Day 52: Oscar Versus Murphy’s Law

Oscar Versus Murphy’s Law

Matt Zurbo


Chapter 1

Dad was swearing again.
   “Stupid traffic lights!”
   He was blaming that same person again.

   “Damn that Murphy and his Law!”
   Oscar watched him carry on.
   “What’s up, Dad?” he asked.
   “We’re late!”
   “So? We’re always late.”
   Dad paused, “True…” before remembering he was angry again. “But we only ever get red lights when we’re late. Six in a row! Now we’re super late! Last night, when we were early, every light was green! That’s Murphy’s Law!”
   “So, this Murphy is a traffic light operator?” Oscar asked.
   “NO! He’s everything!”
   Oscar laughed to himself. When Dad was this worked up, all you had to do was ask him questions to get him even more angry.
   “Everything?” Oscar asked.
   “Everything!” Dad raged. “And don’t laugh! He’s at you all the time.”
   Oh, this was interesting.
   “Sure! Remember the only time you didn’t wear undies to school last year, was…”
   “The one time Otis Frip dacked me.”
   “Or, what about that time you were talking about aliens made of snot, just as that girl you like was passing?”
   “She didn’t like me after that, Dad.”
   Oscar thought about it. There was that one time he really wanted to beat that kid from the commission flats in a race, but his skateboard wheel fell off. Or when it rained for the first time in weeks when there was a solar eclipse and he saw nothing, or when he did a fart in a lift just before all the teachers came into it. This fellow Murphy, and his stupid Law, were everywhere!
   “So who is this Murphy bloke, Dad? Did he put Otis up to it?”
   “No, it’s a saying, Oscar. Murphy’s Law: What can go wrong, will go wrong – at the worst possible time.”
   “Yeah, well I don’t like him, he always makes you angry or upset,” Oscar concluded, and made a pact with himself to find this Murphy person!
   And tell him what for!

Chapter 2

Oscar sat on his porch watching the sunrise. It always impressed him; the streets were empty, quiet, likeable. Then, like that, they were full of people and noise. Everybody running around, muttering Murphy’s name under their breath as this went wrong or that stuffed up.

   Kids on their bikes getting flat tires just when they were crossing the street, drivers being pulled up by the police the day they didn’t have their licence on them, machinery not working just when people needed it to, girls getting pimples the day before their big date. Kids having no money the one time jawbusters were selling for half price.
   Oscar was pretty content, not much fazed him actually – the day was sunny, he could play footy in the street, that was heaps. If he was going to find Murphy he needed a reason for the stupid bloke to use that Law on him.
   He saw Jayleen, from down the road, with all her make-up, and perm and silly, tight, fake leopard skin clothes, always complaining about never having time to walk her little dog, Boo.
   “I’ll walk him for you!” Oscar said. “For money. And if you like my services, maybe I’ll walk other dogs, too. And use the money I make to go on holiday, and life will be even more cruisy and fun. Yeah, that’s it; I really want a holiday. Bad!”
   “Why are you telling me this?” Jayleen huffed.
   But Oscar wasn’t telling her, he was telling Murphy. Letting him know Oscar needed something to go right.
   “I just want to get out of this neighbourhood,” Oscar said.
   “Who doesn’t! My car broke down as I was going for a job interview at the hairdresser’s last week! Worked fine for a year. The day I really needed it – boom!”
   Murphy! Everywhere!
   Oscar looked down at Boo. It was one of those dogs, so small all it really did was bark and poo. It almost looked like that was all there was of it.
   Of all dogs to be stuck with! Oscar thought.
   “Do we have a deal?” he asked.
   “Okay fine,” Jayleen sighed, handing over the lead. “If you need money so much.”

Chapter 3

Boo pooed a lot for such a little dog!

   “You’re a machine!” Oscar whispered.

   “Yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap,” smiled Boo.
   Jayleen said she would hook Oscar up with other dogs from her friends at the hair salon IF the day went well. Oscar tried to picture it; an army of Boos, yapping, peeing on everybody’s shoes. The neighbourhood would have a three inch high yellow rinse!
   Anyways, the second he turned his back, Boo was gone, lost on his first ever walk. Just when Oscar needed to impress.
   Oscar got out his tracking device.

