Gangles

Gangles

Gangles

“Hey, Mum.”

“Yes, Derek.”

“Can people change their nickname? You know. If they don’t like it.”

“I don’t know, dear. You would probably have to move to a different town. Once something like that has stuck, it can be very hard to change.”

“Okay. I’ll have to think about it then.”

Derek Harrington was 12 years old, and pretty much the whole township of Mount Longside only knew him as Gangles. Lots of people in the town had nicknames, like his best mate Mavis whose real name was Brett, but Brett’s Mum’s name was Mavis, so everyone called him that, too. It was a family tradition. Brett’s Dad was called Nancy, after his Mum. It was cool having a nickname like that because it didn’t mean anything.

Derek was called Gangles because he had really long arms. At 12 years old, he was nearly as tall as his Dad, Frank Harrington- the Groundsman at Mount Longside Primary School- and Frank was pretty tall himself at 6 foot 2. But even for a really tall kid, Gangles had surprisingly long arms.

“Hey Gangles,” the other kids would say at school. “Can you get the ball off the roof? The groundsman’s too busy pickin’ his brains out of his nose.” It was a double whammy if they could tease him about his long arms and about how stupid his Dad was in the one jibe. Gangles thought Frank was the best Dad in the world, but everyone else said he was stupid. If my Dad’s so stupid, Gangles thought to himself, how come he didn’t even have to go to highschool? If he had his way, he would drop out of school when he was 13 like his Dad, because he knew he was just as smart.

Frank didn’t have a nickname. He was always just Dad or Frank or Mr Harrington. Gangles once asked him why, but the short answer was that he didn’t really know. Snogger Savage made up most of the nicknames when they were kids, but he never gave one to Frank. Gangles figured it was because his Dad was such a good bloke that he didn’t need one. He felt like he’d let Frank down when the kids started calling him Gangles. He’d let down the whole family.

Gangles’ Mum, Wendy, always said her son had long arms because he was born to reach for the stars. She couldn’t tell him what he was going to be good at yet, but she knew he would find it one day. Gangles already had a few talents that only his best mate Mavis knew about. The coolest one was when he stood naked in front of the mirror and reached his arm down past his bumcrack, then up through his legs, and he could still stretch the top of his willy as high as it would go. That’s how long his arms were. He once showed Mavis how he did it when they were at the urinal at school. Mavis said he shouldn’t show anyone else because they would probably bash him.

If anyone was going to bash Gangles, it would have been Rodney Savage; Snoggers’ boy. Rodney’s nickname was Gutsy because he fell off his bike coming down the main track from the summit on the short side of Mount Longside; because the short side was steeper; and he went for a massive stack. That wasn’t the whole story though. Gutsy broke his arm, grazed all the skin along his leg and needed 10 stitches above his ear, but he didn’t even cry. He got back on his bike- which no longer had any brakes- and rode it all the way home, grinding the sole of his ripples on the back wheel when he needed to slow down or stop. If you don’t know what ripples are, they are the shoes that only tough kids wear with big, black, rubber shark’s teeth across the sole. Doctor Toddwink was the one who wrote Gutsy on his caste because he was amazed that such a young kid could be so tough. Gutsy Savage became a legend after that, just like his Dad.

Unfortunately for Gangles, Gutsy had always hated him ever since he chose to wear pink fairy wings for the Grade 1 Christmas concert. Gangles wanted to be like an angel and his teacher, Miss Perksy, thought it was a really cute idea, especially with his really long arms. It was cute too, but Miss Perksy made him pair up with Gutsy because they were the two tallest boys and they had to wear the same costumes. Gutsy already knew in Grade 1 that boys don’t dress up as fairies, so he kicked Gangles in the nuts. Luckily, he just missed, but he never forgot. Guys like Gutsy always hate someone, and usually it’s a guy like Gangles who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

When Wendy told Gangles that he would have to leave town to get a new nickname, she couldn’t have known that he would do exactly that. He had one of those faces that never showed any emotion, so even his Mum had no chance of knowing how he was feeling on the inside. He didn’t act out with tantrums or bad behaviour. His weird idiosyncracies continued as per normal, like always eating two weetbix for breakfast with warm milk and a spoonful of finely chopped, black jelly beans. He didn’t even complain when he had to help Frank after school on Friday, cleaning shitty toilet paper bombs off the ceiling in the boys toilet block. They always had a good laugh when they worked together. On the outside, Gangles seemed to be fine.

