"Hey, give it back!" A young girl's shrill cry suddenly pierced the Garvan home. "That's mine!"
Nine year old Tammy Lou Garvan stood defiantly in the upstairs hallway, blocking the path of her dancing and teasing devilish imp of a brother. Her little hands, curled into tight fists, were pressed firmly against her hips and her feet were spread apart and locked straight. Her head was flung back and her blond curly hair bunched against the crisp lace of her pretty, pink party dress as she looked up into the face that hovered tauntingly about a foot or so higher than her own.
"Teddie Benjamin Garvan, YOU GIVE SALLY BACK RIGHT THIS INSTANCE!!" Each word of Tammy Lou's firm command was accompanied by an equally firm stomp of her little buckle party shoe. This made her lace trimmed ankle socks and starched petticoats shiver and shake, accentuating her bowlegs and knobby knees which were annoying encased in shiny white tights, causing her eleven year old brother Teddie to burst into renewed fits of laughter. He dangled a large, porcelain doll above his little sister's head and made a mocking face by sticking out his tongue and screwing up his cheeks and mouth.
The sight of her precious Sally Dress-Up doll hanging precariously by her silken golden hair from her stinky brother's dirty fingers made Tammy Lou grasp and clutch uselessly at the air. This made her frilly, short party dress and the matching pink satin ribbons in her hair bounce about even harder. Teddie reveled in the act of having his little sister at his mercy. He enjoyed making her look completely ridiculous in her disgustingly sweet fancy clothes. And the fact that she was dressed almost identical to her precious Sally Stupid doll made him cringe in rage. Why did his parents let her act so dumb all the time? It was just so damn irritating! That was probably one of the main reasons that he couldn't leave Tammy Lou alone for more than a few seconds of the day. She was his best target for unbridled teasing. For Teddie, it was the most wonderful thing in the world.
"Tedddiiee!" Tammy Lou's voice was beginning to tremble and whine, and Teddie could tell that she was on the verge of tears. A final, weak stomp told him that he had almost won again. A few more seconds and she would go running off crying to her room.
"Theodore?" A distance voice called inquisitively up the stairs from out near the kitchen. "What are you kids doing up there?"
Teddie silently cursed to himself as his fun was quickly squashed by the return of his mother from the store. If she found out he was teasing Tammy with her dolls again she would really let him have it. She had even threatened last time that if she caught him again, she would give all his action figures and toys to some needy family and buy him girl's dolls instead. To his mom, this only seemed fitting since he was always insisting on bothering Tammy Lou over her dolls. Of course, the very thought of this had made him shiver. She really wouldn't do that. She wouldn't take all his cool toys and leave him with a bunch of old sissy baby dolls. Would she?
Teddie decided it would be better not to find out. He quickly called back down the stairs. "IT'S NOTHIN, MOM! TAMMY AND ME ARE JUST PLAYIN A GAME!" Being a typical boy of eleven, Teddie had to scream this at the top of his lungs thinking that his mom was 100 miles away instead of just a few dozen feet down the stairs.
"NAW AWN!" Tammy Lou started to yell down to her mother, but Teddie's hand quickly clamped over her mouth as he thrust the porcelain doll into her stomach.
"SSSHHHHSSS!" He hissed loudly into her ear, hoping that his mom hadn't heard her beginning protest. "You better be quiet," he warned his little sister in a hushed whisper, "if you don't want Sally to disappear forever!"
Tammy Lou's eyes grew wide with worry and she clenched her teeth together. She had her Sally back and that was all she really cared about for the time being. In an instant, she stuck her tongue out at her big brother and then went clomping down the hall and into her room, her hard sole shoes clacking loudly on the hard wood floors of the old house. Teddie just stood there and watched her beat a hasty retreat. He knew he had to make sure that his mom wasn't too suspicious. There was a moment of silence.
"Theodore Benjamin Garvan, you better not be taking Tammy Lou's dolls again!" The completeness of his name and the sound of his mother's voice made Teddie make a mental note to be more careful next time. Tammy might call him by all three of his names, but she always used his nickname first. Theodore was reserved for his mother. God he hated that name. It reminded him of a fat, dweeby chipmunk from a Saturday morning cartoon.
"I'm NOT, MOM!" He yelled back down, careful not to sound too sassy, but not too guilty at the same time. He waited again, more than a little worried.
"You better not be, YOUNG MAN!"
This was the final admonition that Teddie had been waiting for. It meant that his mom was suspicious, but really couldn't be sure. Since she wasn't the type of mom to fly off the handle half cocked, that meant he was ok. This time.
Teddie ground his teeth and stalked back to his own room. He would get Tammy for almost getting him in trouble. Her and her big mouth. Making all that noise over some stupid doll. Boy would she get hers. You just wait. He would come up with something. He didn't know what, but it would be something good. Something better than just tying Sally up to be a prisoner for his Indians or hanging her by a noose for his lynch mob. No, it would be something far worse. Something final.
With a nasty grin, Teddie settled down into his room to play with his knights and castle. It wasn't long before he was immersed in a battle of good versus evil. The forces of good were being led by the heroic Prince Ted who sought to defeat his grandmother the Queen and his horrible half sister Tamugliface and her evil hordes of dastardly minions. Soon, Teddie had forgotten all about Tammy Lou and her silly dolls.
Tammy Lou stayed mad at Teddie for the next half-hour. He had ruined her tea party by taking her most beloved guest and friend hostage. He had pulled Sally's hair and gave her a frightful scare. He was such a big, fat, meany, ugly head. She wished that he would just go away and then she could be an only child. She knew that she could be quite happy with only her dolls to keep her company. After all, her dolls talked to her and never were mean. They made the best friends. Not like her nasty, ole brother.
But, like Teddie, Tammy couldn't stay mad for long. She never let her mind dwell on any one thing for too long. That would be a waste of good playtime. She had other, more important things to do anyway. Like playing with her favorite doll in the whole wide world. The most special doll that there ever was. She had the one and only Sally Dress-Up.
At least, that was what Grandma had told her. Tammy Lou's grandmother had given Sally to Tammy Lou one day while they were spending the weekend at her house in the country. It was only really about 5 miles away, but Tammy Lou and Teddie didn't go there that often. Tammy couldn't figure out why, except that Teddie didn't get along well with grandma and her mom and grandma were always arguing about how Teddie behaved. It seemed that grandma felt that Teddie needed a good firm hand to keep him in line. That, or a good hard hairbrush across his bare backside. Tammy had thought that was a great idea. She thought it would be wonderful for Teddie to get what he had coming to him.
But that wasn't the way that their mom felt. You see, grandma was really Tammy's father's mom. Her daddy was gone, somewhere that grandma called the angels' choir, and her mom didn't get along with grandma as well as daddy did. Mom didn't believe in spanking or hitting kids. It was one of many things where she and grandma Garvan disagreed. Personally, Tammy Lou sided with grandma. She hardly ever did anything to even get yelled at for, let alone warrant any serious punishment. Teddie on the other hand was just plain bad at times. Being a very mature nine and a half-year old, Tammy Lou felt that Teddie could use a good dose of old fashioned discipline. Her maturnial instinct told her. That was what her mom would call it, and Tammy was certain that she would make a terrific mommy one day herself.
The thing that made Tammy Lou's doll so special was that it was the same doll that Grandma Garvan had when she was a little girl. Even better, grandma had made hundreds of little outfits for Sally as she grew up and after she gave Sally to her only granddaughter, she continued to make new clothes that were more current and fashionable. Sally even had ballerina and exercise clothes. In fact, Tammy insisted that her mom get her an outfit to match every new thing that Sally got. That way they could play dress up together and have even more fun.
In no time, Tammy Lou was busy dressing up Sally and changing her clothes to match. That afternoon, they decided to be nurses and Tammy spent the rest of the day taking care of all her "sick" doll and stuffed animal patients. The fight with Teddie was forgotten.
Teddie waited just behind his cracked bedroom door and watched as Tammy Lou finished brushing her teeth for bed. She still clutched her stupid doll in one of her hands while she busily foamed up her mouth with the toothbrush in her other hand. The dumb ole doll was dressed in an identical dancing Christmas bear nightgown with matching lace around the neck, cuffs and knee length hem. Tammy Lou always insisted that grandma make her exact real size duplicates of the clothes that she was always sewing for Tammy's doll. Everything had to be exact down to the last detail and if grandma couldn't make the larger size clothing, which was extremely rare, then Tammy would insist that their mom go out and find the same clothes in a store in the city.
Teddie ground his teeth as his anger returned to full force. Tammy Lou was such a spoiled little brat. She always got exactly what she wanted. Everyone was always doting on her hand and foot. It was always, oh look at how pretty Tammy Lou looks in her little pretty girls' clothes, or oh look at how cute Tammy Lou looks with her little matching doll. It was so double damn irritating!
But that wasn't what bothered Teddie the most. The worst part was that old witchy Grandma Garvan would also make Teddie clothes too. And she usually used the same material that Tammy Lou's clothes were made of. Teddie plucked absentmindedly at his own nightshirt. It was identical to Tammy Lou's only without the lace. It was so humiliating! An almost grown eleven-year old boy having to wear a girly nightshirt like his little sister. Unfortunately, his mother was also a very practical woman and she felt that if grandma was kind enough to send something, that Teddie should be respectful enough to wear it. Besides, she would say, all the boys wore nightshirts when Grandma Garvan was a girl and that is what she is used too. You just have to humor grandma.
Well, Teddie didn't think anything about grandma was humorous. He dreaded any time a package arrived from grandma or whenever they had to visit her. He made triple sure that he complained enough that his mom rarely felt like putting up with the hassle. So, to Teddie's good fortune, they usually only had to suffer through a visit to grandma's only a few times a year.
Then again, it wasn't just the clothes that grandma sent and he was forced to wear. With that thought, Teddie tugged at the bottom of his nightshirt, trying to make the hem line lower. It seemed that grandma hadn't made it to fit exactly right and she hadn't sent any new pajamas for a little while. His nightshirt had a habit of riding up to his upper thighs, constantly threatening to suddenly show off his underwear underneath. Of course, Tammy Lou didn't mind such a display. She was too young to really care about such things. Teddie, on the other hand, was a growing man, and he found it very embarrassing to think that his mom or little sister might catch a glimpse of his briefs. Now, if his mom would just let him wear boxers then it wouldn't be so bad. Boxers were remarkably like shorts and much more functional then briefs. At least Teddie didn't think he would feel as self-conscious in boxers. It just wasn't right. He tugged again, but the hem didn't stay any lower.
No, it wasn't just the clothes. It was everything about the way Tammy Lou was treated that set him off. Everything was always about Tammy Lou. What does Tammy Lou want to do? Teddie, play nice with Tammy Lou. Oh, Teddie, you can do this or that with Tammy Lou, stop being such a baby. Constantly, it was Tammy Lou, Tammy Lou, TAMMY LOU! It drove him batty.
Wednesdays for example. Teddie wanted to play baseball after school with all his friends, but instead, he had to go to a stupid DANCE class with Tammy Lou. Not that certain dance classes wouldn't be cool. Hip Hop Jazz classes wouldn't be too bad. They even had one that taught boys, and boys only, how to dance just like the popular boy bands currently topping the charts. But this wasn't just ANY old dance class. It wasn't anything cool like Jazz, or even tap. It was a BALLET class. Complete with tutus and giggling little girls. Little girls who seemed to find it particularly funny to see Teddie in a pair of tights too. It didn't help any that he was the ONLY boy in the class. Luckily, none of his friends had found out about it yet and Tammy Lou wasn't old enough to know that she could blackmail him with it. At least, she wasn't old enough yet. Teddie shivered at the thought.
The way Teddie saw it, everything was Tammy Lou's fault. He was certain that his mom had really secretly wished that he had been a girl. That was probably why she had decided to have Tammy Lou in the first place, because she didn't get her daughter the first time. That was probably why she always made Teddie do stupid stuff with Tammy Lou since practically the day she was born. It was all Tammy Lou's fault. Everything. And now she was going to pay. Her and that dumb old doll of hers.
Teddie watched as his unknowing victim put her toothbrush back into the cup holder above the sink and daintily wiped her mouth on a bath towel. She might have her little Sally Dress-Up dolly with her now, he thought to himself, but she would have to let go of her sometime. Teddie didn't dare actually risk a nighttime raid into Tammy Lou's bedroom. It wouldn't go well if he got caught. No, Teddie decided that it would be better to just watch and wait for the perfect opportunity to come along by itself.
At that moment, Teddie heard his mother's footsteps on the stairs so he quickly and quietly slipped his door shut the rest of the way and jumped into bed. He just managed to rearrange the hem of his nightshirt back to its proper place and pull the covers up to his chin when the door to his bedroom swung open without warning. His mom walked in as usual to say goodnight and tuck him in. It didn't matter how many times he told her that he was too big to be tucked in or too old for sissy bedtime kisses, she still insisted on humiliating him every night. And the fact that she never knocked or gave him any privacy smoothed the icing on the cake for Teddie. It was obvious to him that his mother could never understand the needs of a young man. And it didn't do any good explaining it to her either.
Teddie suffered the indignity of his mother's night time routine with only a few weak hearted "oh, mom" 's, and settled in to day dream about how he would extract revenge on Tammy Lou and her silly Sally Stupid doll. A smile was the only thing to let on to his secret musings as he drifted off to sleep. That night he dreamed of Sally Dress-Up having a dreadful accident involving a fire, a bicycle, deep water, and a large, hungry werewolf. Needless to say, Teddie had a very enjoyable, peaceful good night's rest.
