Wednesday, January 28, 2009


At the age of three, Alfred had carefully and thoughtfully licked the stickiness off of every sheet of a lint roller he found in a laundry basket beside his mother's bed.  "He had to be rushed to the emergency room," his mother told her friend Cecilia, "because the adhesive was toxic, but that was just the first in a long line of dangerous things he licked or sucked until he almost died."

"Mom!"  Alfred hissed.

His mother laughed.  "Oh, it will come in handy for him someday, I'm sure!"

Alfred cringed.

"We had to start reading all the warning labels on everything and hiding the most unusual household items.  'Avoid accidental ingestion,' they'd say, but I tell you when I walked in on Alfred he was going after that lint roller like it was his full-time job!"

Cecilia laughed aloud and took a sip of her Pepsi.  "Kids are sick individuals!" she said.  Alfred curled his upper lip and bared his teeth at her, and she shuddered.  "Sick," she muttered.

Alfred's mother had been looking upstream at the oncoming traffic.  "What's that?" she asked, turning back to Cecilia.

Alfred narrowed his eyes at her.  "Nothing, Mother."

"I was not speaking to you, was I Alfred?  Now, go back to your Gameboy and let me speak to your Auntie Cecilia." 

"She's not my Aunt," Alfred muttered and turned away from them and toward the giant Batman poster on the side of the bus shelter.

"What's that, Alfred?"  His mother put her hand on his shoulder.

Alfred bent himself forward and wriggled from underneath her.  "I said it's not a Gameboy.  It's a PSP.  You should know, you bought it."  

Alfred's mother tsked at him and turned back toward her friend.  "He's at that age now, you know.  Won't hear a thing from me anymore."  

Alfred hated the way his mother spoke to him in hypothetical questions and about him in platitudes.  He hated the way she referred to all her female friends as his Aunties, which just about ruined the fact that some of them had really fantastic cleavage.  Speaking of which, facing the Batman poster at the right angle, he could just about see down the front of Cecilia's low sweater, which jiggled as she laughed at his mother's inane list of other products he had sucked or swallowed.  He could think of a thing or two he'd like to...


Alfred swung around roughly and glared at his mother.  "What?" he sneered.

"Why do you have the Gameboy," she rolled her eyes, "the PSP in your mouth?"

Alfred dropped his hands to his sides and bit his lip.

"This is exactly what I'm telling you about, isn't it Cecilia?  You'd think we'd be done with it, what that it's been ten, eleven years, but no!"  She laughed, "He hasn't changed from when he was a toddler!"

Alfred wiped his lips with his sleeve and glowered at Cecilia's breasts.  

"Alfred!" His mother cried.

"What!" He snapped back at her.

"Isn't that your school friend, Natalie, over there?  Why don't you go say hello to her?  I wonder if she's taking the same bus as we are, I imagine she lives near us, doesn't she?"

Alfred scanned the bus stop erratically, wiping the PSP back and forth across his pant leg and drying his mouth with his other arm.  

"Never mind, Alfred, you missed her.  She just got on another bus.  Why don't you ever pay attention when I'm pointing things out to you?  If you paid half as much attention to the things coming out of my mouth as you do to the things you put in yours, well..."

"Gross, Mother!"

Cecilia laughed, and her sweater slipped down so that Alfred could see the bow on the front of her bra.  He smiled winningly at her and said to his mother, "Our bus is here.  Could you stop being embarrassing for a minute?"

"Alfred!" His mother said, "Will you grow up?"  She turned to Cecilia "He is such a trial!  Did I tell you about the time we found him sucking the antifreeze out of the car?”

Cecilia laughed again, and Alfred pushed ahead of them to board the bus alone. 


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