be late for class,” he laughed nervously before taking off.”
“God, don’t you own a mirror?” Francine laughed as she quickly snapped a picture on her phone for him to see.
When Robby looked at the picture his jaw dropped, “How could you not notice?” Francine grinned.
“There’s one in the bathroom. How many mirrors does one person need?” Robby replied defensively.
“You’ve been slowly turning blonde for almost a month,” Francine admitted, “you are so oblivious that it amazes me.”
Robby looked at the picture again and ran a hand through his hair, the only hint of it’s natural color was the dark brows and the remains of his dark roots, “How did you--?”
“Simple,” Francine shrugged, “I have mad pranking skills.”
Robby exhaled, “You’ve just entered into dangerous territory Little Cass, you’ve been warned.”
“You don’t scare me,” Francine smiled her eyes sparkling with mischief.
“Oh you should be afraid, be be very afraid,” Robby gave her a glare.
Angie then walked over watching Robby leave, “Remind me never to piss you off ever…”
“Except I know you would kill me for touching your hair,” Francine sighed.
“Damn right,” Angie scoffed.
It had been three days since Robby had discovered his new hair style and he had not retaliated, Francine was getting a little paranoid and wondering just what it was that he was going to to do. But she wouldn’t let that type of weakness show, oh no. So when Robby approached her with a bottle of diet Coke in hand she was extremely wary.
“Can we call it a truce?” Robby asked, “please?”
“A truce?” Francine pressed her lips together into a thin line, “Who are you and what have you done with Robby Castelluccio? Robby Castelluccio never calls for a truce-”
“Can’t I be nice to my favorite niece?” Robby held out the bottle of Coke in her direction, “Think of this as a peace offering.”
Francine eyed the Coke, “This is for me?”
“Yeah,” Robby smile, “let’s put an end to this.”
“I can’t believe you’re giving up,” Francine sighed, “I’m not going to lie, I’m a little disappointed,” she took the bottle from him.
“Well it’s hard to top turning me blonde,” Robby shrugged and stuck his hands into the pockets on his jeans.
“You are being suspiciously nice,” Francine mused.
“Don’t you trust me?”
“No,” Francine replied folding her arms across her chest still clutching the bottle, “not as far as I can throw you.”
“Come on enjoy the Coke,” Robby insisted, “I’m done with this.”
Francine hesitated for a moment, she quickly examined the bottle, it didn’t appear to be tampered with… With a sigh she started to twist the cap off of the soda, almost instantly she was hit with a spray of liquid and foam directly to her face, she sputtered. “Oh my god,” she coughed, “you are the worst human being to ever walk this earth.” She stood up and and watched the rest of the Coke drip down her face onto her shirt and her jeans.
Robby was howling with laughter, “Mentos and Diet Coke, a classic.”
Francine wiped some of the coke off her face which was quickly becoming sticky, “I will get you for this… I need to shower first but I will get you-”
“I’d like to see you try!” Robby laughed as Francine walked away.
Coming back from her quick shower and pulling her hair back into a ponytail Francine got dressed, she tossed the Coke soaked clothes into her laundry bag knowing she would have to do it once she got home this weekend. After pulling on her shirt Francine sat down on her bed to put her shoes on, that was when she noticed something was off. Looking around it took a moment for her to process it but when she did a knot formed in her stomach, there was the slightest disturbance on her comforter where Murphy usually sat.
Francine began to panic, sure she was a college student but she never had the heart to get rid of Murphy, she’d had him practically her entire life. She looked behind her bed, and under her bed and he was still nowhere in sight. Francine kept looking and looking and there was no sight of her bear.
Francine sat down at her desk trying to keep herself calm when she spotted a piece of paper, while she wasn’t exactly the most organized when it came to her desk Francine knew that hadn’t been there before. Wondering if Angie had left it by mistake Francine picked it up and started to read it.
The letter was made up of cut up magazine letters. It was a ransom note she quickly realized, Francine’s panic soon turned to anger.
"Asshole," Francine grumbled through gritted teeth.
The fact that Robby had the audacity to take Murphy from her was unforgivable, he knew how much Murphy meant to her. Crumpling up the letter, Francine began to plot her revenge, there was no way she was going to let him off easily for this.
Francine enjoyed the sight of seeing Robby walking around campus in a dress shirt, slacks and his orange Crocs. “Well my good sir how are you this fine day?” she called out.
“I would be better if hadn’t had to sleep on the couch in the lounge, “ Robby glared at her.
“Oh you poor baby,” Francine pouted.
“How the hell did you get Ben to side with you?”
