Sally and Billy in Babyland
Sally cowered behind the shed with one arm around Billy and her other hand on Kitty, stroking her for comfort.
The dog’s sniffing came closer. Then it stopped. After a minute, Sally gathered the courage to look up.
And there, within a foot of her face, was Pinscher, the dog she saved in the river.
Pinscher glared at Kitty and his lips peeled back to reveal his fangs. A low growl trembled from his throat.
“Please,” Sally whispered. “Help us.”
For another minute they stared at each other, Sally expecting her face to be bitten off.
“Hey,” the other dog barked. “You got something?”
Pinscher released his breath and turned away. “No,” he said. “Just needed a moment.”
“Well lick yourself on your own time. We’ve got work to do.”
Pinscher looked back at Sally. “Good luck,” he whispered.
The gun shots rang out down the street.
“Let’s go,” the other dog barked.
Pinscher turned and ran off into the darkness.
They all sat on the floor of the front room, with the lights out and the broken door barricaded with a chair.
“We’re sorry to cause trouble,” Sally said. “I didn’t mean for anyone else to get involved.”
William shrugged. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Maybe we could hide here for a while,” Billy said. “Like that Dutch girl, Anne Frank.”
“She was Jewish,” Sally said.
“Whatever. That worked pretty well, hiding up in the attic.”
“She was discovered and sent to a concentration camp where she died.”
“Oh. I guess I should have watched the rest of the movie.”
“That might work for a short while,” William said, “but the brutes are angrier than usual.”
“We did release all the cats,” Sally said.
“And burned the catapult,” Billy added.
William peeked out the front window. “It looks like we’re staying right here for a while.”
Sally joined him at the window. As the light of dawn spread across the neighborhood, security guards in their black diapers kept watch at every corner. Police cars cruised along the street, and border patrol dogs sniffed along each house.
“Burning the catapult kept the cops pretty busy,” Billy said. “Couldn’t we burn something else?”
“And then sneak out of the other side of town?” Sally added.
William shook his head. “Anybody outside their home, now, will be arrested. You won’t get ten feet.”
Sally plopped herself in the middle of the floor and cupped her head in her hands, tired and frustrated. “The plan was to meet Chuck and Laurie at the public toilet in the park. They would smuggle us out of town from there.”
“Who are Chuck and Laurie?”
“The Canadians who unplug toilets.”
William nodded. “There’s a good chance Big Baby will hold a rally at the park. Whenever there’s a problem, like a contagious disease or spoiled food, he waits a few hours and then holds a rally to blame someone and claim victory for himself.”
“That makes no sense,” Sally said.
“No it doesn’t.”
William paced back and forth for a few moments. “The trick is to join the crowd that gathers at the park without drawing too much attention to ourselves.”
“We can hide Kitty in the backpack,” Billy suggested.
“Backpacks get searched. It has to be something else.”
Tonya hurried to her bedroom and returned in a moment wearing a maternity dress. She stuffed a pillow under the dress and she looked pregnant. “We can hide Kitty under here.”
William scratched his head. “I’m the first one to admit everything is an illusion, but I wish we had a better one than that.”
In the morning, the family joined the stream of people making their way on foot toward the park. From this neighborhood, only a few of the adults wore diapers.
And now, for the first time, William and Tonya wore diapers.
Tonya had torn apart their bed sheet to fashion them, leaving ample room in the rear.
Of the two, Tonya fit in with the others better, wearing a loose-fitting top above her diaper. William, however, felt the chill in the air and his skin was covered in goose bumps. He walked as if there were something clawing at him from behind.
The family stayed close behind William, doing their best to conceal his rear end.
Kitty, of course, was along for the ride, stuffed into William’s diaper.
They lingered just outside the front door, watching the stream of neighbors make their way along the road toward town.
“I sure hope this works,” Billy said.
“You and me both,” Kitty said.
