Simon's Journal

Volume III

Thirteen Sails
Adventures Abound

Written by Danny







Chapter - 18

Soaking in heaven's tears


"That was the best time ever! BJ said as we were walking out of Pinky's.

"I think I ate too much!" I said rubbing my bloated belly and feeling that the front of my shirt was damp to the touch. I knew instantly that I'd exceeded the maximum capacity of my diaper. I said to myself, hope it holds out until we get home.

"I know I did!" Mom said comically holding her belly as if she were pregnant.

"I won't need to eat again for at least an hour!" Mr. Otteranski joked.

"An hour?" Dad laughed, "I don't even want to think about food until next week!"

"Can we stop for ice cream on the way home?" BJ teased too.

Playing along I said, "Ice cream? You just had a three scoop banana split plus you ate nearly half of mine and you want more ice cream?" I said a little louder than what was needed.

"You're fat enough!" My dad said suddenly grabbing BJ and putting him into a walking headlock.

BJ first tried to muscle his way out of the headlock and when that failed he tried to use flawed logic, "You're going to mess up my hair!"

I felt the need to comment on that, "I hate to tell you this, but you're hair can't be more messed up then it is right now."

"You got a lot of room to talk mop boy!" my dad said trying to get a hold of me with his other arm but I ducked and avoided him.

"Ha-Ha! You missed me!" I said flapping my hands next to my ears and sticking my tongue out at him.

However, I hadn't counted on Mr. Otteranski doing a sneak attack.

"NO FAIR!" I squealed as he ticked my arm pits from behind.

I was so relieved that he didn't keep tickling me and I took off running several strides ahead of them toward the car. I turned and added, "You attacked from behind! That isn't fair!"

I think Mr. Otteranski has been hanging around my dad too much because his response was exactly what I would expect my dad to say. "Well you're behind was too me!" he said.

Well I guess it is better to be blessed with beauty over brains, huh? Then again, maybe not; I think I will blame my following action on the fact that I was all hopped up on sugar from the ice-cream and sodas. I suppose I also felt somewhat safe as I was staying several strides ahead of them by jogging backwards. I spun around on one heal and said, "Oh yeah, well how about this behind?" With a single swift move I had reached behind me, pulled down the back of my pants and diaper about halfway and mooned the lot of them.

"SIMON!" Mom yelled in her mom voice but I just laughed it off, pulled my pants back up and took off running for the car at break-neck speed.

"Run Simon, run!" BJ shouted and I looked back to see Mr. Otteranski hot on my heals.

I squealed and ran even faster. When I reached the car I didn't stop, I ran all the way around it to keep it between Mr. Otteranski and me. He was laughing, panting for breath and holding his bloated belly.

"Oh you are lucky I am so full!" he said.

I looked to see how close everyone else was and they were still a few cars away.

"Yeah and old!" I said.

"You have to sleep sometime," Mr. Otteranski said huffing and puffing.

"Alright you two, I don't want anyone getting sick in the car so just settle down!" Mrs. Otteranski ordered.

"Yeah, so that means you can't get me!" I said to BJ's dad.

"Oh no it doesn't!" My dad said.

"Yeah huh!" I argued.

"Alright, come get in the car," mom said motioning for me.

"Mom, make him not get me!" I pleaded.

"Come on!" she said.

"But mom!" I whined.

I went around the car to get in, although reluctantly but I should have been keeping my eye on everyone, not just Mr. Otteranski because mom popped my backside when I wasn't looking. It was in fun but she also said, "You know better then to go showing off you bottom in public like that."

"Hey!" I protested while giggling and climbing into the car.

Mom climbed in after me, leaned over and asked in a whisper, "Do you need changed before we start back?"

Without looking up I shook my head. In truth I did need changed but I knew that would mean getting changed either there in the car with everyone waiting and watching or she would send me back into the restaurant to get changed. Even worse would be if she insisted on taking me in herself and having Peter see.


On the way back to the beach house from Pinky's it started to rain. At first it was a little rain, just enough to mess up the windshield if Dad turned on the wipers. It seemed that the further away from Pinky's we got the heavier the rain came down so that by the time we reached our destination we were in the middle of a torrential downpour. It was every man, woman and child for themselves as everyone leapt from the car and ran for the covered porch.

My mom, BJ's mom, BJ and I were on the porch in nothing flat but Mr. Otteranski and my dad were taking their sweet time out there in the rain.

It was so dark and raining so hard that we couldn't even see them. I imagine that to everyone else the rain was just another rain storm but it made me remember when the Louisiana area and the Banachelli were visited by hurricane Katrina. I probably would have been at risk of loosing myself to the memories had mom not shouted into the rain and startled me.

"Honey, are you coming?" Mom called out to dad.

"I'm singing in the rain!" Dad sang.

Mr. Otteranski followed with, "Oh what a lovely feeling!"

And the two of them together strolled up to the porch steps singing, "Just singing and dancing in the rain!"

I laughed at their silliness as I pulled the rubber band from the back of my head to allow my soaked hair to fall loose once more. That should give you an idea how hard it was raining. From the car to the porch it took me less then five seconds and in that brief time I got soaked to the bone.

Earlier, on the way to Pinky's mom had been on my case about my hair looking wild and unkempt. I confessed that it hadn't seen a comb or brush in so long that I couldn't remember if I had brushed it since BJ and his parents had picked me up at home to come to the beach with them. She found a rubber band in her purse and with a degree of difficulty had pulled my hair back into a ponytail.

"I think that's the first time I have seen his eyes this whole trip!" Mrs. Otteranski kidded me.

But now it felt good to let it loose and let it fall around my shoulders again. I gave my head a shake and pulled my hair back behind my ears to keep it from hanging over my face.

"Dad what about Tom?" BJ asked.

"What about him?" Mr. Otteranski asked in return.

I already knew that Tom wasn't out in the rain. When we were driving up to the house I had noticed that there was a light on inside and figured it was Tom.

"He's a big boy! I'm sure he can take care of himself." My dad said shaking his head like a dog trying to dry himself.

"Dear, maybe you should go ask him to come down and stay inside tonight." Mrs. Otteranski asked her husband.

"Are you all going to stand out there on the porch all evening?" Tom said from the front window.

Mom squealed and I thought Mrs. Otteranski was going to faint.

"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you!" Tom chuckled.

"Oh you did so!" I said to him with a laugh and clutching at my thumping heart.

"Yep, you caught me!" He said and disappeared from the window to go open the door for us.

"Well, I wasn't expecting company but come on in, make yourselves at home!" Tom joked.

I was the last one to go inside and the last to see how Tom was dressed.

"Hope you don't mind but I sort of got caught out in the rain." He said.

He was wearing Mrs. Otteranski night robe and had a towel wrapped around his head like a genie's hat.

Mrs. Otteranski and my mom were laughing so hard that they had to hold on to each other to keep from falling over. Dad seemed to feel that it was a Kodak moment and had pulled out his camera phone to snap a quick picture.

Tom pointed at dad and half laughing said, "That better not appear on the internet!"

"Internet? Are you daft man? As far as I'm concerned we have the cover for next years Christmas cards.

