A Story for Tony by Jennifer Loraine

A Story for Tony

Tony’s mind was drifting. Utter boredom had overcome him and rather than fall asleep, he was daydreaming about being rich while sucking on his pencil’s eraser. The idea of sitting in a limousine, with a cigar in his mouth, and being transported from place to place in soft luxury appealed to him. He pictured himself having people who would rush to attend his every need without delay. His fantasy was extremely detailed in the daily affairs of the life he would lead; he’d have a valet to dress him, a maid to clean up after him, a chauffeur to drive him around, and a cook to make his meals and stand at his side while he ate. Maybe he’d hire one of those asian bathgirls he’d read about in the girlie magazines he had hidden in his bedroom closet. He imagined himself sitting in a bath while the girl lovingly scrubbed every inch of his body. “It must be nice to be rich and have your whims appeased on demand,” he sighed. He was sitting in class listening to the eighth grade English teacher drone on about the symbolism in Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” when the lecture was interrupted by a knock on the door. A teenaged office aid whispered in the teacher’s ear and Tony was told to accompany the aid to see the Principal. He remembered the trepidation he felt while walking down the familiar halls to the office. Why had the Principal taken him out of class and sent for him? He had never been in trouble before. What had he done? He had never even been in a Principal’s office. The aid had ushered him into the waiting area of the office and told him to take a seat. The secretary asked his name and had frowned hesitantly when he told her who he was. What was going on here? She told him that the Principal was on the phone and would be with him in a few minutes. He sat quietly on the hard, institutional chair as he considered the possible reasons for the secretary’s expression. Something was wrong, he was sure of that. The office people chatted happily as they worked, occasionally giving him long sidewise glances and turning their heads quickly when he caught them looking at him. Finally the door opened and there stood the Principal motioning for him to come inside. The office became deathly silent as Tony stood up and walked into the Principal’s office. His knees shook as he sat down in the chair offered to him. He smiled nervously at the Principal and he began to feel nauseous. His stomach felt as if it was falling away from him. Tony’s mouth was dry and his hands trembled in his lap. He thought he was going to throw up. He stared fixedly at the Principal as the imposing man began to speak, “Tony, your parents were in an automobile accident this morning. I’m sorry to have to be the one to have to tell you this, but your parents are dead. Their car was hit by another car at an intersection about eight-thirty this morning. I want you to know that they didn’t suffer or feel any pain; they were killed instantly. Your next door neighbor is coming to take you home with her. I was just on the phone with her and she said she’d be here in a few minutes. You’ll be staying with her for the next few days. Your neighbor tells me that you haven’t any relatives nearby, is that true?” Tony nodded numbly in assent. He was in shock. Of all the reasons that had occurred to him for being called in to the Principal’s office, this was the last he would have ever considered. The Principal continued, “You are excused from school for the time being. Your neighbor tells me that you have an aunt in another state. Is that true?” Tony said ‘yes’ in a hollow voice. “Is she well off financially? Do you think she’ll be able to take you in?” Tony looked aghast at the idea of living with his aunt. He was at a loss at what to say. The Principal saw his consternation and said, “That’s all right, son. I’m sure everything will work itself out for you. You can leave your books in my office. I’ll see that everything is taken care of here at school. What is your locker number?” “C-129,” the stricken boy answered slowly. The Principal made a note of the number on a pad on his desk as his telephone began to ring. He picked up the phone in the other hand and said into the mouthpiece, “Principal Hawkins…….Yes, we’re just finishing up, thank you.” The Principal walked over to Tony and said, “Tony, your neighbor, Mrs. Feldman, is here to take you home. You can leave your books on the chair.” Tony got up leaving his books and papers sitting on the chair in his place. When he left the office he saw that Mrs. Feldman was sitting in the reception area with her baby boy, Jay-Jay, sitting on her lap. As Tony approached her, he noticed that her eyes were red and puffy as if she had been crying. Tony wondered what was wrong with him; his parents were dead and he hadn’t shed a tear for them. Didn’t he love them? Why couldn’t he cry? How could he be so unfeeling? Mrs. Feldman got up when she saw Tony and rushed over to him. “Tony,” she said, “I’m so sorry about your Mother and Father. How are you feeling? Are you okay?” “I’m okay I guess,” he said, “it’s just that……” Mrs. Feldman cut him off by saying, “I know, Tony. I know….Have you had lunch yet?” Tony shook his head ‘no’. Mrs. Feldman said briskly, “Come on. Let’s get you home and get you something to eat.” She held out her hand for him to hold as if he was a little boy needing guidance. Tony accepted it reluctantly; he didn’t want to be rude to Mrs. Feldman, but it was embarrassing to be treated like a toddler in front of all his classmates. They went to her car and Tony stared out of the side window as they drove away from his school. He wondered what was going to happen to him now. His whole life had changed in the blink of an eye. Would they make him go live with his aunt? If they did, he wouldn’t have any friends where she lived. What would happen in school? There was a month left to this school year, would they make him repeat the entire year because he missed part of the month? Tony watched the houses of the neighborhood stream by his window as he sat morosely in the front seat. He had never felt so alone and defenseless in his life. He felt as if he had become a passenger in his body. All he could do is sit and distantly watch the adults make decisions. He had no idea which direction his life would take or even where he’d be in the future. When they got to Mrs. Feldman’s house, Tony helped her carry her son’s diaper bag inside. He had been Mrs. Feldman’s ‘unofficial’ baby-sitter for almost a year and didn’t feel uncomfortable helping her with the baby. The death of teenagers his age on the street had led to Mrs. Feldman asking him to watch her baby for a few minutes on a Saturday soon after the baby was born and his reliability had led to Mrs. Feldman asking him to watch her son again. Her growing confidence in his trustworthiness had caused her to ask him to baby-sit several times more. She had been engaging him to baby-sit her son on a more frequent basis as the baby had gotten older. Tony didn’t particularly like changing ‘dirty’ diapers, but he accepted his fate with a reasonably cheerful attitude. He didn’t seem to have any problems taking care of the baby and Mrs. Feldman’s son loved Tony. Mrs. Feldman unbuckled her son from the infant carrier on the rear seat, picked up his diaper bag from the floor behind the passenger seat and handed it to Tony, then went to the front door of her house with Tony trailing behind. They went inside and Mrs. Feldman placed her son into his playpen while she went to prepare lunch. “Would you watch Jay-Jay for me while I get lunch for us, Tony?”, she asked with a smile. Tony agreed and sat on the sofa ruminating over what would happen to him now that his parents were gone. The house would be awfully lonely with just him staying there. Maybe he should go live with his aunt. But then he’d have to leave all of his friends. He wasn’t even sure were she lived or how to get in touch with her. Maybe the phone number was in his father’s desk in the den. What about his things? How was he going to move them to his aunt’s? He didn’t have a car or a license. He didn’t have any money to hire movers. He wondered if they’d let him use the money from his parent’s savings account. Jay-Jay started crying and Tony bent over the playpen with a sigh. He put a pair of fingers down the front of Jay-Jay diaper the way Mrs. Feldman had taught him and checked to see if was wet. “Yep, he’s wet,” he told himself as he reached for the baby’s diaper bag. Jay-Jay quieted immediately when Tony removed the diaper and swabbed him off with a baby wipe. Tony had just finished rediapering Jay-Jay when Mrs. Feldman walked into the room. “I thought I heard Jay-Jay crying. Thanks for taking care of that for me Tony. Lunch is ready. It’s on the table in the kitchen.” She bent over the playpen, picked up Jay-Jay and carried him into the kitchen. Tony followed and saw that lunch had been set out on the table. A large steaming bowl of soup flanked by four diagonally-cut sandwich halves sat across from Mrs. Feldman’s accustomed place at the table in the breakfast nook. Mrs. Feldman put Jay-Jay in the high chair next to her and sat down at the table while Tony unfolded his napkin. “You’re in luck today, Tony. I just finished making a large pot of chicken soup last night for lunches this week. If you need any more milk there’s plenty in the refrigerator. We have apple pie for dessert.” Tony looked at the plate of food in front of him in askance. He didn’t want to insult Mrs. Feldman’s cooking, but he knew he couldn’t finish all the food on the plate in front of him. He though that if he had a taste of soup and one of the sandwiches she would be satisfied. The apple pie was out of the question though. He started in on the soup and was surprised at how good it tasted. All of a sudden he was famished. He gobbled the cheese sandwiches in passing as the level of soup dropped rapidly to the bottom of the bowl. He heard Mrs. Feldman moving her chair and when he looked up, he saw her passing a plate of hot apple pie a la mode to him. He accepted the dessert and within minutes, the pie was a pleasant memory. Tony wiped his lips on his napkin and thanked Mrs. Feldman politely for lunch as she finished her