Tonya looked down at William’s rear end. “Who said that?”
“I think it was the cat,” William said.
“Thank goodness,” Tonya said. “I thought it was your ass.”
Sally explained that cats and dogs speak. “But Kitty’s not going to talk anymore, right Kitty?”
“I won’t,” Kitty said. “As long as William doesn’t break wind.”
“We’d better get going,” Tonya said.
People filled the park, milling about, facing Big Baby Tower where a large podium stood in front.
Massive banners of Big Baby’s head surrounded the podium. The expression on his face was a smile and a sneer — a smeer — like Sally’s father’s face after he farted.
Large bleachers stood next to the podium, creating a stadium effect. Men and women wearing diapers and adorned with jewelry were packed into the bleachers.
“Who is that?” Billy asked. “Why do they get to sit down?”
“Those are the rich people,” William explained. “They’re special.”
Billy scratched his head. “They’re special because they’re rich, or they got rich because they’re special?”
“Depends on who you ask.”
They stayed on the edge of the crowd, allowing others to press forward as they came closer and closer to the public toilets.
Big Baby emerged from the tower and stood on the podium near a lectern and microphone, front and center. He looked with displeasure at the crowd gathered before him.
A tall, fat man in a diaper whispered in Big Baby’s ear. The tall, fat man — his nose swollen and cheeks mottled red — reminded Sally of the principal at school who always seemed angry about something. This man had so many double chins there was no way to see his neck. But his breasts were the most disturbing, drooping low across his belly, with the nipples pointed down at the slippers on his feet.
“I wish he’d wear a shirt,” Tonya whispered, shaking her head.
“Or at least a bra,” Sally offered in an attempt at levity. The strain of their situation wore on her nerves, but everyone laughed.
A bald woman joined the group on the podium in front of Big Baby Tower and she also whispered something to Big Baby. It seemed her face was nothing but mouth. When she smiled, wrinkle lines appeared all over her face, reminding Sally of a shriveled apple hanging on a tree in winter.
“I’m frightened,” Sally said.
“That’s her specialty,” William whispered. “She’s just repulsive. There’s not enough gas lighting in the world to make anyone like her.”
Big Baby stepped up to the lectern and cleared his throat as he looked the audience over.
“Thank you for coming here today,” he said, “on this tragic and spiteful day.”
Sally didn’t like the sound of his voice. It was like the bullies at school caught doing something, and desperately trying to talk their way out of trouble.
Big Baby smeered. “You see the crimes perpetrated here, especially my beloved catapult destroyed. I really loved that thing.”
Big Baby looked at the crowd expectantly. “Didn’t you love it?”
The crowd applauded. It was just a smattering at first, but then it caught on and grew louder.
William turned and looked at Tonya. “I have to go the bathroom.”
William walked toward the men’s room. Billy and Tommy followed him, following close enough behind to cover his rear.
“Thank you,” Big Baby said as the applause died down. “I promise that the culprits will be brought to justice. And you know how I am about my promises. I’m great at promising things, don’t you think?”
Big Baby waited for applause. Once again there was a smattering, then his assistants on the podium applauded and it caught on with the crowd.
William went into the men’s room while Billy and Tommy waited outside.
“We, the citizens of Babyland,” Big Baby intoned from the lectern, “are rebuilding our land and restoring its promise for all of our people. We have faced challenges. We have confronted hardships. And we’re getting the job done. It has been great. I really liked what we have done with the place, especially the window treatments.”
William opened the door and motioned for Billy to join him inside.
“Today has been marred by an act of terrorism. An act of treason. It was very treasonous.
“But the loss of our catapult, and the pole barn that contained it, will not stop our progress. We will build an even bigger catapult. One that can fling multiple cats at once. I always thought we should have that, and didn’t understand why it couldn’t just happen. But now I’ll insist. And you know I always get what I want.”
William opened the door again, gave a nod to Tommy, and slipped back inside the men’s room.
