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Parents Are Crazy
Den of The Ender #19, Chapter 19: Bedtime
Brant was kneeling on one side of his bed while Joey kneeled on the other, and New Mom lay across the head of the bed. It was a three-way dance. The yellow bedspread was the dance floor. The Organa doll was Mom, beautiful in her paper dress, guided across the dance floor by New Mom’s slight hand. GI Joe was dressed in a tuxedo and danced awkwardly guided as he was by Brant’s hand. Tonto, who had been rescued from the fireplace, had had his burns treated with crayon, and was dressed up in his beaded buckskins. Guided by Joey’s artful hand Tonto provided the music for the couple’s dance by performing his famous rain dance. Joey, able to lower his voice to the deep timbre of an adult, provided the voice for Tonto as he beseeched the Great Spirit for rain.
This is a very nice game. It is a shame Mom isn’t here. She would like New Mom.
After their dance was over New Mom smiled at Joey. “That was so nice Joey Ward. Brant could not ask for a better friend.”
Joey, full of sarcasm in the face of adult opinion, quipped, “He might ask for one but the heck if he will get one—not with old Dogface Grundy at the gate!”
New Mom seemed troubled. “Well, Mister Joey Ward, it seems time for you to go home. Brant, brush your teeth while I put away the dolls. Then I’ll tuck you in.”
Brant said, “Okay M”—but the word Mom stick in his throat.
New Mom was understanding. “I understand Brant. It will take some time.”
Joey said, “Hey Mrs. Bracken I’ll make sure Brant brushes his teeth good and I’ll see myself out.”
“That is so sweet of you Joey Ward.”
While New Cruddy Mom absently fussed with the dolls Joey walked him to the bathroom, which felt really weird. He also whispered in his ear, “Look Brant you’re a good kid and I can’t handle this anymore. I’m afraid you’ll have a new best friend tomorrow.”
Brant looked at him questioningly as they got to the sink and Joey hissed, “Either eat the whole tube and sleep forever or don’t use the paste kid—later.”
Sleep forever?
The paste, he’s warning me about the paste.
I always do get sleepy when I brush…
He looked questioningly in the mirror to the freckled red-haired boy standing there, who looked so much younger than his best friend.
Pretend; that’s what you always do to forget Lassie being gone and parents changing, and Mrs. Grundy being so bossy—pretend!
So he pretended that he was wiping toothpaste on his brush, like he would for Cowboy Jones, when he tried to scrub away his wicked Indian-killing grin, and then began to brush. He brushed and did not feel the least bit drossy. He then rinsed the brush and washed out his mouth, and brushed some more, looking all the while into the mirror at the freckle-faced boy, wondering when he would get sleepy.
I’m not even sleepy a little bit.
I think I’m done with this toothpaste.
Who wants cruddy old toothpaste that makes you feel sleepy before you are actually tired?
Heck, without toothpaste I could play with toys all night!
He heard a woman’s squeak and a crunch downstairs.
I wonder what that was.
Probably Mrs. Grundy and a mouse; squeak-squash! I’d hate to be a mouse getting stepped on by big fat Mrs. Grundy!
You know, there is lots of parent noise going on when you go to sleep. They probably do all kinds of stuff while you are asleep.
Yeah, like all those times they got new furniture!
Remember all those times Old Dad changed the brand of beer he drank. Heck, you go to sleep with a fridge full of Antarctic Buzz and wake up and it’s packed with Hop Harp Ultra.
Yeah, parents are crazy. That’s it, that’s why they keep changing up, they all go nuts!
He was now brushing his teeth so hard that blood was dripping into the sink.
Oh that’s cruddy.
He turned the water up and just put his mouth under the faucet, a thing Mrs. Grundy never ever permitted; a thing he now took great pleasure in doing!
He imagined he was GI Joe standing under a waterfall letting the cool clear water wash away the sweat and grime of another battle against the Bad Guys. He could even imagine a moan of a bad guy in the background—or was it real?
Am I going crazy like the parents?
Maybe I need my toothpaste after all?
That toothpaste would taste mighty good right now.
Yeah, brush with some toothpaste and you will feel swell.
Mrs. Grundy always said that ‘toothpaste cured what ailed you.’
He heard a thud and a heavy footstep behind him—Mrs. Grundy checking on me—and resolved to look like a good boy and put some toothpaste on his brush.
Remember to smile at your bossy old nurse.
He looked up into the mirror as he applied paste to brush and saw—the most torn up looking GI Joe ever; and this one was a real life-sized man who had lost his uniform!
Brant turned to face the rough-looking good guy, who actually had a lot of bad guy characteristics, and noticed to his horror that he had Joey Ward by the hair with one hand and a big mean looking pistol in the other.
He looked up into the man’s icy blue eyes, eyes like Mom had, but lit from behind with some dark force. The man then swallowed hard for a moment, almost as if he were afraid—afraid of what? What could this GI Joe be afraid of?
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