So, it came as a shock to the whole family when Wendy announced that her son was not in his bedroom on Saturday morning, and could not be found anywhere around the house. Polly- Gangles’ 9 year old little sister- checked under all the beds and inside the cupboards. Pretty much anywhere she knew that he would go if they were playing hide and seek. She even checked inside the dress-ups box and before she knew it, she was dressed as a mermaid with Harry Potter glasses, Cinderalla gloves and Minnie Mouse ears. It turned out being the most fun she’d had dressing up in ages.

Frank checked beneath all the bushes around the house, inside the shed and anywhere else he could think of. The old pushbike he used to ride to do deliveries for Antonio’s Pizza Shop was missing from behind the shed. That was his first real clue and there was clearly some connection. Frank had to think harder for the sake of his son. Then, he remembered. Mr Antonio decided to give the pizza delivery round to someone younger. The bike went to Gutsy Savage when he took over doing the deliveries, and that was the bike he trashed in the accident. It all made sense, so Frank went inside to watch the Saturday morning cartoons. He liked Spongebob the best. When he saw Polly all dressed up, he couldn’t stop laughing. She was always such a card.

“STOP IT!” Wendy shrieked. She was as angry as she was afraid. “How can you both be laughing and carrying on when Derek is missing. We have to notify the police.”

“I’m sure he hasn’t gone too far, Wendy,” Frank assured her.” You know what boys are like at that age. A bit adventurous. Why don’t you ring Mavis’s Mum? I’d put money on it he’s missing, too.”

“Yes,” Wendy agreed. ‘You’re probably right.”

And, so she did. But as it turned out, Mavis said that her son Mavis, aka Brett, had gone with Nancy to watch the football. Not as in his father Nancy, but Nancy’s mother who went to the football every Saturday religiously. She fell in love with the game when Nancy was playing A grade for Mount Longside. That was actually why they started calling her son Nancy, because his Mum was always there; she even stayed for a beer after every game. Snogger Savage- Captain of the A grade side- made up the nickname and the whole thing really got up Nancy’s goat. Mavis rang old Nancy’s mobile flip-phone to see if Gangles had gone to the football with her and young Mavis. He wasn’t there. Wendy was right back where she started.

“I might go for a drive down to the old quarry and see if he’s down there,” Frank said, finally realising the gravity of the situation.

“Has he gone there before?” Wendy asked curiously.

“I’m not sure,” Frank explained. “It’s just that, maybe Gutsy Savage has done something to him. I remember a similar thing happened with Fiona Heinrich back when we were kids.”

“Fiona, from the Historical Society?” Wendy seemed puzzled.

“No. Her son. I think his real name’s Ben, from the council. Didn’t you ever hear about that?”

“How could I have, Frank? I didn’t move here until I met you.”

“Well, Fi went missing. No one could find him for days until Snogger Savage told his Mum that he tied him to some rusty old machine down at the quarry. He thought that someone would come along soon enough and let him go, but no one did. They reckon that by the time the cops found him, his lips were so covered in dried up spit that maggots started growing in the corners of his mouth. That’s why he never got married. Because no girl would ever kiss the poor guy.”

“Yuuck, Dad,” Polly laughed. “If Derek’s got maggots in his mouth, can I pick what we’re having for tea?”

‘Stop it, Polly,” Wendy snapped. “You know it’s Derek’s turn. Please hurry Frank. If he isn’t at the quarry, I’m calling the police.”

As it happened, Gangles wasn’t at the old quarry, or the haunted house, or the stink ponds or even the cemetery. The police looked everywhere. Derek Harrington had left Mount Longside and couldn’t be found.

But Gangles wasn’t lost. Oh no. He knew exactly where he was, and he knew exactly why he was there. He would rid himself of the nickname that had haunted his entire childhood. He would reach for the stars, just as his Mum had always wanted him to, and show everyone in Mount Longside that he was the gutsiest kid in the whole town. He would become even more of a legend than Gutsy Savage, and they would have to stop calling him Gangles. Frank would finally have good reason to be proud of him. He didn’t even care if they called him Wendy, as long as it wasn’t Gangles.