“And we’ll build an even bigger pole barn to keep it. I want a pole barn that can hold the catapult and also my snow mobile, my four-wheeler, and my boat. And, I don’t know if you know this, but I have a really big boat. It’s huge. So when I tell you we need a big pole barn for all of my stuff, I’m not joking. I mean, what’s the point of a pole barn if you can’t put your boat in it during the off-season, am I right?
“Oh and we’ll probably have to raise taxes to make that happen but I know you won’t mind because things will be so awesome that you’ll all be like, wow, that’s awesome. You see what I’m saying? This puny act of treason, which was still very treasonous even though it pales in comparison to what I’m capable of doing, is not the point.”
William emerged from the men’s room and walked back toward Sally and Tonya.
“I love how the people of Babyland came together this morning, just like that one Christmas special with the green guy who stole everything. But the people he robbed didn’t mind. That’s how I think of you people, that no matter how much is taken away, you don’t seem to mind. I love that about you.
“What matters is not that I’m in charge of this place, but that you common people come together and fix things when they break. You don’t just do things, but you do what I tell you to do. I love that about you. That’s what makes this place so awesome.”
Sally searched for a guard.
“You want great schools for the children, safe neighborhoods for your families, and good jobs for yourselves. These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public. And for those of you that have them, I say, ‘You’re welcome.’
“But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our town; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge. If you think anything will be given to you for nothing, you’re wrong. Very wrong. But I promise if you work hard, great things will happen. You have to work hard, though. Very hard.”
Sally found a woman in a gray diaper and gray smock. The patch on her smock showed that she was a Peacekeeper for the Parks and Recreation Department. But the look on her face seemed anything but peaceful. As the guard listened to Big Baby’s speech, her face twisted in anger and one side of her upper lip quivered. She didn’t look away until Sally tugged on the woman’s smock.
“What do you want?” the woman said.
“The men’s room toilet is plugged,” Sally said as she took one step back. “It’s flooded, in fact.”
She glared at Sally. “What do you care?”
“I think you should put an Out Of Order sign in front of the door so no one gets hurt.”
The woman glanced over at the men’s room. “The men can hold it.”
“That is the past,” Big Baby said. “And now we are looking only to the future. We are assembled here today because of this treasonous act of terrorism. My promise to you is that the responsible parties will pay for this. I mean that, because pole barns are very expensive when you do it right, and everybody must pay their share, especially the traitors. So I’m declaring them guilty, right here, right now. I’m not messing around.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if it was one of those Canadians, by the way. I know they seem polite, but I never trusted them. No one is that polite.
“I don’t know why we allow them to keep coming back in here. Do you? I’m serious. I really can’t remember.”
Sally tugged on the woman’s smock again in frustration. “Are you going to do nothing?”
“What is your problem?”
“I think you should call someone to unplug the toilets.”
“No,” the woman said. “The men can just use the woman’s restroom if they have to go.”
Sally felt anxious. This woman needed to summon Chuck and Laurie or the plan wouldn’t work.
Sally hurried to the women’s room and plugged the toilets, shoving paper towels into the bowl.
Tonya came in. “Sally, what are you doing?”
“It makes no sense,” Sally said as she flushed the toilets. “All the woman had to do was put up a sign and call for Chuck and Laurie.”
“I know but maybe we have to find a different guard.”
Sally flushed again and then stepped back as the water spilled over the bowl. “Why do people who wear diapers even use toilets?”
“They don’t use them as diapers,” Tonya said. “It’s just for show.”
With all three toilet bowls plugged and water on the floor, Sally stepped back and took a breath. “It’s all so stupid.”
“I know. Let’s go find another guard.”
Tonya opened the door, but the woman guard was standing there.
The guard looked at water on the floor and glared at Sally.
“It wasn’t me,” Sally said.
But the woman shoved past Tonya and grabbed Sally, dragging her away.