FREE INSIDE
ABOUT THIS STORY: I had an idea for a children's tale that was on the lighter side. My mother always wanted me to write a children's book. But for some reason mine always ended up something like this.

Volakis



       Little Jacky Milborn tore open the new box of cereal bright and early Saturday morning, dumped some of the sugar-coated cereal into the bowl, spilling it over the sides, then dug his tiny hand into the box. Jacky pulled out a little plastic pouch with something hard and pink inside. Ripping open the packet, he saw it was a little pink animal of a sort. On the cereal box it claimed: “Free Inside, Willie the Lizard, ‘ put him in water and watch him grow!’”
       Still too young to comprehend most of the unimportant words, Jacky disregarded the cereal box altogether. Jacky father wandered into the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee from the automatic coffee maker. After sitting at the kitchen table, next to his son, he noticed the heaping bowl of untouched cereal and his son’s full attention on the toy he held in his hands.
       “What do you got there, Jacky?” his father asked, after a sip of coffee.
       With a grin, Jacky explained, “It’s a snake that came in the box can I keep it?”
       Glancing to the cereal box, Jacky’s father corrected his son. “It’s not a snake, it’s a lizard.”
       “Can I keep it?” Jacky asked, still unconcerned with details.
       “I don’t care. Just don’t let your mother find it lying around on the floor.” Reading more of the description he informed Jacky, “It says if you put ‘Willy the Lizard’ in water he’ll grow.”
       Jacky climbed out of side chair and ran to the kitchen sink. Straining to reach the faucet his father asked him what he was doing. “I’m going to put Willy in the water and watch him grow!”
       “Not in my sink!” his mother said, as she came into the kitchen and turned off the running water.
       “Daddy said I could!”
       Glaring at her husband, Jacky’s father innocently shrugged and stared intently at his coffee mug.
       “Go eat your breakfast. Maybe later you can find some water to put him in.” Helping Jacky into the chair she warned, “Just don’t let me find it lying around the house.”
       Jacky looked to his father and smiled.
      


Spending the day in the mud puddle in the front yard with the neighbor boys, Jacky forgot about his new toy. A little after five that evening, Jacky wandered into the house. Covered in mud from hair to bare feet, Jacky slinked by the kitchen door where his mother spotted him.
       “Jacky! Where do you think you’re going?”
       Mustering his doe eyes and sweet smile, Jacky went to face his mother. “I was going up to my room to play.”
       “Where were you all day?”
       “Playing.”
       “Playing where?”
       “Out front, beside the puddle.”
       “Looks like you were in the puddle.”
       “Well, not at first, but Billy Fisher pushed me in accilldentily.”
       “It’s accidentally, and it doesn’t sound like an accident to me.”
       Shrugging softly, Jacky said, “Sorry.”
       His mother padded him on his mud and said, “Go upstairs, get those filthy clothes off and I’ll start your bathwater.”
       “Aw, I don’t want to take a bath.”
       “Well, you can take a bath or we can wait until your father gets home.”
       “Start the water.”
      


