SCARY MONSTERS - STEPHEN D. ROGERS
Brian placed Kevin in his crib. "Good night, buddy."
A typical fear for this age. "What about them?"
"Do you see one now?"
Kevin shook his head.
"When do you see them?"
Kevin continued to shake his head.
"What color are they?"
"Red. Blue. Yellow."
"What do they say?"
Brian wondered if he should pick his son up out of bed and hold him for a few minutes or whether that would only reinforce a new delaying tactic. "When you see a scary monster, say, 'Hi. My name is Kevin. What's your name?'"
"Right. Ask if the scary monster wants to play ball. Then you'll be friends and the monster won't be scary any more."
Kevin nodded. "No more scary monster."
"That's right. Good night, Kevin. Mommy loves you and Daddy loves you. We'll see you in the morning."
Brian waited outside the bedroom door for several minutes but didn't hear a peep. Apparently the scary monsters had been defeated once again, driven from this world to the twilight realm of the subconscious where they belonged.
Back in the living room, Brian rolled down Peggy's sleeve and placed a crazy quilt over her sleeping figure. The spoon went into the dishwasher; the matches went into the drawer; the disposable syringe went into the trash.
He wiped up her mess and then retreated to the family room where he plopped onto their original good couch. There he surfed through the channels without seeing the images that flashed before him. Peggy was backsliding again.
When he'd returned from work today, she was just drifting off into la-la land. She had timed it perfectly and Kevin was barely unsupervised at all. Brian gave her credit for that.
He couldn't give her credit for much else.
Peggy refused to go into rehab, refused even to see a doctor. She didn't have a problem. She knew what she was doing. It was under control.
His parents lived too far away to be any help.
He couldn't exactly go to Peggy's mother, pour coffee into her until she sobered up, and then explain that she needed to care for Kevin until her daughter straightened herself out.
How many seconds did it take for a two and a half year-old to hurt himself with a syringe or box of matches? What if the toddler licked the spoon clean?
What if he had and that's why Kevin had fallen asleep so effortlessly?
Brian raced upstairs to check on his son.
Kevin was breathing normally, one hand stretched out through the bars of the crib.
Brian tiptoed from the room.
They didn't have any friends. Peggy had long ago lost hers and Brian had been too busy to maintain any sort of personal relationships. He was a single, working parent of two.
No matter what happened, Brian would not turn Kevin over to the state.
He'd have Peggy committed first.
Could he do that without involving the police?
Peggy was still splayed on the living room couch. She'd be there for hours yet, if not until morning.
Brian went to the kitchen and poured himself an orange juice. It didn't taste half bad for not being their usual brand but it had been on sale. He drank most of the glass in a single gulp and then sat at the table.
What if he did commit her, sent her away somewhere? He'd have to hire a nanny to take care of Kevin. Perhaps he could bring in a cleaning service and someone to cook. Take off some of the pressure.
He could tell Kevin that his mother was very sick and she'd gone to the hospital to get better. Daddy wasn't sure when she was coming home.
Of if she was coming home. Maybe it would actually be in everybody's best interest if Peggy simply stayed there forever.
Mommy went away. It's not your fault, Kevin. You didn't do anything wrong. Mommy just won't be living with us anymore. She loved you very much but she had something wrong with her.
She was selfish.
She was weak.
The glass exploded in Brian's fist.
He yanked sheets of paper towel off the roll to clean up the juice and bits of glass. It wasn't until he saw the sodden mess stained red that he realized he'd been cut.
A small gash in his palm oozed blood.
Peggy with her self-destructive vein was destroying them all. He had to do what he could to save Kevin.
Brian returned the kitchen to normal and then wrapped paper towel around his hand. He still hadn't replaced the bandages after his probably misguided efforts to protect the needle tracks from possible infection.
He heard Peggy stir in the living room.
Did he tell her now? Did he tell her at all? Perhaps it would be best if she was taken completely by surprise. There was no need for Kevin to experience her melodramatic reaction to the news.
Right now, however, Brian had to go out there and make sure she didn't try to climb the stairs herself. He didn't want her waking Kevin.
Brian entered the living room to find the couch empty.
Sensing movement behind him, Brian slowly turned.
Peggy shuffled towards him, the crazy quilt hanging over her head, almost reaching the floor.
"Very funny, Peggy. I'm sorry if I woke you up. I broke a glass." He raised his arm. "Cut my hand."
She mumbled something he couldn't hear.
"Do you want something to eat? I can heat you up some soup. Maybe just broth if that's all you want."
She continued to advance, hidden under the quilt, a wild hodgepodge of fabrics in red, blue, and yellow.
"What?" Brian took a step back.
"Peggy, stop playing games."
And then the rushing darkness was on him.
Kevin slept through the screams.
BIO: Over five hundred of Stephen's stories and poems have been published in more than two hundred publications. His website, Stephen D. Rogers Homepage, includes a list of new and upcoming titles, as well as other timely information.
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