It was almost a full two weeks before Teddie got the opportunity he was waiting for. Tammy Lou was late for her doctor's appointment and their mother rushed her out the door so fast that Tammy didn't have the chance to scoop up Sally and take her along. Teddie came in the house from riding his bicycle, and after taking a quick drink directly from the milk cartoon, something that he only did when he knew no one was around, he was in the process of dashing upstairs to his room, when something caught his attention from the corner of his eye.
Teddie went back down the stairs two at a time, not able to believe his good luck. There, sitting on the end of the couch, slightly tilted against an overstuffed pillow cushion, was the hated porcelain Sally. Teddie noticed immediately that she was wearing one of the outfits that he most particularly despised and that Tammy Lou absolutely adored. It was a bright pink tutu and a pink and white leotard tight set. This, of course, was usually matched by Tammy Lou's ballet outfit and it reminded Teddie constantly of the ridiculous tights costume that hung in his own closet, as far back as possible, lest one of his friends be over and accidentally see it.
All of Teddie's anger and frustration at that moment focused on Sally. In that instant, he was overcome by an overwhelming sense of rage. All the little moments of embarrassment and humiliation that he imagined that he had suffered at the hands of his mother were all transferred to Tammy and Sally. They were responsible! They were to blame. Everything was their fault!
The very sight of the doll, laying there in her mocking little costume, made Teddie lose all control and sense of good judgement. All that mattered was that he was alone with Sally and something bad was about to happen.
Suddenly, Teddie's anger and rage was transformed into an uncontrollable happiness. He was ALONE! Alone with the DOLL. This was his CHANCE!
He glanced quickly at the clock. It was 2 45pm. Providing for a 30 minute appointment, at least 10 minutes waiting to be seen, and another 15 minutes to drive home, Teddie figured that he had about half an hour to work his evil plans. Whatever they might be.
Teddie wasn't exactly sure what he should do. All his day dreams, regular dreams and fantasies had mostly involved very horrible, complex accidents. It was the curse of youthful dreams to imagine things that were far too difficult to actually put into affect. At the moment of truth, when the power was his to decide, Teddie couldn't make up his mind.
Teddie didn't let that bother him though. He was far too happy to let such a little unimportant detail as that interrupt his moment of glory and triumph. Prince Ted was about to deal a decisively critical blow to the evil forces of Princess Tamugilface!
Teddie suddenly swooped up the doll like a diving bird of prey and clutched it in his powerful grasp. He hadn't held the nasty creature since his last run in with his pukey little sister almost two weeks ago. He still remembered the cool, smoothness of the porcelain skin. The weight of the body. After all, for being a doll, Sally Dress-Up weighted almost 15lbs and was close to two feet tall. To speak the truth, that was another reason that Teddie hated her so much. She was so life like at times it was almost like having two little sisters. He shuddered at the thought.
Teddie was struck by a sudden inspiration. Ignoring the little voice inside his head that was screaming at him to take a moment to stop and think, Teddie let his feelings guide him and was whisked away on the raging rapids of spiteful revenge.
Since Sally was already dressed for a ballet, and since Teddie himself was so often an unwilling participant, it occurred to him that maybe he should practice some of those more advanced ballet moves that usually were denied and escaped him. His teacher would always tell him that he was far too young and weak to execute some of the more difficult carries, throws and catches. Imagine! Him! Too WEAK! Well, he would show her. He would show them all. And Sally would be his esteemed partner for a private ballet. Teddie style.
Teddie tossed the porcelain ballerina into the air and then, after catching her, twirled her around in circles all the way across the room to the stereo. He popped in one of his favorite CDs and waited a second in the middle of the room. After only a second or so, he was blasted by a deluge of white noise and rock and roll. Teddie instantly broke into his best rendition of a rock star shrieking and gyrating before a million screaming fans, using Sally as a microphone, pretend guitar, and back up dancer all at the same time. Before long, he was lost in the music as it surged through his heart, head and blood. Sally flipped, spun and twirled magically to the beat. Teddie was strength. He was power. He was pure sex symbol for the teenage masses. In reality, however, Teddie was nothing but toast.
Teddie planned for a terrific toss, spin and catch maneuver at the end of his favorite song. There was a part where the music suddenly stops with a final, hard, resonating guitar cord, and Teddie intended to toss Sally up in the air, spin around once, drop to one knee, and catch her at the very last possible moment when the music ended.
Unfortunately for Teddie, two minor miscalculations multiplied into big trouble. For starters, Teddie didn't time the music correctly and was in the middle of his toss-spin when the song ended. Secondly, he was distracted by the sudden crypt like silence and the distinct sound of a car door slamming. His eyes were involuntarily drawn to the digital clock on the stereo. It read 2:45pm. His heart leaped into his throat and constricted his already ragged breathing. His Mom was home!
For the next few seconds, everything seemed to happen in slow motion, all at once. Too late Teddie remembered the falling Sally doll. He looked back up just in time to have his forehead meet Sally's on her descent back to earth. The hard porcelain sent instant pain through his skull and made his eyes water. Teddie tried to scramble to his feet to make a run for the stereo before his mom could hear the glass shattering sound of his music. He knew if she did, it would mean that she would take away his stereo privileges for life. At the same time, he tried to catch Sally as she careened off his head.
Unfortunately for Teddie, his luck wasn't as good as usual. He did manage to reach the stereo remote control power button before the next song came on, but in the process, he knocked over a standing lamp. Also, his juggling of Sally proved to be fruitless as she bounced off the fingertips of his right hand for the third time, and the falling lamp brushed past his outreached left hand. The end result was that Teddie was left standing in the middle of the living room floor, dripping with sweat, both arms outstretched, chest heaving and gasping for breath, as the porcelain doll and ceramic lamp met identical fates on opposite sides of him.
For a moment, Teddie's entire world was suspended in time as the shock of what had just happened spread from just a ghastly expression of total surprise to the painful clarity of total understanding. His head turned from broken mess to broken mess, uncertain which way to go. The sounds of his mother's and sister's steps on the gravel walk told his churning mind that he didn't have time to clean up both accidents. That meant that he was in deep, deep trouble. No matter how many times his brain calculated the potential outcomes from the discovery of either accident, the end result was the same. He was dead meat.
To Teddie, however, one thing was perfectly clear. A broken lamp would certainly get him in trouble with his mom, and would probably even get him grounded for playing so carelessly in the house. On the other hand, the fact that Tammy Lou's favorite doll in the whole wide world had just happened to fall mysteriously off the couch and shatter into a thousand pieces on the wood floor while Teddie was the only one home was bound to spell even greater disaster. No matter how Teddie explained it or how good of an excuse he could come up with, his mom would never believe it. There had been too many times that he had been warned about fooling around with Tammy Lou's dolls. If he didn't act fast, his own toys would be leaving on the next train to needy kid’s ville.
Teddie did the only thing he could think of on the spur of the moment. As his mom and sister made their final landing approach to the front door, Teddie quickly brushed all the broken pieces of Sally under the couch and straightened the hem of the throw skirt. He was just rising from the floor when his mom came through the door. Immediately, her eyes went from the guilty look on her son's face to the busted lamp on the floor.
"Theodore Benjamin Garvan! What in the world have you been doing?" His mom's voice was authoritative but only laced with a small amount of anger. Good old mom, not one to jump immediately to conclusions. Give him the benefit of the doubt and let the anger build slowly and fester while he swung to the end of his rope. Then, when he had buried himself sufficiently and her inner suspicions were confirmed, the anger would swell and jerk the noose closed. It isn't any wonder that Teddie opted for silence to his mom's initial rhetorical question.
"What happened to my lamp, Theodore?" The shortening of his name indicated to Teddie that it was time to start swinging. Maybe a quick thinking story would lengthen his rope. He only half feigned a shocked look at his mother and then at the lamp as if to mentally say, what, that lamp over there? The one that is busted?
"Well, I'm waiting for an explanation, Young Man. That lamp certainly didn't just fall over by itself, did it?" Tammy Lou stood behind her mother and smirked at Teddie. She was secretly enjoying his discomfort and hoping that the hammer of mom would soon fall on her bratty brother. Teddie leapt to a well-versed, time stalling technique.
"I don't know, mom." To punctuate his assertion, Teddie offered a small shrug and a slight cocking of his head.
"What do you mean you don't know? You were the only one home. The lamp wasn't broken when Tammy and I left. Don't tell me that someone else came in just to break my living room lamp." The sarcasm wasn't hard for Teddie to detect. Mom had played the old unknown entity to blame called "I don't know" and his brother, "Not Me". Fortunately, Teddie quickly recovered.
"I mean, it was an accident." Teddie countered. "I don't know how it happened, Mom, honest. I think I tripped over the corner of the couch and bumped it by mistake." He paused long enough to throw on his hurt little boy pout that usually helped to melt his mom. "I tried to catch it before it fell, Mom. I just couldn't. I'm sorry. I know you really liked it. I'll pay for it out of my allowance. Please don't be mad at me."
Much to Teddie's delight and Tammy Lou's disappointment, their mom fell for the entire pitch. Lock, stock, and barrel. She reassured Teddie that she wasn't mad at him and that the lamp wasn't all that important anyway. An even worse blow to Tammy was that their mom actually apologized to Teddie for blaming him. Teddie even got away with not cleaning up the mess. To little Tammy Lou it was obvious that being an older child had its privileges.
It wasn't until later that Tammy Lou realized that she couldn't find Sally. But by then, she couldn't remember where she had left her. And it was a very sad and teary eyed Tammy Lou who cried herself to sleep while Teddie patted himself on the back for getting away with murder. The only thing that remained was to remove the body out from under the couch and get rid of it. Then he would be scot-free. Their mom was even talking like Tammy Lou might have lost Sally on their way to the doctor's office. Teddie drifted off to sleep with dreams of his perfect crime.
Teddie awoke from a horrible nightmare in which his mother had found out about what he had done to Sally and Porcelain police had come to take him to porcelain prison. Once there, he was surrounded by hundreds of broken toy dolls that crept closer and closer to him whenever he wasn't looking at them. He had been trapped in a slowly tightening circle. The horrible faces kept staring blankly at him with eyes that burned with hatred and a thirst for revenge. It was the living hell for bad brothers who broke their sister's dolls and Teddie didn't like it.
When he awoke, Teddie sat up straight in bed, covered in sweat. He knew immediately that he had to clean up all trace of what had happened, but he wasn't sure how. It was still early, so Teddie decided that he might be able to sneak down into the living room and dispose of the body before anyone else got up. Being Saturday, he was certain that his mother and sister would sleep in.
Teddie didn't want to raise any suspicions by making his sister think that he had gotten up extra early that morning. If he got caught downstairs or going back up stairs, he definitely didn't want anyone to know just how long he had been awake. Normally, he would immediately change into his regular clothes for the day. He never went out of his room in his pajamas or nightclothes unless he absolutely had to. Usually, that meant his mother made him. The less anyone saw him in his ridiculous short nightshirt, the better.
That morning, Teddie didn't get dressed right away. Instead, he very quietly crept out of his room and down the hallway to the top of the stairs. He hoped that he could do his dirty work and get back into bed before anyone else woke up. His bare legs and feet made no sound as he cautiously descended the stairs. He was careful to place his feet as close to the banister and wall as possible, since he had found from experience that this was the most-sturdy part of each stair and made the least noise. Even with that extra precaution, there was an occasional shriek of protest from the wood of the staircase.
Teddie cringed and paused with each creak. He waited each time to make sure that there was no sound of stirring from his sister's or mother's room. He became increasing conscious of the distracting feeling of cool air moving up under his nightshirt and around his naked legs. His legs being spread apart and his nightshirt riding up further than usual, Teddie was thankful that there wasn't anyone down stairs. He certainly would have given them quite a show. He became distinctly aware that this is what it must feel like for girls to wear skirts. He decided that he didn't like the notion and gave an inward offering of thanks that he had been born a boy. After all, you have to stop and occasionally give thanks for the small blessings in life.
It took Teddie over two minutes to navigate the treacherous creaking stairway, but he had been successful. No one had been alerted by his passage! Excellent! It wouldn't take him long to complete his task and be back in bed. Then he would be home free.
Teddie moved quickly into the living room and over to the couch. He knelt down on both knees and lifted the throw skirt. For a moment, he was assaulted by the idea that a broken and deformed porcelain Sally doll was waiting for him. As soon as he peered at the scene of the crime, she would lunge at him with maniacal, superhuman force and pull him under the couch. If they were lucky, they might find his tattered nightshirt as the only proof of what had taken place.
The mental picture made Teddie pause for a second and take a deep breath. He cursed himself for being such a wimp and clenched the hem of the throw into a twisted knot. Steeling himself, he took a quick look under the dark couch, half ready to fight, and half ready to run. He wasn't really that scared of a little doll, because he was so much bigger and stronger. Then again, if the doll was possessed by some magical force, well, that was another story. In that case, the best option was always to run away in as dignified a manner as possible.
Luckily for Teddie, nothing waited for him in the dark recesses under the couch except an army of dust bunnies, and he knew that they were very flighty creatures that typically didn't side with dolls. He spied the broken porcelain remains of Sally lying in a heap in the accursed ballet tutu. Teddie had a quick vision of himself lying crumpled on the floor, wearing the ridiculous tights from his closet, while an angry Sally Doll towered over him, but he managed to wrestle his thoughts under control and stick to the task at hand. He didn't have much time after all.
Teddie slid his arm under the couch and swept the pieces of the doll out in front of him. When he saw Sally again up close, he had an immediate feeling of gnawing guilt. It started in the pit of his stomach and swelled until it almost closed off his throat. Sally had been Tammy Lou's favorite toy, and now she was broken beyond repair. He realized suddenly that he really hadn't meant to really hurt Sally. It had been fun just to imagine it. Just like a lot of things. It's fun to daydream about living a wild adventure in the jungle with lots of dangerous animals, but that didn't really mean that Teddie wanted to jump on the first plane to South America. Breaking Sally had been an accident. Teddie had just been trying to blow off some steam.