Everyone laughed, even Tom; however, I wouldn't put it past my dad to actually go through with it. I kind of hope he does because it would be so incredibly funny!


After I got changed into a dry GoodNite and dry clothes I went back out to the front room where mom made me sit on the floor between her feet while she combed the knots out of my long hair. It took a good while and hurt like mad but I didn't complain too much. I figured that it was my own fault for not keeping it brushed everyday.

When she was done I talked dad into helping me with my new boat. He and I sat at the kitchen table to open the box; it was a real pain in the rear diaper area too! Each individual piece was shrink-wrapped in hard plastic and strapped to the cardboard container with little wire twist ties. By the time we were done it was late and I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I suppose coming off that sugar high wasn't helping me none either.

I'd been so focused on what we were doing that I hadn't even noticed that Tom and Mr. Otteranski had fallen asleep in the front room. Or that BJ had gone to bed without being told. Mom and Mrs. Otteranski were still up; they were out on the front porch chatting, watching it rain and drinking tea.

Dad must have seen my droopy eyes because he said, "Hey, why don't you go to bed. I'll plug in the batteries and let them charge overnight. That way it will be ready for you by morning."

"Yeah, ok." I responded.

I got up from my chair, walked around the table and hugged him tightly.

"I really missed you this week!" he said.

"I missed you too." I said and normally I would have let go of him and headed off to bed but something inside me wouldn't let me release my hold on his neck.

"Simon?" dad asked with a hint of concern.

I didn't reply; I continued to hug him tightly.

"Simon? Are you ok?" he asked with more concern.

I sniffled.

"Simon, are you crying?" he asked and hugged me even tighter.

"No," I lied.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

I finally let go of him but he held onto my upper arms and looked me in the eye. "What is it?"

I shook my head and wiped at my tears.

"What?" He continued to probe.

I shrugged my shoulders.

"Come on, I'll help you get ready for bed." He said to me.

In the room that BJ and I had been sleeping in we found BJ lying face down on the bottom bunk still fully dressed and clutching his new puzzle snake. I swear, I don't know what he saw in that puzzle snake, it looked kind of dumb to me but he sure does like it an awful lot. By the way he was laying, he must have fallen asleep on the way to bed because his legs didn't even make it; they were hanging over the side of the mattress.

"Looks like someone got wore out today." Dad commented while petting the back of my head.

"It was Tom's fault! He wore us out!" I said accusingly.

Dad lifted BJ and laid him back in bed properly. He also removed BJ's shoes and tried to take the snake puzzle but even asleep BJ wasn't about to give it up.


I hadn't realized just how wet I was until dad came over and started to pull down my short.

"Simon, you shouldn't go around in a wet diaper for so long. You are going to get a bad diaper rash again." Dad chastised.

"But I didn't even know." I said in defense.

"Maybe you should take a bath before bed?" and I wasn't sure if he was asking or telling me.

"Not another bath!" I whined most excellently.

Dad cracked a smile and squeezed my thigh, "Been having a few have we?"

"Only like a million every stinking day!" I said.

"A million? Son I have told you a billion times not to exaggerate!" dad joked.

I giggled, "Yeah, well you say lots of stuff; I can't remember all of it."

Dad popped my bare behind jokingly. "Is that right?"

"Yeah!" I laughed.

He tickled me and said, "Maybe I need to go back to talking with my belt?"

"No don't tickle! Not fair, not fair!" I squealed.

"Hush, you are going to wake up the whole house." Dad said digging his fingers into my arm pits.

"Oh please dad, please, please!" I begged.

He gave my bottom another swat and said, "Alright you, to the tub and be quick about it!"


I didn't take very long in the bathroom and when I returned I found dad standing at the bedroom window looking out at the rain.

"Done already?" he asked when he saw me streaking back into the room with the towel draped around the back of my neck.

There was a flash of lightning outside that made dad take a step away from the window. We both waited for the clap of thunder but it never came.

"Hey, no thunder!" dad comment.

"Maybe God was just taking your picture." I joked.

I shouldn't have said that because it gave dad an idea. Before I knew it he had pulled out his camera phone and snapped a picture of me standing there in all the splendor that Mother Nature had blessed me with.

"DAD!" I complained and instinctively covered my boy parts with my hands.

He just laughed and said, "And that one I'll save for blackmail later."

"DAAAD!" I whined.

"DAAAD!" he mimicked.

I stomped my foot and made an angry face at him.

"Oh now that one is good too!" he said and snapped another picture.

"DAAAAAAD! I whined again as I raced over to my bag, got out a pair of GoodNites and slipped them on quickly.

He came over, hugged me and said, "You know I love you don't you?"

"Yeah, well you got to. I am your son." I said with half a grin.

"Oh I do huh?" He said smiling back.

He gave me a kiss on the cheek, turned my head, kissed my other cheek and topped them off with another swat to my padded rump.

"Alright SON! Get to bed and I'll see you in the morning."

"I can't yet!" I protested.

"Why not?" he asked.

I looked at him as if he should already know the reason, "I got to go kiss mom goodnight too."

"Well hurry up and I'll tuck you in!" he said.

When I returned I found him standing by the window again. I scampered up to the top bunk and he pulled the covers up over me.

"Night dad," I said.

"Goodnight son! Now shut up and go to sleep." He said with a laugh.

"OK, I love you too!" I laughed back.

As he left he flicked off the light and pulled the door about half closed. I think that I must have fallen asleep the instant the light was off.


Chapter - 19

Bathed in misery


Once again I awoke in the middle of the night from having a bad dream; it wasn't a real bad one but it was enough to startle me awake.

All that soda and ice cream I'd had at Pinky's had done a real number on my GoodNite and left me lying in a very wet bed.

"Ah man!" I whined to myself when I saw that the GoodNite had failed to stem the night tide.

I climb quietly out of the top bunk trying not to shake the bed too much and wake BJ. I had no idea what time it was and I wasn't in any mood for another bath but when I started to change my GoodNite I saw that besides wetting the bed I had also pooped the bed.

"Ah man!" I whimpered.

I didn't want to risk making a mess on the floor there in our bedroom or worse yet, leave a poop trail all the way to the bathroom so I pulled the soiled GoodNite back up and shuffled my bare feet across the cool wooden floor to the bathroom. I decided that since I needed another bath I might as well enjoy myself and soak in the hot water for a while. Besides, all that rain had really cooled the beach house down. I'm sure being soaked with pee wasn't helping me none either.

While waiting for the tub to fill I had an idea. I went back to the room, retrieved my electronic journal and started back again. However, this time when I entered the hallway I wasn't alone.

"Simon? Why are you up?" Tom asked.

Thought I hadn't actually seen him, I must have known he was there because when he spoke I simply looked up at him. He was still wearing Mrs. Otteranski robe and the site of him made me giggle out loud. He smiled and re-adjusted the robe.

"I had a bad dream," I answered.

"You ok?" he asked reaching out for me and rubbing the back of my head.

I nodded, stepped closer to him and wrapped my arms around him.

He patted my head and kneaded the back of my neck with his other hand. "Are you taking a bath this late?" he asked.

"Yeah, I sort of had another accident." I said releasing him from my hug.