“Maybe it’s my feminine charms?” Francine tossed her long hair over her shoulders.
“Charm?” Robby snorted, “if anything you’re a charm school dropout.”
“Hey watch it,” Francine glared, “keep talking like that and there is no way you are getting your clothes back.”
“I should have guessed you were behind this as well,” Robby gestured to his attire.
“I must ask, why the hell do you still own Crocs?” Francine asked, “Not like they were ever fashionable in the first place but this is 2013.”
“They're comfortable, alright? Is that what you wanted to hear?” Robby glared.
“Not exactly interesting but it’ll do,” Francine shrugged, “Oh!”
Francine lowered her bag and unzipped it, clearly in search of something, “Before I forget…” she pulled out an envelope that had quite a bit of paper in it and handed it to Robby.
“What’s this?” Robby asked as he looked at the envelop.
“Well…” Francine deliberately drew out her words, “it just might aid you in the safe return of some rather important articles of clothing.” A smile spread across her face glad that she had met up with Robby at this point as her gaze drifted over to the flagpole that normally bore a flag with the school seal.
Robby followed her gaze and his eyes widened and his jaw dropped when noticed the flag had been replaced by a pair of Tweety Bird boxers…. His Tweety Bird boxers.
“Good luck,” Francine casually tossed her hair over her shoulder and walked away.
Frankie had been sitting in the living room reading as he watched Francine walk by with a load of laundry, this made him smile. While he and Bob had been enjoying the fact that it was just the two of them for the first time in twelve years for such an extensive period of time he missed Francine’s very presence. He missed the insane amount of time she spent in the bathroom, or having dinner with him and Bobby, so he was glad that she was home for the week.
His phone started buzzing so with a sigh he checked to see that it was his mother, “Hey Mom.”
“Francis,” His mother began, “would you mind telling me why Robby’s hair is blonde?”
Frankie knit his brows, “I’m sorry… What?”
“Robby,” his mother repeated, “his hair is now blonde.”
“Sorry Ma, I don’t know,” Frankie replied all the while wondering why she would be asking him, “have you asked him? He must have done it at school.”
“I did ask,” His mother’s tone turned serious, “all he would say was to ask Francine…”
Frankie had to sigh at the mention of his daughter’s name, “Well I don’t know anything about that… As soon as Robby dropped her off she unpacked and now she’s doing laundry-”
“Can you please find out?” Mrs. Castelluccio asked, “I just would like to know.”
“Sure thing Ma,” Frankie replied as Bob exited the kitchen, “bye Mom,” he hung up and put his phone back in his pocket.
“What was that all about?” Bob asked, “Does your mother need us to bring something for Thanksgiving?”
“No,” Frankie sighed, “but apparently Robby is blonde now.”
Bob raised an eyebrow, “Really?”
“And apparently Francine had something to do with it,” Frankie added.
“I’m gonna go talk to her and find out what happened,” Frankie sighed as he made his way to the mudroom where the washer and dryer were. There Francine was in the process of sorting her clothing.
"Yeah?" Francine called over the sound of the washer filling.
"I just got an interesting phone call from Nonna," Frankie joined her.
"I'm looking forward to see her," Francine said, tossing in the last piece of clothing and closing the washer door.
"I'm sure," said Frankie, "But that's not the point. She told me something about Robby. Specifically his hair."
Francine tried to conceal a snort of laughter and failed spectacularly.
"It was a stupid prank," Francine said between giggles, "and he deserved it."
"Really?" Frankie asked, eyebrow raised.
"He took Murphy hostage!" Francine said, "And gave me a Coke that exploded in my face! Here," she dug into her pocket and pulled out her phone and swiped to the picture of Robby with his new locks, showing it to Frankie.
Frankie did his best to maintain a stern face but it was failing him miserably. Soon, father and daughter had both collapsed into fits of giggles, standing together by the laundry machine. And that was where Bob found them a few moments later.
"What's the joke?" Bob asked.
"Nothing," Francine straightened up, there was no way her Papa was going to think this was funny, was he?
In response, Frankie simply snatched Francine's phone and showed Bob the picture with a grin. Bob didn't appear amused.
"Come on Bobby you know it's funny!"
"Maybe I'll shave your head in your sleep. It's only hair, after all," Bob's voice was laced with sarcasm.
Frankie ran a hand through his hair almost protectively, "No thank you."
"It is his fault that he didn't notice for three weeks..." Francine looked at her Papa.
"Oh no," Bob said, shaking his head slightly, "don't you dare turn on the puppydog eyes, young lady."