bowl of soup. When she finished, she dabbed her lips with her napkin delicately and said, “Tony, we need to talk. I know it’s too soon for you to have thought about what’s going to happen to you, but I don’t want you to worry. Everything will be taken care of. Your mother was my best friend and left instructions for me in case of an emergency. You are going to live with us. I’ve already called my husband and he contacted your aunt an hour ago. He called me back just before I left to pick you up from school. We thought it would be best if we talked to her before I took you home from school. She said she’d would like to take you, but that she’s been transferred to another duty station in the Far East. I bet you didn’t know your aunt was in the Air Force! She told Jacob that there aren’t any facilities for dependents where she is going and asked if you could live with us. Jacob agreed with her that it would be best if you stayed with us. Would that be okay with you?” Tony nodded in assent and sighed internally, at least he wouldn’t have to repeat a year of school. He told Mrs. Feldman, “Mr. Hawkins, the school principal, thinks I’m going to be moving to another state. Could you tell him I’m not going to be leaving school?” Mrs. Feldman smiled and said, “I’ll take care of it after lunch. After I call, we’ll get you moved into the room at the end of the hall.” “Moved in?!”, Tony said with an expression of surprised dismay. “Why can’t I just stay in my old room back at my house?” Mrs. Feldman put her hand on his arm and said gently, “Tony, the house will have to be sold. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room for your things here. You won’t have to get rid of anything, I promise.” “Sold? What do you mean the house will have to be sold? That’s my house!”, he cried. Mrs. Feldman gripped his arm in her hand and said, “Tony, running a house takes time and money. With your parents gone, someone will have to pay for the upkeep of the house. There are also property taxes that have to be paid. Mr. Feldman and I can’t afford to take care of two houses. The house will have to be sold, don’t you see?” Tony said he understood with an air of depression and the rest of the meal was finished in silence. Mrs. Feldman called the Principal and told him that Tony would be staying with them instead of moving in with his aunt. The Principal told her that he was pleased that Tony would be staying at his school and that he would tell the attendance secretary not to expect Tony back in school for the next two weeks. He wanted Tony to have some time to adjust to his parent’s death before he had to worry about schoolwork again. After lunch Mrs. Feldman, Tony and Jay-Jay went to his house and gathered up a box of Tony’s things along with his pillow, bedding and a change of clothes. She told him they would come back tomorrow and get the rest of his possessions, but she wanted him to be comfortable in his new bedroom that night. They took it back to her house where they ensconced Tony in the spare bedroom. Mrs. Feldman helped Tony put up his posters on the wall and make the bed. When they were finished she told him it was time for a nap. Tony quailed at the thought of taking a nap in the middle of the day saying, “A nap? I don’t need to take a nap! Afternoon naps are for babies! I haven’t taken an afternoon nap since I was a little kid.” Mrs. Feldman smiled and told him firmly, “Tony, I don’t think you’ve realized what a terrible emotional shock you’ve just experienced. I know you’re not used to taking an afternoon nap, but I think you need some rest. I’d like you to change into your pjs, then lie down and rest. You don’t have to sleep if you don’t want to, but I’d like you to at least lie down. As soon as I put Jay-Jay in his crib, I’m going to take a nap too. Here, let me close the curtains for you.” Tony agreed reluctantly and Mrs. Feldman went to put Jay-Jay down for his nap while Tony changed into his pjs. Tony got into bed, pulled the covers up around his shoulders and stared at the ceiling for a few minutes, thinking, “Is this what Mom and Dad would have wanted? How do I know that Mr. Feldman actually called my aunt? What if there’s been some sort of mistake? What if Mom and Dad aren’t really dead? What will they say when they get home? Dad will be mad at me when he finds out I’m not in school. I’m not going to take the blame myself. I’ll tell him that’s it’s not my fault, I just did what I was told. Dad will understand that it isn’t my fault.” Tony closed his eyes and tried to visualize how his Dad would react. For some reason, he couldn’t picture his Dad’s face. He tried to relax thinking he was trying too hard and a few minutes later he was sound asleep. She returned after getting Jay-Jay tucked in and discovered Tony snoring softly. She smiled, bending over the bed to tuck the covers gently around Tony. “Poor Tony,” she thought, “I’ll have to remember to be extra nice to him. He’s really a good boy. I never dreamed I’d be a mother of a teenager so soon, but I owe it to his mother to try. He’s too young to be without a mother.” Yawning, she left the room to go take her own nap, closing the door quietly behind her. The next two weeks were a barely remembered blur for Tony. The funeral was held and Tony saw his parents lying in open caskets in the chapel. He was shocked to see how pale they appeared. The mortician had rouged their cheeks to give them some color, but the attempt had only made them appear more lifeless. There was no question that his parents were dead in Tony’s mind as he saw them. Tears welled up in his eyes as the minister read the service, but the tears refused to flow. They just filled the corners of his eyes and obscured his vision. He stood woodenly as he saw the minister close the lid of his father’s coffin and hide the face of his father forever before doing the same to his mother’s coffin. Mrs. Feldman put her arm around Tony’s shoulders comfortingly and hugged him to her side while Mr. Feldman held Jay-Jay. They left the church and drove to the graveyard as the morning sky darkened with rain clouds. Tony stood at the graveside with the Feldman family as the minister read the final rites over the coffins of his parents. Tony agonized over his inability to cry for the his mother and father. The pain seemed to be more than he could contain, but he just stood there, stone faced, as the minister read the ritual of parting and it began to rain. It seemed to Tony that the heavens themselves were weeping for his loss. Everyone opened umbrellas as the rain changed from a gentle blessing into an angry storm. The deacon held an umbrella over the minister’s head as the minister quickly finished the service. Mr. Feldman opened his umbrella and attempted to shelter Mrs. Feldman and Tony, but there wasn’t enough room. Tony waved the umbrella away, relieving Mr. Feldman of the responsibility of protecting him from the shower. Rain coursed down Tony’s face in a poor imitation of tears as the minister completed the service, “……Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life.” The minister closed his book of services with an air of finality and the small group of mourners ran for their cars. Tony walked to the Feldman’s car heedless of the rain dripping off his head and running down his back. He barely noticed the thunder booming around him as he got into the car and Mr. Feldman drove home. When they got home, Mrs. Feldman made a hot lunch of soup and sandwiches for them. Ruth fed the baby while Mr. Feldman and Tony ate, intending to eat her lunch after she fed the baby. Mr. Feldman went to work after lunch, leaving Tony and Jay-Jay to Mrs. Feldman’s care. Ruth put Jay-Jay in his playpen and sat down to her meal as Tony sat silently and watched the rain rolling down the outside the window pane. Tony felt lost and alone. He knew Mrs. Feldman had promised to take care of him, but it wasn’t the same as having a real mother. He wanted someone to hold him and tell him everything was going to be all right, that it was all a bad dream. He felt like curling up in a ball and shutting his eyes in defiance to the way the world had changed. He wanted to scream his anger at the top of his lungs. He knew it wasn’t his parent’s fault, but he felt like they had abandoned him. It wasn’t fair. Why did they have to die now? He wasn’t ready. Tony wanted to cry in rage and frustration. Ruth watched Tony’s expression covertly as she ate. It was obvious that his parent’s death had affected him deeply. His anger and sorrow were written clearly on his face. Tony worried her. She had not seen him cry since his parent’s death. Perhaps he had wept during the night, but she should have seen the marks of the tears on the pillow. She wanted to reach out to him and hold him, but his aloofness made her hesitate. He wasn’t a little boy she could cuddle and comfort, but a teenage boy. All she could do is be there when he needed her. As the weeks passed, Tony adjusted to living in the new household. He got up, did his chores, and went to school without a word of complaint. But it was apparent to everyone he wasn’t happy. Mr. Feldman settled the affairs of his friends’ estate and cleaned out Tony’s old house. They moved the furniture from Tony’s old bedroom into his new bedroom in their house and sorted mementos to give Tony when he became older. After a hurried phone conference with Tony’s aunt, the china and silver service, along with the bulk of the dead woman’s jewelry were boxed in shipping cartons and sent to his aunt. An estate sale was held and the furnishings were auctioned. His parent’s clothes were given to charity and the detritus of suburban life was put out for the garbage collectors. As executor of the estate, Mr. Feldman hired a small contractor to make repairs and repaint the house, then had a cleaning crew come in when the contractor was finished. Tony watched the proceedings with dismay as his house was gradually emptied of personality. He went over and looked in the curtainless windows after the cleaning crew had finished and saw that the house had been stripped of everything that made it his. It was only a vacant building that had been his home in another existence. Tony felt like the house was like his life, just another empty shell where he had once