Though no one had liked Juan much â€“ aside from his wife and daughter â€“ the Shanleys were full of grief over his loss. Even Sierra, who had quarreled with her brother-in-law from Day One, sobbed and mourned, and Thomas could only stand by helplessly and watch.
â€œI hated that manâ€¦hated him!â€ *sob*
When little Ruby awoke and heard the news of her fatherâ€™s passing, she sobbed, too. She knew her dad had been a bit of a stinker, but she missed him terribly.
â€œWho will make me do calisthenics every morning?â€
In fact, she missed him so much that she did something horrible.
She had heard her Aunt Sierra talk about the mysterious phone device she had ordered â€“ one that could bring people back from the dead â€“ so she went in search of it the next night. Now, Ruby hadnâ€™t heard the unfortunate story of the Goobi Goomba village elder who had come back as a zombie, so she believed the strange contraption either brought them back the way they were, or not at all. When she finally tracked down the creepy-looking thing in Sierraâ€™s equally creepy bedroom, she eyed it nervously.
â€œUhâ€¦maybe I could just order a pizza?â€
After a few minutes, she gathered her courage and hit the speed dial button for the Grim Reaper. A foul voice answered the phone, and Ruby cried, â€œI want my father back!â€
Her demand was met with harsh laughter. â€œPay!â€ it said. â€œPay the price, and he shall be returned to you!â€
Ruby pondered this for a moment. â€œWell, I can give you everything in my piggy bank, and whateverâ€™s in my college fund.â€
There was another evil chortle, then a poof of smoke, and Rubyâ€™s father appeared! Ruby let out a shriek of joy, then gasped in horror when the smoke faded, revealing a much altered Juan Shanley.
â€œOh, crap! Momâ€™s gonna kill me!â€
Butâ€¦he was still her father, wasnâ€™t he? Hesitantly she reached her arms out to hug him, but he would have nothing to do with her.
â€œRuby, what have you done? I was on a beachâ€¦with hula dancersâ€¦and now this!â€
â€œDonâ€™t you love us?â€ Ruby asked. But Juan simply stared at her with a glazed look in his eye. Grunting oddly, he turned and shuffled off towards the door.
It took him five times as long to get anywhere now that he was a zombie, but he eventually found Delaney downstairs, heading for the bathroom. He did still love her, he realized as he shambled after her, though he felt like a completely different person â€“ if he could even call himself a â€˜personâ€™.
Delaney was horrified at first, and grounded her daughter until her next birthday, but after awhile she got used to this modified version of her husband. He was grouchier than ever, and much lazier, but he didnâ€™t prank anyone anymore, and he retained some of his old, charming habits.
â€œAh, thereâ€™s the Juan I know and love!â€
He even went back to some of the activities he had enjoyed before, such as playing the drumsâ€¦
â€œItâ€™s the timeâ€¦of the sea-ee-son for lov-ingâ€¦â€
â€¦and writing books. Though his subject matter was a little different this time around.
â€œIt was a dark and stormy brainâ€¦â€
The Shanleys were used to weirdness, and eventually it was as if Juan had never left â€“ except for one thing: he still gave Ruby the brush-off whenever she approached him. One night as he shambled off to his carpool (he had just gotten a job as a Waterboy for the Mt. Geneva Llamas kickball team) she ran up to him, eager to show him her report card. But he climbed into the car without even sparing her a glance.
â€œDad, look! I got an A+++ in gym class!…Dad?â€
Ruby frowned as the car sped off down the palm-tree-lined street. Would her father ever forgive her? Or would he always hate her for what she did to him? Only time would tell.