Francine stuck out her lower lip, "It was just a stupid prank war, why is Nonna fussing over it so much?" Although she was thankful that it seemed Robby hadn't mentioned her scavenger hunt across campus for his underwear.
Bob let out a sigh and glared at Frankie, "Why did we ever let Tommy spend extensive time with her?"
Frankie shrugged, "I think we figured with Nicky around it wouldn't be so bad."
"Nicky only tries to control Tommy," Bob dead panned, "Tommy is uncontrollable."
Frankie knew that Bobby was right, although he did have to wonder how much of her behavior was influenced by Tommy as opposed to Francine acting on her own accord.
"I can't possibly be in trouble for this," Francine spoke up, "can I?"
"Well, that depends," replied Bob, raising an eyebrow, "do you want to get a talking to from me and your father or from your Nonna."
Francine groaned, "Oh my god we called a truce!"
"Alright, enough," sighed Frankie, "I'll talk to my mother. Nobody got hurt and Robby doesn't seem too torn up about it."
"Exactly!" Francine agreed.
Bob gave Frankie a look, "Fine," he sighed before turning to Francine, "and you, enough with the practical jokes."
"Scouts honor," Francine promised solemnly.
Bob eyed her for a few moments and she met his gaze squarely with an innocent smile. She knew that he wouldn't believe the smile, but she also knew that he couldn't stay angry at her for long.
Bob shook his head and looked away, "You just had to inherit your father's smile."
With Bob's gaze averted, Frankie took the chance to shoot Francine a wink and she hid a giggle behind her hand. By the time Bob looked at her again she had stifled her laughter.
"What are you going with all that?" Robby asked.
"None of your business," Francine replied.
"That's a lot of glitter..." Robby commented, "who are you pranking?"
"No one! Francine replied defensively, "I have a project."
"Right," Robby scoffed, "we know that's not true," he then grinned, "it's April first, you're pranking someone! Can I come?"
"No!" Francine groaned.
"I'll tell my brother," Robby smirked.
"Don't you dare tell Dad," Francine glared.
"I won't," Robby folded his arms across his chest, "but tell me who you're pranking."
Francine knew there was no way she was getting out of this, "Uncle Tommy."
"Really?" Robby raised his eyebrow, "I mean he'll have a great reaction, but in the end it's not your best target."
"Well who do you suggest?" Francine asked, not that she actually cared.
Francine's eyes went wide, "Hell no, oh no... No, no, no!"
"What are you chicken?" Robby raised an eyebrow.
"No..." Francine felt her face get warm, "but he's my Dad! "
"We'll do it together," Robby threw his arm around her shoulder, "it'll be fun, what did you have in mind?"
"I was gonna put glitter in the air vents," Francine admitted.
"Devious," Robby chuckled, "I like it."
"I'm not going to do it to my Dad," Francine shook her head.
"Come on, YOLO!" Robby laughed.
"Please, don't ever say that again," Francine groaned.
"It's a good way to live your life," Robby declared, "come on... Go big or go home!"
Francine bit at her lower lip, she was a little worried with the idea of pulling a stunt like this on her parents. But it was only a joke… Right?
“Don’t leave me hanging,” Robby bounced up and down, “yes or no?”
“Fine,” Francine sighed, “let’s do this.”
“Great,” Robby clapped his hands together, “this is gonna be great.”
“Breaking into my brother’s car,” Robby grinned, “this is gonna be fun.”
“Is it still considered breaking in if you have a key?” Francine mused as she unlocked the doors and slid into the front seat, “Now get over here and help me!”
“Have you had your moral compass calibrated recently?” Robby raised an eyebrow as he got in on the passenger side and grabbed a container filled with pink glitter and a funnel which he inserted into the air vent and started pouring in with a steady hand.
“Oh like you’re one to talk,” Francine scoffed, “you talked me into doing this.”
“Only because you were just gonna go after Tommy,” Robby replied, “where is the fun in that? This is the big prize.”
“You do know that you are going down with me,” Francine spoke up, “you are as much a guilty party as I am, I am not letting you get off scot free,” she added a she poured rainbow into the air vent in front of her.
“I won’t like it,” Robby sighed, “but I won’t leave you hanging,” he then added in some green glitter, “are we doing this in the back too?”
Francine shrugged her shoulders, “Go big or go home.”
“Get back!” Robby jerked Francine back as they watched Bob exit the house and head out to the car. Francine began to panic a little, she hadn’t expected her Papa to be the one to fall victim to her trap.
“You got your camera ready?” Robby whispered.