lived. Mr. Feldman had the house listed with a Realtor and signs were put on the lawn announcing to the world that the house was no longer a home, only a piece of property to be sold. Tony’s mood fell deeper into depression as he saw the last vestige of his old life slip away from him. The world went on with its business despite Tony’s pain; school let out for the summer, large corporations continued to merge, causing stock prices to go up, making the Federal Reserve nervous. They raised the Prime Interest Rate steeply, which caused the mortgage rate to skyrocket. Buyers for Tony’s old house vanished. It sat vacantly, waiting for the cost of money to be affordable again. Mr. Feldman’s company was acquired in a complex stock transaction that caused him to be temporarily transferred to the home office of the parent company in Chicago for retraining. Mr. and Mrs. Feldman discussed his transfer and decided that Ruth would stay in their house with Jay-Jay and Tony while Mr. Feldman was in Chicago. Selling their house was out of the question with the housing market in the downturn it was in. He would be gone six months, with a possible two month extension. The good news was that he would be promoted upon his return to division sales manager of his old company with perks and a raise to match his new position. He spent a week getting ready for the trip, giving Ruth a full-power-of-attorney so that she could deal with any emergencies that came up. On the day of his departure, he told Tony he was the man of the house now and he had every confidence that Tony would take care of his wife and son. He shook Tony’s hand and kissed Jay-Jay before he embraced Ruth and told her goodbye. He gave Ruth a final kiss and he walked to the waiting taxi with the last of his bags. Everyone waved goodbye at Mr. Feldman as the taxi drove away. Tony awoke in the morning with the covers wrapped around him like a mummy. He rolled over to get out of bed and found himself lying in a cold spot in the bed. He put his hand down to feel the spot and discovered that it was wet. He had wet the bed! He jumped out of bed and pulled the covers back to see how big the spot was; it was huge! He looked down the front of his pajama’s and saw that the crotch was soaked all the way to his thighs. The comforter had small wet spots in places too! How was he ever going to explain to Mrs. Feldman? He shucked his dripping pajamas and underwear and gathered up the damp bedclothes in a bundle and put it by the bedroom door. Then he changed into a pair of dry briefs and put on a pair of pants and shirt before taking the bundle down to the utility room to put in the wash. Mrs. Feldman was outside working in the garden as he passed through the kitchen with the dirty linen in his arms. “He’s such a good boy,” she thought as she saw him walk by the kitchen window with the bundle in his arms, “I’ve never had to tell him to clean up his room or put his laundry by the washer. When I was his age, my mother had to ask me for a week to bring her my laundry.” She bent over her plants and continued to hoe as Jay-Jay played happily in his playpen in the shade. A half hour later she was surprised by a blast of hot air on the backs of her legs. She turned around to see where the air was coming from and was surprised to see that it was coming from the clothes dryer exhaust in the wall of the house. “What is Tony up to?”, she told herself as she snatched Jay-Jay from his playpen and hurried into the house to check on the dryer. She expected Tony to take his dirty clothes into the utility room for her to wash, but she hadn’t told him he could run her washer and dryer. The thought of the damage an unbalanced load could do to her washer horrified her. She had done it herself when she was young and her mother had never let her forget it. After putting a load in the washer, Ruth had sat in the family room and watched TV on a Saturday morning. Water had flooded the wash room unseen and unheard, nearly destroying the washroom. Her mother’s washer had ‘walked’ itself away from the wall and had broken the hose fitting on the water pipe inlet. Ruth remembered the howls of anger her father made when he found out that the sheetrock would have to be replaced in the wall and ceiling behind the washer. He had been livid! He had wanted to take it out of her allowance and was only deterred by the pleadings of her mother that it was an accident. Ruth ran into the utility room and demanded breathlessly, “Tony, what’s going on here? I didn’t tell you you could run my washer! What are you doing?” She pushed him brusquely out of the way to see what he had been loading in her washer and said, “Tony! You can’t wash the comforter like this! Look at this! The load is unbalanced! Do you know what will happen if you try to run the washer like this? You’ll break my new washer! I don’t want you washing clothes in my washer until you’ve learned how to load it. Here, I’ll show you.” Ruth sat Jay-Jay on the floor beside her feet and pulled the comforter from the washer. She was tucking it in around the agitator when she noticed a large wet spot on the fabric. “What…?”, she said, bending over to smell the spot. She sniffed the damp fabric and frowned in recognition. “Tony,” she said in puzzlement, “did you have an ‘accident’ in the bed?” Tony stood shamefaced in front of her and shuffled his feet in embarrassment. “Yes, m…mam,” he stuttered in a low voice. Ruth opened the dryer door and peered at the clean, warm pajamas and underwear lying inside. “I see,” she said. “Well, if this happens again, I want you to tell me. Is that clear? I don’t want you to use the washer or dryer without my permission. Do you understand?” Tony nodded his agreement and Ruth finished loading the washer. She turned to the dryer and removed the pjs and briefs then handed them to Tony saying, “Here dear, why don’t you take these up to your room and put them in your dresser. I’ll be up there to look at your mattress as soon as I finish this and get Jay-Jay in his crib. It’s time for his nap now.” Ruth met Tony in his bedroom with a bowl of cold water, a sponge and a box of baking soda. When she saw the extent of the stain, she sighed and shook her head. She had expected a small puddle, nothing like this! Tony had managed to soak a quarter of the mattress. She doused the stain with water and sponged it clean. Then she repeated the process. Tony stood by with an embarrassed look on his face as she went over the fabric, mopping the stain until it was a faded yellow in color. She handed the bowl to Tony and said, “Here Tony, dump this in the toilet and fill it again with cold water from the bathroom sink.” Tony took the bowl as she sprinkled baking soda on the mattress. Ruth continued shaking the box over the mattress until the surface of the stain was covered with a thin layer of white powder. Tony returned with the bowl of water and she began to scrub the baking soda into the fabric of the mattress with a wet sponge. When she finished, she took the bowl into the bathroom and rinsed it out, leaving it in the sink to put away later. She returned to Tony’s bedroom and wiped her forehead, saying, “We’re going to have to put this in the sun to dry. Otherwise you’ll be sleeping on a wet mattress tonight. The sunshine will help bleach the stain out too. Tony, help me get the mattress off the bed and carry it outside. I don’t think I can manage this mattress down the stairs alone.” They carried the mattress out to the backyard and laid it in a sunny spot on the grass. Ruth followed Tony into the house when the job was done and said, “Thanks for your help, Tony. I’d like to have a talk with you in the kitchen for a minute.” Tony followed her into the kitchen and sat on one of the chairs in the breakfast nook as Ruth got a glass of iced tea from the refrigerator. “Would you like something to drink, Tony? Some iced tea? A soda, maybe?”, she said as she put her glass down on the table. Tony shook his head ‘no’, the last thing he wanted right now was something to remind him of what he had done. She sat down across the table from him and said, “Tony, Honey, are you feeling okay? Did you feel bad last night before you went to sleep?” Tony shook his head ‘no’ uncomfortably. She smiled and said, “Tony, I’m not mad at you for what happened. I know it’s not your fault. But you can see how much trouble it is to clean the mattress after an accident. The longer the pee stays on the mattress, the more it will stain. I think we caught it in time this morning, but if it happens in the future, I want you to tell me immediately. Do you understand?” Tony nodded his understanding and she smiled back in return. The next morning was a repeat of the morning before. Tony woke to find himself lying in a puddle of pee. He hurriedly stripped the bed and dressed, then went down to find Mrs. Feldman. She came up to the room and surveyed the damage before cleaning the mattress again. When they had finished, Ruth went to the kitchen phone and called the family doctor to make an appointment for Tony. She explained that her adopted fourteen-year-old son had suddenly started wetting the bed for no apparent reason. The receptionist told her that a patient had canceled their appointment a few minutes ago and they could fit Tony in immediately if she could bring him in within the next hour. Ruth agreed and the appointment was made. Ruth told Tony to get ready to go to the doctor while she packed a diaper bag for Jay-Jay. The doctor saw Tony privately. About an hour after Tony had gone into the examining room, the receptionist told Ruth the doctor would like to speak to her. Ruth passed Tony in the hall as he went back to the waiting room. She told him she only expected to be a few minutes and to wait there for her. The doctor told Ruth that he couldn’t find anything wrong with Tony organically, but that the boy seemed depressed to him. Ruth explained what had happened to his parents and the events of the past two mornings. The doctor nodded sagely and told her that it was not uncommon in situation like this for young people to wet the bed. He asked her if Tony had any other changes in his behavior and she responded in the negative. The doctor assured her that his bedwetting, although mildly abnormal, was nothing to be concerned about for