Marty and Mary Whiffer live at 15 Sage Creek Road in Cloverdale. Marty teaches computer science at the Comprehensive School. Mary works the Customer Service Counter at the Piggly Wiggly. They’ve been married for two years and have one baby boy, Marty Junior.
It’s Sunday afternoon and Marty’s in a bit of a pickle. Mary was scheduled to return to Cloverdale on the 1:10 Coastal Express after spending the weekend at Tamworth on Tide visiting her ill mother. It’s 1:30 P.M. and there is no train. The station master just announced over the loudspeaker that the train stopped in the mountains because of an avalanche further up the tracks. Everyone was fine and the train would be returning to Tamworth. Marty felt panic setting in. He had Marty Junior for another day - alone. His repeated attempts to reach Mary by cell phone failed. His back was to the wall. No matter how fearful he was, it was just dad and son. alone - together...........
His current predicament started last Friday when Mary got a phone call from her mother saying she was feeling poorly and having trouble breathing. Marty suggested Mary bring her ill 75 year old mother to Cloverdale. His suggestion confused her; Marty and her mother never found a thing in each other’s characters worthy of admiration. A moment later she realized the truth behind his change of attitude. Mary took Marty by the arm, squeezed it and assured him that he could survive two days with Marty Junior. He was a teacher after all; he was suppose to know how to handle children. Marty fell to his knees and begged her to stay. With tear filled eyes he listed his reasons.
- Marty Junior’s unpredictable mood swings. One minute he was a happy little boy and the next, its as if he had a direct link to the Evil Satellite Network.
- Marty Junior throws everything across the room within arms reached.
- He attempts to ingested everything that fits in his mouth. Half the time it ends up in his windpipe.
- Everything Marty Junior swallows, including his meals, can be brought up later at will. Marty Junior uses this talent at the worst possible times, usually while being tossed in the air over someone’s head.
- Marty Junior perfected the perfect scream at 6 months. After several weeks of trail and error, Marty Junior found the perfect combination of pitches to drive his parent’s to brink of insanity. He used his parent’s reaction to the various pitches as an effectiveness gage. He started on the low end of the scale, then slowly increased the pitch. He quickly soared to the dizzying heights of Mount Decibel as soon as he saw them react to the sounds by shifting in their chairs. He loved seeing them jump up to quiet him and care to his needs and wants.
At 2:00 P.M. he realized all hope was lost. He stood up, attached Marty Junior to his carrier and stepped out of the lobby and into the cold. He walked down Station Road in the sunless gloom of a pending winter storm. The snow crunched beneath his feet. Small flakes of snow swirled around the lamp posts. He turned onto High Street, then left onto Sage Creek Road. His body took him home by instinct; it had no choice - his mind was nearly gone. Marty reached his doorstep and fumbled for his keys. For an instant he was distracted and nearly slipped on a bit of ice covering the bottom step. The sudden jerk woke Marty Junior up. The baby started crying. He used his trademark lower decibels first. Ten seconds later he unleashed holy hell on the entire neighborhood. Marty stood with his forehead against the front door. The next 24 hours were going to be the longest in his life.