Francine nodded and poised her phone so that she had a good view of all that was about to unfold.
Bob opened the door and slipped in, and he closed the door.
Francine could hear her heart pounding in her ears as she watched him adjust the seat and mirrors. He then put the key in the ignition and the engine began to roar to life. The effect was immediate, glitter was flying everywhere and Francine couldn’t help but laugh as she watched her Papa try and combat it, his arms flailing about all over the place. But she stopped when she heard the engine shut off and she door open and shut. Looking up she could see her Papa staring right at her and she froze, “Oh shit.”
“Is it too late for me to recommend running?” Robby leaned over to whisper in her ear.
“Francine Samara Gaudio-Castelluccio!” Bob hollered.
“Fuck,” Francine murmured as Robby stood there and laughed as Bob stormed over to where they had been hiding.
“You’d better clean this up right now,” Bob spoke firmly.
“Yes Papa…” Francine hung her head, her face red with embarrassment as she went inside to get the vacuum.
During this exchange Robby had tried to slip away, Bob cleared his throat and Robby froze, “Oh hey Bobby,” he laughed nervously.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Bob raised an eyebrow.
“Inside to help Francine?” Robby supplied.
“Good answer,” Bob nodded as he watched Robby go into the house.
Frankie walked out of the house past Robby over to Bob, “What is going on out here?”
“Your daughter and your brother thought it would be funny to put glitter in the air vents of the car,” Bob replied stiffly as he brushed some of the glitter off of his shirt.
"You can't possibly condone this," Bob shot him a look.
"No," Frankie stuck his hands in his pockets, "but I'm also not gonna deny that it's clever."
"You're just as as bad as Francine," Bob rolled his eyes, "two peas in a pod," he muttered as he still wiped off the glitter, "that car is going to be sparkling forever, you know that right?"
"I wouldn't say forever," Frankie replied as he watched Francine and Robby come back out front with a brush, a dustpan and the little Dust Buster from the laundry room.
“You know they call it the herpes of the craft world for a reason,” Bob replied as the heard the vacuum turn on as Francine set to work trying to clean up the mess she and Robby had made.
“Robby stop!” Francine hollered as she shoved Robby away while he laughed and attempted to put glitter down her shirt.
“This should be interesting,” Robby smiled as he watched Francine set up her computer.
“Well they’re gonna have to find out anyway, “ Francine replied as the Skype call rang and connected.
“Hello? Francine?” Frankie’s picture came into focus.
“Hi Daddy,” Francine waved her purple cast in front of the camera.
Frankie’s eyes went wide, “What did you do?”
“I fell out of a tree,” Francine smiled.
“I like how you say that with such pride,” Robby snorted.
“What were you doing in a tree?” Frankie furrowed his brow.
“Dad, is that really important?” Francine sighed.
“Francine, your arm is in a cast,” Frankie spoke in a serious tone.
“I know,” Francine grinned, “isn’t it awesome? I got everyone to sign it-”
“Robby,” Frankie interrupted, “you’re supposed to make sure she doesn’t do things like this,” he sighed.
“If you think I can control her, then you’re crazy bro,” Robby smirked.
“How many times do I need to tell you, I don’t need a bodyguard!” Francine interjected.
“No, you need a paramedic,” Robby scoffed.
“Robby!” Francine glared as she noticed her Papa appear on the computer screen as well.
“Can someone explain what’s going on here?” Bob sat down next to Frankie on the couch.
Frankie turned to face him, “Apparently Francine broke her arm when she fell out of a tree.”
“And don’t ask,” he continued as Bob opened his mouth, “what she was doing in the tree. I can’t get answer on that.”
Bob closed his mouth and glanced at the computer screen where Francine was grinning happily and Robby was grimacing apologetically. He squeezed the bridge of his nose.
"I don't think I even want to know."
Francine pouted, "Oh come on it's not like you two didn't do anything stupid in college."
"Little Cass this is a whole new level of stupidity," Robby interjected.
"Like you're so perfect either."
"Who's the one with broken bones here?" taunted Robby, "It sure as hell ain't me."
"We made a huge mistake in introducing those two," Bob said to Frankie and the two on the screen continued to bicker, "They're a bad influence on each other."
"It's taken you this long to figure it out?" Francine laughed.
"I'd hoped that adulthood would mellow it out a bit," Bob informed.
"You didn't take into account that neither of them will ever actually act like an adult," Frankie said with a grin.
"Hey!" Francine and Robby chorused.
"Having them at the same school certainly didn't help," Frankie shook his head, "maybe she should have gone to Rutgers."
