"Look here, Alex. I've bought TV dinners to last you for the week. Those are in the fridge."
Linda stuffed some boxes in the cupboard and continued. "The only things you can use from the cupboards are the cereal boxes. I don't trust you to try to cook anything."
"Okay, honey," Alex muttered as he stared at the television screen.
The woman glared, her eyes burned holes at the back of her husband's head. "I've rented a couple of porno movies for you. They're sitting on the table next to the fairy couple in the basement."
Linda dropped her bag and stormed in front of the television set. "Alex, you are going to take care of our baby! You are not watching the football game any longer. If you are to watch any television, you're going to watch something that Danny wants to see!" she screamed at her husband. Her arms were on her hips and her eyes were overflowing with rage. It was the perfect picture of a stereotypical angry wife.
Alex overcame his shock (seemed he had only just noticed his wife standing behind him) and got to his feet. "Oh sweetie. I'm sorry," he pouted. When his wife's expression didn't change, he breathed a deep sigh. "Look, you need a break. Go have fun on your vacation. Don't worry about us. We'll have a great time. Won't we, Danny-boy?" he asked the tiny five-year-old boy.
The boy nodded quietly, his light brown hair shaking slightly as he bobbed his head. "See! And look. No more football. Danny and I are going to watch. 'Alice in Wonderland,'" Alex said as he pulled out a cassette and popped it into the VCR. He hit the play button and grinned as Danny settled into the couch to watch his movie.
The woman still seemed unconvinced, but she took a deep breath and decided to go along with it. "Alright," she said. She kissed her son's cheek and pecked Alex on the lips. After about ten minutes of 'Alex, please, do this right, for me,' and 'Make sure Danny goes to bed by eight-thirty,' and 'Make sure he bathes every day' and 'Mommy will miss you,' the frantic woman gathered the last bits of her sanity and left the house for her week of vacation.
Not even two minutes after his wife shut the door, Alex smirked and plopped onto the couch. He picked up the remote and switched back to the football game. He didn't expect Danny to start screaming.
"Put it back!" cried Danny (repeatedly) as he shook his head from side to side.
Alex winced slightly. "But kiddo, look at the football-people. You like the football-people!"
The little boy pouted, his teary eyes became big and his bottom lip protruded out; it was the perfect puppy-dog face. "I haven't even gotten to the Caterpillar!"
Alex breathed a sigh of defeat and played the movie. He fast- forwarded it to the Caterpillar scene, grumbling under his breath about the petty downsides of family-hood. The thirty-year-old man rolled his eyes as he watched his son become mesmerized by the screen. When he finally looked up at the television screen, his eyes widened in surprise.
"Whoa, man! The Caterpillar's smoking a bong!" exclaimed Alex.
Danny turned to his father at this sudden outburst. A bong? What was that? The word sounded familiar to him and his brows came together in a frown as he thought of where he last heard of it.
Now he remembered. A bong was what his father had called that little bottle with the pretty colored crazy-straw attached to it that Alex had been drinking out of. Danny loved crazy-straws. But when he had asked his father for one of these 'bongs,' the man had become very flustered and had taken the toy away, leaving the five-year-old boy simply bursting with tears.
The bong was a toy, so Danny was interested. "Really?" Danny asked in awe. "Daddy, didn't you have one? You mean you got yours from the Caterpillar?" He loved the Caterpillar, and the very idea of his father getting something from the Caterpillar had him jumping.
"No. I got mine from the corner drug store. Uhh... I mean..." Alex rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "No, kiddo. What I have is a fancy little water pipe. Bongs are bad. Bad. Bad."
"Bad? Does that mean that the Caterpillar is bad?" Danny was back to tears, crushed. How could the Caterpillar be a bad boy? The Caterpillar was the best!
Alex was a bit taken back by what he had just created. "Oh no, Danny-boy! Of course not! He's not bad at all. The Caterpillar is…" Lost for words, Alex embraced his five-year-old boy in a hug, cringing when Danny rubbed his dribbling nose on his shirt, but breathed in relief when the boy muttered a weak 'Really?' and calmed down. He then looked down at his boy and put his hands on Danny's shoulders, grabbing the child's attention. "Danny, you're not going to tell mommy about bongs okay, sweetie? Or about the cigarettes, okay?" He looked at his son intently, trying to communicate the seriousness of the situation.
Danny nodded quietly and then turned back to the television (he no longer cared for about this bong toy), more interested in what the Caterpillar was doing. A moment later, he turned back to his father. "So did the Caterpillar get his bong at the corner drug store too?"
Alex rolled his eyes. Choosing to ignore the question, he walked to the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of beer. "Damn Disney. Goin' around teaching kids about bongs. It's no wonder that there's no hope for the next generation," he muttered.
But these thoughts soon left his mind because on his way back to the television, Alex stopped by the basement door, grinning. It was time to find those tapes that Linda was talking about.