"Ah, I see. You going to need any help?" he asked.

I shook my head but then remembered the bandage on my back. Without having me turn around he leaned over me and removed it so fast that it didn't even hurt.

"Wow, you are good at that." I said.

Tom smiled, pinched his nose and said, "You're right, you need a bath."

I gave him a wise guy smirk.

"When you're done you really should get back to bed. It's only 1:40 in the morning." He said.

I shrugged, nodded and walked into the bathroom feeling glad that Tom was inside with us and not out in the rain.

I tested the water with my left toe. "Oh hot, hot, hot! Way too hot!" I shrieked quietly.

With the hot water turned off I let the cold water run a while longer to bring the overall temperature down to a more skin pleasing level. I tested the water again and this time it was just hot enough that I could stand it without it boiling me like a lobster. Before I climbed in I moved over by the toilet, pulled my GoodNite down and stepped out of it. It was full, very full so I tilted it over the toilet and it made a satisfying plop as my poop fell into the bowl.

"Funny how ice-cream can be so scrumptious and good looking going in, but look and smell like that coming out." I whispered to no one.

The GoodNite made a squishy sound when I dropped it on the floor beside the toilet and then I sat myself down to wipe the extra poop off. I mean, why muddy up my nice tub of hot water with yucky poop?!

It took several wipes to get most of the poop off my bottom and when I stood up again I saw that I'd left poop all over the seat as well.

"Dang-it!" I said in frustration.

Using more toilet paper I cleaned the seat before flushing and heading over to get in the tub.

Oh, it felt especially good on my back as I lowered myself into the water all the way up to my lips. Only from my nose up was still above the waters surface; well, that and my right hand which was holding my e-journal up to keep it from getting wet. Like seaweed my hair floated in the water gently tickling my sides and belly. I stayed submerged for a good long while until I was totally use to the warmth of the water and tremendously relaxed.

I raised myself back out of the water so that I was sitting up. At first I was going to just sit Indian style in the tub but I decided that I wanted to see if I could lean back against the tub without it hurting too much. At first it did sting but that soon went away and I was wholly comfortable. By placing my elbows on the top of either side of the tub, I was able to keep myself from sliding back down in the water and yet still had my hands free to do some journaling.

When the bathroom door opened I wasn't surprised to see BJ come strolling in.

"Simon?" He said when the bathroom light invaded his sleepy eyes. Instinctively he raised his arm to shield his eyes.

"Yeah, I'm in the tub." I answered.

"Oh, ok" He said and then asked, "Can I come in? I need to pee really bad!"

His asking surprised me but I chalked it down to him probably still being asleep.

"Sure come on in." I said.

He didn't say anything else; he stepped up to the toilet, lifted the seat and dropped his pants and underwear to his ankles. He wasn't lying when he said he needed to pee `really bad' because he peed for what seemed like forever. And it wasn't one of those small trickling pees; when he started it sounded like he was spraying a garden hose into the bowl. When he was finally done he pulled his underwear and shorts back up and started back toward his bed without flushing. I watched him shuffling toward the bathroom door. His head seemed to be bobbing on his shoulders like one of those big headed toys. It didn't surprise me that as he left he pulled the door closed and turned off the light.

"Yep, he is still asleep!" I giggled to myself and was thankful that I had already turned on my e-journal. It gave off enough light that I could see well enough to do my journaling.

At first I wrote about everything that had happened here at the beach house since my last entry and then I started to journal about the dream I was having before waking up and coming into the bathroom. I had been dreaming about what I had been telling BJ earlier on the beach and I had woke up right at the point where I realized that I was tied up and wrapped inside the stinky blanket.

I opened a new journal entry and started writing...


The grouchy man cussed and then a door slammed shut behind me.

"Is me ol' room still `valable?" the Jamaican woman asked and that's when I remembered who the voice belonged too. The first time I had been brought to the `Banachelli Orphanage for Boys' I had been put on a boat and a Jamaican woman had cared for me while I had been aboard.

When the blanket was pulled off me, my eyes needed time to adjust to the sudden exposure to light however in the mean-time I also heard someone whimpering to my right.

I squinted and looked around trying to find the Jamaican woman but she had already left the room. I could still hear her in the hallway, "Just look at dis dirty-dirty place! Madam-M won't be happy! Mmmmm, no; won't be happy!"

Sniffles from beside me drew my attention away from the door the led to the hallway. I looked to my right and saw Lowell standing beside me. There must have been something wrong with his arm because he was cradling it and crying softly.

I opened my mouth, "Y-y-you o-ok L-L...?" and someone hit me from behind so hard that I fell forward onto the icy linoleum. Since my hands and feet were still bound I could not do anything to brace myself from the fall and my head bounced on the floor twice.

"NO TALKING!" Mrs. Wriggle screeched with self amusement.

Something in me snapped! I don't me physically, I mean mentally and emotionally. I proceeded to lay out a string of profanities so colorful and venomous that even I was surprised by my audacity. I am sure my words would have carried more weight if I hadn't also been stuttering so severely but even stuttering didn't stop me! Mrs. Wriggle kicked me several times but I kept spouting cursed word after cursed word. Even when Mr. Wriggle grabbed me by my tied feet and began to drag me away I still continued my verbal assault.

Frankly I was flabbergasted when Mr. Wriggle didn't carry me off to the bowels of the Banachelli and lock me away in the pit again. No, instead he only drug me as far as the outer hallway and left me lying there still tied up. Of course that didn't shut me up; on the contrary, it just meant that I had to shout all the louder to be heard. It was Micky that finally got me to quiet down.

I had wiggled around on the floor like an inch worm so that I could look back into the other room where Lowell still stood with Cho kneeling at his feet trying to untie his legs.

That's when I heard someone from the other direction say in a whispered shout, "For pitty sake shu'up!"

I twisted around and saw Micky, Peter, Timmy, Tyler and Jonathan all standing at the other end of the hallway looking unreservedly traumatized. The whole lot of them were nude, except for the dingy diapers pinned about their loins.

As if I had just bumped into them at the mall I said, "O-o-oh h-hello th-there g-g-g-g-guys! H-how you b-been?"

Micky spoke again, "Ya just hush now!"

They must have seen someone coming because they suddenly vanished back around the corner. I craned my head so that I could see back into the room and I half expected to see Mr. or Mrs. Wriggle coming toward me but that wasn't the case at all. Instead it was Cho, dragging her bad leg, thud, shhhh, thud, shhhh and leading Lowell by the hand and the Wriggles were no where in site or ear shot.

Lowell was still crying and cradling his arm when the two of them got to where I was lying. Lowell dropped to his knees and hugged my head as he wept bitterly. I also got a close up view of his arm and saw that the skin around his wrist was raw from the ropes that had held his arms behind him.

Once they had removed my bonds I was able to hug Lowell properly. Cho was nice and allowed us a moment or two to weep together before taking our hands and leading us to be washed and diapered. Once we were adequately equipped for the night and Lowell's wrist was bandaged, Cho showed us to our room, which was the exact same room as before with the one vacant bed still waiting for us. Lowell and I didn't object to having to share the bed. Truth be known, I preferred it that way and I am confident that Lowell felt the same way. I allowed Lowell to lie down first and he held open his arms to me and I laid myself down beside him. The two of us held each other tightly and cried ourselves to sleep.