After Jacky’s bathwater was drawn, his mother called to him from the bathroom. Jacky pealed off the last of the muddy clothing and started out of his bedroom when he noticed a faintly familiar friend sitting on the nightstand, staring blankly at him. Jacky retrieved Willy the Lizard and streaked to the bathroom holding the pink mutation and himself.
       Bursting into the bathroom, Jacky started jumping up and down, announcing, “I’ve got to go Mommy!”
       “Well go, you’re a big boy.” She lifted the toilet seat for him.
       After he tinkled, Jacky laughed as his mother padded his butt while he swung his leg over the rim of the tub. Settling into the warm bathwater, Jacky played submarine with the bar of soap while his mother washed his back. Jacky pretended to the washcloth was a sea monster from the swamp.
       “Can I trust you to finish your bath while I go start supper?” his mother asked apprehensively.
       Too engrossed in the battle of the sea monster and the submarine, Jacky just nodded for his mother.
       As she started out the door, Jacky yelled to her, “Mommy!”
       “What?”
       Jacky closed his eyes as a thumping from the bottom of the tub sounded, then bubbles rose to the surface. He grinned at his mother. “My submarine just sank.”
       She smiled lightly and left the bathroom shaking her head.
       Jacky played a little longer before he noticed Willy lying by the toilet. He’d dropped the lizard when he tinkled. Sloshing out of the tub, Jacky claimed the lizard and jumped back into the bathtub, water tidal waved out onto the floor.
       Disappointed with the water level, Jacky turned on the faucet, adjusting the temperature. As the bathtub began to fill, Jacky sat with the pink lizard in his hands under the water, waiting to watch it grow.
       After a few minutes, with shortening attention span, Jacky heard his mother call to him. Jacky dropped the pink lizard in the bathwater, where it sank into the soapy water, disappearing from sight as he climbed out of the tub and wrapped a towel around himself. Jacky bound out the door, leaving wet footprints behind.
       Jacky’s father was just entering the kitchen when Jacky ran up to him. His father swept him off his feet and held him.
       “Were you a good boy today?”
       Jacky look to his mother as she smiled and nodded for the go ahead, Jacky nodded vigorously to his father. While his mother gathered the dishes from the cupboard, she asked, “ Did you let the water out of the tub?”
       “Yes.”
       In the bathroom, submerged beneath the lightly soapy browned water of the bathtub, sat Willy the Lizard, the pink color fading as bubbles rose from him and he twitched.
       Downstairs supper was served and the Milborns ate.
       After supper Jacky wore a pair of mismatched pajamas, seated between his parents on the couch, watching television while his parents drank coffee. As the hours waned, Jacky conspired a plan to stay up later. Thinking his lack of movements between his parents, without bothering them, interrupting them, he’d managed to stay up long past his bedtime.
       “Time for bed,” his father announced.
       “Aw, Daddy…”
       “Come on Jacky, we went through this last night and I don’t want to hear it again.” His mother was firm about the subject. No puppy-dog eyes or pouting would influence her decision. “Now march.”
       Jacky kissed his father’s cheek, then his mother and slowly walked up the steps defeated.
      


Three hours after Jacky went to bed, his parents retired. While Jacky’s mother climbed into bed after undressing, awaiting Jacky’s father. He had to use the bathroom.
       Walking down the hall to the bathroom, he noticed the light shining from under the closed bathroom door. Sighing about the coming electric bill, Jacky’s father stepped up to the door and opened it.
       Huge, pink, lying on its back wedged inside the bathtub, Willy the Lizard had grown to gigantic proportions. It turned its big, pink puffy head and blinked at the man.
       “Holy shi--” was all Jacky’s father choked out before Willy’s long, pink tongue snatched up the man, swallowing him whole.
       Waiting impatiently, Jacky’s mother pushed the covers off and walked out of the bedroom. Down the hall, she saw the bathroom door was shut. Setting up to the door, she tapped on it lightly. When there wasn’t an answer she knocked again.
       Popping open the door to peek inside, she saw Willy hanging mostly out of the bathtub. The pink lizard burped and spit out boxer shorts to the floor.
       As she opened her mouth to scream, Willy flipped out its tongue to wrap around her throat and pulled.
       When she was gobbled up, Willy struggled to pull his bloated pink body from the confines of the bathtub. His body, wet and slimy, sloshed to the floor. His puffy pink limbs barely held the weight of its swelling body. Once out of the tub, Willy belched again and spit out the nightgown Jacky’s mother once wore.
       Managing to squeeze through the door, Willy lumbered down the hallway, stopping periodically to excrete air from either end.
       Hearing the farting in his sleep, Jacky opened his eyes, listening. He heard someone coming down the hall toward the stairs. Jacky got out of bed, opened the bedroom down and stepped into the hall.
       Jacky stood in front of a huge pink monster. He rubbed his eyes in case he was dreaming then took a step toward the towering pink prodigy. Jacky cocked his head to the side in recognition and smiled.
       “Willy?” he whispered, making sure his parents wouldn’t hear them in the hall.
       Lifting the bulking head high, Willy looked down at the tiny boy and returned the smile.
       Willy plucked up little Jacky Milborn then waited a moment before spitting out the mismatched pajamas.
       After the still growing pink lizard squeezed out the door, disappearing into the darkness and gathering thunderstorm, a lone fart was heard in the distance.
      


END

Originally completed

April 20, 1987

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