As the guilty feeling grew, Teddie had the sudden desire to run upstairs and confess the whole thing to his mom. Sure she would be mad and would probably punish him, but it wouldn't be that bad. And he knew deep down that he should apologize to Tammy Lou too. He should tell her that he was sorry for breaking Sally and that he would buy her a new doll out of his allowance. That might make Tammy feel better and certainly couldn't hurt his case with his mom. Teddie knew deep down that life was too short and that he really should be nicer to Tammy Lou. After all, he was the big brother and he was supposed to look out for Tammy Lou and take care of her. What would he have done is some older kid had been the one to break her doll?
But then the old feelings of anger and frustration returned in full force. All the old torments and the Teddie perceived degradations came flooding back. The humiliating ballet classes in tights; the creeping, drafty nightshirt; the years of hearing Tammy Lou this and Tammy Lou that. The memory of the words cute, adorable, sweet, precious and pretty began to ring like deafening voices in his ears. They drowned out all other feeling of remorse or guilt. The deep, loud voice inside Teddie was telling its small, still counterpart to shut the frick up and go bother some other kid. Sally had got what was coming to her, and that went double for Tammy Lou.
The seesaw of Teddie's emotions and his inner turmoil was interrupted by the creak of the stairs. To Teddie's horror, he realized that someone was coming. What was worse, he would be caught red handed with the evidence of his crime. It would look like he had purposely snuck down stairs in order to do mischief to Sally. He would be falsely accused and railroaded to his execution. He had to do something! Fast!
Teddie did the first thing that came to mind. He panicked. Looking around the room, he couldn't see any escape. The footsteps were descending the stairs in a sleepy, yet heavy rhythm. That meant it was his mom, still groggy and potentially grouchy as a hungry bear that just woke up from a long hibernation. He had only seconds. She would be in sight at any moment. What could he do? He kept asking himself. What?
A desperate notion hit Teddie and without fully examining all aspects of the idea, he acted. Lifting one of the cushions of the couch with his left hand he quickly tossed the remains of Tammy Lou's precious Sally doll as far back toward the recesses of the couch as possible. He just had time to settle the cushion back into its proper place and drop flat to the floor on his belly as his mom came lurching around the corner, her hair standing up in all directions. She was busy rubbing the remaining traces of sleep from her bloodshot eyes, and therefore, she failed to notice Teddie's prostrate form on the living room floor. Teddie held his breath for a moment as he watched his mom's retreating back enter the kitchen, desperately struggling to keep from reaching back to adjust the hem of his short nightshirt that had ridden up to leave his briefs mostly exposed. He realized he was beginning to sweat as he watched his mother disappear around the kitchen corner and then he scrambled to his feet and scampered for the stairs.
Teddie momentarily forgot about the telltale creaking of the stairs until the first chorus of moaning protests drifted into the air as he vaulted the steps three at a time, his arms pumping and his nightshirt flying, his regular feeling of embarrassment pushed aside by more important issues. Issues like avoiding capture, torture, sentence and execution for porcelain people murder. He grimaced at the sound his footsteps made and he froze half way up the stairs.
"Teddie?" His mom's voice called questioningly out from the kitchen. "Is that you, honey? Land sakes, dear, you sound like a herd of elephants. Slow down for pity's sake."
Teddie knew that he had been discovered and total escape was impossible. However, it wasn't too late to cover his tracks. So instead of continuing to dash up the stairs and try to deny the fact that he had ever been up that morning, he decided to reverse his course. In a brilliant counteroffensive, Teddie turned around and started making his way back down stairs, his hands absently tugging to straighten the hem of the nightshirt to make it longer. Blast that damn thing and blast his grandmother for not making something bigger and double blast damn his mother for not letting him buy any new, cooler pajamas.
"Sorry, mom!" Teddie controlled his emotions and voice as he descended the stairs. He purposefully adopted a slower, more unsteady, sleepy pace. It wouldn't do for him to make his mom any more suspicious.
Mrs. Garvan came out of the kitchen with an empty coffee cup in one hand and the morning paper in the other. She looked surprised to see her son down stairs without being dressed for the day. Although she didn't know exactly why Teddie insisted on dressing immediately in the day while Tammy Lou would stay in her pajamas all day if she could, it was a well enough established routine that it was easy to notice.
"Are you ok, sweetie?" She said as she watched him step off the last step. "You're not sick, are you?"
"No, mom, I'm fine." Teddie reassured her. He met her quizzical gaze with his own innocent grin. "Just a little tired still I guess." To add realism to his make up as you go script, he rubbed his eyes with his fist and then stopped and gave a big yawn and wide, full stretch. In the middle of his stretch, he became aware that his nightshirt was riding up toward his belly and he was exposing himself in front of his mom. His face flushed with humiliation and he immediately cut his stretch off short. He also realized that he had inadvertently given himself the perfect way to escape back into the relative safety of his room.
Teddie looked at his mom's amused expression and forced a half fake, half real visage of shock, horror and surprise. He purposefully tried to make it look like he had just forgotten to get dressed that morning and he didn't realize it until right then. To play his role to the max, Teddie quickly averted his eyes to look down at his nightshirt. Sure enough, little bits of his underwear were still peeking out from under the hem. His hands grasped the accursed short garment and tugged it lower for the tenth time that morning. At the same time, he spun around and vaulted back up the stairs. He tossed an embarrassed look back over his shoulder before he was out of sight and saw his mother smiling and shaking her head. Only then did his heart begin to slow down and beat at a normal rate.
His ruse had been a success! His mom had bought his performance with nary a question. He was home free! Teddie fell onto his bed, back in his room, and let out a deep breath of relief. Now, if everything would just go as planned, he would escape all possibility of blame. Or, at least, there would be no way of pinning the crime directly to him. And after all, that was all that really mattered. Sally was gone and Teddie was going to get away with the crime of the century.
Besides, Teddie pondered to himself as he hurriedly dressed into his jeans and pull over jersey, even if his mom or sister did suspect anything, there wasn't anything they could do. Sally would still be broken and nothing his mom could do to him would come close to taking away the joy he felt at Sally's demise. Even if he lost all his own toys, which wouldn't happen because he had been too smart, but even if he did, it would have been worth it. All the feelings of guilt and remorse were gone. Teddie was happy it had happened. It served Tammy Lou right.
Teddie didn't even care if his old witch of a grandma would be upset or not. She was an old B-I-T-C-H anyway. She could think anything she wanted. She always blamed him for everything anyway, even if she was usually right. She would probably blame him for this too, but she could just go ahead. He didn't care. The old bag couldn't do anything. Teddie wasn't afraid of her.
With a smile, Teddie finished tying his sneakers and grabbed his basketball from his closet. Maybe he would get in a little hoops before breakfast and before the discovery. He really didn't want to be there when his mom or Tammy Lou sat down on the couch. Even though they would think that Sally had fallen into the cushion by mistake and that she had broken when they sat down, Teddie didn't think that he would be able to show the proper amount of pity for his sister. He was afraid that he would give himself away when Sally's fate was finally known.
His final thought as he dashed out the front door was that it would be great if Tammy Lou were the one to sit down and think that she broke her beloved Sally doll. Maybe his stupid ole grandma would even get mad at Tammy Lou for a change. After all, it would be Tammy Lou's fault that Sally was left on the couch. Maybe this could work out better than Teddie's wildest dreams. There were just so many possibilities.
With a grin, Teddie lofted his first shot toward the basket. It was a perfect Swish. Nothing but net, he thought to himself. It was going to be a great day. At least, that was what Teddie thought.
Teddie's quickly formulated plan had worked better than he could have hoped. It turned out that shortly after Tammy Lou got up for the morning, while she was still upset and searching for her Sally Dress-Up, their mom was the first to sit on the booby trapped couch. Her weight caused the pieces of porcelain to rub together and make an odd grating like crunching sound. When she lifted the cushion to investigate, her curious expression immediately transformed to one of horror. Teddie knew that his mom immediately concluded exactly what he had wanted her to think upon the discovery. She thought that she was the one responsible for breaking Tammy Lou's treasure. Needless to say, she was a little upset.
Tammy Lou on the other hand was far more than a little upset. Even though her mom tried very hard to break the bad news to her as gently as possible, there really was no easy way to tell someone that a dear loved one is gone. Tammy Lou considered Sally to be as real as any of her other friends. In fact, Sally had been Tammy Lou's best friend.
Tammy Lou took Sally's "accident" very hard. She spent the rest of the day sobbing and crying in her room, alone. She wouldn't eat. She wouldn't go down stairs. She even exploded with rage and screamed at her mom when it was suggested that they go out to try and find a special replacement for Sally. Tammy Lou was so pitiful that Teddie even began to feel a little bit of sorrow and remorse for what he had done. However, that lasted only about 10 minutes after their grandmother arrived.
Their mother had been so worried about Tammy Lou that she had called her mother-in-law and asked if there was anything she could think of that would help. Grandma Garvan had immediately gotten one of her neighbor friends to give her a ride to their house so she could help comfort Tammy Lou. After her arrival a short time after the call, Teddie quickly became tired of the attention that poor little Tammy Lou was getting over the loss of her stupid, good for nothing doll. He had a difficult time hiding his disgust and contempt.
In the end, Tammy Lou had insisted that they bury Sally in the back yard, near her mom's petunias. Through her persistence, Teddie even had to attend the funeral service. Not only did he have to attend, but he had to get dressed in his Sunday best suit, complete with scratchy collar, choking tie and pinching shoes. Since they hadn’t gone to Church since his dad died, his Sunday suit was old and didn’t fit right. Worse still, it had been another one of Grandma Garvin’s special creations. She had insisted that little boys were supposed to wear short pant suits and although the shorts and jacket had been big when he was Tammy Lou’s age, now they were far too tight. The shorts dug into his waist and upper thighs. Even worse, they were apparently modeled after little boy shorts because they had no fly and had an elastic waistband. Teddie couldn't remember that last time he had worn dress pants without a fly. The jacket sleeves of his suit rose a good two inches above his wrist. But the ultimate insult was that the suit was made of blue velvet. In bejezus name, what boy wore velvet anything?
Teddie had the distinct feeling that if he stretched his back and flexed his arms like the Incredible Hulk, his jacket would immediately burst open at every seam. And while that prospect was both cool and awesome at the same time, the fact that the legs of his short pants were now only a little more than crotch length and that the openings were so small that he couldn’t even fit his little finger between his skin and the hem overshadowed any feelings of power and strength that Teddie could have enjoyed. Instead, it was like he was being attacked by a blue velvet boa constrictor.
Teddie was absolutely fuming by the time the funeral was over and he knew that if he didn't get away quick, he would explode with anger and confess everything to try to make them all see just how dumb they were being. That no matter what ridiculous clothes they dressed him in, it wouldn’t change the fact that he was a young Hercules and destroying Sally had been one of HIS tasks to perform. Only he was sure they wouldn't see things like he did.
Overall, however, everything went pretty smoothly. Teddie wasn't implicated in even the slightest way. No one even questioned if Sally's accident had been something other than an accident. Not even Tammy Lou, in her reason altering grief, tried to accuse Teddie. The only close call came from Grandma Garvan.
Grandma Garvan had been watching Teddie from the minute she walked in the house. Her accusing eyes followed him wherever he went. He could feel her hard stare and unreadable face burning into his soul, searching out the truth, threatening to expose him and his secret. As a counterattack, Teddie just tried to stay away from her. He even tried being nice to her in an attempt to avoid any confrontation. His mother thought that he was just more reserved considering what had happened. Grandma Garvan looked like she knew better.
Teddie had done a pretty good job of avoiding his grandma during the day, and things were going well, until she managed to corner him in his room after the mockery of a funeral. Teddie had slipped off as soon as the final prayer was over and he had dashed up to his room to pry himself out of his hated suit. He even purposefully messed up his hair with his hands, destroying the perfectly styled, carefully combed part that his mother always insisted on putting in his hair whenever they got dressed up. Satisfied that he looked casually rumpled and wind blown, he was practically tearing off his clothes when his grandma walked into his room without knocking.
The first thing that went through Teddie's mind was the question of why didn't any of the females in his house ever knock or respect a guy's privacy. The next thing on his agenda was to quickly snatch his suit jacket and short pants back up off the floor and hold them in front of himself, trying to look casual and unconcerned while he pretended to busy himself with the hanger his suit was supposed to go back on. He cussed to himself that his grandmother should have such lousy timing to catch him with his pants down. Literally. He found it very hard to concentrate and pull off a snotty, tough attitude without his protective male coverings. Underwear just did not lend the feeling of power or security. Even babyish velvet short pants were better than going into a skirmish in just your skivvies.
His grandma had taken her good sweet time getting around to asking Teddie if he was sure that he didn't know anything about what happened to Tammy Lou's Sally Dress-Up doll. Teddie fumed as he realized that she was enjoying watching him squirm uncomfortably under her penetrating gaze. He assured her that he didn't know anymore than what his mother had already said, that it was a very unfortunate accident, but that Tammy Lou should really learn to put her things away. That way they wouldn't get broken or lost.
Teddie's grandma had stared at him in silence for a moment as he backed himself into his closet on the pretext of going to hang up his suit when in reality, he was only trying to gain a little more cover and security. It was to Teddie's great relief when his grandma just shook her head and left his room with a sigh.