Chapter - 20

The Inner Sanctum


"Ssssst! Ssssst!"

I awoke to that sound coming through the darkness, and my heart began to beat more rapidly. This time I knew what the whispered hisses meant. It was a signal from the others in my room and before long I was to be privileged to one of their most secret, secrets.

Again Micky summoned us through the darkness, "Ssssst! Ssssst! M'on, guys!" Micky's whispered voice was accompanied by the sound of his feet hitting the cold floor. "Ya didn't go an' drop off t'sleep, did ya? Cho's G.O.N.E.,"

I had no idea why he spelled the word `gone' and I didn't get to find out because he followed it up with, "S'ok, really, c'mon."

"We're coming!" Lowell whispered back and then whispered into my ear, "Drop off to sleep? Is he serious?"

"W-what? You w-weren't sleeping?" I asked.

"No, you mean you were?" He asked back.

"Y-yeah, b-but only for a s-second," I said but in truth, I had no idea how long I had been asleep.

My heart was racing as Lowell and I tiptoed toward the tiny flashlight that illuminated the middle of the room. As I moved I became aware of the fact that during the short period of sleep I had wet myself.

"Sure glad you'z didn't get dead!" Micky said holding the flashlight up to his face so that we could see that he was grinning from ear to ear.

"Everybody ready? Good, some'n get the cover." Micky said and then shone his flashlight on Lowell and me, "Y'all go on, and I will go last."

"I'll get it," Jonathan said at once, quickly dropping down and reaching under the bed.

There followed the same scraping sound I remembered from before, and then Jonathan reached out. "Let me have it."

Tyler handed him the flashlight and crawled with it under one of the beds. The other boys scrambled after him, and then Micky gave Lowell and me a little push. "Follow 'em but watch out f'r splin'rs."

I was on my hands and knees with Lowell kneeling beside me when he whispered into my ear, "What's that mean?"

"I think he meant splinters," I whispered back.

"Oh," Lowell replied with an amused titter.

I ducked down at once and crawled under the bed toward the glow of the flashlight shining from a hole in the floor. Peering down the hole, I saw an old fat knotted rope and started down it, with Lowell and then Micky coming down directly after me. The climb hurt but I didn't let on. About half way down the rope I could hear someone complaining, "Who's leakin' up there?" and I knew it was me by the trickle I felt down my left leg.

As soon as Micky's head cleared the top, he reached up and dragged the square, splintered wood cover back over the hole before following me down. The other boys all stood pressed together at the bottom end of the rope and were staring intently at Lowell and me as we turned to face them.

Then to the delight of all of them, Tyler, Jonathan, Peter, Timmy, and Micky-if their wide grins were any evidence of it-I gasped and my eyes flew wide open. For though I did definitely find myself in what was obvious a forgotten ship cabin for someone of importance, which I will add was not what I had suspected it would be, and further, the scene was much different from what I had imagined it to be. I hardly needed to pretend to be surprised. When I looked to Lowell his mouth was hanging open and his eyes were like two enormous white orbs with irises dilated so wide that they eclipsed the color.

The cabin, at least what I could see of it, was cheerfully lit not only by the flashlight brought down by Jonathan, but by two others as well, which were set on the floor and shining upward. And what the lights revealed was a cozy scene featuring two pieces of carpet circled by two metal folding chairs and several overturned plastic milk crates. Against a wall stood a cupboard, of sorts, made up of more crates, one piled atop the other to form shelves on which were stacked an assortment of cups and plates. There were even pictures decorating the walls, almost too many to count.

It made no difference to me, and in truth I hardly noticed, that the carpet pieces were little more than rags, so worn, frayed, and moth-eaten that the few bits of matted fibers barely revealed that they might once have been a soft plush pile. And it made no difference either that the two chairs were metal folding chairs with dents in the seat, and paint-chipped legs that needed to be supported by what appeared to be large amounts of duct tape and string. Nor did I care that all the plastic milk crates bore faded labels announcing that they had once been the containers of Farmers Market Dairy Products. I did not care further that not one cup or dish on the makeshift shelves, outside of being badly chipped or cracked, bore the slightest resemblance to any other, or that the pictures on the walls were nothing but crumpled, dirty bits and pieces of paper barely recognizable as pictures.

"Welcome to our secret home," Micky said, beaming brightly.

"It's real nice, ain't it?" said Peter, and though his chest was so skinny that he rib cage showed beneath the skin it still swelled with pride.

"So, wot ya think?" Timmy asked us eagerly.

Jonathan's pale eyebrows drew together over his washed-out eyes in a worried frown. "Ain't you got nothin' to say?"

"Oh—uh, yeah!" Lowell finally said.

I jumped in with, "I th-think it's, it's..."

"Splendid!" Lowell suggested.

"Yeah, splendid!" I said, "That's precisely what it is!"

Tyler produced a chip-toothed grin and dug Timmy in the ribs with an elbow. "Hear that, Tim? They think it's splendid!"

"We knew you'd like it," said Micky, as all the boys stood there grinning like morbid looking manikins modeling wet, dingy diapers and dirty faces.

Then, suddenly, Peter broke away from the others and ran to the wall behind him. "Look here!" He pointed to the wall, hopping from one foot to the other with pent-up excitement. "This here's one I found. Can you see wot it's a picture of?"

I could plainly see that it was a diaper add clipped from a magazine. When I looked to Lowell I could see that he was as surprised by this revelation as I was.

Jonathan's pale, sad eyes came to life as he ran up beside Peter. "An' this is one I got. It's of a calendar and under is numbers wot says wot day it is."

It definably was a calendar however it was from 1983 but that didn't matter. What was important was that each month seemed to feature a different picture of toddlers wearing Pampers diapers. I knew they were Pampers because in the bottom left corner of each picture was the Pampers logo. Plus several of the pictures had a package of Pampers in the background.

A moment later Tyler, Timmy, and Micky were all just as eagerly pointing out to Lowell and I the pictures each had found, some from news papers, some pages torn from magazines, and some parts torn from diaper packages.

Lowell was examining each one carefully. "Where did you ever find them all?" he asked.

"Mostly from trash cans," Micky replied. "Some we found on the streets!"

"I found the calendar blowin' down the street. I saved it just 'fore it were 'bout to go down the sewer," said Peter proudly. "B-but how d-did you ever get th-them in here?" I asked and surprisingly the dreadful word "pocket" still seemed to be freshly etched in my memory.

"Aw, pictures is easy, ain't they, Micky?" Rufiis said.

"Nothin' much to it, if y'r brains ain't gone an' run out y'r ears," replied Micky sticking a finger into his ear and twisting it about. "Find 'em goin' to and from where ever you are havin' to go work wotever day an' just stick 'em inside y'r trousers. But I knows wot y'r thinkin', and it's 'bout Mr. Toad-face an' them pockets."

He was right, that is exactly what I was thinking about.