the moment. He suggested gently that she get a waterproof mattress protector for the bed and try to restrict Tony’s fluid intake before bedtime. He also suggested she put an absorbent bedpad on the middle of the bed at waist height every night to help keep the bedclothes dry. If the bedwetting continued, he suggested that she might want to consider having Tony wear incontinent briefs to bed. He gave her the name and number of a child psychiatrist and told her that some counseling might help Tony deal with his grief. The doctor told her to call him if there were any changes in Tony’s condition. Ruth stopped at the pharmaceutical supply on the way home and left Tony in the car to take care of Jay-Jay while she went inside to buy a plastic mattress protector and some bedpads. After they got home, Ruth called the child psychiatrist to make an appointment. She explained that she had been referred to the psychiatrist by her doctor. Ruth was surprised when the receptionist told her the doctor could see Tony that afternoon. She told the receptionist that she had never had such luck in getting early appointments with doctors. The receptionist replied that many of the doctor’s patients were on vacation with their parents and the doctor’s schedule was relatively free for the next two weeks. Ruth made a light lunch for them and took Tony to the psychiatrist later that afternoon. After filling out the forms, the doctor called them into his office for a preliminary chat before talking to Tony alone. Ruth explained what had happened to Tony’s intense embarrassment and what her family physician had said. The doctor asked Ruth to leave the room while he talked to Tony in private. As before, Ruth waited about an hour before the psychiatrist called her in for a consultation. He told her that Tony was extremely depressed over his parents’ death and that he usually prescribed treatment with antidepressants in cases like this. He warned her that the drug would probably make Tony very drowsy at night and the bedwetting would probably continue until he became used to the drug. He agreed with what her family physician had told her about using a mattress protector and advised her to have him wear incontinent briefs to bed. He also recommended that he see Tony once a week for the next three months to help him over his parents’ deaths and adjust to his new life. Ruth agreed and told him she would make an appointment with his receptionist. The psychiatrist wrote a prescription for the antidepressants and told her that there was a pharmacy on the first floor. Ruth thanked him and left, stopping in front of the pharmacy on their way out. Tony looked confused when she asked him what his waist size was before giving him Jay-Jay to hold. She smiled and told him it was all right and rooted around in her purse for a few minutes before finding a small metal tape measure she carried in her purse for shopping. She flipped it around his waist and measured him before leaving the two of them in front of the pharmacy. She returned a few minutes later with a large plastic bag in her hand and offered to take Jay-Jay from Tony. He refused, saying that Jay-Jay wasn’t very heavy and it wasn’t far to the car. When they got home, Tony helped Ruth carry the mattress back up the stairs into his bedroom and put on the bed. Tony wasn’t surprised when Ruth removed a package from the bag she had gotten earlier in the day and took out a waterproof mattress protector. The doctor had told him he was going to tell Mrs. Feldman to put a cover over the mattress to keep him from damaging the mattress. While he was ashamed at what was happening to him, he was glad that he wouldn’t have to drag the mattress up and down the staircase anymore. That mattress was heavy! He was also glad that Mrs. Feldman wouldn’t have to clean the mattress anymore; she had looked irritated this morning when he told her what had happened. At least this way all she’d have to clean would be the sheets and blanket, he thought. The rest of the day went normally and Tony was surprised at dinner when she offered him a second glass of milk. The family doctor had told him that he should try not to drink too much late at night. Tony shrugged and decided that he must have misunderstood. The doctor probably meant he was not to drink anything immediately before going to bed. Tony accepted the offered glass of milk and thought nothing more of it. Ruth put Jay-Jay to bed soon afterward and they sat and watched TV until bedtime. When Tony was getting ready for bed, there was a knock on his door and Tony went to answer it. Tony was surprised to see Mrs. Feldman standing there with a glass of water in hand waiting for him. He looked the water glass as she offered it to him and said, “But the doctor told me that I’m not supposed to have anything to drink before I go to sleep!” Ruth smiled and said, “You forgot to take your medicine. Here, you’ll need this to wash it down. Your psychiatrist told me not to worry about restricting fluids. Don’t worry, everything’s taken care of.” She nudged a plastic bag sitting on the floor outside the door with her foot. He took the glass from her hand as she held out her other hand with a capsule. He swallowed the capsule and washed it down with a large gulp. He thanked her and moved to close the door, but was stopped by her hand on the door. “Tony,” she said, “I’ve come to help you get ready for bed.” “But I am ready for bed. See? I’ve got my pajamas on and everything!”, he exclaimed. She took the glass from his hand and picked up the bag from the floor and said, “We’re going to try something else for awhile. Your psychiatrist gave me instructions for what to do about your bedwetting.” Ruth walked over to the bed and pulled down the covers, saying, “Here, give me a hand with this.” She took a disposable bedpad out of the bag and laid it across the bed, tucking it in under the mattress. Ruth told him, “Now get the other side and tuck it in for me on the other side, Honey. That’s right. Here’s let’s put another one on for tonight. We’ll see how wet it is in the morning. If you only need one, tomorrow night we’ll just use one, but for tonight we’ll try two.” She draped the second pad over the first overlapping it so that the half of the bed was covered by the absorbent pads. They tucked the ends in and she told him, “Now drop your pants and lay down on the bed.” “Wh…what?!”, he stammered. “I said, drop your pajama bottoms and lay down on the bed. Take them off! Your briefs too!”, she told him firmly. “But what have I done? I thought you weren’t mad at me! I didn’t do anything to get spanked for! I didn’t mean to wet the bed. The doctor told me it wasn’t my fault. Please don’t spank me!”, he said desperately. Ruth smiled warmly and said, “I’m not going to spank you, Honey. I just need to put some protective briefs on you before you go to sleep and I need you to lie down so I can put them on you.” “Protective briefs? What are they?”, he queried. “They’re waterproof briefs that you can wear while you’re sleeping to keep you from getting the sheets wet. You don’t want to sleep in wet sheets, do you?”, she told him comfortingly. “No, I guess not,” he said dubiously. He let his pajama bottoms fall to the floor and looked embarrassed when he slid his underwear down to his feet. Ruth put a businesslike expression on her face to save him from further embarrassment and said, “Good, now lay down on your back on the bed. That’s right. Now roll on your left side while I get the brief ready.” Tony heard the sound of plastic crinkling behind him as she unfolded the disposable brief on the bed behind him. He asked her from where he lay, “But why can’t I just sit on the edge of the bed and put them on like other underwear?” “These are a different kind. Now roll back on your back, Honey. There you go. Here, I want to put some body powder on you to prevent chafing before I fasten them.”, she told him. Tony felt the cool sensation of the powder hitting his crotch and then she said, “Now spread your legs, Honey.” He did as he was told and felt the brief being drawn up between his legs and fastened on one side and then the other. The smell of baby powder wafted up from his crotch and reached his nose as she finished. Then he realized what she had done. She had diapered him! He rose from the bed in a panic and tried to get up saying, “No! You can’t do this to me. I’m not a baby. Please don’t make me wear diapers!” Ruth held him easily on the bed with one hand as she sat down beside him. She put her arm around his shoulders and said, “Honey, the doctor told me that the medication will make you sleep very heavily. You won’t wake up if you need to go to the bathroom. He told me to put you in protective briefs while you sleep. You’ll wet the sheets if I don’t.” “These aren’t ‘protective’ briefs, they’re diapers!”, he told her mournfully. Ruth had to admit to herself that in truth, he was right. They were diapers. But she didn’t want his feelings to be hurt any more than they had to be. She told him half-truthfully, “Honey, when little babies wear them, they’re diapers. But adults have to wear them too at times, then they’re called ‘protective’ briefs.” He looked at her trying to find the deception in her words and said, “You lied to me! You told me you were putting body powder on me when you were really putting baby powder on me!” She smiled at his anguished face and said truthfully, “Honey, baby powder IS body powder. Here, look! See? It says so right on the back of the bottle! I use it myself after a bath to keep dry.” He looked at her with tears in his eyes and said accusingly, “You told me you put it on me to prevent chafing. What you really meant was it was supposed to prevent diaper rash!” Ruth sighed and said, “You’re right, Honey. I fibbed. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” “But I don’t want to wear diapers!”, he wailed. She hugged him to her and said soothingly, “You’ll get used to them, I promise, Honey.” “But I don’t want to get used to them. What will my friends say?”, he pleaded. She smiled and said, “How will they know if you don’t tell them? I’m certainly not going to tell anyone.” “You’re ashamed of me. If I had a teenaged boy who had to wear diapers living in my house, I wouldn’t want to tell anybody either,” he said reproachfully. She hugged him again and stroked his hair, saying, “I’m not ashamed of you Tony. You just have a temporary problem that will go away with time. Try not to get upset about it. Neither doctor seemed to be very worried about it, so I think you shouldn’t worry either. Now let me get you tucked into bed. It’s time to go to sleep.” “Tucked into bed?”, he quailed, “I haven’t needed to be tucked in since I was a little kid!” Ruth smiled warmly as she gently forced him to lie back on the bed saying, “I know you don’t need me to tuck you in, but I want to make sure the pads don’t slip. You understand that, don’t you?” Tony nodded sleepily as the medication took effect and she pulled the covers over him and began tucking them around him. He was almost asleep when she finished with the covers and bent over him to kiss him on the forehead, saying, “Goodnight, Tony. Sleep tight.” “Goodnight moma,” he murmured in his sleep. Ruth turned out the light and closed the door behind her as she left the room. “Did he really say what I thought he said?”, she thought to herself. The next morning Ruth went in to wake him before he awoke on his own. She wanted to see how wet the pads had gotten during the night. Besides she didn’t want him to take off the diaper himself. If it was as drippy as she expected it would be, it would get everywhere if he wasn’t careful. She sat down on the bed beside him and said, softly, “Tony? Tony, it’s time to get up! Come on, Honey, wake up!” Tony opened his eyes to see her sitting beside him looking down on him with loving eyes. He hadn’t been woken that way since he was a little kid. He wanted to tell her that he was too big to be mothered like that, but the words wouldn’t come out. He moved his legs slightly to make more room for her and felt the soggy diaper squish between his legs. Tony blushed in embarrassment as he realized that he had done it again. They were right! He should wear diapers to bed! Ruth nodded understandingly and took the covers out of his hand, pulling them down below his knees. She felt the pad beneath him and said approvingly, “Well, the brief seems to have done the trick. Only the pad underneath your bottom is wet. We’ll only use one pad tonight.” Tony started to sit up, but was restrained by her hand on his chest. “Let me get you out of that wet brief before you get out of bed, Honey.” He lay back passively as she unfastened the tabs on the diaper and pulled the wet padding down between his legs. She had been right, she told herself. He had really soaked the diaper. If he had gotten up on his own he would have dripped everywhere. She told him, “You can sit up now, Honey. Put your feet on the floor and stand straight up. Be careful, I don’t want you dragging the wet brief off the bed onto the floor. There’s a tub of hot water waiting for you in the bathroom. Why don’t you take a bath and then I’ll get you some breakfast?” Tony got out of the bed and trotted into the bathroom without stopping to get dressed. It seemed silly to act modest around someone who had just taken his pee-soaked brief off. ‘Brief’, now there was a face saving lie if he ever heard one. It was a diaper and he had wet it just like a toddler. At least she didn’t insist on using a baby wipe on him and had let him go a take a bath with some dignity. He bathed quickly and went back to his room to dress before going down to breakfast. When he arrived, he found her at the stove cooking bacon and eggs for him. The smell of maple-cured bacon filled the kitchen and made his mouth water in anticipation. “The margarine and jam are in the refrigerator Tony, help yourself. Your toast will be done in a minute. Why don’t you get yourself a glass of milk while you wait?” He took the margarine and jam out of the refrigerator and poured himself a glass of milk. Ruth brought him his breakfast and set it down on the table in front of him with some silverware and a napkin. She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down on the other side of the table from him. She smiled at he and said, “Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?”, she observed as he wolfed down his breakfast. “Bad? No, it’s great! I love maple-cured bacon!”, he said around a mouthful of food. “Don’t talk with you mouth full, dear. I meant the brief. I was asking you about sleeping in the briefs last night,” she said in a motherly fashion. “Oh, it wasn’t so bad when I got used to it,” he said airily. Ruth smiled at his response, he had fallen asleep before she had finished tucking him in the bed. She doubted he was even aware he was even wearing it while he slept. “That’s good. I’m glad you didn’t have any problems,” she said. “Tony,” she asked sweetly, “I need to go do some shopping and I was wondering if you could watch Jay-Jay for me while I go up to the grocery store. It should only take about forty-five minutes.” Tony agreed readily and she left for the store. Tony played with Jay-Jay for a few minutes, then turned on the TV to Nickelodeon and sat down to watch with Jay-Jay in his lap. Rugrats was on and they watched an episode titled “Regarding Stuie”. Tony settled Jay-Jay’s pacifier in his mouth while he indulged himself in his secret pastime; sucking his thumb. He had always enjoyed sucking his thumb and had been very upset when he was five and his mother made him stop. He had never told her that he hadn’t really stopped, only learned to hide it from everyone. He only sucked his thumb when he was sure he wouldn’t get caught. Oh, sure his mother had seen him a couple of times with his thumb in his mouth, but he was always able to explain it away as some injury he had done to himself or something he had spilled on his fingers. He’d take the thumb out of his mouth and hold it in his hand and say that he had mashed it in the door or something. Last year, when he was in the kitchen making toast, she caught him with his thumb in his mouth and he had taken it out and put the rest of his fingers in his mouth one-by-one, licking them as he withdrew them from his mouth. He lied with perfect aplomb, telling her that he had spilled jam on his hand. He was sure that she believed him. It was always easier to believe a lie that was rational than an uncomfortable truth. She simply did not want to believe her thirteen-year-old son still sucked his thumb. Tony looked at Jay-Jay contentedly sucking on his pacifier and wondered if it was as satisfying for Jay-Jay as sucking his thumb was for him. The cartoon started and soon the two of them were engrossed in the story. As the cartoon unfolded, Stu, Tommy’s father, went up on the roof to install an electronic weather ‘goose’ and fell. Stu hit his head and regressed back into babyhood. He spends the day toddling around the house in diapers like his infant son Tommy. Tony wondered what it would be like to regress into a baby again. He knew what wearing a wet diaper felt like now. Tony reflected that it was kind of fun, once he got over the humiliation of being diapered. He wondered how it formula tasted and what sucking a baby bottle felt like. Of course, now that he lived in a house with a baby there’d be plenty of opportunity to find out. The episode ended and a new episode was beginning when he felt something warm and wet in his crotch. “Oh no!”, he thought in horror, “Now I’m wetting my pants during the day!” He moved Jay-Jay aside and was relieved to discover that Jay-Jay’s diaper had been leaking. Tony sighed and carried Jay-Jay up to the nursery to change his diaper. Jay-Jay was delighted by the attentions of his teenaged babysitter. He chuckled and grinned as Tony placed him on the changing table, removed the wet diaper, wiped him off and rediapered him. Tony put Jay-Jay’s pacifier back in his mouth and picked him up again when something on the changing table caught his eye. It was a plastic jar full of pacifiers! He stopped and looked at the jar for a minute before gathering his courage to take one from the jar. Surely one would not be missed out of so many. He’d try it tonight when everyone was asleep. Tony tucked the pacifier in his pocket and took Jay-Jay back down to the family room. When Ruth returned, she found them watching cartoons on TV. She asked Tony to help her and he put Jay-Jay in his playpen and hastened to give her a hand. When they finished, Ruth turned to Tony to thank him for his help and saw the wet spot on the front of his trousers. “Oh dear, Tony!” she said in mock surprise, “Are you having ‘accidents’ during the day, too?” Tony looked down at his pants and realized that he had forgotten to change them after he had changed Jay-Jay. He stammered and said, “Bbb…but… but it wasn’t me! It was Jay-Jay! He was sitting on my lap and his diaper leaked! I just changed him! Really!” Ruth chuckled and said, “I believe you. I was just teasing. It’s happened to me, too. Why don’t you go up and get changed so I can get those pants in the wash before the stain sets?” Tony hurried up the stair and changed clothes quickly. As he was leaving his room with the wet pants in his hand, he suddenly remembered the pacifier in the front pocket. He ducked back into the room and took out the pacifier and hid it in the large seam in the bottom of the curtain at the head of the bed. “Perfect!”, he thought as he smoothed the curtain back in place, “Mrs. Feldman would never think to look for anything there.” That night Tony was diapered before bed and tucked into his bed again. He didn’t argue with Ruth this time, it was obvious that he would have to continue wearing diapers to bed until he got over his bedwetting. He laid back and enjoyed the sensations of being pampered and cared for like a baby. Ruth kissed him on the forehead like she did the night before and he pretended to fall asleep. When she closed the door he opened his eyes and reached under the pillow behind the bed. After fumbling around with the curtain a few minutes, he managed to retrieve the pacifier and get it up to his face. He took the pacifier in his trembling hand and put the nipple into his mouth and began to suck. The nipple did not reach as far back into his mouth as his thumb did, but the sensation was fabulous! He closed his eyes and imagined he was a baby again and his mother was there watching him, playing with him, feeding him and changing his