Before she left, Teddie thought that he heard his grandma mutter something under her breath. He couldn't be sure, but it sounded a lot like chanting or singing. He thought he made out the words "truth", "just desserts", and "knows all and sees all". The gibberish really didn't make any sense to Teddie and he giggled at the thought that maybe his grandma was turning into one of those old senile people that spend their days talking to themselves and muttering non-sense. He finished hanging up his suit and changed back into his comfortable clothes. He was very happy when his grandma's friend came to pick her up. About the only good thing that had come from the day was that even his mother had noticed how ridiculous he looked in his outgrown, outdated kid’s suit and had promised to take him to get a new suit from the store. From the store, and not from his Grandma. That meant regular pants and regular clothes. It was a small step, but every inch was worth struggling for.
The rest of the day passed without incident for Teddie. For a while, he was very pleased with himself for getting away with the ultimate crime. But as time passed, Teddie became distinctly aware that it's not as much fun to get away with something when there is no one to share it with. The fact that no one knew of his dastardly deed and award winning acting job, stole the excitement and joy away from having Sally gone for good. Even Tammy Lou's constant crying began to weigh heavily on his conscious and grate at his nerves. He refused to succumb to the temptation to feel sorrow, guilt and sympathy for his little sister. It was a battle that he fought with the determination of a staving dog digging frantically for a lost bone.
Teddie found himself filled with a strange sort of dread as he drifted off to sleep that night. For some reason, he had an odd sensation of impending deja vu. Almost like something he had experienced before in reality or dream was about to take place. It bordered on the realm of the supernatural. Not quite psychic, not quite premonition. It was more of a feeling along the line of traveling down a dark path that you know leads to your impending doom, but not being able to control your own actions. It pulled him down into unconsciousness like the relentless sucking of quicksand. And that was, after all, a cousin to what was about to over take him. The sandman was paying him a visit and he had brought his bag of night terrors. There would be no restful slumber that night.
The room had taken on an abnormal chill in contrast to the surrounding summer night. A static like presence charged the air and filled the space over Teddie's bed with mystic, but mumbled chanting. It hovered just inches over the boy's head, bobbing up and down with each breath the boy took. It coalesced into a luminous mist, hovering, dancing, waiting in silence. The word's "life for a life" whispered like the wind into Teddie's ear. Then, with his next inhalation, the mist funneled into Teddie's nose and mouth, filling his lungs, his chest, and his mind. It latched onto his very essence and being. It settled into his soul.
All this was lost to Teddie. In the stillness of the night, he continued to sleep. No sooner had the mist incorporated itself into it's host, Teddie began to enter into REM sleep. The sandman's magic was starting to take effect. Unfortunately for Teddie, so was his grandma's. For even though Sandmen could bring horrible dreams and nightmares to those in need of it, the magic of the sand could never really hurt anyone. People always woke up from dreams. Then, the horror would end and they could go back to their lives. But not grandma's magic. That magic had the power to change people's lives. Alter their very existence. It had the power to judge the actions of others. It knew the truth. It was all knowing and all seeing. It had the power to control and it could not be stopped. But worst of all, it had the power to punish.
To Teddie's terrible misfortune, the power had been unleashed and now it was coming after him. But all this was lost to Teddie. For he was similarly lost in the world of dreams, unaware that his entire life was about to change.
At the same time that Teddie's body was being infiltrated by the spirit of magic, Tammy Lou was also feeling an effect of grandma's spell. Of course the children could not have known that their father's dear mother, their own grandma, was a witch of considerable stature. If they had, it would have been certain that Teddie would have treated her far different. In fact, the entire world would have. For someone of grandma's position was not one to cross. Things had a way of happening around grandma. Unexplainable things. Things that could be far worse if she had so desired.
Tammy Lou was as unaware of the strange presence as her brother was, but she was effected in a far different way. As the sandman gently rocked her to sleep with his most restful and peaceful magic, grandma's power was busy also. That night, her precious Sally Dress-up Doll visited Tammy Lou in her dreams. Only this time, instead of feeling sad, Tammy Lou was filled with wonderful elation. She was promised that Sally would return, bigger and better than ever. She would return and then she and Tammy Lou would never be bothered by Tammy Lou's mean old brother again. Things would be much better. Tammy Lou had nothing to fear.
Unlike Teddie, who tossed and turned that night, Tammy Lou slept in the warm, comforting embrace of the power of retribution. Her smile described the contents of her dreams as much as Teddie's grimace marked his nightmares. Her tears were dried and her heart was mended. For somewhere, deep down in her soul, Tammy Lou knew that Sally wasn't gone for good. She was just waiting for her chance to be reborn.
The summer night was warm and inviting. Tammy Lou slept in comfort and peace. Teddie, on the other hand, shivered with the chilling touch of the future bed he had prepared for himself. Both children slept. Only a few feet apart in reality. Miles apart in destiny. And they grew farther and farther away from each other with each passing second. Perhaps soon, they would be out of reach for good.
Teddie woke with a start. It was morning, and the bright summer sun was shining in through his open curtains. His room felt like it was a hundred degrees, and sweat poured down his face. His heart was racing like a fire engine and his breathing was hoarse and labored. He had woken up from a nightmare. One that flittered away from his conscious thought, leaving behind only the feeling of fear and despair that remained in its wake.
Teddie sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes. He mopped his sweaty brow with his fingers and kicked off his covers in an attempt to cool off. He wondered how it could have gotten so hot in his room so quickly. From the direction of the sun he could tell that it must be close to 10am already and his mother must have let him sleep in. He also realized that it must be one hell of a scorcher outside. And that was a good way to describe his room at that moment. Hell. Hotter than hell actually. And far more horrible.
It was the rustling that first caught Teddie's attention. The rustling and the scratchy feeling of something strange rubbing against his bare arms, legs, and neck. Then his mind registered other sensations throughout his body that told him that he wasn't wearing his normal nightshirt. Instead, he was wearing something far more stiff, starched and uncomfortable. Something that made a terrible amount of noise when he moved. Something that rubbed roughly against his moist skin and made him want to scratch. And yet, it reminded him of something familiar. Something he had felt before. Something that he had held in his hands.
Teddie's eyes opened wide in surprise as he looked down at what he was wearing. The visual image was processed in a millisecond, but it took his mind a few dull seconds to fully comprehend what his sense of touch was already telling him. He slowly realized that he certainly wasn't wearing his hated nightshirt anymore. Far from it. Next to what he was wearing, the nightshirt would have been a welcome blessing. Teddie would have even worn it to school.
Teddie finally put all the millions of pieces of information that his mind was sorting through together and came up with a final identification for what his body was encased in. The pink material. The mixed feeling of satin, lace and taffeta against his skin. The sound of rustling. The stiffness of the layers. The little bows. The ribbons. Teddie sat still in numb horror. It was too much to believe. His eyes had to be playing tricks on him. His eyes and every other one of his senses.
To Teddie's shocked humiliation, he was wearing Tammy Lou's pretty, pink, lace and satin party dress. Only, it couldn't have been Tammy Lou's, because he was so much bigger than his little sister and this dress seemed to have been made to fit him perfectly. Teddie had jumped up from the bed and stood in disbelief in the middle of his room, staring into the mirror that hung on his closet door. There was no denying the image that stared back at him.
Teddie blinked several times, but the ridiculous looking boy in the mirror was still there. It was the image of Teddie, standing dead still with his mouth gaping open. His eyes were wide as he helplessly took in the visual display and tried to make some sort of sense of it. The dainty white petticoats hung perfectly below the short hem of his dress. Pink ankle socks with white lace around the top rose to just above his ankles. His relatively short hair was pulled tightly into tiny pigtails and tied with pink satin ribbons. He only distantly detected the pinching that the pigtails created. His cheeks were painted with a pale pink blush, a blush that was all but masked by the deeper red burning of his embarrassment. The starched petticoats made his short party dress stand straight out and exposed most of his upper thighs. It was almost as if he wasn't wearing anything below the waist at all. It was far worse than his nightshirt. Compared to this, his nightshirt was as long as an oversized bathrobe.
For Teddie, the horror continued to unfold. In shock, he tentatively lifted the hem of his dress and watched as the image in the mirror mimicked him. He hoped that what he already knew wasn't true. He hoped that his sense of feeling was deceiving him. But no such luck. As the little dress was lifted up around his waist, Teddie reeled with the sight of bright, hot pink satin and lace girl's panties. Panties covered with lace. Lace around the legs. Lace around the waistband. Lace in rows that ran from his sides and all across the back. His hand involuntarily went to touch the rear of the panties. The stiff scratchy feeling of the lace filled his entire palm.
The shock was too much for young Teddie. He couldn't believe that he was actually wearing girl's panties. The whole outfit was just too ridiculous. The whole idea was ludicrous! It was preposterous! It wasn't possible! He wouldn't be caught dead in a getup like that! There had to be some mistake!
However, the image didn't lie. All his senses told him that what his eyes were seeing was true. He let the dress fall back around his upper thighs, thankful that at least the hideous panties were hidden from sight.
Teddie was a very resilient boy, and his frozen shocked state didn't last for very long. Within a few short moments, it had transformed into a sense of intense anger and rage. The more he stood and looked at himself in the mirror and saw the humiliating, sissy costume that he was dressed in, the more the feeling of blind white hot rage burned at the wick of his heart.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to put two and two together. To Teddie, it was obvious what had happened. His pucky little sister figured out that he had something to do with Sally’s untimely, yet well deserved, demise. It was clear that she didn't have enough proof to rat on him to his mom, so she had tried to extract her own revenge. Somehow, and Teddie wasn’t certain just how the little cretin could have managed it, but somehow she had snuck in during the night and managed to dress him up in the outrageous costume. That was the only explanation. How she managed to get it to just his size so quickly was beyond Teddie's thoughts. It didn't matter. The only thing on his mind was that Tammy Lou was responsible and she was going to pay. Big time!
Teddie's rage overpowered his stunned immobility. With a snarl that rivaled even the best that a ravenous wolf could display, Teddie tore the sissy clothes from his body. His fingers clawed, ripped and slashed at the material. He shredded the lace, the satin, and the taffeta. He lashed and he pulled and he struggled until he was totally naked, tired, sweating and breathing heavily. The tattered remains of the wretched costume lay in bits around his feet and were scattered across his room. His chest rose and fell with his labored breath and his wild eyes glared about, searching for any shred of material that might still linger, defiling his person.
To Teddie's insane pleasure, there was nothing left. He had even pulled out a little of his own hair while undoing the ribbon bound pigtails, but he didn't care. Tammy Lou would pay for every microsecond of his indignity, every ounce of his pain. She would feel his humiliation ten, no a hundred fold. She had seen him naked for Christ's sake. The little bitch had stripped him naked and saw his pecker. Oh, she was going to pay.
Teddie stalked to his dresser and tore open the drawer. His mind was busy sorting through potential ways to grind Tammy Lou into the dirt. He shoved his hands into the drawer to pull out his own underwear, jeans and shirt, but instead, he froze. It couldn't be! His own senses were playing tricks on him. It just wasn't possible!
Teddie looked down to see what his fingers had grasped. In disbelief, he slowly raised his hand and held the piece of clothing up to his face. The sight of the pink smooth material and rough lace drilled into his brain. He shuddered and his mouth fell open again. Wide eyed and slack jawed, he pawed through the rest of the clothing, pulling out piece after piece and tossing it around the room. He looked for any last semblance of boys' clothes, but all that he found were pretty, delicate clothes like the ones he had just torn to shreds. There were dozens of petticoats, party dresses, ankle socks, slips, and panties. Teddie couldn't help but blush as he touched the items, but the sick feeling that spread through his stomach took away any joy that he might have felt.
For a moment, Teddie stood in the middle of his room. Fancy pink girls' clothes were strewn about everywhere. His hands hung loosely at his sides, still clutching several pairs of satin under-things. His eyes started to glaze and he felt faint. The room began to spin around in circles and Teddie began to feel dizzy. As the room spun faster, Teddie threw back his head and yelled at the top of his lungs. His primal scream spoke of all the vengeance that he would wreak on the only person who could be responsible for such a hideous offense. His hands clenched and his body shook with rage.
"TAMMY LOU!!!!! I'LL GET YOU!!!!!"
Teddie sat bolt upright in his bed. An unsettling feeling of deja vu swept over him again. The bed sheets were tightly clenched in his hands and the state of his covers told of a night of disquieting sleep. Sweat poured down his face and tasted bitter in his mouth. His breathing was ragged and heavy.
Teddie collected himself and remembered what had happened. He threw back the covers and looked down at his short, constantly creeping up nightshirt. He glanced around the room, but there was no torn clothing, no trace of the offensive pink satin material. His skin didn't feel the abrasive touch of the lace, but his mind still held the remnants of the sensation. His bureau drawers were shut and everything was as it should be in his room. Still, the images and feeling lingered. To his dismay, Teddie found himself oddly aroused. In disgust, he jumped out of bed.
It had been a dream. That was all. Only a nightmare. Plain and simple. There hadn't been any girls' clothes and he hadn't been wearing them. That isn't to say that the thought of dressing up hadn't crossed his mind before. Playing dress-up in Tammy Lou’s clothes when no one was around was one thing. It was naughty, it was secret, and it was taboo. But that was just playing around. This had been different. It had been weird. It hadn't been any fun.
Dream or no dream, the memories felt real enough to Teddie. It was like waking up from any other dream where you could swear that everything really did happen and you just couldn't remember going to bed again. You ended up with a nagging feeling that you would go to school or something and everyone would remember what had happened in your dream even though you didn't think it really happened. It was a very uncomfortable thought and it was difficult for Teddie to shake.
Teddie took a few deep breaths and finally managed to calm himself down. He gathered up his clothes for the day and decided to take an early morning shower to clean up. He was still covered with sweat and the entire night’s events had left him feeling a little dirty or icky somehow. He grabbed a towel from the linen closet and jumped in the shower before anyone else had a chance to tie up the bathroom. His mom and sister had a way of doing just that and Tammy Lou wasn't even a teenager yet.