"Well, even if'n we got caught with pictures, wouldn't make no difference; they ain't worth nothin'. But that," Micky bit his lip instead of allowing himself to cuss, "that coin! I should o' swallered it!"

Several heads indicated their agreement.

"Swallered it?" Lowell said holding his throat as though the very thought of it was choking him.

"Yeah, would a come out sooner or later." Timmy replied and I felt my butt cheeks clench together at the idea of having to squeeze a coin out my tiny poop hole. And then I wondered how he'd know when it came out. I could only think of one way and that wasn't a pleasant thought.

"What about the rest?" Lowell asked, "How did you manage all these cool things? I mean the chairs and plastic boxes and dishes and stuff?"

"These weren't hard t'all," Peter said picking up a milk crate and putting it on his head like some kind of plastic cube shaped helmet. "Ain't that right, Micky?" he said.

Micky looked annoyed with Peter but nodded and said, "That short drunken fool of a cook, Fyer, he uses them to bring stuff back from the store."

"Not always just the store neither," Timmy added, "Most o' the times he picks up stuff from wherever he sees somet'n he figures would be half way eat-able for a dog."

One of the other boys chimed in, "An' he thinks if a dog was will'n to scaff it down, then us boys oughter be will'n to."

Micky spat on the floor, "Ain't that the stinkin' truth," and then scrunching up his nose he added, "Anyways, where he keeps them boxes is in the ol' coal room."

Micky pointed up as he said, "He gots'm piled in there so high he don't know how many he gots no-how."

Tyler then staggered around pretend to be drunk as he said, "Most nights he's so drunk and snorin' up a storm that nothin' could wake `im!"

Jonathan jumped in with, "We just sneak in and barries some. He don't `member 'nough'n in the mornin'."

"Sept to drink some more!" one of the other boys said and they all laughed.

Then Micky said, "A milk crate missin' here and there... he don't know no difference!"

"Now tell `em 'bout the chairs and rugs," Tyler said grinning knowingly.

"You's the one wot found 'em," said Micky. "So ya tell `em."

"Aw, weren't much," said Tyler timidly, studying his fingernails. "I just found 'em all stacked up back o' the washin' room off the kitchen when I were supposed to be washin' these." He said hiking up the front of his diaper and thrusting his hips forward as though he were doing some kind of nerd dance.

Timmy then added, "An' you was smart to nab `em too."

"Aw, weren't nothin'," said Tyler, returning to the study of his fingernails.

"Were too," said Timmy putting Tyler into a loose headlock and giving him several firm noogies.

Peter then added, "An' all we needed for them chairs was somet'n to hold 'em together, an' we found that in..."

"Maybe we better wait an' tell `em 'bout that later, don't ya think?" Micky broke in quickly.

I saw Lowell yawn, though he tried to hide it and his sore wrist must have been bothering him `cause he was cradling it next to his chest again. I was feeling pretty tired myself but there were a few things I needed to know about.

"That night that Harpo died..." I began.

"You mean when you killed that..." Peter started to say.

"Hush up and let `em talk for crying out loud!" Micky said swatting and missing Peter.

I then asked about what had happened after those three boys, that girl and I had brought her little brother Quade out from that horrid house and away from their drunken, abusive father. "I remember something was happening inside here... I mean the Banachelli, but when we came out of that house with Quade that witch Rubella Wriggle caught me again."

"Bunch of us nearly `scaped. Some still did but they were found and brought back. There were tons of really big men here for a few days and I think they still might be in other parts of the Banachelli where we ain't ever allowed to go. Boy them Wriggles were so mad at you," he pointed at Lowell and then me, "when ya `scaped."

"What about Poppy?" I asked, "Is he still here?"

"I seen `im once the other day." Timmy said, "He weren't `round that first day and everyone thought he was dead or somethin' but then I seen him and he looked way bad wit' his arm wrapped up like a mummy!"

Micky then said, "And then these other really strong looking men started showing up all the time bringing big boxes and stuff like that in but then they would leave again."

"What were they bringing?" Lowell asked.

"Don't no one know." Micky said with an exaggerated shrug, "They come only at night when it's dark."

"And them Wriggles," Jonathan began saying with a discussed expression, "Tyler," he gave Tyler a jovial nudge, "heard them sayin' that som'un named Madam-M was come'n!"

Lightning bolts began firing inside my head causing mini-synaptic explosions as bits and pieces begin to come together. I felt with mild absurdity that I knew who the Wriggles were talking about.

"M-M-Madd-dam-M?" I nearly shouted as my blood began to boil.

"Sssshhhhh!" everyone hushed me. Then Micky reached out and put his hand over my mouth as he groaned, "Ya wan'em ta hear ya?"

I swatted his hand away and with poison in my words I spat out the words, "I-I-I th-think I-I kn-n-now who sh-she is!"


Chapter - 21

And so life goes


Before long everyone was tired; however unlike before when we'd all come down together each of us seemed to sort of stagger away until there was only Micky, Lowell and myself left. The three of us continued to talk until well into the early morning hours. Our conversions jumped from the serious to the humorous back to serious and so on. However, eventually even the three of us knew that we had best get to bed; morning would be coming before we knew it. And so went each night for a while; though most nights we didn't dare stay up so late.

The days were a different story. Though several boys, who's names I didn't know, were sent off to the plastic factory each day none of my bunkmates were sent out of the Banachelli again; at least not while the Wriggles were in charge.


Something just popped into my head, a question someone asked me and I think I am finally ready to answer it. When I had been back home for a while my head-shrink doctor asked me, "Why didn't you try to escape again?"

At the time I didn't have an answer for her; well I had one but I wasn't willing to share it with her. The answer in its simplest form can be offered with a single word, FEAR! I don't mean fear like being scared of the Wriggles or Madam-M; but don't get me wrong, I was plenty scared of them however my biggest fear—the fear that kept me on the boat for so long was a fear planted in my head by none other than Lowell. One afternoon as the two of us were washing dirty—smelly—poop encrusted diapers, actually he was washing and I was hanging them to dry, he popped out a simple question. "Do you think you'll get in trouble with the police when you get home for what happened with Harpo?"

I didn't answer him then but unbeknown to him, he had planted a seed of fear in my mind and it grew into an uncontrollable weed of doubt and fear with roots growing down and getting tangled around my heart. A while back I wrote about how Fyer was hiding out from his past on the Banachelli; well he's not the only one, `cause I was too.

I had plenty of chances to leave, to get away, to escape but every time I thought about it panic would envelop me. Heck, there was one time after the Wriggles were dead and Madam-M was in charge; she had sent me along with Runt and one of the other boys to meet a truck that was bringing more supplies to the Banachelli. I had been left alone in the van with it running for nearly ten minutes. And yes, the thought crossed my mind to put into action the driving skills Bull had taught. I had my right hand on the gear shift knob, my left clutching the steering wheel and kept repeating over and over, "Do it! Do it! Just do it!" But I couldn't do it.


As I was saying before... the days and nights passed; before long Lowell and I had fallen into the Banachelli routine. I'd even managed to learn how to stay out of the Wriggles crosshairs—mostly. At least I didn't have to go back to that loathsome pit again but a few times I got kicked, slapped and knocked around. I might add that only happened when Sister Sarafina wasn't around which was usually at meal times.