The tracking device led Oscar to a house in suburbia. Not what he expected at all. Oscar didn’t knock, it wasn’t that sort of visit. He didn’t want Murphy to have time to cover things up. But the door was locked.
   He looked through the window.
   There was Boo, on the couch of a neat, boring room. Everything in its place. Oscar was gutted. “Some adventure,” he complained under his breath.
   He looked through the window again. There was a dull-looking man inside, straightening pictures that were already straight, filing memos, doing insanely boring stuff, in a rush. As if he had somewhere to be.
   Oscar decided he was going to use Murphy’s own Law on him, and began too bang on the door and shout.
   Neighbourhood dogs started barking everywhere.
   “Can you be quiet, please?” a voice asked through the letter slot. “You’re making noise at the worst possible time! I’m really busy, and don’t want to wake the neighbour’s childr-”
   But it was too late. Baby twins started crying. Parents started shouting at each other.
The babies cried more, people started banging on Murphy’s wall.
   “Go away! I have to get my place neat before my parents come around!”
   “I… But…! Now is the worst possible…” the voice sputtered, as Murphy opened the door in a rage.
   Oscar looked him square in the eye.
   “Not fun, is it?” he said.
   “Look! What do you want?” the man growled over crying babies and barking dogs and shouting neighbours.
   This Murphy’s Law was a disease! It created bad will, it spread out! But now, it was also spreading in to its centre. The Murphy house.
   Oscar just stared.
  “Quick, come in… and stop shouting,” Murphy said.

Inside, the house was amazingly clean. Oscar accidentally stood in some of Boo’s poo and walked across the carpet.
   “Oh, sorry,” he said. It was an accident, but it was Murphy’s house.
   “I just cleaned that!” Murphy glared, then went to get a broom.
   It’s funny, I was expecting a thousand Boos, and a million lost car keys, and bottles with just the exact wrong words to be placed in people’s mouths at the exact wrong time, Oscar pondered.
   “I thought your cupboards would be full of balls that always drift right just when you need to kick the winning goal, and teams that only lose when you bet a fortune on them…” he said
   “And unicorns that are gifted to little girls, but break down and die before the girl can have a ride. Yes, yes, what do you want?” Murphy huffed, as Oscar tripped over some wiring, destroying Murphy’s computer, not a minute before there were very important, unsaved emails to send.
   “Lay off my Dad,” Oscar glared.

Chapter 4

Oscar watched as Murphy neatly, precisely, cleaned. It was amazing. The place was a mess, then it wasn’t. The poo was gone, his spare computer up and running. All fun gone.
   “So, what you’ve been telling me about your father…” Murphy said.
   “It’s his own fault.”
   “Excuse me?” Oscar said.
   “If he was early all the time, traffic lights wouldn’t matter. If he got his car serviced, it wouldn’t break down. If that girl didn’t eat lollies, she wouldn’t get pimples on date night. So on, so on.”
   Oscar took a good look at Murphy. He was boring. His answers were boring. Correct, but like a thousand maths classes. Nobody Oscar knew was perfect like that.
   “Next thing, you’re going to tell me the dinosaurs deserved to become extinct because they didn’t brush their teeth,” he said.
   “That’s right,” Murphy grumphed.
   Luck? Oscar thought. Just my luck! I come after a mythical person, and he’s a wet blanket!
   “You know what you are?” he said to Murphy, like accusations. “Dull!”
   Then it hit Oscar. Hit him like a truck.
   “You’re not Murphy,” he said.

   “Who’s Murphy?” the man asked. “I never said I was.”

Chapter 5

“You see, Boo, Murphy hit me with his Law: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. We wanted to have an adventure, to meet Murphy, but you were found by the ONE person in the city so BORING he wishes he was Murphy.”
   Boo couldn’t speak. But Oscar was happy, so Boo was happy. The dog barked a lot, farted twice.
   They stepped around a beggar, who smelt real bad.
   “’What can go wrong…’ I bet the REAL Murphy is a slob!”
   “Hey!” the beggar protested. “I resemble that remark.”
   “Murphy…?” Oscar stuttered.
   “Can we move while we talk?” the homeless man said, his face all stubble, tired eyes and rubbery lips. “I’m running real late!”