diapers. This was the happiest moment since his parents’ death. The medication started making him sleepy and he fell asleep and woke several times with the pacifier still in his mouth. He decided that he’d rather play it safe and slipped the pacifier back into its hiding place before he fell so deeply asleep that he didn’t wake up until morning. He didn’t want to have to explain to Mrs. Feldman why he was sleeping with a pacifier in his mouth. It was bad enough he had to wear diapers to bed! When Ruth came in the next morning she found him soundly asleep with his thumb in his mouth. She did a quick double take as she realized what she was seeing. She resolved to say nothing to Tony about the matter, but she did decide to talk to the child psychiatrist about it. She woke him like she had the day before and removed his wet diaper before sending him off to the bathroom for his morning bath. The rest of the week passed uneventfully; Tony got used to being diapered before bed and decided he liked the security of knowing he wouldn’t wake up in wet bedclothes. Ruth was somewhat disturbed to find brown stains on the back of his diaper on two occasions, but she put it down to his failure to wipe himself properly after going to the bathroom. Ruth called the psychiatrist later in the week and told him about Tony’s thumbsucking. The doctor seemed unconcerned, he told her he would talk to Tony about it in the future, but a minor regressive behavior like that was common and absolutely harmless. He seemed to be more concerned with Tony’s mood and how he had adapted to wearing diapers at night. She told him Tony seemed to be happier since he had been put on medication and had stopped moping around the house. She told him that Tony hadn’t wanted to go out and see his friends yet. The doctor advised her to be patient, that those things took time. After another week Tony’s body started to adjust to the antidepressant and he found it easier to stay awake in bed without falling asleep. He would cover his head with the covers in case Mrs. Feldman came in to check on him, but she never did. He would get out the pacifier every night and suck on it for an hour before putting it away and going to sleep. His fantasy of being a baby again became so real when he was sucking the pacifier. One night, after sucking the pacifier for about an hour, he grew thirsty and decided to go down to the kitchen to get something to drink. He hid the pacifier in his pillow case and padded quietly down the stairs clad in his robe-covered diapers. When he saw the bottles of cold formula waiting in the refrigerator, he couldn’t resist. He took a bottle and putting it in the pocket of his robe, crept back up the stairs to his room. He got into bed quickly and took the pacifier out of the pillow case before throwing the covers over his head. The first suck of the bottle was a shock; the sweet flavor of the thin formula was unexpected and he was surprised at how difficult it was to get anything from the bottle. After a while he got the hang of it and he sucked on the bottle contentedly, drowsing from time to time. The next thing he knew Mrs. Feldman was shaking him awake. She pulled down his covers and froze at the sight of him lying in bed with a nearly empty baby bottle. Formula dripped from the nipple slowly and puddled by his side on the bedpad. She reached down and said, “And just what young man, were you doing with this in your bed?” Panic paralyzed Tony’s vocal cords, he tried to croak out an explanation, but only strange, strangled vowel sounds escaped his lips. Ruth put the bottle on the dresser and said, “After you take your bath and get dressed young man, the two of us are going to have a long talk!” Tony turned beet-red in embarrassment and nodded his agreement. Ruth unfastened his diaper to find the second shock of her day. He had pooped in his diaper! Her eyes went wide and she said, “Just stay right there, Tony. Don’t move a muscle! Do you understand me? Stay right were you are! I’ll be back in a minute!” She left the room with a determined expression on her face and returned a few minutes later with a large box of baby wipes in her hand. Tony lay in bed trembling in terror. The smell of the dirty diaper had reached him and he knew what he had done. There was no hiding from the maternal judgment in her eyes. He had disgraced himself. Tears welled up in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks as she told him to draw back his legs to his chest and hold them there while she cleaned his dirty bottom. The moment she touched him, his bladder cut loose and he began peeing uncontrollably in fright. Ruth snatched up the front of his diaper and threw it over his crotch, catching most of the spill in the already sodden diaper. He whimpered as she scrubbed him clean again and then told him to roll over on his stomach. She told him to wait while she got something and he heard her go over to his dresser and take something out of one of the drawers. He closed his eyes for the beating he knew was going to come. She was going to beat him with his own belt! Tony stiffened as he felt the covers ripped off the bed and the plastic edge of the soaked bedpad pulled out from underneath his stomach. He felt another pad placed on the bed and waited for her to order him to move on top on the pad. Of course she’d make him lie on a bedpad while she spanked him. He had just proven he couldn’t control himself anymore, hadn’t he just peed right in front of her? He shivered in fright as he felt her put something cold and slimy in the crack between his buttocks. She told him to roll back on his bottom and he complied without ever opening his eyes. Tears streamed down his face as he whimpered, “Moma, moma, please don’t hurt me moma. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do it. Please don’t beat me.” Ruth powdered him quickly and rediapered him before sitting down on the bed at his side. She pulled the boy up from the bed by his shoulders and gathered him to her bosom. His body was wracked by paroxysms of stark terror. He wept copiously and kept repeating over and over, “Please don’t hurt me mama. I’ll be good. Don’t leave me mama!” Ruth was astonished at the change in him. The happy teenager of the night before had become a terrified two-year-old before her eyes. She rocked him back and forth shushing him and making meaningless mothering noises to try and subdue his fears. After a while he quieted and she saw the pacifier lying in the bed beside him. She reached over him with her free hand and picked up the pacifier to show him, saying, “Did you take this from Jay-Jay’s room, Tony? It was naughty of you to steal from your brother.” Tony started trembling violently in her arms again and she said hastily, “It’s okay, Honey. I’m sure he doesn’t mind, he has plenty of pacifiers. I’ll get him another to replace it.” He touched the pacifier hesitantly and then began shaking again. Ruth put it in his hand and said, “It’s yours, Honey. Don’t worry. Mama’s not mad at you. Here, let mama put the nipple in your mouth for you. Doesn’t that feel better?” He looked up at her with the saddest, most forlorn eyes she had ever seen. She slipped the nipple between his lips and he began to suck on the nipple the moment she put it in his mouth. He put his arms around her neck and wept into her shoulder and wept like a lost child who has finally found it’s mother. Ruth patted his back and comforted him and soon his crying stopped. She asked him in the simple, gentle words one uses with a small child who has just experienced a terrible trauma, “Okay now, Honey? Come on, Honey. Let’s go downstairs and mama will get you something to eat.” Tony looked at her with a glimmer of hope in his eyes and said around the pacifier, “Bath?” Ruth shook her head and said, “Mama will give you a bath later, Honey. Right now mama thinks her boy should get something to eat. How would you like some bacon and eggs for breakfast?” Tony’s eyes lit up and he opened his mouth letting the pacifier fall onto his lap, saying with a hoarse shout, “Bacon!” She put the pacifier in her pocket and held his hand as she guided him down the stairs into the breakfast nook. Ruth sat him down at the table and pinned a kitchen towel around his neck to use as a bib. She put the pacifier into his mouth to keep him occupied while she cooked him breakfast. When she was done, she set the food down in front of him and spoon-fed him eggs while breaking off small pieces of bacon and handing them to him. He chortled in glee over each piece of bacon she fed him. When he was finished, she wiped his face with the towel and led him into the family room to sit on the floor in front of the TV. She turned on Nickelodeon and let him watch the Rugrats while she placed an emergency call to the psychiatrist. His psychiatrist told her he’d be right over and arrived about an hour later carrying the traditional doctor’s black bag. Tony recognized him and waved at him as he walked in the room. Ruth took Jay-Jay out of his playpen and held him on her hip as she watched the doctor give Tony a quick medical examination. The doctor called her over and said, “There’s no overt sign of physical trauma and he doesn’t appear to have the personality disintegration that would be consistent with schizophrenia. My guess is that he’s undergoing a temporary fugue state brought on by stress. There’s a strong possibility that he’ll be better by tomorrow when the effects of the stress have worn off. What I’d like to do now is sedate him and let nature take it’s course. If you don’t mind, I’d like to question him while he’s under sedation and try to get at the root of the problem. The factors that have caused this state should be near the surface of his personality at this time and should be relatively easy to access. If we don’t take this opportunity now, they might be sublimated deep within in personality when he emerges from the fugue. It might take years of psychoanalysis to reach them again. Do I have your permission?” Ruth nodded her permission and the doctor injected a sedative into Tony’s arm. The doctor helped Tony to the couch and waited patiently for the medication to take effect. He asked Ruth to leave the room while he questioned Tony. Ruth took Jay-Jay and retired into the kitchen.