Having Sister Sarafina come to the Banachelli was by far the best thing that could have happened to us boys. Aside from Lowell and Vera, Sister Sarafina was the only other one I knew without hesitation that I could trust.

If I remember right, it was two days after Lowell and I had returned to the Banachelli when I really saw her for the first time. We were heading to dinner when from behind we both heard, "You boys are not going to go eat looking like dat are you?"

Since Lowell and I had thought we were alone in the hallway we were understandably shocked to hear someone else's voice. At first I hadn't connected the accent; I had to wait until my heart started pumping blood to my brain again before that would happen. Lowell and I jumped, spun around and gasped in unison. When I realized that Lowell and I were holding each others hand like a couple of frightened school girls I blushed and jerked my hand away.

What we saw, and she would box my ears if she heard me say this, was an approximately five foot tall penguin. That dork Lowell was so stupid, or maybe it was because he was raised with a preacher for a dad, anyway he actually opened his stupid-stupid mouth and said it. "Hey, it's one of those holy penguins."

In Lowell's defense, he did apologize almost immediately. But to this day, whenever I see a nun I can't help but giggle and remember how Lowell sounded when he tried to apologize to Sister Sarafina for that crack.

I don't think at the time that either of us actually heard her question. We were so startled that even if we had heard her, it didn't register. With Lowell and I standing there with dripping shirts and soggy diapers sagging down nearly to our knees from being worn and used all day she smile, folded her hands, sighed and repeated her question. "Surely da two of you were not going ta sit down and eat looking like dat were you?"

I didn't get it and grunted, "Uhhh?"

The corner of her mouth twitched.

"Hey, you're the one aren't you?" I asked realizing who I was seeing for the first time.

Her smile disappeared as she answered, "I am what I am, no more, no less. Now," she reached out and took hold our shoulders, "Let's get ya tidied up first shall we?"

"But if we're late we'll be in trouble!" Lowell said.

She didn't reply but instead lead us right back to where we'd just come from; where she changed our diapers and made us wash our faces, ears and necks.

She was just finishing my diaper when she paused to ask, "I haven't seen the other boy dat came here wit' ya?"

"What other boy?" I asked puzzled over who she might be referring too.

I've come to learn that Sister Sarafina doesn't answer a lot of questions put to her. She gave me a look as though she were trying to decide something about me. Even when I asked her again she didn't explain who she had meant. It wasn't until I learned that my brother was on board that he had been the one she was meaning.

As I got to my feet she did say this, "Soon t'ings be changing `round here. Mark my words!"

She ushered us back out and was taking us to where we knew everyone was already eating. Lowell finally asked, "What's your name?"

She stopped, took a firm hold of Lowell's chin and asked, "Ya mean beside Holy Penguin?"

Lowell turned so red!

"My name is Sister Sarafina and don't you go forgetting it ya hear me child?" I would have thought she was angry had she not been ginning as she said it.

When Lowell tried to tell her his name she squeezed his chin tighter, "I know who ya bot' are; Lowell Marvin Vandoan and Simon David Leonard." When she said my name she looked right at me.

Lowell swatted her hand away from his chin; he looked upset.

"Don't call me that!" he said and at first I thought he was upset that she had used our real names but then I understood. He looked at me as if I had just slugged him and pointed his finger at me, "You ever tell anyone and I will never talk to you again!"

"Why you yelling at me? She's the one that called you Marvin!" I said making sure I put extra oomph into his middle name. I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head; boy he wasn't happy at all. Of course you know I took every opportunity I could to tease him about it.


When we arrived everyone was already eating just as I expected. This was the only time I ever saw her in this room while we were eating as she never, not even once, ate with us. Heck, I never saw her eat anything ever. Normally being so late would have meant we would have got nothing to eat but Sister Sarafina directed us to our seats at the table while she walked over without saying a word, filled two bowls and then brought them to us. She also brought us each a drink, a lump of bread and stood in the room until we'd eaten everything. That way the Wriggles couldn't take it away from us before we could finish.

From across the table I whispered a single word to Lowell, "Marvin" and snickered behind my hand. He didn't let his face give away his dislike but he got his message through loud and clear when he kicked my shin so hard I nearly choked on a mouthful of bread. It hurt so bad that my eyes were watering and I had to stuff my bread into my mouth to keep from crying out.


Chapter - 22

Lady in Orange


When the day came that Madam-M arrived I must admit that I wasn't surprised in the least bit to see that it was in fact my Amazon Warrior Goddess, Officer Yolanda Mecums. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself again.

I hadn't seen Lowell all day. The previous day he and I had been caught goofing around when we should have been washing diapers so he had been sent to work with Fyer which is what started the friendship between that drunken mini-giant and the two of us. Anyway, it was hot; I mean hot-hot-hot and had been for a couple of days before her arrival. Despite the fact that anyone that was seen not wearing clothes was seriously punished, I was still running around with just a diaper which pretty much everyone was doing. As a sort of protest against the Wriggles we, the other guys and me, had come up with the idea of keeping our nightly diapers on all day. I'm not sure what our reasoning was for this, maybe we were hoping to make the Wriggles sick by the smell. I was carrying an armload of freshly laundered diapers through the halls when I heard my name called. I don't mean the stupid made up name that the Wriggles had forced on me, I mean my real name.


I was getting use to Lowell and the guys calling me by my real name at night in our secret room so I wasn't startled to hear it. Sister Sarafina had also refused to use anything other than a boy's real name which just drove the Wriggles nuts. I still don't know how she knew our real names but she did. When I heard my name I turned to see who was calling for me. I could barely see over the pile of diapers but there was no way I could have missed seeing.

The second I saw her I stomped my foot and shook my head and said, "I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!"

She was standing there wearing a deep orange evening gown with black lace that framed the cleavage of her enormous breasts. On the top of her head three fluffy orange feathers stuck out of her hair to one side and were accessorized with little silver and gold colored balls the size of small berries. Around her neck she wore a delicate gold necklace with five large black beads adorning it approximately an inch a part. I couldn't see much of her legs but what I could see of them were glistening with glitter that was part of her fishnet stockings. Her feet were clad in orange satin high healed shoes with toes that came to such a sharp point that I knew they must have been killing her feet. They reminded me of two dinner hams shoved into ladies shoes.

What I hadn't expected were the other people she had with her. Directly to her left was Runt—I must admit that I wasn't so surprise by his presence, I had suspected his involvement here since day one. I hadn't expected so see Tate standing loyally beside her and that goofy grin he had plastered across his face made me want to kick him... HARD! And much to my surprise leaning against the doorjamb behind the lot of them was none other than Tate's younger brother Mikey.

All three of them were dressed alike with gray jackets and matching pants. I remember the first time I had seen Runt dressed like that it had been the same day that I had run away from the man in the rusty van and ended up in the home of a crazy old man with a crazy cat. At the time I had thought he looked like someone from a Civil War reenactment.