The only place higher than Mount Longside in the whole Eastern Ranges was Anthill Mountain, so named on account of its uncanny resemblance to the giant anthills of the Australian Outback. As Gangles gazed upon its ancient glory, he could hear the sounds of eternal solitude, and a bird calling to him from the vast emptiness. “Ganga’ool. Ganga’ool.” He smelled fresh wombat droppings in the undergrowth and felt the ambiance of million-year old valleys that dallied through the hills like cheeky, giant snakes. He pondered the melancholy soiree of flirtatious winds dancing through distant trees, which he didn’t realise at the time were actually French Canadian Douglas firs from Mr Brown’s Christmas tree farm. And if anyone knows about a soiree, it’s the French.

Gangles didn’t just arrive at that point without a story either. He awoke before sunrise and snuck out the back door, flogged Gutsy’s new mountain bike from the back of his house, nicked a large chocolate milk from the back of Antonio’s Mini Mart after the milkman had gone, and finally, rode back past Gutsy’s house and threw the half empty carton of chocolate milk- complete with spitback- at his bedroom window. Only then was he ready to ride away from his old life and take on Anthill Mountain.

Many people had climbed to the top. In fact, Gangles had been there himself several times between Scout camps and school excursions. The view was quite magnificent. There was a tower at the top with a cable that ran across Gob Nugger’s Creek to the old fire station by Yabbiyabbi Dam, which is the main water supply for Mount Longside. The cable was still there from the 1920s when fire crews used the hill as a lookout and could send news of a potential fire down to the station in a little basket that hung beneath a disproportionately large wheel assembly. The now defunct Proctor and Streep cable communications system, which fire crews depended upon for decades, had potentially become a flying fox for Gangles to ride into the history books.

“I’ve seen that look before, boy. You gotta have rocks in your head.” Gangles nearly jumped out of his skin as a fat old man with a big white beard appeared from behind the scrubby wattyl trees. Their eyes exchanged a look that echoed what old men had been trying to tell young men since before humans could communicate with words, like two warring chimpanzees on the precipice of a great chasm, each one clinging to the top branches of a giant baobab tree as the world beneath them tore apart and unleashed the fires of hell.

“I have to do this,” Gangles whispered and turned his eyes back to Anthill Mountain, smouldering with determination. “It can change everything.”

“What?” said the old man. “Speak up, boy.”

“I’M GOING TO RIDE THE CABLE DOWN FROM THE TOP!” Gangles was in no mood for deaf people.

“Oh.” Said the old man with some relief. “I thought you were going to pinch one of me Christmas trees. Have ya got one of them Go Pro thingies?”

“No. But you can be my witness. Everyone will believe what you say, Santa.”

“I’ve seen many a fool try, boy. But ya know how they all come unstuck, don’t ya?”

“No. How?”

“None of ‘em know how to stop. They end up letting go and falling into Yabbiyabbi Dam before they smash into the warden’s office window which has long been boarded up. You gotta be smart, boy. It ain’t a mission for no fool.”

What previously seemed a difficult task had just become near on impossible. Gangles had seen the little basket and wheel assembly during a Historical Society guided tour with old Mrs Heinrich, and he knew the contraption definitely didn’t have any brakes. And he wasn’t wearing ripples. Maybe that’s what would make him even more of a legend than Gutsy. He would have to take the hit at full speed and crash into the warden’s office window, at least breaking his arm. Maybe a collar bone too. Anything less was a complete waste of time.

Gangles started his journey across to the foot of Anthill Mountain. The flies were bad. Six musca vetustissima (common bush flies) slipstreamed in a vortex around his face as the hot wind of adventure burned in his nostrils. He tried to swat them away without hurting them and accidentally elbowed himself in the solar plexus.

“You’re not well coordinated, are you boy?”

Gangles nearly jumped out of his skin again. “Why are you still here, Santa? I thought you were going to watch me from back there?”

“I’m on me morning walk. I couldn’t care less if you make it down or not.”

“Well, don’t get in the way.” Gangles was ready to begin his ascent to the top. He looked up and saw that it was even higher than it seemed from a distance. It would have made more sense to have ridden to the top via the back way where the track went all the way up along a reasonably gentle slope. But where is the glory in that? Gangles thought. It was a day about glory.

Half way to the top, Santa seemed to be getting frustrated. “Can you speed it up a bit, boy. I’m supposed to be getting my heart rate up over 90 to lose some of this beer gut.”