Chapter 6

Boo was scared. He was just a little dog, not good for much. Yet here he was, watching a beggar do this and do that, at the speed of light, while still managing to look lazy, like a half thought through idea housed in dirty skin.
   “There are ways around me, you know. Around my Law…” Murphy said as he blocked a chimney the day before x-mas, and lowered the gas so it would run out half way through a barbeque, then put a prefect crack in a cricket pitch so a batsman would get an unplayable ball the one time he needed runs.
   “Like what?” Oscar asked.
   “Well, do you like comics?”
   “Of course.”
   “Okay, buy one you really want, but be driving, so you can only read it during red lights. Every light will be green.”
   “I’m eleven. That’s too young to drive,” Oscar said.
   “Oh,” Murphy pondered, as he helped the only cat in the area accidentally find some goldfish the one night their owner forgot to take the bowl inside. “Does your Dad like comics, then?”
   “YOU LEAVE MY DAD OUT OF THIS!” Oscar roared.
   “Why? He’s one of my favourites,” Murphy smiled, as he got on the phone to the weather gods to arrange flat seas for the surfing competition, and a cyclone for a family on a tropical holiday.
   “That’s it!” Oscar raged, lunging at Murphy, only to trip and land in the garbage the one time the garbage truck driver was running late.
   “My shoelace was undone!” Oscar protested.
   “I know. I undid it,” Murphy smiled, as he hypnotised a pair of pigeons so they might forget to come out of a magician’s hat at his own daughter’s birthday party. “Pretty good, huh?”
   “Undoing my shoe? Making my Dad always late?” Oscar squealed, then lunged again, only to slip on some of Boo’s poo.
   “Hey, that’s irony,” Murphy smiled, pointing to the poo. “You’ve been leaving those everywhere.
   “DON’T LIE! YOU MADE THAT HAPPEN!” Oscar shouted.
   “Hey, of course. Me and Irony. We team up sometimes,” Murphy said, fist pumping with a hipster hanging out in front of a café.
   Murphy slipped as he fist pumped, though, falling forward, rags and all, accidentally punching Irony in the eye.
   “Oh, ah, sorry…” he stuttered, trying to regain his balance, causing Irony to spill his own coffee all over himself, making him swear and look ragged and uncool, jut as some hip girls asked him for a selfie.
   “Bugger,” Murphy said, slipping and sliding on. “Looks like we teamed up again!”
   Oscar and Boo were dumbfounded! They just watched, jaws dropped, as Murphy both weaved his Law over everything in sight and lived it.
   “I bet Irony has an angry fit!” Oscar whispered to the dog, who whimpered in agreement.
   Irony, though, just held his swollen eye and let out a lazy chuckle.
   That baffled Oscar, but before he could think anything through, “Another satisfied customer…” Murphy wheezed, then continued to fumble his way down the street.
   Oscar and Boo ran after him – with purpose! Watching every step, leaving nothing to chance.

Chapter 7

Dodging horrible timing, self-inflicted bad luck and out-and-out hopelessness wasn’t easy, not even a bit! But it did give Oscar time to think. He and Boo caught up to Murphy just as he was rigging fireworks to accidentally go off an hour before anybody was ready to watch them.
   “Remember the Titanic?” Murphy called, over his shoulder.
   “The ship that sunk on its maiden voyage?” Oscar said.
   “One of my finest efforts!” Murphy boasted, tripping up a baby the split and only second in the whole day its mother looked away. “You know how hard it was moving that iceberg? Whew!”
   “I’ve figured you out,” Oscar said.
   Murphy ceased his chores, and turned to face Oscar. A silence fell, as dishes stopped crashing, tempers stopped fraying, and girls stopped wearing the exact same, most favourite outfits to school on the same day.
   “You told me you like my Dad…” Oscar said.
   “I LOVE your Dad!” Murphy cheered, throwing his hands back with delight.
   “Irony just laughed at you…”
   “No,” Murphy said. For the first time he looked serious, as if his was someone, or something, impossibly big and strong, housed in rags and floppy skin. His eyes hardened, becoming fiercely proud. “Irony laughed WITH me,” Murphy insisted.
   Oscar just stood there, giving a smirk that broke into a loud grin.
   “Got you,” he said.
   Murphy stood furiously still. Glaring. But the glare soon melted into an easy chuckle at himself, then also at Oscar and his silly dog. He chuckled at everything, the world!      