As Teddie shampooed his hair and washed, he tried to let the unhappy memories wash away with the water down the drain. The warm water felt good and for the first time, Teddie realized that his knees and elbows were a little sore. The warmth of the shower seemed to be loosening them up, but it was odd that he should feel so stiff. He hadn't really done anything the previous day and from the way he felt, he would have thought he had run a marathon.
Teddie scrubbed away the unpleasant feelings that remained from his nightmare and he began to feel much better. By the time he was rinsing off, he was singing in the shower. Oddly enough, the same song that he had been dancing too when Sally broke. Teddie brushed aside a small pang of guilt that threatened to spoil his improving mood and half sang, half gargled water as he rinsed his face. In fact, he was so busy with his mini dance and shower rock performance that he didn't notice the slight change to the color of the water as it spun down into the drain. He didn't see the slight trace of red that streaked from his cheeks, down his neck, chest and legs and into the whirlpool at his feet.
By the time Teddie was through with his shower he feel great. His spirits and mood were soaring. He didn't even hold any grudges against Tammy Lou for what she had done in his dreams. As he finished dressing and used his towel to wipe away the steam that completely covered the mirror over the sink, Teddie began to finish his song, only this time by whistling. After all, it wouldn't do to let his mom and sister hear him singing. In the shower, that was different. Everybody sang in the shower at sometime or another.
Teddie ran a comb through his wet hair and checked his face for any signs of invading pimples. Then he ran out of the bathroom, down the stairs and out the kitchen door, not even stopping for breakfast. Any traces of the mysterious running stain that had washed off his cheeks were gone. The mirror hadn't lied, because there was nothing there to see. Teddie played outside, oblivious to what lay in store.
The day passed relatively quickly for Teddie. His nightmare was stuffed back deep into the closet of his mind as the resilient and vibrant spirit of youth washed over him. He managed to stay out of too much trouble, which was practically a miracle for him, and even Tammy Lou had stopped her mood swinging fits of self pitying crying and vengeful glaring. To Teddie, it seemed almost that things would settle into a peaceful calm. A calm that was made even sweeter by the absence of Tammy Lou’s stinky, pucky Sally-Wally Butt-Face doll. It all seemed too good to be true!
The memories of Teddie’s previous night of disquieting dreams drifted further away throughout the morning, were almost completely gone by mid afternoon snack, and were no where to be found by supper time. Tammy Lou even managed to enjoy her first real meal since the horrible “accident” that claimed the life of her precious doll. It was her favorite after all. The supper that is. Hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, with extra cheese. This irritated Teddie a little. Not that they were having hot dogs and cheesy macaroni. He liked that as much as his sister. It was just that his mom had been going out of her way to be extra nice to Tammy Lou and cater to all her sissy baby desires.
It was just as damn irritating as the recently deceased Sally doll. Teddie was being all but ignored by his mother. What about HIS desires? What about HIS favorite food? Why should Tammy Lou get all the special treatment? Just because she lost some stupid doll and their mom felt guilty about it.
Teddie couldn’t help but smile to himself each time he thought about the great crime that he had committed. The perfect crime! He did feel a little bad that his mom thought it was her fault and felt guilty. But even those bad feelings couldn’t overshadow the secret ecstasy that he felt when he thought of how he had literally committed murder and gotten away with it. Teddie the MasterMind Genius. No. Criminal MasterMind! Hit man. EXECUTIONER!!
“Theodore?” The questioning voice of his mom broke into his silent, secret world of revelry. Teddie’s attention was instantly jerked back to the supper table. He refocused his eyes from the deep realms of fantasy and innocently at his mother. ****! He hoped he hadn’t been talking aloud to himself. There was nothing like a daydream confession to kill a perfect crime. And the crime wouldn’t be the only thing that was killed.
“What mom?” Teddie hoped and prayed that his face didn’t reveal any of the guilt that he felt momentarily in his heart.
“Teddie, I’ve been talking to you. It looked like you were a million miles away. You were lost in thought, staring at your plate with a big smile on your face. I didn’t think that Macaroni and Cheese was all that funny.”
“Oh, it’s not that mom. I was just thinking about something that happened a couple days ago at school. It wasn’t anything. Really.”
Teddie’s mom looked at him a little skeptically, and he was afraid for a second that she would ask him to tell her what had happened at school. His mind whirred into damage control and searched frantically for a safe subject of humorous nature while he stuffed a huge fork full of hot dog into his mouth. That would surely buy him more time. He sure as well couldn’t talk with his mouth full. That wouldn’t be very polite.
Teddie had just selected the old favorite stand by of milk coming out of some kids noise at lunch when his mom’s attention was diverted by his little sister. Thankfully, he was off the hook for the moment and he resolved to be more careful. Unfortunately, Tammy Lou was back to her normal babyish whining again. It didn’t let up for a second! His memory induced good mood was instantly dashed. Damn Tammy Lou and double damn her little baby ideas. Someone should really stuff a pacifier in her mouth and tie it there in place. That would keep her big mouth shut. A big pacifier for the big baby! The mental image made Teddie smile again as he pictured his little sister in a big bulky diaper and a pacifier jammed in her face. Too bad he wasn’t in charge. He knew just how to deal with whiny babies like Tammy Lou.
Teddie’s second visit to fantasy world was even shorter than the first. Once again he was jerked back to real time supper conversation. Of course it had to be Tammy Lou’s whine that filled his ears and made his blood boil. God it was too bad that Tammy Lou wasn’t porcelain. Then he could arrange for a little “accident” to happen to her as well. Two dolly deaths. That would make him a regular “serial killer”. Maybe another one of Tammy Lou’s precious little dolls could suffer a similar fate. The planning would have to be just...
“Mommmmm.” The whining pierced though Teddie’s third and shortest yet visit to dream land. It seemed like every word out of his sister’s mouth these days was a whine. They really should invest in more crystal glasses. At least there was cheese to go with the whine tonight. Teddie forced himself to suppress a chuckle.
“Mommmm.” Tammy Lou continued, unaware of her brother’s diabolical, vengeful plotting. “I’m afraid to sleep upstairs by myself without...” and a quaver entered Tammy Lou’s voice as she got choked up again at the thought of speaking the name of her recently departed friend. “You know, without Sally. Can I stay up until Teddie goes to bed?”
“No way twerp!” Teddie snarled. Imagine the nerve. Tammy Lou was supposed to go to bed at 8pm. Teddie had the grown up privilege of staying up till 9:30pm. Still too early in his mind, but certainly better than “Tammy the baby’s” beddy bye time of 8pm. There was no way she should be able to stay up with him. She only got to do that on one night and that was Friday night because of the TV line up on one particular channel. Having Tammy Lou stay up late one night a week was bad enough, but every night? “No way!” He repeated with firm command. “You’re a lot younger than me and I had to go to bed at 8pm when I was your age. The baby’s bed time is always earlier than the older kids.”
“Mom! Teddie called me a baby!”
“I did not!”
“Yes you did!”
“Mom! Teddie told me to shut up!”
The typical sibling argument was immediately halted by a stern reprimand from their mom. “Both of you be quiet! Theodore, you know that you aren’t supposed to call your sister names and you certainly aren’t supposed to tell anyone to shut up.”
“No buts young man! I’ve told you before.”
“But I just meant she was the baby of the family and...”
“Enough! I know what you meant. Don’t even try that. Not another word out of you two.”
“I said not another word. I mean it! It seems to me that the way your acting you can just go to bed at 8pm with your sister.”
“What?! You can’t be serious!”
A scarlet face glared at Teddie from across the table along with a little tongue that stuck out of another. He immediately knew that he had pushed their mom just a little too far. He clamped his mouth shut.
“I certainly am serious Theodore. And if you don’t want to spend the rest of the evening standing in the corner before bed time then I suggest you keep quiet.”
Teddie knew his mom was dead serious and he didn’t dare push any further. Not even a little bit. Although his mom didn’t believe in spanking, she definitely did believe that naughty children could spend time with their nose in the corner. Talk about embarrassing. And once you were in the corner there was no getting out until your time was served. It didn’t matter who came over or what was going on. You never could tell when one of your friends, or worse yet, Tammy Lou’s friends might stop by. It certainly would not do to have them see him standing in the corner like a little kid. They would probably even mistakenly think that a spanking had already taken place or was soon to follow and no amount of explaining that he NEVER got spanked would change their minds. Teddie swallowed a dry, suddenly tasteless lump of macaroni and looked down at his plate.
Teddie remembered the last time he had been made to stand in the corner. It had been almost a year ago and it hadn’t really been in the corner. Not really. It had been far worse. He and Tammy Lou had gone to his Mom’s ceramic class and Teddy had been a little too rambunctious. He had ended up knocking a finished piece onto the floor and it had smashed into a thousand pieces, not unlike the late Sally doll. Ironic. But that time, Teddie’s Mom had witnessed the whole thing and even though there were no free corners available in that particular room, that didn’t save Teddie. He ended up being pulled by his ear to a wall and told to stand still and keep his nose pressed firmly against the wood panel. There Teddie stayed, almost reduced to tears of embarrassment as his Mom finished the rest of her class. The thought that every person who came into the room were given front row seats to watch his punishment was almost too much for Teddie to bear. He felt like every eye was on him. It had been a very memorable punishment. So memorable that he had managed to go almost a complete year without a trip back memory lane. Everyday that passed was a new record and Teddie didn’t want to finish the evening by having to set is corner clock back to day count zero.
“And get that tongue back into your mouth Tammy Lou Garvan or you’ll have a little Tabasco to heat it up. Honestly, I have had it tonight. All week long it’s been the same. Maybe your grandmother is right. Maybe I should be more firm with you kids.” Teddie didn’t dare to breathe. His mom was ranting and damn Tammy Lou if she wasn’t about to push her over the edge and drag him along too. At least she had been smart enough to snap her tongue back into her mouth. Don’t say anything. Just don’t say anything. Even knowing that Tammy Lou was gonna get it too wasn’t enough to make an evening in the corner worth while. Damn it this was all her fault. Luckily, his mom continued to rave and didn’t give Tammy Lou a chance to interrupt.
“You kids have been acting just like spoiled little brats ever since Sally got...” Now, it was their mom’s turn to clamp her mouth shut. With the mention of her precious Sally doll, Tammy Lou broke into a fresh cloudburst of tears. Their mom went quietly to console her and Teddie took the opportunity to slip quietly away to his room. His presence would only aggravate things. It was best to stay out of the way for the rest of the evening.
At 8pm, Teddie dutifully got ready for bed along with Tammy Lou. Still fearing that their mom would carry through with her threat. Teddie didn’t even argue when his mom laid out one of his most hated pajamas. Of course Tammy Lou had asked to wear her pair of pink footed summer light sleeper pajamas with the little ballerina elephants on them and flower buttons running from neck to crotch. This caused his mother to pick out his matching pair that was baby blue in color with little baby animals all over them.
Even worse was the fact that this time his grandma hadn’t made their PJs in exactly the same style. Instead of being a one-piece pajama with feet, Teddie’s was actually two pieces, held together with snaps around the waist. This reminded Teddie of little toddler pajamas that he had seen in the catalog. The very idea that he had to wear oversized toddler clothes enraged him, but he had already been down that road when he had first pulled the offensive pajamas from their grandmother’s Christmas package and his mother had giggled with delight at "how adorable" they were.
No, Teddie hated everything about these pajamas. They had NO redeeming qualities. Not in comfort, nor appearance. They were baby blue. They had baby animals all over the place. They made his feet sweat and he constantly slipped on the hardwood floors. And not surprisingly, the snaps around the waist were always coming undone and since the waistband of the pants didn’t have a tight elastic band, this meant that his pajama bottoms were always hanging half off in front or back. Every time he sat down or even moved, he was popping a snap. He spent all his time redoing the damn snaps.
Sleeping in the cursed pajamas was even worse yet. Every time he rolled over a snap would come undone. Usually, after he had re-snapped himself about ten hundred times, Teddie would just kick the bottoms off and sleep in his underwear and top. It was too damn uncomfortable and inconvenient. And it was Tammy Lou’s fault. Her and grandma’s.
But tonight, Teddie didn’t complain. Not a single word or roll of the eye. Not even an exasperated sigh or moan. His mom had given him a cool warning glance when she pulled the pajamas out of his dresser and laid them on his bed. This was yet another indignity that Teddie had to suffer through. It was too late for his Mom to make him stand in the corner tonight, but tomorrow was a different story. Teddie definitely did not want to spend even one morning of his summer vacation standing in the corner in a pair of oversized toddler pajamas. My God, what would his friends say if they saw that? It was just one indignity after another. Being a practically grown up eleven-year old boy and having his mom still pick out his nighttime attire. At least he had managed to get her to stop picking out his daytime clothes. No more short overalls or “shortalls”, corduroy pants and spandex shorts for him. That had been a relief. He still had to suffer with the cartoon underoos that his mother insisted on continuing to buy, but at least those stayed out of sight. It became a little more difficult during gym class, but Teddie usually managed. So tonight, Teddie suffered the indignity of his juvenile attire with a martyr’s silence and inwardly stewed. Oh, Tammy Lou would get her’s. In spades!
Teddie remained quiet all the time they were getting ready for bed. He put his pajamas on in silence, without even pausing to close his bedroom door that his mother had so inconsiderately left open. He even trudged mutely down the hall and quietly brushed his teeth along side Tammy Lou. He fought his own silent battle with the uncooperative pajama snaps and never once complained. Not even when he unintentionally half mooned his mom and sister with the back of his “Power Ranger” briefs. Outwardly, he just calmly reached around and re-snapped himself, while inwardly he was cursing them to kiss his flashing cartoon covered ass. Double damn! The list of Tammugliface’s war crimes was growing longer.