Gangles refused to be dragged into his mind games. What he was about to attempt went beyond beer and anyone else’s problems. He placed his hand on a rock up ahead to steady himself and a huge drop of fizzy water landed on the back of it. Even if it was raining, that seemed odd. He looked to the skies and saw something through the trees. It was perched on a rock near the summit, blending into the surroundings like some kind of round faced, stumpy eared wallaby. He had never seen one before and didn’t even know they existed. And then, it began to speak.

“G’day Grampa.” It was Gutsy Savage.

“G’day young Gutsy. What are you doing up there?”

“I was just slagging on Gangles ‘cause he flogged me bike.”

“That’s enough slagging, ya scallywag. We don’t treat our mates like that.”

“He’s not me mate.”

“Oh. Fair enough, then. How did you get out here without your bike?”

“Dad brought me. He was coming out to get a Christmas tree anyway.”

Gangles knew that once he made it to the top, Gutsy was probably going to punch him in the face or try to kick him in the nuts again. He changed direction and moved across the hillface toward Gob Nugger’s Creek. He could still reach the summit from there.

“The cops are looking for ya, Gangles.” Gutsy said. “You’re up Gob Nugger’s Creek without a paddle ya stupid idiot.”

No one who enjoyed such universal respect and adoration as Gutsy could possibly have understood what Gangles needed to do. Cops. Puh! Who cares about the law when a young man’s pride is on the line? He was like Ned Kelly at Glenrowan. Backed into a corner where all he had left was courage against insurmountable odds. He was Thelma from Thelma and Louise. Not Louise because she was old and ugly, and even though he wasn’t a girl, Gangles didn’t want to be remembered as the ugly one. A musca vetustissima landed in the corner of his mouth where spit was starting to form, so he swatted it away. It left a funny taste on his lips.

“Okay, Gutsy. Let’s give the young bloke a break,” Grampa Santa said. “It’s the Aussie way, boy. He reckons he’s going to take the Proctor and Streep back down to the old fire station. I say we give him a chance to show us what he’s made of.”

Gangles stopped. All he ever wanted was a chance. He thought of Polly and how she idolised him. Her big brother. Her hero. He couldn’t let her down. He thought of his Dad and everything he’d done to earn respect for the name Harrington. He couldn’t let him down. He thought of his Mum and how she told him to reach for the stars. Why did she always have to put so much pressure on him? She needed to back off and give him room to live and breathe without so much expectation.

Gutsy spat on the ground and gave Gangles the eye. He practised giving people the eye in the bathroom at home and had it down to a fine art. When Miss Perksy looked at him sternly after he tried to kick Gangles in the nuts, he knew it was time to grow as a person. All he had back then was the what did I do wrong? But that only worked so many times before it stopped being cute. He needed a yeah/nah as well, so people didn’t know where they stood. Was he going to let them stand next to him at the urinal, or was he going to push them in after he finished? No one ever knew where they stood with Gutsy, so it was best to assume the worst. But Gangles fell for the eye every time.

Gangles turned directly uphill again. Gutsy was walking back and forth across his direct line of ascent. Menacing. Shimmying. Spitting. Gangles mustered every last ounce of courage and walked past whilst completely ignoring his aggressor. He made it to the top after what only turned out being 15 minutes of bootcamp style, mountain climbing torture, and was relieved to discover that he didn’t need to climb the tower. He could reach the Proctor and Streep from the ground with his long, slender arms that secretly stoked the fires of the lardkeeper’s wife. How her full figure longed for the comfort of his unabridged embrace. How she longed for him to come of age.

But that was in the years to come. The challenge at hand was daring him to fail and Gutsy could smell his indecision. Gangles didn’t have the strength in his hands to just hold on to the basket and fly. He need some way to attach himself to it.

“Ha!” Gutsy mocked. “You can’t do it, can ya loser? You’re as stupid as your old man. No wonder he never got a nickname. Because he’s a nobody.”

Time stood still. Gangles’ mind wandered the astral planes of everything he knew, only to reach the end where he became lost in a vacuum of everything he didn’t know. It was endless like the universe, and what he did know seemed so tiny in comparison. Gutsy’s words were more than his heart could bear. No one could speak about his Dad that way. Frank was an honest, hardworking man who would do anything for his kids, and something snapped in Gangles’ mind, his heart, and in the very essence of who he was as a human being. He ran at Gutsy as fast as he could and swung his fist at him, missing completely and punching himself in the back of his opposite arm.