"There was no way I was living at home!" Francine protested.
"I'd consider making a comment about the Freshman Fifteen and how living at home would be protection from it if I didn't think you'd smack me," Robby mused.
"I'll smack you for thinking it," growled Francine.
"Knock it off you two," Bob spoke up.
"It's alright, Bob," Robby sighed, "I'm used to it."
Francine snorted, "As if you're not just as guilty of smackages."
"Smackages is not a word," Robby told her.
"You're not a word," retorted Francine.
"I really wonder why I hang out with you," Robby sighed,"you put me through such abuse."
"It's because you love me, my dear uncle," Francine told him with a grin.
Robby physically shuddered just like he did any time Francine called him uncle, "Stop," he said firmly.
"But it's true," Francine looked at him innocently.
"And for godsake can you please stop calling Lindsay 'auntie'," Robby glared.
"Who's Lindsay?" Frankie asked with a grin, leaning in curiously.
"She's his girlfriend," Francine trilled, drawing out the last word in a sing-song manner.
"Really?" Frankie smiled, "Do I need to tell mom about this?"
"No!" Robby exclaimed before shooting a look at Francine that read now see what you've done?
Francine giggled, "You're the one who said it, not me."
"It's not serious," Robby told his brother.
"Maybe not for you," Francine said with a smirk, "she's planning out your wedding."
Robby blanched, "She is?"
"That girl is crazy."
"Francine," Bob scolded.
"It's true!" insisted Francine, "They've been dating for like two weeks and I overheard her talking to her friend about bridesmaid dresses!"
"Overheard or eavesdropped?" Robby asked, still slightly pale.
Francine shrugged, "Same difference."
"I thought we raised you better than this," Frankie replied.
"You really think I learned to eavesdrop hanging around you?" Francine raised an eyebrow.
"Tommy..." Frankie and Bob sighed in unison.
"Besides, I only do it because I care," Francine tried to fold her arms across her chest, but struggled slightly with the bulk of her cast.
"Just wait till she finds out I'm your niece," Francine smirked, "if you ever want to get rid of her just let me know."
"I hate you," Robby muttered.
"I give it another week before you come running," decided Francine, "at most."
Robby looked at his watch, "Wow, look at the time, I have a date with Lindsey. With whom," he continued insistently, "I am not going to break up in a week."
"Riiiiight," Francine nodded slowly.
"Talk to you later, guys," Robby said, ignoring Francine with practiced ease.
"So are you going to tell us what happened?" Frankie asked again.
From across the room she could hear her roommate Angie let out a small laugh, "hush!"
Angie rolled her eyes and continued reading her book.
"It was just a thing," Francine said, "it really doesn't matter. So I like to climb trees, but I'm a little clumsy."
"Liking climbing had nothing to do with it," Angie piped up, "You wanted to pour paint on Robby."
"Angie!" Francine scolded, just as Bob said "Excuse me?"
"Is this the whole prank war thing again?" Frankie said.
"I thought you were done with all that," Bob added.
"Well, we definitely are now," Francine told them.
She then proceeded to shoot Angie a dirty glare, "You just couldn't keep your mouth shut could you?"
Angie blushed, "Sorry..."
"Francine," Bob sighed.
"I was just going to retaliate for what he did to me," Francine said, "but like I said, we've called a complete truce. No more pranking. And it was only a simple break so it should heal just fine."
"A simple break?" Bob raised his brow, "you still broke your arm."
"I know that," Francine sighed, "but I'm fine and Angie said she would help me out-"
"I did not!" Angie called out from across the room.
"Yes you did," Francine smirked.
"I want to see it in writing!”
"Is your roommate a pre-law major?" Frankie asked.
"Piano performance," Francine sighed.
"My dad was a lawyer," Angie informed, "and my uncle."
"There you go," said Francine, gesturing in Angie's direction.
"I suppose that would explain it," Frankie nodded, "now no more pranks, okay?"
"Okay Dad," Francine replied.
"Good," said Frankie with a decisive nod.
"We need to go," Bob put in, "Dinner plans with Tommy and Nicky."
"Alright, talk to you later?" Francine asked.
"Of course, bye sweetie," Frankie smiled.
"Love you," replied Francine.
When she was doing saying her goodbyes Francine shut her computer.
"Okay in all honesty I didn't mean to blab," Angie spoke up.
"I know," Francine sighed.
"So you don't hate me?" Angie raised her brow.
"I don't hate you," Francine laughed.
"Good," Angie said with a grin, "So. Ready for dinner?"