Chapter 8

“You see what he did there, Boo!?” Murphy laughed, cupping his hands gently under the dog’s face. I am a gift. The only gift I’m hopeless enough to give, is me! A ‘thank you’ to the hopeless people, the unorganised, the humans! The common folk. Us!” he threw his hands in the air.
   “I am the small pieces of bad luck, that stack up until you are frustrated, angry! But, if you accept who you are, if you accept life is full of bad luck and moments of Murphy’s Law, if you accept me and laugh, I am a trophy! I make you invincible! YOU make you invincible. ‘I am me, and hopeless!’ All you have to do is see the funny side… But if you take yourself too seriously, well, Murphy’s Law could drown you in anger.”
   Boo didn’t know what was going on, but this raggy, smelly man was laughing and happy, so Boo was too. He did a fart and, pooed, and ran around a bit.
   “You…” Murphy said, in awe, pointing to Oscar. “You clever thing, you! You figured me out, didn’t you? You said Irony was laughing AT me! Not WITH me. You said it, very deliberately. AT me! As if I was being laughed at. Even though you KNEW he was laughing WITH me! You dented my pride, made me take myself seriously! Hohohoho!”
   Oscar didn’t say anything. He was out of his depth, humiliating an agent of Time and Chaos and Order, a friend of Irony. Anything could happen.
   Murphy’s shoulders relaxed, flopping back into a slumped position, his voice softened. He sighed and chuckled. “This is my busiest day of the year, so much to do, and you Murphy’s Lawed me. Now I’m way behind with my chores!”
   “You’re always behind. That’s why you’re Murphy,” Oscar said. Why not, they were both thinking it.
   “And all my days are busy,” Murphy nodded in agreement, as he arranged for Boo to eat at least three kids’ homework on the morning it was due to be submitted.
   “If they hadn’t left their homework until the last minute it wouldn’t be an issue…” Murphy whispered, with a grin into Boo’s ear. “They’re hopeless. My people. This is my gift to them. They should try and change if they aren’t happy, or embrace who they are.”
   Maybe so, Oscar thought. But for all Dad’s red lights, I still got you.

Chapter 9

Murphy and Boo walked through the streets, people marching here and there, not checking their messages the one day they should, telling secrets to the only person who will blab, leaving a mess the day their landlords come around, going to the only summer movie that was long and dull and horrible.
   A big dog approached, mean and glaring. Boo gave Oscar a worried look.
   “Relax,” Oscar said. “If I beat Murphy only for you to be eaten, that might fall under Murphy’s Law, but he would have to take himself seriously to try and get revenge. He would be trapped by his own Law. We won.”
   Boo couldn’t speak, but recognised Oscar’s relaxed tone. He sighed with relief, and did a poo right in front of the big dog, who sniffed it.
   “Besides,” Oscar added. “No-one ever notices the countless times Murphy didn’t get to them, when everything went right. I mean, Murphy is always so late and hopeless, if he did plan revenge, I doubt he’d get around to it.”
   And they both laughed, as the only cloud for 500kms rained on them.

Chapter 10

Oscar stepped off the curb into his Dad’s car.
   “Sorry I’m late, son,” Dad said. “We have only ten minutes to get your mother from work. We need every traffic light to go our way, but nobody told me about the roadworks. Of all days!”
   Oscar just smiled.
   “I love you, ol’ fella,” he said.
   “Hu? Wha…?” his Dad did a double take, then smiled, too, while running a yellow.
   “And I love you, son,” he said, proud of… he wasn’t quite sure, but definitely something…

The End

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