“Ha,” Gutsy mocked him again. “Don’t punch yourself.”

“Rodney,” A weakened voice called out from down the hillface. Gutsy and Gangles both stopped.

“Whose Rodney?” Gangles said.

“It’s me, you idiot,” Gutsy answered. “It sounded like Grampa.”

They both looked over the edge of the summit and saw Grampa Santa lying on the ground wedged between two rocks. He was holding his leg and looked in a pretty bad way.

Gutsy jumped over the edge and scrambled down to his Grampa with predictable deftness. “What’s up Grampa? Did ya get bitten by a snake?”

“No, boy. I think I’ve snapped my achilles tendon. It made a sound like I’d been shot in the leg but there was no one there. Now I can’t stand on my tippy toes and when I press the tendon behind my ankle, it’s all floppy. I need you to get help.”

“Hurry, Gangles,” Gutsy yelled up the hill. “You have to go down the Proctor and Streep. There’s no other way down fast enough. Get my Dad from the Christmas tree field behind the cattle ramp near Mulligan’s milking shed. Quick. Go!”

Gangles still hadn’t worked out a way to attach himself to the basket, but there was no more time to think. He would have to improvise. He ran to the tower where the basket was wedged over a cross bar and reached up to pull it down. As soon as it was dislodged from the tower, Gangles stumbled, and the only way he could stop himself from falling was to cling onto the basket. His long arms afforded him more time to balance than any normal man, skipping his feet across the dirt like on the monkey bars at school when he was trying to pretend his feet were off the ground. But before he knew it, Gangles was is full flight.

The ground beneath him started dropping away. Three feet, six feet, twelve feet. It seemed to be a 45 degree slope but he couldn’t tell. The wheel assembly rolled along quite smoothly until he was too high off the ground to drop, then something jilted out of alignment and it slowed down. Gangles started swinging his feet back and forth, trying to create some momentum, but it only worked marginally. He was in for a long ride.

“Hurry up, idiot,” Gutsy called out. “Grampa’s in pain.”

“It won’t go any faster. The wheels are stuck.” He swung and jiggled as much as he could until suddenly, it took off at a hundred miles an hour. The ground dropped away to what must have been 200 feet below him and Gangles felt his right-hand drop. The basket was weakened from rust on one side and it wasn’t going to make the distance with his full weight hanging off it. Gob Nugger’s Creek was way below him and he was only a quarter of the way across, so he reached down and undid his belt.

Luckily, it was a bloody good belt. Frank bought it from the army disposals for his birthday. A heavy duty, 2 inch webbing, tactical battle belt with a quick release buckle. He looped it through the cast iron arm that held the wheel assembly to the basket, clamped the female end between his teeth and snapped the belt clasp back together. By this time, he was half way across and heading towards Yabbiyabbi Dam. His left hand was getting tired, so he lifted his right leg and looped it through the belt to take most of the weight.

What happened next would have brought any other man undone, but not Gangles. The wheel assembly frame snapped and the belt took hold of Gangles’ right arm and leg, trapping them together inside the belt loop with his arm pressed hard behind his back. Fortunately, the basket’s top wire was holding together, but with all the thrusting about, it had angled him upside down, aiming headfirst like a human cannonball at the warden’s office window. He was almost past the dam and three quarters of the way home, so he was probably going to die.

But Gangles had one trick left. He wriggled and writhed inside the belt loop to get his arm in line with his bum crack, then, he reached up through his legs to where the top section of the belt was just below his belly button. With an almighty lunge of his torso and stretch of his hand, Gangles grabbed the belt and pulled himself sideways and upright, holding on for dear life as the fire station raced towards him.

Smash. His right shoulder connected with the timber boards and he felt the snap of his collarbone. The boards splintered into pieces and he was flung upwards when the cable terminated at a large rubber bung. He looped over a cross beam and the basket gave way sending him crashing to the floor; feet first by pure good fortune. And there he stayed for a minute or two, huddled up in the belt loop like a penguin on the rocks, waiting for a nice break in the waves so he could plunge into the sea and swim with his friends.

Eventually, Gangles sorted through the tangle of his limbs, starting with the release his left hand, then slowly unwinding himself as the pain in his collarbone set in. But it felt good. That was the reason for his pilgrimage to Anthill Mountain, and so the legend would grow that he was the gutsiest of all.