It was at that moment that I realized that since returning to the Banachelli I hadn't seen much of Vera. As a matter of fact, I hadn't seen her in over a week. I couldn't help but wonder where she was off to. Knowing her she was off getting fat on mice elsewhere in side the Banachelli. I guess she is ok. I mean even when she is around she is stealthy and only sticks around long enough to make sure I am still alive. Then she vanishes again for a few days at a time.

Anyway, Runt and Tate looked fit though maybe somewhat leaner. However, Mikey looked positively ill. I later learned that he had been badly injured back in the cave back in Ohio; he had survived but only barely. His eyes were now sunk back into his skull with dark grey lines beneath each one. His skin was a lifeless sort of pinkish grey that hung on him like ill-fitting clothes. I think his lips stood out the most, they were several shades lighter then the surrounding skin and boarding on white.

I was still shaking my head and repeating, "I knew it! I knew it!"

Mikey spoke in a voice I didn't recognize. He sounded weak and feeble; his words came out almost as if they were an afterthought.

"Yes, you're very smart! Now do shut up would ya?" As he said this he thrust a single finger up his nose and then pretended to flick a booger at me.

Still holding the diapers, my chin barely resting on the top of the stack, I looked at her and said in the most disrespectful tone I could come up with, "So what do I call you? Officer Mecums, Yolanda, Madam-M or how about I just call you Bitch?"

I must have surprised her by cussing, I know I sure surprised myself but I was mad... no I was more than mad. When I saw the four of them standing there my anger level went off the charts. I could have brought a dormant volcano back to life with the rage that was inside of me at that very moment.

Runt, Tate and Mikey were looking to see what she would do about my comment. They looked genuinely concerned. She frowned and was about to speak when the Wriggles stepped through a door to see who it was that was making so much noise in the hall. I'm sure they were intent on knocking me around some more for yelling in the hall but the instant they saw the mountain of a woman standing there the two of them went white as fresh diapers right out of the package.

There was no talking or chance to explain themselves. One second the two of them were standing there looking like a couple of frightened school kids about to get whacks from the principle and the next they lay dead on the floor oozing blood and brain matter. And believe it or not, I was more upset that the diapers I had spent the day laundering were sprayed with the Wriggles blood than I was for the two of them being murdered in cold blood.

Maybe it was partly due to the shock, maybe partly due to my state of mind after having lived at the Banachelli for so long but at any rate I threw the stack of diapers on the floor and shouted, "If you think I am washing those again you better think twice!"

The roar of laughter that came out of Officer Mecums was so loud that the floor beneath my feet quaked. I stood with my hands on my hips as she stepped up to me, lifted me up and hugged me like I was her long lost child.

"My ribs!" I cried out as she squeezed me.

"Oh I am sorry sweetie, I forgot!" she said kissing me all over my face before putting me back down.

It was Tate that broke in with, "Alright who farted?"

I laughed, I honestly laughed. How twisted was I to be laughing while two people lay died at my feet? I learned something that day. When someone dies, they crap their pants. Apparently it is a natural thing that happens to everyone when they croak. I sure hope I am wearing a diaper when I die. I'd hate to have someone find my dead body with dirty underwear on.


Chapter - 23

A whole new beginning


To say that life had changed after the arrival of Madam-M, a.k.a. ex-officer Yolanda Mecums would be the gravest understatement in the history of man. The first thing to go was the dingy and stained diapers to be replaced with new diapers. The second thing to go was the ill fitting, stained, torn, mismatched clothing. Every single boy received not one but two complete sets of clothes just like Runt and the others wore. That included gloves, hats, coats and best of all SHOES!

During the weeks that followed many more changes occurred. The filth was being washed away, mostly by us. The food... Oh the food!!! The food got so much better! Scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, Hotdogs and PB&J sandwiches for lunch and the best of all were the dinner meals. Roasted turkey, roast beef, fried chicken, baked potatoes and even PIZZA!!!

Probably the best thing to have happen was when Lowell, Timmy and I were assigned to work in the kitchen with Fyer. However, at first it wasn't such a cool thing because the very first morning we walked in to find Fyer lying face down on the floor, butt naked except for his boots.

"Oh my eyes! My eyes!" Timmy cried out as he quickly covering his face with his hands.

"Yikes!" Lowell said laughing, "That's got to be the ugliest bear skin rug I've ever seen! I mean just look! It doesn't even go with the drapes!"

I punched Lowell in the arm for being so dumb but I still laughed.

"What are we going to do now?" I asked.

"Don't look at me!" Timmy said, "I ain't touchin' `em!"

Lowell kicked Fyer softly in the butt and Fyer growled like a bear then let loose a fart so smelly that all three of us nearly passed out. Lowell finally slipped out of the kitchen and returned with an arm load of clean diapers. He took his sweet old time making sure he spread them out over top Fyer which was funny because just as he finished Fyer rolled over on his side and knocked about half of the diapers off him.

"Wow! He's part horse!" Lowell commented I just put my heads over my eyes so that I couldn't look.

"I don't know how ta cook!" Timmy complained and I was glad to have the subject directed away from Fyer.

"I can cook some stuff but I don't know how to do it in here!" Lowell said with a nod directed at Fyer.

Fyer made another sound and while I was looking at him those two conspired against me!

"Looks like you's gonna be da cook t'day." Timmy said to me.

"W-what? B-b-but I-I-I..." but then I seen how they were both looking at me and I knew it was useless to argue with them. "W-well what am I g-going to cook then?" I asked shooting an evil expression at the two of them.

"It don't matter! Just cook something." Lowell sayed, "This isn't a fancy pants, o-la-la restaurant you know."

Timmy seemed to jump when the idea hit him, "Why don't ya do a stew? "Dat's gotta be easy."

"What of?" I asked looking around.

"Why don't we just toss everything we can find in with some water or something, let it boil up until it is good and hot?" Lowell suggested.

That sounded too easy. I was sure that the three of us were going to be in for it for sure when everyone tasted the concoction and I could already hear Runt accusing us of trying to poison everyone.

"What if it doesn't taste good?" I asked.

They both shrugged at the same time.

"Gee thanks!" I said to them.

"We can dump a bunch'a dese spices..." Timmy started to gather up some of the small canisters, "in and make it taste ... uh ... well it's gotta make it taste gooder right?"

"Sounds good to me!" Lowell said so that's just what we did.

Lowell found a knife that was nearly as big has he was and took time to pretend that he was a Samurai Warrior. I started rummaging around and found lots of stuff like onions, carrots, olives, a big jar of mushrooms, a whole bunch of hotdogs, several heads of cabbage, a big sack of potatoes which we forgot to peel before the were chopped up. And we even found some sort of vegetable that none of us could identify but we used it anyway. Timmy found several cans of peaches, an arm load of tomatoes, a big bucket filled with brown colored beans, a bag of rice, an I don't know what all else.

While Lowell chopped, Timmy and I tried to find the big kettle. I knew the iron kettle because I had cleaned it before but it wasn't anywhere around.

"Maybe Madam-M made him get rid of it!"

"Hey," Timmy called from across the kitchen, "Here's s'me li'l pots in chere!" he said, but when I looked they were just a bunch of small pots, an certainly not large enough to cook a stew for everyone.

"Why don't you ask someone?" Lowell said.