A Story for Tony by Jennifer Loraine

An hour later the doctor came into the kitchen came into the kitchen and said, “He’s resting quietly now. Tony’s had a rough time of it. From what I got out of him, his mother was an alcoholic when he was young and would beat him savagely for the slightest transgression. His father was a disciplinarian and agreed with his wife’s treatment of the boy. How they ever managed to keep from getting arrested for child abuse is beyond me. His subconscious personality stopped maturing between the ages of two and three, although his conscious personality continued to mature normally. He blames himself for the deaths of his parents subconsciously. I suspect it’s because he has a very deeply rooted fear/hate relationship with his mother and wished that she would die whenever she beat him. Sadly, it’s a very normal reaction to that sort of stress. When they died in fact, his subconscious blamed him for the wish fulfillment and regressed him to a time before his mother’s alcoholism destroyed their relationship. In effect his subconscious is trying to resurrect both his mother and his mother’s love at the same time. His infant id has decided that they left him because he wasn’t worth loving anymore. He had matured too much to love and so he’s been abandoned. The poor boy is only looking for his mother to love him. Under normal circumstances, I’d advise a patient’s family to have someone in his condition hospitalized, but in this case I don’t think it would be helpful. As a matter of fact, I think it would detrimental to his condition. If we take him out of an environment where he feels loved and put him in an impersonal institutional environment, the fugue state may become permanent. He seems to identify you as a mother figure. Apparently you’ve acted like the idealized mother he’s never had. If you can put up with his infantile behavior for a few days, I think he’ll come out of it okay. He’s basically a good kid with a sound personality who’s undergone a tremendous amount of stress. The only thing I’ve seen that’s even slightly abnormal about his conscious personality is that he likes to suck his thumb in secret. I don’t think you’ll ever break him on that habit, nor would I want to try. There are far worse things in life than being a thumbsucker in the privacy of your own home. If, after he comes out of the fugue state, he regresses in private from time to time in acceptable ways, I would be extra loving until he returns to normal. In short, I would baby him. He’s had enough discipline to last a lifetime, for that matter, several lifetimes! Give me a call tomorrow and tell me how he’s doing.” Ruth saw the doctor to the door and shut it behind him. “That poor boy,” she thought, “I never dreamed that Mary was an alcoholic. No wonder I never saw her drink. I thought it was a religious belief. It’s going to be tough to take care of a two-year-old toddler in a fourteen-year-old body, but I accepted responsibility for him and I’ve got to try. If the doctor’s right, it should only last a day or two and he’ll be back to normal. It’s not any worse than nursing him through a bad illness.” Ruth went back and found Tony asleep on the couch. She put Jay-Jay into his playpen and woke Tony up enough to get him up the stairs and into his bed. She took his coverlet and put it away, replacing it with a fleecy flannel blanket and tucking it around him. When she kissed him goodnight, his eyelids fluttered open and he looked at her and said, “Night-night mama!” She smiled down at him and said, “Time to go night-night, baby. Mama loves you.” Ruth put the pacifier in his mouth and turned out the light as she left the room. Tony woke later that night feeling decidedly strange. He could see it was still dark, but he was horribly thirsty. His diaper was wet and he needed to be changed. He called out softly for Mrs. Feldman over and over until he heard her coming down the hall. He called her name again and he heard the door open and her say softly, “Tony…, Tony, Honey? Was that you calling me? Do you need me? Mama’s right here baby.” He tried to call her again, but his mouth was so dry he could hardly speak. All he managed to say was “Thirsty!” Ruth heard him and replied, “Okay Honey. Mama will get you something to drink. I’ll be right back.” He heard her footsteps on the stairs as she when down to the kitchen and returned a few minutes later. She left the bedroom light off, guiding herself to his bed with only the hall light for illumination. She sat on the edge of the bed and slipped the nipple of the bottle between his lips, holding it in place until he could hold it himself. Tony practically gagged on the nipple! When he had asked her for something to drink, he expected her to bring him a glass of water. Not a baby bottle of formula! Had she found out about the bottle of Jay-Jay’s formula he had taken? He blushed hotly in the semidarkness as his reflexes betrayed him and his mouth began to suck automatically. When Ruth saw that he had taken the bottle, she pulled down the covers and put two fingers under the front of his diaper to see if he was wet. His diaper was soaked as she had expected. She pulled the covers off the bed and went to turn on the bedroom light. She had no intention of cleaning a dirty bottom in the dark. She set the changing supplies on the bed beside him and proceeded to pull the tapes of the sides of his diaper. Tony peeked around the bottle at her as she carefully pulled down the front of his diaper to check on the condition of his behind. He was a little messy, but it could be cleaned up with two swipes of the baby wipe. She told him, “Now lift your legs, Honey, so mama can clean your hiney. That’s a good baby! Bend your knees darling. More! That’s it.” “What was she talking about?”, he thought in confusion. “Had he pooped in his diaper? Why was she treating him like this? Was this some kind of punishment? She didn’t act like she was mad at him. She was acting like he was her baby!” He knew he should object, but he found her presence oddly comforting. He discovered that he enjoyed being treated this way by her. She wiped his bottom clean, coated his bottom with Vaseline and put a clean diaper underneath his bottom before she would let him put his legs down again. Then she efficiently rediapered him, put the diapering supplies back on the dresser and put the covers back on the bed again to tuck him in. She found the pacifier in the bed at his side and took it out of the room with her, returning a few minutes later with a long cord tied to the ring. She bent over his pillow as he was finishing the bottle and fastened the end of the cord to the pillowcase with a diaper pin. Ruth took the bottle from his hand and put it on his dresser, then came back and helped him sit up in bed. She took a cloth diaper from her back pocket and threw it over her left shoulder and held him close to her as she patted him on the back. Tony couldn’t believe it. She was actually burping him! He started to tell her he didn’t need her help to burp, when all of a sudden he let loose a long belch. He was so astonished at her behavior and his belch that he was speechless. She laid him back down in bed and tucked the blanket around his arms and shoulders. Then she kissed him on his forehead and said, “Goodnight baby,” as she put the pacifier in his mouth. Ruth put the dirty diaper in the diaper pail and took the bottle from his dresser before turning out the light and closing the door. Tony lay in the dark for an hour sucking on the pacifier before he went to sleep again. What had just happened? Somehow during the night their relationship had changed. It was obvious she didn’t feel like he was her adopted teenaged son anymore. Suddenly he was her baby boy. He had messed in his diaper and she hadn’t even been surprised. She just changed him like she expected it to be dirty. And the way she had talked to him, she was acting like she didn’t think he could talk like an adult! She was treating him the same way she treated Jay-Jay! What was going on here? The formula sat pleasantly in his stomach and made him sleepy. The covers made him feel warm and snuggily while the diaper made him feel secure and comfortable. Secure, that was the word for it. She made him feel secure and loved. She didn’t care if he sucked his thumb, she wasn’t even upset if he messed in his diaper. She had actually put a baby bottle in his mouth for him to drink while she changed him! She hadn’t even yelled when she found Jay-Jay’s pacifier in his bed. She had just gotten a cord to pin it to his pillowcase so he wouldn’t lose it and to top it off, she put the nipple in his mouth before she left! He couldn’t remember feeling this way ever in his life. For the first time, he felt truly happy. Whatever was going on, he didn’t want to change it. He was sure he’d find out tomorrow. Tony smiled serenely around the pacifier as he slipped off into sleep. The next morning Ruth awakened Tony as usual, but instead of rediapering him she led him by the hand into the bathroom to take a bath. She helped him sit in the tub and proceeded to rub his back with a soapy washcloth. Tony luxuriated in her attentions; all embarrassment he might have felt two days before had evaporated. He felt completely at ease in her presence and said nothing as she went over his body from head-to-toe with the washcloth. He thought it strange that she had decided to bathe him, but was not going to argue with his good fortune. He was slightly embarrassed by her use off baby talk to him; she cooed and prattled over him like he was a one-year-old. He didn’t know how to respond to this kind of treatment, moreover, her speech didn’t seem to require an answer. It was just motherly chatter meant to put him at ease. When she was finished, she helped him out of the tub and dried him with a towel. Ruth led him back to the bedroom and rubbed him down with baby lotion before rediapering him. The rediapering surprised Tony. He understood why she had changed him last night when he was wet; he knew he’d be wet again by morning. But he was only a bedwetter, not incontinent, he didn’t need to be diapered during the day! Did she know something he didn’t? She helped him up from the bed and she said as she took him by the hand, “Come on baby, mama will help you down the stairs where she’ll feed you eggs and bacon for breakfast. Won’t that be nummy?” Tony blushed and told her, “Thank you Mrs. Feldman, I’d like some bacon and eggs, but I think I can feed myself if you don’t mind.” She turned to him with an expression of delighted surprise on her face and gushed, “Tony! You’re back to yourself again!” She hugged him enthusiastically, then took him by the hand to lead him down the stairs. “Uhhh…Uhhh, Mrs. Feldman?”, Tony interrupted hesitantly. “Yes, dear?”, she answered absently as they walked down the hall. “I…I think I can walk down the stairs without any help. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the thought, but I think I can manage it myself,” Tony said diffidently. “Ohh,” Ruth said dropping his hand as they approached the stairs. “Uhhh, Mrs. Feldman?”, Tony began as he stepped off the stairs onto the first floor. “Yes dear?”, answered Ruth. “Why did you diaper me again? I only wet the bed, you know. It’s not like I can’t control myself during the day,” he stated positively. “You peed and pooped in them three times during the day yesterday. I think it might be a good idea if you wore them this morning just to be on the safe side,” she answered carefully. “Yesterday!.. I didn’t wear diapers yesterday!”, he exclaimed. “You mean you don’t remember, Honey? You called me mama and spent the morning playing on the rug in front of the TV in diapers,” she said sweetly. “Mama?”, he said distantly. “I called you mama?” “Yes, dear, don’t you remember? Your psychiatrist was here and had a long talk with you on the couch, don’t you remember?”, she asked, looking him in the eye. “No……I don’t remember anything like that happening,” he said in bewilderment. “……I really called you mama?” “Yes, Honey. You cried in my arms and called me mama. Then I took you downstairs and fed you breakfast and gave you a bottle of formula to drink afterwards. I called your psychiatrist and he told me you were suffering from a fugue. You acted like you were a little baby all day yesterday. He said you might be better by today, but I didn’t really believe him. You mean you really don’t remember anything from yesterday?”, she asked seriously. “All I can remember from yesterday is that it was like any other day. I got up, ate breakfast and babysat Jay-Jay while you went to the store. I spent the day in the house, without going outside. We ate dinner and then you put Jay-Jay to bed and we watched TV until it was time to go to bed.” he said distractedly. Ruth tilted her head and queried, “What do you remember us watching last night, Tony?” "The same thing we watch every Wednesday night, we watched “Buddies” and then “Primetime,” he said with self-assurance. “Today is Friday, Tony,” she said quietly. “If you don’t believe me, turn on the TV to CNN or the preview channel on cable. They have captions with the date and day of the week. Don’t you remember anything? Anything at all, it could be important.” “Well…,” he began reluctantly, “I do remember one thing I haven’t told you about. I g…guess it doesn’t matter now….” “What is it, Honey?”, she said, trying to be encouraging. He hung his head in shame and said, “I came down the stairs because I was thirsty and wanted to get something to drink from the refrigerator. When I saw the bottles of Jay-Jay’s formula, I couldn’t resist. I took one. I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would be missed. I guess you must have found it.” Ruth nodded in agreement and said, “I found it lying in the bed beside you yesterday morning. A little formula had leaked on the bedpad, but it looked like you had drunk almost all of it. I found one of Jay-Jay’s pacifiers in your bed too. Did you take the pacifier earlier that day?” “No…I took it weeks ago. You’re…You’re not mad at me are you?”, he said gazing up at her with a pleading look in his eyes. She hugged him affectionately and said, “No, Honey I’m not mad at you. I told you yesterday you could have it. If you want a pacifier so badly you’d steal it from Jay-Jay, I guess you should have one of your own. You don’t have to hide your thumbsucking anymore either. I love you just the same, whether you suck your thumb or not.” “Y…you love me?”, he asked in surprise. “Yes, dear, I love you. You’re kind, gentle, considerate, helpful and very obedient. Any mother would be proud to have a son like you,” she said in a loving tone. “But I stole from Jay-Jay! I wet the bed and have to wear diapers to sleep! You can’t love me!”, he exclaimed incredulously. “I love you diapers and all, Tony. Don’t you see that those things aren’t important if you love somebody? If you need to play at being a baby to convince yourself that someone loves you, it’s okay with me. I don’t mind. I’ll give you bottles of formula and change your diapers until you don’t need them anymore. You’re my son now and I’m your mother. All I want from you is one thing,” she said with a growing smile. “What’s th…that?”, Tony asked. “Call me mama,” she grinned. Tony’s face broke out in the sunniest smile she had ever seen on a child as he said, “Yes, mama!” His smile turned into a small frown as the thought of what his psychiatrist would say. “But… but what will my doctor say when he finds out you let me suck my thumb and wear diapers?” Ruth patted him on the rump and said, “Silly baby! I just told you he was over here yesterday and saw you sitting on the floor in your diapers and sucking your thumb! Now go over to the breakfast table so I can fix your breakfast for you. You’d like eggs and bacon for breakfast, I suppose?” Tony grinned again and said, “Yes, mama!” Tony’s mother made him bacon and eggs for breakfast as promised, letting him feed himself. Although she did insist on pinning a kitchen towel around his neck to use as a bib. Tony was a little disappointed that she didn’t give him a bottle of formula to drink with his meal, but when he finished, she gave him a baby bottle filled with chocolate milk to drink while he was watching TV. She spread an old blanket on the floor for him and Jay-Jay to sit on and did her chores while the two of them sat in their diapers watching cartoons. Around midmorning Jay-Jay pooped in his diaper and Tony changed him for his mother. A few minutes later, Tony was surprised to discover that he was a little wet too and went to his mother to report for his own diaper change after putting Jay-Jay in his playpen. Ruth was busy in the kitchen and told him to wait a few minutes, she’d change him as soon as she was finished with the pots and pans. He was walking back to the family room to watch TV until she was ready to change him when something strange happened to him. Suddenly his bowels cut loose and he pooped in his diaper with no warning! His bladder followed suit and seconds later he was wearing a diaper that was both dirty and dripping. He sank to his knees and crawled the last few feet to the blanket and began to cry. He had only wanted to play at being a baby, now he realized that mama was right! He’d HAVE to wear diapers now! Ruth rushed in the room to see why he was crying. She found him on his hands and knees on the blanket with tears running down his cheeks. Ruth knelt beside him and said, “What’s wrong, baby? Can mama help?” “I…I pooped in my diaper!”, he said in humiliation. “I see you did,” she said, smelling a dirty diaper and looking at the way his sodden diaper was drooping between his legs. “Now I’ll have to wear them all the time!”, he said anguished at the thought of being treated like a baby all the time. He wanted to play at being a baby, not be cared for like one because his behavior required it. “Well,” his mother said sympathetically, “you’ll have to wear them until you’re potty trained again. That’s for sure. Come on, Honey. Roll over on your back and mama will change your diaper.” He sniveled as she cleaned him up and put him in a fresh diaper. She reached in her pocket and took out his pacifier and said, “Cheer up, Honey! Here! Suck on this, it’s not so bad! You’ll feel better in a little while, I promise.” “You’re….You’re not mad at me for pooping in my diaper?”, he blubbered. “Of course not, Honey. Mama told you she loves you, dirty dydees and all,” she said with a smile. She tickled playfully him on his tummy and before long he was giggling and squealing happily. She helped him to a sitting position and said, “It’s time for your nap, Tony. We’re going to go clothes shopping for you this afternoon and I don’t want you to get overly tired.” “But it’s too early to sleep mama! I can’t go to sleep this early!”, he whined. “Come on, Tony. You don’t want to get paddled, do you?”, she asked jokingly. A hurt look came over his face and he said seriously, “You aren’t going to spank me with a hairbrush, are you mama?” “I was thinking more of a swat across your diaper-padded fanny with my hand if you don’t get moving,” she told him with a grin. “Ohhh….,” he said with a brightening look. “I guess naughty babies do get swatted on their behinds, don’t they mama?” “That’s right, Tony. Now come on and mama will get you tucked in bed.” She led him by the hand docilely up the staircase and tucked him in his bed. She sat on the side of the bed and said, “I called your psychiatrist this morning to tell him the good news. He told me to tell you not to worry about the diapers for now, he’s sure you won’t need to wear them during the day in a couple of months. He told me he was pleased to hear you had recovered so quickly and would like to see you tomorrow. We’ve got to get you some clothes to go over your diapers, Tony. I saw some sweats in your closet you can wear shopping this afternoon, but you’ll have to have more than one change of clothes to wear. I was thinking of buying you a couple of pairs of overalls and some more sweats. I can put some snaps in the seams of the crotch and legs to make it easier to change you. I think I saw some footed sleepers at Wal-Mart that you could wear around the house. Some new curtains for this room and some decorations for the walls would be nice too. Maybe I can find a nice nursery motif like teddy bears,” she mused aloud. “I can’t sleep, it’s too early,” Tony said crankily. “Please let me come down and watch TV,” he begged. Ruth smiled and cooed down at him, “Mama will take care of that, baby. Just lay right there and mama will be back in a minute.” She returned with a brown furry object under her arm and said, “Here baby, take this and put your arm around it.” Tony took the object from her a discovered that it was a fluffy brown teddy bear with sad eyes. He noticed she had pinned one of Jay-Jay’s cloth diapers around its waist and covered it with plastic pants. He tucked it in the hollow of one shoulder and curled his arm around it as she explained, “Teddy didn’t used to have to wear dydees until recently. Now he’s sad because he doesn’t think anybody will love him because he wears diapers. Will you be his friend, Tony? I think you understand how he feels.” Tony nodded at this with wide eyes and giggled as he felt the plastic crinkle against the bare skin of his side. Ruth handed him a baby bottle full of formula and said, “Mama brought you a bottle of warm formula to drink, Honey. She wants you to take your medicine and drink your formula until it’s all gone. Will you make a happy bottle for mama?” Tony nodded gravely as she handed him his antidepressant capsule. He swallowed the capsule and began to suck on the nipple as she continued, “Mama will read a story to you, Honey. It’s all about a little bear named Poo who was exceedingly fond of honey. I think you and your new friend will like it.” Tony closed his eyes and cuddled his bear feeling sooooo comfortable. The soft flannel blanket snuggled against his skin luxuriously, while the diapers gave him the feeling his bottom was being gently caressed. He suckled the warm formula from the bottle avidly. His rapidly filling stomach made him sleepy and his eyelids began to droop. Ruth stroked his hair as she read the story, lulling him into a peaceful sleep. His breathing slowed and became deeper as he drifted off into a dreamland filled with soft, furry creatures who were never cross or even said an unkind word. He knew they were his friends when he saw that they all sucked their thumbs and wore diapers just like him. They laughed and tumbled together on the soft, moss-covered earth of his dreamland, happy to be alive and play in the warm sunshine. One of the bears wet his diapers and began to giggle uproariously. All the others joined in and laughed as they good-naturedly changed his soggy diaper. They were such jolly playmates! Then they went to look for a baby bottle tree so they could all sit down and have some formula for lunch. When they finished their bottles, they all lay down for a nap together in a heap. Tony snuggled against his new friends and dozed with a smile of contentment on his face as he lay amid his furry companions. When they awoke, they changed each other’s diapers with howls of delight as they saw the messes each of them had made. Then it was off to an afternoon of play as the comrades crawled and somersaulted together on the soft green grass. Tony’s face shone with happiness as the dark cloud that been hiding his smiles evaporated under the loving sun. Ruth put a bookmark where she had stopped the story and kissed Tony lightly on the forehead. She wasn’t in any hurry to finish the story, she knew that she’d be reading Tony and Teddy stories for a long time before he was ready for her to stop.

Finis Copyright © 1995 by Jennifer Loraine