Gangles’ troubles were not over yet, though. The old fire station was set above a truck shed, so he had to slide down the pole with only one arm while the pain was really starting to kick in. He struggled over field and fence until he saw Mulligan’s milk shed, and behind the cattle ramp he saw a man who must have been Gutsy’s Dad. The famous Snogger Savage. He was leaning on his Land Rover, laughing casually with some old mate on the other end of his mobile phone. A nice sized Christmas tree was tied up neatly in a tarp and lying on the roof racks. He saw Gangles stumbling toward him across the field and excused himself from the call. Something didn’t seem right about the weird looking trespasser.

“What are you doing on our property, freak? We don’t have any banjos here so piss off.”

“It’s the old Santa guy,” Gangles managed to pant out between breaths. “He’s hurt his leg on Anthill Mountain.

“So, who are you?” Gutsy’s Dad wouldn’t have known the kid standing in front of him with freakishly long arms. He never would have been to a single Christmas concert or mini colts football game. He was barely even a Dad at all.

Gangles was stumped. He hadn’t had time to think of a new nickname. Something that would make people respect what he’d done. Something that would make his family proud to know him and wouldn’t draw attention to how long his arms were. Something like Mavis or Nancy or Gutsy or Snogger. But he couldn’t think, because they were all other people’s nicknames. None of them said anything about him. And he didn’t want to be any of them because half of them were dickheads, anyway.

“I’m Gangles,” he announced proudly, for the first time in his life. “Gangles Harrington.”

Gutsy’s Dad opened the front passenger door of his Land Rover and motioned for Gangles to get in.

“Are you Frank’s kid?”

“Yes.”

“Well that explains a bit. The shit doesn’t fall far from a sloth’s arse.” Gutsy’s Dad looked at Gangles with the ferocity and presence of a man who could see through any bullshit. A man who knew that he was the person all men secretly aspire to be. A man who cared little for petty things. Every thought and every moment of his life was at the pinnacle of human existence and mattered, like tiny atoms of integrity, compounded into a single, physical mass. A giant golden statue to be worshipped as the one true God of all mankind. The snugness of his Ray Bans and the tilt of his Akubra. The tight fit of his weekender moleskins that reeked of resting dynamo. Everything about him was as it should be.

Gangles couldn’t help but laugh. It grew and grew into the biggest laugh he ever had in his whole, entire life and it hurt like hell because his collarbone was broken. Tears streamed down his face from such painful jest.

“What are you laughing at, freak? Get in the car.”

“No thanks Mr Savage. I’ll walk home. I don’t even care what Mum gets for tea.”

And that was the absolute truth of it. Gangles wiped a chunk of dried spittle from the corner of his mouth because he honestly didn’t care anymore. All along, it was Gutsy’s Dad who was a nobody. All he cared about was how people saw him and whether or not they respected his name. He didn’t care about the people around him. At least Frank would sit with Gangles and Polly to watch Spongebob or have a laugh about the shitty toilet paper bombs in the boys toilet blocks. Gutsy’s Dad was a complete and utter tosser.

Gangles and Gutsy’s Grampa were in hospital together for a couple of days, but Gutsy never came to visit. His Mum didn’t like hospitals because she said they are too depressing. The old guy was heaps nicer than his daughter or his son on law. That Christmas, Frank bought a tree from Mr Brown’s Tree Farm but he didn’t have to pay because of what Gangles did that day to help out old Mr Brown.

The Harrington’s sat around as a family on Christmas day and watched the Spongebob Christmas Special. Wendy watched from the kitchen and shook her head because Frank laughed even more than the kids. After it finished, Polly pulled her pink fairy wings out from the dress ups box and hassled Gangles until he put them on. He had a laugh dancing around with her for a while, but Polly kept pretending to kick him in the nuts. She could be really annoying like that, but Frank thought she was such a card.

Wendy opened a Cheap As Chips bag and pulled out a brand new star for the top of the tree. Mr Brown gave them the biggest tree he had and even Frank couldn’t reach the top, so Gangles took the star and put it up there. Wendy made him hold it while she took a photo. She always knew her son was going to reach for the stars, and if that was as close as he ever got, she would be just as proud as if he landed on the moon. Which was lucky really, because Gangles never did anything of note for the rest of his life. Until he had kids.

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