Teddie climbed mechanically into bed. He ignored the fact that the back snaps of his pajamas had popped again and he settled under the covers, allowing his mom her ritual kiss and tuck. This night, he even offered her his cheek without protest and it was quite apparent that he had been effectively cowed.
Teddie’s mind was a whorl of battle plans and countermeasures as his mom bade him goodnight and left the room. The Valiant Prince Ted was left to plot wickedness that only the still darkness of night could breed. A tight smile stretched his lips as his fingers drummed stiffly against his covers. Tammy Lou would let her guard down eventually. And so would their mom. Then the torture could begin. First, he would make a few of Tammy Lou’s dolls disappear. Then, when they were finally left alone, Teddie would exact his pound and a half of flesh. Oh, yes. Torture was just what the doctor ordered. And Teddie knew how much Tammy Lou hated to be tickled.
Teddie’s tight lipped grimace spread into a true, heartfelt grin. Tickle torture was just what Tammy Lou deserved. What with all the crying she had been doing recently, a good laugh was just what she needed. After all, laughter was the best medicine. And Tammy Lou would be doing plenty of laughing. Laughing and giggling and struggling and shrieking. Oh, if laughter truly was the best medicine, Teddie was going to make sure that she was the healthiest little sister in the world. And if she dared to try and tell on him? Well, even sisters could have accidents. Stairs can be very steep and dangerous.
Teddie was a little shocked that he could imagine such a thing about his own sister. Not the tickling part, but the stairs. Something had happened since he broke Sally and he wasn’t sure that he liked the change. But even as he wondered why such a terrible thought could cross his mind, the Sandman was already weaving his special magic. Before long, Teddie was again slipping into a troubled slumber filled with untold horrors. Once again, nightmares were the order for the evening.
Meanwhile, just a few dozen feet down the hallway, Tammy Lou was already deep into the pleasure filled comforting dreams of the Sandman’s and grandma’s magic. Two children, so very a like in so many ways, yet drifting slowly apart. And tonight, the current was running more swiftly.
Teddie dreamed again of the porcelain dolls. Dolls of every size and shape, color and age. Dolls all around him, silently accusing him with their eyes. Dolls that slowly closed in on him, getting closer and closer, ignoring his pleading whimpers.
The frightened boy lay quivering in a curled up ball, crying softly and cringing at the touch of the porcelain demons that surrounded him. Tiny little hands, smooth and hard, that pinched and pulled at his skin. Relentless little cold fingers that tugged at his pajamas and poked at his defenseless body. For Teddie was too scared to do anything. Too scared to move, fight, run or scream. Even though he was ten times as big as any of the dolls, Teddie was still too scared to even breathe.
And then there was Sally. All of a sudden she was standing over him, just inches away from his face. She had been pieced back together and cracks lined her face and exposed parts. And even though someone had done a thorough job of reconstructing her, there were still spots were tiny flecks of porcelain were missing. Apparently, not all the pieces had been found.
Sally stood over Teddie and stared at him with unblinking doll eyes. Her long blond hair was disheveled and knotted, reminding Teddie of how his own fingers had so recently intertwined themselves in the silken mass. He was reminded of how he had jerked and dangled poor Sally by that jumble of hair, taunting little Tammy Lou. Teddie could even sympathize with Sally now, deep within his terror filled dream memory. It must be awful to be dangled and pulled by your hair. Much like the hundreds of tiny porcelain hands were now tugging and pulling on his hair, straining the roots and threatening to tear the follicles away from his scalp. Teddie had a sudden mental image of a twenty foot Sally doll, her huge porcelain fingers wrapped cruelly into his own short hair, dangling HIM several feet off the ground.
Filled with horror, dread and not a little bit of guilty remorse for his past transgressions, Teddie could do nothing but stare up into Sally’s now permanently twisted visage. The reconstruction of her porcelain features had transformed her once perfect face into a patchwork portrait of a once beautiful creature whose mouth was now irreversibly marred by a fabricated and evil surgical smile. It was the smile that particularly bothered Teddie. It was the polite, social smile of a person who can barely contain the hatred and rage within themselves. Teddie was very familiar with that smile recently. Ever since Sally’s untimely demise, Teddie had been forced to don just such a smile in order to mask his true inner feelings. Once again the recently developed dark feelings left Teddie’s stomach feeling sick. Pure unadulterated hate was an emotion that he wasn’t used to experiencing. It was also an emotion that Teddie wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to keep.
Deep within his troubled sleep, Teddie still felt the struggle between his feeling of guilt and anger. During the day, there was just so much that fueled the fire of his rage that it was getting easier to push his more compassionate feelings aside. But in his dreams, where he was tormented by his past actions and decisions, the old Teddie, the kinder and gentler Teddie was once again in control.
For a moment, Teddie even imagined himself in poor Sally’s place. Suddenly his skin felt funny. The thousands of porcelain hands were gone, but even in their absence, something still wasn’t right. His skin itched. It felt tight and dry. It felt like, like it was...
Teddie couldn’t finish the thought. Instead, he slowly and tentatively reached his hand up toward his face. His fingers touched his cheeks softly, gently, but he couldn’t really FEEL his own touch. Overall, the sensation was just one of being very smooth. Smooth, with a tiny lace of fine rough lines.
Teddie pulled his hands back away from his face with a startled jerk and stared at them. Although his hands were now paler and smoother, they were also far from being normal. Instead of seeing skin with all it’s regular creases and lines, he now saw creases and lines, but these were on porcelain hands. Doll hands. And they weren’t any normal creases either. Not like on regular boy hands. They were cracks.
Teddie shifted his gaze to Sally, only it wasn’t Sally anymore. At least, not like the Sally that Teddie knew. Before him stood a little girl. A girl like Tammy Lou. Whose skin was smooth, pink, soft and perfect. A girl whose beautiful golden hair was meticulously combed and braided. But still there was that smile. That evil forced smile. A smile that was totally out of place on such a tiny, sweet little girl.
Teddie felt an odd sensation. A pressure was building up inside his body. It pushed against his new skin, putting strain on the pieces that held him together. For Teddie was now that broken doll and Sally was the human child. Teddie’s body was fragmented and at the verge of crumbling, much like his own inner soul. The battle between the good Teddie and the evil Teddie grew more ferocious.
Teddy was torn between fear and loathing, terror and disgust, the urge to beg and plead or curse and lash out. The pretty little Sally girl stared into his eyes and Teddie could feel himself hurtling toward the brink. Without the sleeping Teddie making a conscious choice, the dream Teddie pushed aside any remaining feelings of compassion and guilt. He struggled to spit out his obscenities, to rise to his feet, to wrap his cracked porcelain hands around little Sally’s throat. His mouth twisted into a grimace far more malevolent than any thing that should have appeared on any child’s face. His head throbbed with the mounting pressure. He couldn’t take it. He had to destroy. Kill.
The pressure was unbearable. The desire to pursue the paved highway of evil rather than struggle up the cliffs of purity was too great. The real Teddie realized that the dream Teddie could do anything he wanted without recourse or punishment. The unbridled power coursed through his body with the realization that he was immortal. A dream god. Invincible. Accept for the pressure. The terrible pressure.
Teddie’s face contorted with pain. The pressure had become overwhelming. His eyes could not longer remain focused on Sally. He struggled to reach her. To end his torment. To end her, the pressure and her little doll face too. It felt like he was boiling. His porcelain body was expanding like a balloon. Then with a horrific scream...POP!!!!...he shattered into a million pieces!
At that same instant, the real Teddie woke up. Released from his dream torment, the terrified boy sat bolt upright in his bed. His breath came in gasps, his heart raced and his pulse throbbed in his temples. The pressure from his dream was just as intense. Only now it was concentrated in his head. The sensation and pain of being blown to bits still danced across his skin and Teddie fearfully stared at his outstretched hands, scared that somehow, the porcelain cracks would still be there.
What Teddie saw instead was plain, normal, wonderful, human boy skin. It was pale, pink and perfect. It was the most welcome sight that he could ever imagine. That alone made the images from his nightmare recede and his tense body relax. He involuntarily glanced around his room to make sure everything was in its place, but there was no sign of anything out of the ordinary. He was not surrounded by vengeful porcelain dolls. A little human Sally girl was not staring at him accusingly. He could see through the bars that surrounded his bed that everything was as it should be. Nothing was out of place.
Immediately Teddie’s eyes refocused. Bars. There shouldn’t be any bars. What the hell was going on! He was still definitely lying in his bed, but it was like he was in a cage. A cage without a top. A bed cage without a top. That by itself was pretty ridiculous. Why would you have a cage without a top? And why would anyone want to put bars around a bed? It wasn’t like he couldn’t just climb out. If this was another one of Tammy Lou’s stupid ideas of a joke, then it was pretty damn stupid.
Teddie threw back his covers, grabbed onto the nearest bars and pulled himself to his feet. He sank slightly into the mattress, but the bars still only came to his chest. He tugged on them and to his surprise found them to be remarkably solid. That definitely didn’t make any sense. Of course, none of it made any sense. Just what the hell was a cage bed. It was more like, almost resembling, NO, it couldn’t be! That wasn’t possible. It was just like an oversized...crib.
Gripping the bars of his crib hard enough to cause himself pain, Teddie looked down at his body in disbelief. Instead of wearing the hated oversized toddler pajamas, he was wearing something ten times, NO, a hundred times worse. As if toddler style clothes weren’t bad enough. This was a bazillion times worse. The humiliation couldn’t be described.
Yet, there was no other explanation for what he was wearing. And it definitely wasn’t for a toddler. Well, maybe it was, Teddie wasn’t entirely sure, but it was most definitely for a baby. The bulky white cloth wrapped thickly around his waist and groin, pushing his legs apart, was unmistakable. It was a diaper. No doubt about it. A baby diaper, held together by enormous yellow ducky diaper pins. And it didn’t stop there. The humiliation continued. Besides the diaper, pink knitted booties covered his feet, a stiff lacy baby bonnet covered his head and a pacifier hung ridiculously around his neck.
That was all. Nothing else. No regular boy’s clothes. No other protective covering. Not even the cursed toddler pajamas to hide his shameful attire. And even as his rage was building, mounting with a pressure all too familiar from his recent nightmare, the unthinkable happened. Without cause or forewarning, Teddie felt a warmth spreading across his bulky cloth “underwear”. Oh hell, who was he kidding. It wasn’t even underwear. He was wetting his pants. Well, lets be truthful. He was wetting his diaper.
For a moment, Teddie was lost in total dismay. He looked across the room and the ludicrously mocking image of an eleven-year old boy dressed like an overgrown baby stared back from the mirror. Even from a distance, he could see the yellow tell tale sign of his shameful accident against the brilliant whiteness of the bulky cloth diaper. And as he watched, his uncontrollable wetting continued, making the quickly soddened cloth sag heavily between his legs, straining against the fragile grip of the oversized diaper pins and threatening to burst free.
Teddie’s hands involuntarily dropped to clutch at his soaked and droopy crotch. He could feel the damp warmth and smell the pungent aroma of piss. He tried to will himself to stop the flow of urine, but like a little baby, he seemed to have no control over his own bladder. His legs bowed even further out to the sides, making room for the ever expanding diaper, even as Teddie tried to push his knees back together to clench off the still all too steady flow. The expression of the boy in the mirror appropriately matched the shame in Teddie’s heart. His face was a bright red while his ragged breath hissed through his gaping mouth. No matter how hard he tried, Teddie could no more look away from the diaper clad boy in the mirror than he could stop peeing his own pants.
As he watched, the diaper reached its saturation point and warm trickles of pee began to flow down his bare legs and onto the crib mattress. The rage in Teddie began to build again as the reality of his babyish attire brought back memories of his all too recent and scarily real feeling experience with the sissy girl clothes. And although this time Teddie was fairly certain that he was in the middle of another horrifying nightmare, he still found the presence of mind to place the blame squarely were it belonged. Right on Tammy Lou. After all, he reasoned that the nightmares must have something to do with some sort of unjustified guilt that he was feeling from his confused, overzealous, and uncooperative conscious.
Teddie grabbed the large rubber pacifier that hung from around his neck and jerked violently, snapping its satin ribbon holder. Defiantly he glared at his mocking traitorish diaper clad image and hurled the rubber baby missile at the mirror. With a snarl and vicious howl of fury, he grasped the bars of his crib prison and shook with all his might. His bonnet flopped ridiculously back and forth and his overflowing diaper sagged still lower down his hips. Teddie shook the bars with all his strength and willed himself to wake up. It seemed to make perfect sense that if he could realize that he was dreaming while he was asleep, then he should be able to make himself wake up, put an end to the entire humiliating situation and concentrate on ways to make is baby sister pay. Tammy Lou had been the one acting like a spoiled little baby at supper, but Teddie was the one who was wrongfully dressed for the occasion. If only poor Teddie could have made himself realize that the stubborn resentment in his heart was the true sprouting root of his problems.
Teddie strained against the bars of his crib and shouted nonsensical obscenities at the mirror boy, his diaper, his sister, his grandmother, his mother, and anyone else he could find to blame. He struggled until his arms felt like lead and his voice was hoarse, reduced to nothing more than a whisper. Somewhere along the way, as he became more and more aware that he wasn’t waking up, that he was becoming increasingly more uncomfortable in his soaked clothing and as the reality that this might be more than just a dream crashed over him and swallowed up his rage, Teddie’s shrieks of anger slowly softened and changed until his occasional weak rattling of the crib bars was accompanied by little more than infantile whimpers.
