Scene 5

Melody placed her hands on her hips and looked over her room. Everything was battened down. Small items and papers she cared about were stowed away and out of arm's reach from creepy little fingers. Now if she just had a deadbolt lock for her door she could finally feel at ease.

She sauntered into the living room, satisfied with her work. Her parents were both watching television. The good Doctor was on the screen dealing with robots wrapped up like mummies.

“Pyramids of Mars, again?” Melody asked him. This was her father's favorite Classic Doctor Who episode for reasons she couldn't even fathom.

Bernie said, in one billowy breath, “The fact that you can look at a scene and determine with accuracy the title of the story in under three seconds warms my heart so much that I will let your slanderous tone slide.”

Melody smiled. “I'm not sure how or why you two can sit here so calmly when you know what's going to be coming through that door any minute now. I mean, we should be discussing the itinerary. There's still so many unanswered questions, like:

“Where's he going to sleep? What rooms are he allowed in? Do we have to feed him? Why is he coming by himself? Did his sister file for legal separation due to irreconcilable differences?”

Lonnie looked over to her husband, then back to her daughter. She held her hand open flat, and curled up one finger for each question she answered as if checking them off a list. “We were actually thinking your bed. All of them, of course. Yes. And we'll let him tell you that himself. It can be the icebreaker. And see previous answer.”

Melody's eyes grew wide. 'MY BED?! NO no no no no....No.”

“Melody,” her mother said in a soothing tone. “It's only for a night or two.”

The girl was adamant. “Do you know how much damage one of those Jansen kids can do in just an hour? Let alone a night or two. I guarantee you'll be buying me a new mattress by the end of this. In fact, I'm going to start looking through catalogs right now.” She stormed into the kitchen.

Bernie paused his show. “Don't worry,” he told his wife. “We don't have any mattress catalogs.”

“Maybe we should have Jimmy sleep on the floor in our room.”

“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” Bernie stood up at the mention of this. “Besides last time we tried that he had a tantrum because he missed his soft bed. No one slept that night.”

Lonnie began to beat on her lip with her forefinger. “Well, you and I have a nice soft bed.”

“Don’t even think of what you’re thinking, young lady,” Bernie grunted, folding up his arms. “Besides if we give in to Melody's crazy demands now, they’ll never be an end to it. She already treats me like a child.”


Bernie raised a finger to cut her off.

“I’m just saying that you could sleep on the floor and pretend you’re camping. You know how you like to pretend you’re doing things.”

Melody yelled from the kitchen. “Here's a nice one. It senses when you're too hot or too cold and adjusts the temperature accordingly. Oh, and it's on sale!”

Lonnie yelled back at her. “Even if you had mattress insurance, which you don't, there's no way you'd get enough for that old clunker of yours to upgrade to a bed that seems nicer than any of our kitchen appliances!”

There came a growl from behind the kitchen door. This was followed closely by a harsh rapping on the front screen door. The knock, if such it could be called, was unpleasant and acerbic, and seemed as though it were caused by more than one person.

Lonnie and Bernie looked at each other. “Jimmy,” they said standing up in unison. Lonnie went for the door while Bernie took a defensive position in front of the television set.

“Oh no,” he said under his breath, loud enough for his wife to hear. “I forgot to secure the TV to the wall.”

Lonnie shushed him and opened the door, smiling brightly. The opening revealed her cousin Joanie, and in front of her, still banging on the screen with both open palms, was her son, Jimmy. The boy was short but massive, and built like a red-striped tank.

“Hi, Jimmy,” Lonnie said, sweetly. She smiled at him, not expressing her extreme annoyance at the noise and damage he was most likely causing her door.

The boy failed to acknowledge her existence.

She looked up at Joanie. “Hi,” she said, in a more subdued tone. “Come on in. How's Rock?”

Lonnie opened the door, and both Joanie and Jimmy stepped into the house. Jimmy continue to bang on the door as he walked, and then turned to do the same to the big comfy chair just inside the house.

“Jimmy, please stop,” Joanie said, looking somewhat frazzled. “He's stable now. But we're still waiting to see if he's going to be able to walk.” She tried to smile, but this quickly faded into a frown. She pulled a tissue from her purse and began to dab at the tears from her eyes.

The woman wore all brown, from her frock coat to smart skirt. However, ever bit of her outfit was wrinkled, or spotted with food stains. Her hair was dark, mottled by gray, and was kinky as though it hadn't been washed in days.

“OH, Joanie,” Lonnie said, embracing her cousin. “He'll be okay.” As the two women hugged, Jimmy turned and was now banging on Lonnie's hip.

“Bernie, dear,” she said, slightly muffled. “Why don't you get little Jimmy some juice.”

“Little my foot,” Bernie said under his breath. He was currently in the middle of unplugging the television set. Out loud, he said, “MELODY, COME TALK TO YOUR COUSIN.”

“SECOND COUSIN,” Melody roared back.

“Thanks, you two,” Joanie said, a little more composed. She dabbed at her eyes some more.

“Whoa,” Jimmy said. “BIG TV!”

Bernie chuckled to himself. “Yes, but unfortunately, little man, it has to go to the shop for its biannual pre-damage maintenance review.” He took the boy by the hand. “Now let's go see about that juice.”

Jimmy smacked his lips. “Maybe a snack, too?” He stuck out his tongue and wagged it around loosely and for a moment Bernie thought the boy might be possessed.

“Whatever you want, little man.”

