Billy & the Saturday Morning Cartoons

Billy sat up in bed and felt underneath the pillow for his official Boy Scout flashlight. He clicked it on and lit the clock on the nightstand. He had been learning to tell time in school and saw the little hand was on the five and the big hand was on the three. Saturday morning cartoons didn’t start until the little hand was on the six and the big hand was on the twelve. But if he fell asleep again, he would miss the cartoons completely.

He pulled the heavy blankets off his lap and set his feet on the floor with care, so the floorboards didn’t creak. He fumbled for his slippers on the floor of the dim room but didn’t put them on. A few Saturdays earlier they had made a slap, slap, slap which woke his dad, so he carried them downstairs instead.

The sunrise was up just enough so Billy could see into the shadowy hallway and down the stairs. He glanced under his parents closed bedroom door and saw it was dark, meaning they were still asleep. He slid into the hall and walked on his tippy-toes to the stairs.

Getting down the staircase was the hardest part. The entire second story and stairs were covered with wood, so every groan and creak could be heard by sleeping adults. He put one foot on the first step, just in the spot he knew would squeak the least, right up against the wall. He pulled his entire body tight to the rail and took each step, one at a time.

The eighth step moaned, as it always did, and Billy paused, holding his breath. No sound came from his parents’ room, so he continued. At the end of the stairs was thick, soft carpeting and when he set his last foot on it, he exhaled.

In the kitchen he poured a bowl of cereal in silence and carried it to the living room, taking care not to spill the milk. He turned the volume knob all the way to zero before pulling the “ON” knob, thereby avoiding a replay of last month, when the volume had been turned up full blast from the last viewer and just about sent him through the bay window.

Billy sat on the floor as close as he could to the TV – the sound hardly audible – with the bowl steadied on his lap, and watched three old men talking around a table. He didn’t understand what they were discussing. He squinted at the clock over the TV which read five-with-the big-hand-on-the-nine. Saturday morning cartoons would start soon.

He finished his cereal and took the bowl back into the kitchen. Reaching up to put it on the counter, he decided his mom might know he’d eaten, so he dragged a chair to the sink, rinsed the bowl out with water and put it back into the cabinet.

He tuned the channel to 12, which Billy thought had the best cartoons. It was almost time for Bugs Bunny when all at once he felt the need to pee. He pulled at the front of his pajama pants in distress. The only bathroom in the house was at the top of the stairs and if he went up and came back down, he risked waking his parents.

Trying to ignore the urge, he began to sweat. He searched the room anxiously and set his eyes on his dad’s big brown chair, against the wall in the corner. 

At nine o’clock, both of his parents tramped downstairs, stretching as they came. Billy sat on the couch, the TV off, looking at the Official Boy Scout Merit Badge Guide. His mother beamed as she went to the kitchen, thinking how fine it was to have a son who – on a Saturday morning – would wake and come downstairs to read a book. His father nodded with approval as he sat in his big brown chair and unfolded the newspaper.

He let out a tired exhale and abruptly pulled down the paper, scrunching his nose. He got up and looked around the floor, trying to find the source of the stench. It seemed to be strongest in the corner behind the chair.

“Karen,” he called to the kitchen, “do you smell something funny?”

His wife returned and sniffed into the air. She twisted her mouth and looked at Billy, whose book was covering his face.

 “Yes, it does smell in here,” she said, “and I think it’s pee!”


Everything on this blog is property of Kathan Lewis and Kathan Ink. 
© Kathan Lewis 2010.

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© Kathan Ink 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kathan Ink, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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