After what seemed like an eternity, Teddie was no longer able to make himself stand up. His wobbly legs finally buckled and he collapsed onto the wet, stained mattress. His weight caused his diaper to squish uncomfortably, but Teddie no longer cared. He was too weak to struggle anymore. Without noticing, his right thumb found its way into his mouth and his left arm wrapped itself around his bare chest. He curled himself into a tight ball, stared out between the bars of the crib and rocked, sucking his thumb. Tears began to run silently down his cheeks from his unblinking eyes.
For once, Teddie was too exhausted, physically and mentally, to allow his new found hatred for Tammy Lou to be further kindled. For the first time in a long time, the old Teddie, the kind and caring big brother Teddie, lay quiet and shattered in the oversized crib. There was no more struggle between the nice Teddie and the nasty Teddie. There was only the recalcitrant shell of a little boy in a soaked diaper. Subconsciously, Teddie stood before a crossroads. And as the little boy rocked, sucking his thumb, he drifted back into a troubled sleep. The last thought in his mind as his eyes slipped closed was to question what remained of his ebbing grasp on sanity.
Teddie woke slowly from his night of horrified confusion. For a while, full consciousness remained elusive as the young boy groggily became more aware of his surroundings, the irregular sensations flooding his brain, and the disquieting feelings accompanied by the realization that his frazzled nerves and tattered psyche were stretched way beyond the safe range of factory established elasticity.
It took several minutes for Teddie to sort through all of the random sensory puzzle pieces that fleeted about his mind while his eyes struggled to raise against the almost insurmountable desire to simply remain lost in the hazy zone somewhere between dreams and reality. But slowly, certain realizations became too obvious for poor Teddie to ignore or deny.
First and foremost, was the fact that Teddie was sucking on his own thumb. Of course, that is always better than sucking someone else’s thumb, but that should go without saying. Secondly, Teddie was becoming increasingly aware of an unpleasant, cool wetness that caused his accursed toddler style pajamas and “Power Ranger” undies to cling to his skin with damp, sticky, itchy irritation. The pungent odor of stale urine surrounded him and filled his nose, causing him to wrinkle it in distaste. With growing shock and alarm, Teddie pulled back his covers with one hand while his other hand was simultaneously exploring the damp crotch of his pajamas. He didn't actually need for his eyes to see the tell tale yellow stain on his pajama bottoms and sheet to know that he had done the unimaginable. At least unimaginable for a boy, a teenager practically, who had been toilet trained since the age of two.
"Maybe I'm still dreaming." He thought to himself. After all, lately his dreams seemed to be fooling him quite regularly in regards to whether he was actually awake or not. This could still be part of his latest tour of the dark Sandman's nightmare world. The diaper and crib might be gone, but the humiliation of wetting his bed would certainly fall under the category of "bad dream". The only thing that would make it complete would be if this nocturnal "accident" where to some how be made public about the neighborhood.
Teddie had the quick and disturbing image of his mother hanging his freshly laundered bed sheets, pajamas, and cartoon undies out on the clothesline while Pukey Face Tammy Lou ran about the neighborhood calling all the kids to come see what her "baby" of an older brother had done. The sick knot is Teddie's stomach slowly began to untwist in the boiling depths of a churning red hot rage. The thought of Tammy Lou and her cruel behavior, real or imagined, rekindled the flames of Teddie's nightmare quenched fury. As his head continued to clear and he shook off the remainder of the "baby" dream horror, Teddie began to realize that he wasn't going to suddenly wake up in a dry bed. It was equally obvious that a trick had been played and he was the fool on the receiving end.
Teddie's face burned bright with a fevered madness as he imagined the indignity of his little sister gaining the upper hand in practical jokery. He had been to summer camp before and he had heard the stories. A little warm water. Dippy, dippy go the fingertips. Drippy, drippy goes nature's biological faucet and Wham! Before the poor fool realizes it, their waking up in a wet bed surrounded by Cheshire Cats waiting to unmercifully torment the "baby, baby bedwetter". That had been a very frightful week at summer camp. Teddie hadn't slept very well. We kept expecting to wake up with wet fingers, only to find that they weren't the only things that were wet.
This wasn't the way it was supposed to be. Big brothers were supposed to be the jokers. Little sisters were always the victims. He picked at the offending soaked material sticking to his crotch, suddenly realized that he just got pee on his fingers, and cursed silently. He had to take care of this situation. Quickly. It wouldn't be good if his mother discovered the evidence of his accident.
Although it would be great to get Tammy Lou in trouble, to watch her wriggle and squirm like a nasty little worm on a hook as she tried to explain her naughty and cruel trick, Teddie didn't want to give her the satisfaction of letting her win. No, if his mom punished Tammy Lou, like she was always punishing Teddie, then that would mean Tammy Lou had gotten the better of him for a change and Teddie had to run and seek justice from his mommy. That was just plain unacceptable.
For the first time, Teddie glanced toward his window and realized that it was still early. Pre-dawn to be exact. That meant his sister and mom would still be sleeping and with any luck, he could gather up his soiled linen and bedclothes, sneak them into the wash and gain some brownie points when he explained to his mom that he was just trying to help out with the chores. He would explain humbly, allowing his manly maturity to shine through, that it was the least he could do after acting so poorly the night before. Then he could smile smugly and sweetly at Tammy Lou and plot additional torturous revenge. Make him wet himself would she? That was just fine. But the last laugh would be his. No wait! It would be her's. She could have the last laugh and the last giggle. The last shriek. The last hour or so of pleading and whimpering for mercy that would never come. Tammy Lou's pending tickle torture would now end with her own little accident. Let her see how it feels to wet her pants. Maybe then he would stop. Maybe.
Teddie could see that his pajama bottoms were clinging to his skin so much that it didn't matter that they were only connected to his top by one remaining snap. He caught himself before he could scratch at the itch that was steadily building on the skin around his privates and butt, remembered that he already had piss on his fingers, tried to remember if he had rubbed his eyes or face with that hand since then, and grimaced with disgust. He would have to get a bath or shower soon too. Or at least he would have to wash up in the bathroom. He didn't want his mom to smell the pee. Fortunately, his bedroom window was open and the room would air out pretty quickly.
Teddie moved to swing his legs off of the bed and onto the floor when stabbing, searing pains sliced through his knee and elbow joints. He screamed before he could stop himself. Before he could even think beyond the burning wave of anguish that filled his entire being, washing up his legs and arms, through his chest and exploding in his head. For a moment, his senses reeled and his eyes lost focus. He wasn't exactly sure, but he thought he shrieked again, a high pitched, shrill squeal, very much like a little girl. Maybe he shrieked more than once, he couldn't tell.
The next thing Teddie was aware of was his mom holding onto his upper arms, helping him to remain standing while his knees wobbled and shook with pulsing throbs. She was kneeling in front of him, concern etched sharply on her tired, startled face. Tears poured down his cheeks as he tried to collapse back down onto his bed and relieve the pressure on his joints. He was pretty sure that he shrieked several more times because his mom's mouth was moving, but he couldn't hear what she was saying. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Teddie had a surprisingly unselfish thought. How frightening it must be for his mom. Having to hold her eleven-year-old son up by the arms, in urine soaked clothes, with tears streaming down his face while he shrieked like a banshee. It seemed that such a thought was extremely rare for Teddie these days, even towards his mother. But given the situation, the thought lasted about as long as a fart in a windstorm.
Tammy Lou was suddenly in his doorway, fear and shock evident on her face. At that moment, Teddie didn't care if she saw the state of his bed. If she saw his pee soaked pajamas. Fuck it! He didn't care if she saw his Willie. He just wanted the pain to go away. Tammy Lou could win this time if the pain would just go away.
Time became a blurred haze of pain and confusion. Very similar Teddie thought to a nightmarish dream. At times, he even thought that he was still dreaming, that he would once again wake up with a start back in his own bed. Not that he could really rely on that anymore. Even when he woke up, he couldn't really be sure he was awake.
Later than night, while lying in bed, afraid to go to sleep, when he was able to sort through everything that happened, the tears welled back up in Teddie's eyes. The indignity, shame, and humiliation that only one day could hold. It was enough to make him scream and sob into his pillow until his throat was raw and cracked with the effort. He clenched and clawed at his mattress until the bones in his fingers cracked and his fingernails bled. But this time there was no waking up from the nightmare, or daymare, that he had to endure. He never would be able to make real sense of it. A day he would never forget. And the worst part of all, in retrospect, was that he had been most entirely, utterly, and unequivocally wrong. Dead wrong. Tammy Lou did get to see his Willie. Several times. And it did bother him. Once the pain had receded and his prayed pact for pain relief had been complete, the memory teased and taunted him. And worse, Tammy Lou wasn't the only one. It must have been a "Come one, Come all and see Theodore's Willie" day. He sniffled snot back up into his nose and thought that more females had seen his privates that day than probably ever would for the rest of his life. And this is how it happened.
Tammy Lou was visibly shaken and afraid of what was happening with her big brother. Anything that could elicit such a reaction from a mean spirited, stinky, disgusting old boy must have been truly terrible. She refused to be shooed from the room and hovered closely near their mom's legs as if she was permanently tied to her apron strings. That is if their mom had been wearing an apron. Teddie's mom managed to take in the entire scene but couldn't understand what was causing her little boy to make such horrific shrieks. Through sobs, wails, and general body movement, she could tell that there was something wrong with his joints. At first she had thought he was simply upset about wetting his bed, something he had never done, but that thought was banished when she saw his face twisted in anguish. There was no doubt in her mind. Teddie wasn't faking for fear of getting in trouble. This was something bad and it scared her.
She was about to call 911, good thing for Teddie that she didn't, when he started to calm down a little and he could stand more easily. In his bed now, Teddie shuddered at the thought of what could have happened.
"Hello? 911. What's your emergency?"
"Yes, please come quick. My son wet his bed and he is shrieking like some wounded animal. Can't you hear him? I think he flipped his gourd. Could you send the men in the white coats?"
How would you explain that to your friends. "Yes, an ambulance did come to my house yesterday. No, it wasn't any big deal. I just pissed my bed."
But, back to the day from hell. Once he was calm enough, his mom had managed to strip off his dirty pajamas and underwear, leaving him standing in the middle of his room naked as the day he was born. Tammy Lou sees Willie once. Teddie remembered that he was too far gone to even complain. His mom led him by the hand to the bathroom, with Tammy Lou in tow, getting a good look at all his natural wonders, and put him in the tub for a bubble bath. Finally, his Willie was out of sight. Teddie sat in the tub, staring blankly at the running water, as Tammy Lou followed their mom back to his bedroom. They returned with his wet things and started a load of laundry.
Teddie realized that he must have been in shock, because his mother actually washed him, just like a baby. Never once did he lift a hand to help himself. He never made a sound beyond an occasional sniffle from his recent bout of crying. Then the bath was over and he was being helped out of the tub. Willie makes his second appearance. His mom dried him off, picked out some clothes, and helped him get dressed. Willie makes another surprise guest appearance for Tammy Lou's benefit. At the time, Teddie wasn't even aware of what his mom had picked out for clothes. He just didn't care. Well, not right then.
By the time they made their way down stairs it was after 10 o'clock. Time had stopped having any real meaning for Teddie. The pain had dulled to a steady throbbing ache. But it had settled into his temples as well as his joints. For a time, it was hard to even keep his eyes open. Even the dim light that filtered through the blinds that his mother had drawn caused the pain in his head to rise in stabbing thrusts like a red hot poker through his eyes. His mom helped him settle onto the couch with a pillow and blanket and warned Tammy Lou to leave him alone. Every movement made his joints flare with renewed, yet diminished heat so Teddie avoided motion as much as possible.
It wasn't until close to noon, when Teddie was allowing his mom to spoon-feed him some luke warm chicken broth that we discovered he was going to the doctor. By that time he had at least regained the use of his voice and tried to protest while his mother wiped dribbled soup from his chin with a make shift towel bib that she had tied around his neck. The bib reminded Teddie uncomfortably of his too recent baby dream and he shuddered involuntarily. Of course, his mom misinterpreted this shiver as the development of the chills and nothing he said could dissuade her that he needed to be seen by a doctor. Even though he didn't have a fever, she had taken his temperature four times, twice in the mouth and twice under the arm, his mom still searched diligently for additional symptoms of sickness that might shed some light on what had happened. A nasty case of some foreign flu perhaps. Teddie had narrowly escaped having his temperature taken a fifth time, only this time with a rectal thermometer that Tammy Lou had graciously brought from the bathroom without prompting. His mom seemed to think that sticking that cold stick up his butt would miraculously discover a lurking fever apparently hiding in the nether regions of his body. It didn't take Teddie long, however, to shoot a wicked glare at Tammy Lou, involuntarily clenched his butt cheeks (there was no way that thing was going in that hole), and agreed that maybe it was better to see that doctor. If only he could have known, he might have preferred to just let his mom do the alien probe rectal temperature in the privacy of his own home instead of what horrors waited at the doctor's office.
No sooner had the words of agreement left his mouth than matters began to go down hill. Fast. He learned that his own regular doctor had been booked solid and his mom had resorted to calling Tammy Lou's pediatrician. In other words, Teddie had an appointment with a baby doctor. At least, that was the way Teddie had referred to her once he was allowed to switch do a different doctor. A doctor for grown-ups. A male doctor. It had taken months of whining to convince his mom that he was getting too old to go to a woman doctor. It was just too embarrassing. Even though his mom had insisted that he was just being silly, it was an argument that Teddie had eventually won. And now he was going back. That thought helped to pull him a little farther along the road back to his old multipersonalitied self. The last thing he wanted to discuss with a doctor, any doctor, let alone a girl doctor was the fact that he had wet his bed and then spent the morning shrieking like a little baby. The nightmare couldn't get worse. But, of course it did.