Bernie pushed on the normally swingable kitchen door, but found that it wouldn't budge. He knocked softly. “Melody,” he said. “Jimmy would like a snack.”

“I think there's something wrong with the door,” Melody confessed. “You might have to call someone.”

“What seems to be the matter?” Bernie was still calm, but there was a contained anger in his voice – like a teapot about to whistle, or rather an enraged herd of elephants about to break through their enclosure and run amok. “We don't want li'l Jimmy to not feel welcome.”

“I'm not sure,” she said. “I think maybe the hinge snapped.”

Bernie responded melodically. “I think something else is going to snap in a minute.” He placed his fingers in the crack of the door and slowly began to pull it towards him. “It seems like the hinge is fine,” he said, gritting his teeth. Once the door was all the way open, the true issue was revealed. “I see your problem. Someone has pushed the kitchen table against the door.”

Melody smiled sheepishly. “I forgot that the door swung both ways.”

“You forgot that?”

“Well, actually,” she said. “I was counting on you not thinking of pulling it open.”

“I see.”

Jimmy began to dance up and down and push his way into the kitchen. “Snack,” he said. “Snack snack snack.”

Melody closed her eyes when confronted with this verbal assault. The “Sn” sound emerging from the boy’s mouth seemed to mostly originate from somewhere inside his nose. It arrived as a hissing tone which she found most unappealing. When she opened her eyes, she glared at the boy and slowly educated him on the correct pronunciation.

“The word is snack!” she told him. “S.N.A.C.K...not S.M.P.H.A.Q.U.E. or whatever sound you are making.”

Jimmy seemed to find this instruction hilarious and began to giggle uncontrollably.

Bernie simply stared at the boy. He then turned and smiled at his daughter for two reasons: One, because in a moment he was going to pawn Jimmy off on her; and two, because he was very much glad she was nothing like him.

Melody's face fell flat. She knew what was going to happen next. “I just want to state for the record that the burden of responsibility should and shall not fall on me. Simply because we're in the same general category, that being not adult, doesn't mean that we share any common interests. Nor should I be considered mentally mature enough to take care of another human being.” This last comment stung a bit for she knew it to be an untruth, but she was willing to ‘take one for the team’ as it were if it meant possibly removing herself from the equation. “I mean,” she continued. “What am I? A nurse? A bouncer? I’m just not qualified.”

“You’re legally qualified to watch a little kid, and if that’s good enough for the State of Oregon, then that’s good enough for me.”

Bernie shuffled backwards out of the room and began to sing softly to himself as he let the door close slowly in front of him. “Second Cousins … Identical Second-cousins, you and he, You whine alike, you yell alike you even kind of smell alike...What a kooky pair.”

Before the swinging door completely cut off any further communication from her, Melody properly timed the following sentence: “You don't... even know... the right…….. words.”

“SECOND COUSINS,” Bernie belted before returning to his television set.

Melody’s eyes narrowed as she stared at the boy in front of her. She opened her mouth once...twice, and then closed it. She had absolutely nothing to say to him. She had no idea how to even start a conversation with this boy.

“I’m sure it would be fairly one-sided affair anyway?”

“Wha-?” Jimmy looked at her, his eyes swirling around in his head as though they were little tops.

“Sorry,” she apologized. “I’m referring to this theoretical conversation we would have.”

Jimmy laughed. “We not conversationing,” he said.

Melody stared at him. “You’re not all there, are you?”

Jimmy hummed.

“I mean, you’re there physically, but your brain is really someplace else. Is that the case with all children your age? Or is there something seriously wrong with you, specifically?”

Melody suddenly sat down. She felt distraught. “Oh my,” she said to herself now. “Was I like this?” She picked up a pad of paper from the note caddy next to the phone, along with a pen. She began to write:


1. Me – Age 5? Moron?

She tapped her cheek with the pen. “Well, I might as well use this time scientific study,” she said, turning her focus on the boy sitting in front of her. “Assuming you’re normal, how do you feel about human life?”

Jimmy sat down. “Huh?”

“You know, do you know other people exist? Are you aware of your own sentience? How about death? Do you think of it as someone taking a nap, or are you cognizant of its permanence?”

Jimmy simply smiled at her, inanely.

Melody sighed. “Let me take another approach. Have you ever had a goldfish which seemed to look just slightly different every six months or so?”

Jimmy giggled at her, but Melody could tell this time it was just for show.

She tapped on her face more aggressively, as if this agitation might congeal thoughts into words. “Well,” she said, finally. “I can see that this is clearly going nowhere. How about I read and we just have a little quiet time? Hmmm?”

“Game,” Jimmy said, suddenly. “Game game game.” He seemed insistent.

“No games,” Melody told him. “I did not sign up for any games. I know how little kids are with board games. Pieces end up in black holes and rules are treated as though the cause of leprosy.”

“No,” Jimmy said, and held up his hands miming some action.

“Oh, you want to play a video game.”

“Yep yep yep,” Jimmy confirmed.

“As far as you know, I don’t have any video games,” she told him. “Unless you brought one yourself. Did you bring one?”

“Yep yep yep,” Jimmy confirmed again. He quickly arose from the table, alighted through the swinging kitchen door and was gone.

Melody pursed her lips and smiled. “The discussion of video games makes him disappear,” she said. “Good to know.”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode One

Melody Jackson

vs. The Hound from Hell

by BMB Johnson

Scene 5

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