"Everyone is still asleep you dork!" I said with a shrug and then I said to Timmy, "Hey, why don't you go ask Madam-M?"

Timmy looked at me as if I had just sprouted a second head, "ARE YA NUTS?"

Lowell threw a half of a potato at me and missed my head by a mile.

"Well we better find something `cause when everyone comes for breakfast they are going to be hungry, so you better think of something and fast!!!"

"Wha`bout dis... uh... thang?" Timmy asked.

There was an enormous iron drum looking thing about six feet tall and three feet around setting in the corner beside the big black stove.

"That?" I exclaimed, "That's not for cooking in, that's where hot water is made you boob!"

"Why not use it?" Lowell asked.

Timmy and I kept looking at each other then the water tank thing. I finally shrugged, "Well, I don't know why we couldn't ... I mean it will get the water good and hot right?"

Lowell added, "And the top looks like it just lifts up."

And that was that. Timmy slid a chair over so that we could reach the top and then we started dumping in the stuff that Lowell had already chopped up.

After about an hour or so more, we started to smell the stew brewing.

"How's it coming?" Lowell asked and when I looked over at him he was sitting on top of Fyer's butt.

"Get off him!" I said, "You're going to wake him up and he's going to be mad as a wet cat."

Lowell grinned that evil grin he gets sometimes.

"Oh my goodness, gracious! No ya ain't pee'n on `em?" Timmy spurt out.

At first I hadn't noticed that Lowell had pulled his diaper down. He was trying to fain that he was embarrassed to be caught and he did blush just a little but I knew better.

"LOWELL!" I laughed, "That's disgusting!"

He just shrugged and grinned a bit wider.


We waited about another half hour before giving it a taste test. I lifted the top, which was hinged on either side and opened in the middle. Steam billowed out in big clouds that didn't smell all that bad.

"It's boiling a lot!" I said.

"How'zit taste?" Timmy asked sounding excited and pleased that it seemed to be working.

"Don't know, I ain't tried it yet," I said back.

Lowell handed me a big spoon and I dipped it in but the dang thing was so hot that the steam burnt my hand and I lost the spoon into the stew.

"Oops!" I said.

"Dangit Simon!" Lowell said slapping my leg.

"Hey! If I fall in here then you are going to get it!" I said shaking my fist at him. "And besides... OUCH!"

He just laughed it off and handed me another big spoon; a wooden one this time with a long handle.

"Hey, it ain't near done!" I said. "Everything is still raw."

"Maybe you should make the fire under it hotter?" Timmy said.

That's just what we did. Lowell and Timmy got some more wood and I stuffed it into the fire.

"OH I GOT AN IDEA!" Lowell said and ran out of the kitchen. Several minutes later he came back huffing and puffing from having run to wherever he went and back again. He had something hidden under his jacket when he came back.

"What do you have?" I asked suspiciously.

He produced a bottle of Fyer's whiskey.

"You know we done a lousy job of getting rid of all his stash? I mean just look at the great lump!" I said.

"Yeah well I found five more bottles just yesterday!" Lowell said.

"Yeah well you know he's going to kill you if he finds out you got that one too!" I said.

As though he didn't much care Lowell shrugged his shoulders and dumped the bottle onto the fire. With a whoosh the flames shot up so big that all three of us had to jump way back.

"You idiot!" I shouted, "You're going to burn down the whole place!"

"Oooh yeah! Now that's a fire!" Lowell cheered and danced around like a wild cave man who just invented fire for the first time.

Sure enough about forty-five minutes later we could hear everyone arriving for breakfast. But the stew still wasn't ready. I tasted it again and some things were still crunchy.

"Wot ya t'ink dey gonna t'ink `bout hav'n crunchy stew for bekf'st?" Timmy asked.

"Well it's a little late for that now isn't it?" I said.

After a half hour or so, they were beating on the tables with there knives an forks like you see in the movies, and I knew we had to do something and super fast. After having a quick think about it I grabbed the bottle, flipped it upside down over the fire and emptied every last drop.

The three of us stood there watching it just as nervous as we could be, when all of a sudden Runt came in with Mikey right behind him.

Now this was only the third time I had seen Mikey since they had joined us here at the Banachelli and he didn't look any better now then he did that first day. As a matter of fact, I think he might even have looked worst now.

"What in hell is going on here?" Runt bellowed. "Where is the Gosh-Dang food?" except he didn't say Gosh-Dang, he used the real words.

Then Runt seen Fyer lying there on the floor covered in a pile of wet cloth diapers.

"It is almost done!" I said quickly, and right at that second the water tank made a sound like when you got diarrhea and are trying to hold it in. Steam was shooting out all around the hinges of the lid.

"What is that?" Runt asked, "Son of a Bitch, are you cooking something in there!"

Lowell smiled, put one foot on top of Fyer and proudly announced, "That is the breakfast!"

Boy, Runt got this real amazed look on his face and a second later he got a real frightened look, like you might get just before hitting the ground after falling from the top of a skyscraper.

I suppose everything would have been just fine had the dang thing now blown up right then!

I am not exactly sure what happened next. I do remember that it knocked us all on our diapered butts and it blew Mikey right back out the door in a sort of backwards somersault. Lowell went flying over Fyer like he had a jet pack tucked inside his diaper. Timmy ended up finding the big old iron kettle. It had been hanging from chains from the ceiling and it fell right on top of him. Thankfully it landed open end down so Timmy weren't hurt none but he was trapped `cause the pot was too heavy for him to lift on his own.

Runt and me were astonishingly spared somehow. When it blew up, the force of it blew our clothes right off our bodies except for our shoes. And it blew stew all over us and everywhere so that we looked like ... well, like something a humongous cat would have coughed up.

It took several seconds before any of us knew that it had blown a hole about five feet around right through the wall into where everyone was sitting waiting to eat. Incredibly, it didn't hurt anyone; but it left everyone setting at they tables, covered with stew, looking shocked and horrified at the same time—but it sure did shut them up about when their food was going to be ready.

Suddenly Madam-M came running into the kitchen through the whole we'd made in the wall.

"What was that!" she shouted, "What happen?"

She looked at Runt and me standing there stark naked and seen Fyer lying on the floor naked and unconscious. She stepped closer to Runt and with one of her big fingers she wiped some of the food from his face, "Runt, is that you?"

He began to babble, "Simon—Tank—Stew-Boom!" and then he kind of got control of himself and grabbed the knife that was now sticking out of the wall by his left ear.

"Simon—Tank—Stew-Boom!" he scream, and came after me with the knife. I ran out the other door into where Lowell and I used to have to wash all the diapers for everyone. Runt was hot after me all throughout the hallways. I outran him though; because there was no way I was going to let him catch me. The chase ended when I ran back to Madam-M hoping that she would save me from him.

Madam-M and everyone else for that matter were still standing or sitting exactly where Runt and I had left them which was kind of funny really. I stopped right behind Madam-M and said, "Please don't let him kill me!"

She reached down and scooped a handful of the stew out of my hair and tasted it. "Hey! That's not half bad! I would have preferred it in a bowl but beggars can't be choosers."

Of course no one else had any of it but I don't think any one was complaining about having to go hungry until lunch time.