In spite of his growing protests and quickly limbering joints, Teddie found himself in the waiting room of his old pediatrician's office. The room was disgustingly decorated like an overly sterile nursery and he was surrounded by sniffling, crying, slobbering little kids running all around in various stages of undress. In roaming the multicolored walls, amid the pictures of dancing, frolicking animals, animals that reminded him disturbingly of the baby animals on his morning soaked pajamas, his eyes settled on a large, computer generated notice informing parents that children should be undressed down to their diapers to facilitate expedient examination and to minimize the wait. That would explain why so many kids were running around, without a care in the world, with their diapered butts waving about for everyone to see.
Teddie felt truly sorry for them. If they only knew. One day they would realize how ridiculous it was and they too would find any way possible to escape the pediatric horror chamber. This policy must have been as new as the interior decorating. Teddie had come here up to his 10th birthday and he couldn't ever remember seeing kids only half dressed. Good old double digits. That had been his ultimate escape from the pediatrician's practice. God bless the big ten-oh.
It wasn't until his mom was returning from the front registration desk, clutching a clipboard and some bundle of decorated cloth, that Teddie saw the other accompanying notice. The bold printed letters made his stomach twist with anxiety.
PARENTS OF PATIENTS NOT IN DIAPERS
MAY UNDRESS THE CHILD DOWN TO THEIR UNDERCLOTHES OR PICK UP AN EXAMINATION
GOWN AT THE FRONT DESK.
Teddie's heart dropped to the pit of his stomach. This notice was also new. He certainly would have remembered something like that! It must have happened since he left. No wonder Tammy Lou was always so insistent that Teddie stay home when she went to the pediatrician. Teddie had just thought that she didn't want him around because they always fought and didn't get along. Now he knew better. Tammy Lou must be just as embarrassed about this new policy as Teddie would have been. Correction, was.
Teddie shook his head in disbelief as his mom approached, set the clipboard down on the chair beside him and pulled him to his feet with a gentle tug. He tried to spit the most venomous protest allowed under parental law, but he only managed a nonsensical mumble. It was as if his lips had suddenly become frozen with dental Novocain.
As if he was in a helpless dream state, Teddie stood in shock and allowed his mom to start undressing him. Right there in the waiting room. Surrounded by other kids. Under the close scrutiny and giggling satisfaction of Tammy Lou. She wasn't even going to allow him the dignity of changing in a bathroom or something, let alone handle it himself. It was totally without reason. It was insanity. Yes, that was it. Everyone had gone insane. Either that, or Teddie's fragile mind had snapped and he was the only one caught up in dark, horrible illusions. What the hell was going on? He couldn't be sure, but out of the corner of his eye, Teddie thought he caught a glimpse of a doll that looked disturbingly like Tammy's Dolly Dress-up over in the corner of the room. Worse still, he was sure that the dolly in question was staring directly at him as if to say, now your gonna get what's coming to yah. The doll also reminded Teddie a bit too much of the pretty girl/doll in one of his recent night terrors. He swallowed hard, struggling against a suddenly very dry mouth. Dreams couldn't become real could they? His mom's nimbly working fingers jerked his attention away from the distractingly dangerous dolly.
For the first time Teddie became distinctly aware of how he was dressed. Before, in the midst of the tumultuous torment that marked the beginning of his day, Teddie hadn't cared about such trivial matters as clothing and appearance. He would have gone to school dressed as Cinderella if that was all it took to make the pain stop. But now, the pain had pretty much disappeared, leaving behind only a stiffness and dull ache. Nothing worse than the feeling he sometimes felt after a particularly hard soccer game. Now, the state of his attire was no longer trivial.
His mom had put him in a pair of his cursed "shortalls". Something he had made every effort not to wear since he had been permitted to pick out his own day clothes. These were the same as jean overalls, except they were short. Too short in Teddie's opinion. They seemed even shorter now than regular boy "shortalls". They only came midway down his thigh, leaving far too much of his legs exposed. Teddie had become a boardie short kind of kid. Boardies long enough to reach his knees. On a hot summer day, he would rather wear long jean and skipants than the ridiculous "shortalls". Where the hell did his mother find such things anyway. Now, standing in the waiting room, the "shortalls" seemed even shorter than he remembered and he tugged subconsciously at the cuff of the legs.
Teddie's ensemble was completed by a "Rugrats" T-shirt, Scooby Doo colored socks, and white sneakers. He was certain that he was wearing some sort of cartoon briefs, but he hadn't paid too much attention when they were being put on. He could feel them, but the Lord only knew which cartoon character was lurking beneath his outer clothes, ready to strike an adorable pose for the benefit of those who wanted to see his butt. There was just no way for this to go well. And, of course, it didn't.
Tammy Lou sat and smirked, pretending to play with one of the office dollies, which also seem to be staring at him, while Teddie's mom unhooked his "shortall" shoulder straps and without warning let the entire garment fall unceremoniously to the floor. Teddie's face flushed with embarrassment. It was little comfort that no one seemed to be paying him any attention. At least Tammy Lou was the only older kid in the room. What a relief that no one was there that he recognized. My God, imagine if one of his friends showed up! Without really meaning too, Teddie noticed that it was "Star Wars" that graced his behind.
In greater shock than before, certain that at any moment a nurse would need to rush in and jump start his heart, Teddie stood without apparent concern as his mother helped him step out of the fallen jumble of clothes around his ankles. She struggled for what seemed like hours to get them off over his sneakers, before finally taking the time to pull the sneakers off first and the "shortalls" second. Of course, his T-shirt came next. Why should his mother be any more courteous of his feelings of modesty in public than she was at home? Certainly there was no reason to hurry. No reason to cover up such cute underwear. Why would anyone be uncomfortable standing in the middle of a doctor's waiting room in their underwear? Really, boys in general could be so silly.
It seemed like his mother took an inordinate amount of time neatly folding his clothes and carefully unfolding the gown while Teddie stood with his arms folded across his chest, hands buried in his armpits, hugging himself. His instinct was to try to cover his privates with his hands, but that would just call more attention to his obvious discomfort. Besides, covering the front didn't do anything about his butt and he couldn't cover both. At least hugging himself made him feel a little more secure. As if that were possible.
Teddie was just glad that his mother hadn't decided to strike up a conversation with anyone while she was seeing to her task. She had a terrible habit of stopping what she was doing when she talked, as if her hands and mouth couldn't work together. That would have been great.
"It's ok mom, no really, just go ahead with your conversation there and I'll stand here showing everyone my underwear. What, crying? Of course I'm not crying. Why would I be crying? Who in their right mind would mind getting undressed in a public waiting room? No really, it's fine. Nothing a good therapist can't sort out later on, I'm sure."
It was a great relief when his mom finally managed to tie the "Juggling Clown" print hospital gown around his neck. Strange that he should welcome such a childish garment, but given the alternative, Teddie felt positively masculine. He was a little uncomfortable sitting in the waiting room, the gown creeping up his thighs worse than his too short nightshirt, expecting at any moment for some one he knew from school to walk through the door. It was also a little disquieting to have to walk with the nurse down the hall to the examination room, knowing that his gown was hanging open in the back and offering the opportunity for peeks at his undies. However, after actually undressing in the waiting room, it wasn't as if they hadn't already been seen. Some consolation that was.
Teddie, his mother, and Tammy Lou all waited in Exam Room 3, waiting for the doctor, after a very pretty nurse had asked them a few questions, taken Teddie's pulse, temperature (in his ear and not his rear thank God), and his blood pressure. Teddie couldn't help but blush to the roots of his hair as he listened to his mom tell the attractive lady in her crisp, fresh, white uniform all about his "little accident".
The young nurse-angel gave Teddie a sympathetic smile of apparent understanding, but still continued to direct questions to his mother, as if he was too little to speak on his own behalf. Teddie wanted to scream at the top of his lungs that he was eleven years old, that he was sitting right there in front of them, and that he could sure as heck answer for his own gosh darn self. Given Teddie's prepubescent age and the nurse's stunningly attractive features, that wasn't the only thing that Teddie would have liked to do. But before he could slip into a fantasy dream world in which naughty nurses take special interest in their patients, the young woman finished her paperwork and excused herself. She flashed Teddie a parting smile and said that the doctor would be in momentarily.
Teddie sat uncomfortably on the examination table while his mom and little sister chatted. Although it wasn't overly warm in the room, he broke into a nervous sweat under his skimpy clown gown. The beads of sweat trickled annoyingly down his bare sides, completely unhindered by the loose fitting garment. His stomach twisted into a tight knot and an uneasy lump formed in his throat. Distantly he noted that his feet were too cold and a draft seemed to be crawling up his legs. He had a sudden mental image of the doctor entering the room, only she wasn't a regular doctor. She was an alien. In fact, his mother and sister were suddenly aliens as well and Teddie was a poor, abducted human that was strapped to their alien examination table waiting for whatever horrors they had planned. The daydream was painfully vivid and realistic. And like the earlier part of the morning, it turned dramatically worse.
In his dream like trance, Teddie watched in horror as the hideous alien doctor produced a multineedled probing device that left entirely too much to the imagination. Teddie struggled against the straps that held him securely to the table and watched with increasing distress as the alien tool moved steadily toward his stomach. He tried to cry out, but found that he could force no sound out of his throat. His eyes widened with panic as the three aliens seemed to gurgle with glee. His stomach muscles clenched in anticipation of the penetrating needles. He closed his eyes, and then too many things happened at once for his mind to sort them out in a timely and coherent manner.
First there was sharp pain. Pain that seemed to seer through his belly and into his bladder. A burning sensation flowed through his insides as if he was peeing fire. Second was the hiss of pain and alarm that escaped his lips. Third was the sound of the examination room door opening. The forth was the sensation of a sudden gushing warm wetness spreading over his thighs and under his butt. And finally, there was the distant call of his name.
Instantly, the alien fantasy disappeared. However, it took a moment for Teddie to be able to properly focus on his surroundings. And when he did, he immediately wished he hadn't.
With the rushing feeling of falling and then suddenly stopping too abruptly, Teddie's mind caught up with the present. Tammy Lou was giggling uncontrollably. His mother was staring at him with a face that was a mixture of shock, alarm, concern, and disbelief. The doctor, who had obviously entered during Teddie's alien delusion, thus the sound of the door opening, stood with gaping mouth and momentarily lost medical decorum. Teddie's hands were clasped tightly against his now wet gown and underwear. His face melded from pain, to shock, to humiliation. It was too much to bear, but there was no hiding the obvious. He had just wet himself.
As tears began to spill from his eyes, the doctor regained her professional composure. Tammy Lou was herded back out into the waiting room by the same pretty nurse that had been hastily re-summoned. Another nurse appeared and helped Teddie's mother strip off his soaked gown and underwear. In absolute shock, Teddie could do nothing more that helplessly comply. He endured the subsequent physical examination without sign of discomfort or emotion and answered questions like "Does this hurt?" with dull, monotone responses in the negative.
Teddie wanted to shriek in protest when the first nurse reappeared and proceeded to cover his nakedness with a youth disposable diaper. Although he was grateful that his privates were no longer so public, the diaper was a terrible slap in the face to a practically grown up eleven year old boy. It called back uncomfortable memories of his recent nightmare and distantly he prayed that like that dream, there would suddenly be an implausible twist that would unmistakably identify this as another night terror. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.
As the doctor became visibly more perplexed over his symptoms, Teddie slouched demurely in his diaper. He couldn't even protest when his mother took him by the hand and they followed the doctor out into the hall and down to another examination room. It no longer mattered that people were seeing him worse than naked. It didn't matter what they would think at seeing an eleven year old boy in nothing but a diaper. The only sign of his inner torment was the occasional tear that would trickle silently down his cheek.
The ultrasound of his bladder revealed no apparent physical problems. In fact, the doctor couldn't offer any explanation for Teddie's "accidents", the stiff and aching joints, or the episodes of intense pain. In the end, the doctor recommended a few days of bed rest and a prescription that would not only help Teddie sleep and relax, but also handle sporadic bouts of discomfort. If the problems persisted, or grew worse, they would have to refer him to a specialist. While Teddie was docilely allowing his mother to redress him in the waiting room, the doctor gave a parting suggestion that his mother might want to keep him in the youth diapers for a few days. Just in case.
By this time, Teddie was so withdrawn from the humiliating scene that nothing seemed to matter. His final mental shut down had occurred when he realized that he was being led back to the waiting room in nothing but his diaper. Blankly he chided himself for not figuring that out sooner. It really shouldn't have been a surprise. After all, his mother had inconsiderately left his clothing in the waiting room. Why should he have expected her to make a special trip to get his clothes when he could just as easily be dressed in the waiting room? Getting undressed out there hadn't killed him, so why should the trip back be any different?
If the situation has been different, the look on Tammy Lou's face alone when he was led back into the waiting room in only a diaper would have been hilarious. But given the circumstances, the implications of what had already and what continued to transpire filled Teddie with a soul shredding darkness. A darkness that creeped into his heart and covered the very fabric of his being. A darkness that brought with it a twisted, searing, malevolent rage that was fueled and feed by the humiliating injustices both real and imagined. For in the place where Teddie now resided, there was no distinction between reality and fantasy. And with every passing moment, the dark storm within his subconscious grew.
Teddie allowed his mother to redress him in his ridiculously childish clothing and the seething rage grew. He allowed himself to be led by the hand like a small child and the internal rage buffeted his senses. Tammy Lou smirked smugly all the way back to the car, caring his package of youth diapers, and the maelstorm peaked with fury. He rode in silence back to their home, and the black diamond of darkness that had once been his heart knew only one desire.