by Lisa McCourt
Dumping his backpack by the front door, Darren punched in the code to the new alarm system, and then kicked his shoes off, sending them sailing in two different directions. In Tom Cruise fashion, he skidded through the hallway in his stocking feet. No one was around to see his impression. His dad had gone to work an hour before school had ended and his mother wouldn't be home for another hour, fast food in hand, so she wouldn't have to cook.
Sliding into the kitchen, Darren snagged a cookie and then somersaulted into the livingroom. Flopping onto the couch, he retrieved the remote from the floor and switched on the T.V. He planned on remaining there until his mother told him to go to bed. Listening to the sound of Phineus and Ferb, he smiled. Those two boys were lucky. They had a mother and a father, even though both were clueless, and a sister. Yes, she was always trying to 'bust', them, but still...it was better than being alone. After a while, his eyes began to feel heavy.
It was dark. Sitting up, Darren stretched his arms and then headed to the kitchen. He hoped whatever his mom had brought home for dinner tasted good nuked in the micro. There was nothing there though, not on the counter and not in the refridgerator.
Puzzled, Darren padded down the hall. "Mom?"
Darren checked her bedroom, but she wasn't there. "Mom?" The bathroom was empty too. Confused, Darren walked back towards the kitchen. It smelled like chicken.
"Oh, there you are Darren. Go wash up for dinner and tell Candice to come set the table."
Darren stood there and stared. Linda Flynn, the mother from Phineus and Ferb was standing in his kitchen, frying chicken in a pan that Darren was sure his mother had never used.
"Well don't just stand there. Go get your sister."
"I must be dreaming," Darren thought, walking towards the livingroom.
"Where do you think you're going?"
June Cleaver, the Beaver's mom, was blocking his path. In sharp contrast to the cartoon mother Darren had just left, this mother appeared black and white, just as she had in the television show
"Ummm, to watch T.V. until I wake up."
"No you aren't. You have homework to do." Mrs. Cleaver pointed towards the front door and Darren's discarded backpack. "That doesn't belong there and neither do your shoes. Pick them up and take them to your room."
"Mmmm, fried chicken. No one makes fried chicken better than mom does."
Darren stared in disbelief at the cartoon image of Phinius walking through the front door, followed by Ferb.
"Oh there you are," Linda said, coming out of the kitchen, carrying Perry in her arms. She gave Darren a stern look. "Have you told Candice to come down for dinner yet?"
"He's taking his backpack to his room and doing his homework." June Cleaver spoke as though she expected no argument. The two women stared at each other and Darren wondered if there would be a battle for dominance.
"Knock it off? You're scaring the boy."
"You may call me mom," the mother said, smiling. Glancing in the mirror, she frowned and pulled some lipstick from her pocket and smeared it across her lips. "There, much better."
"I need to wake up."
"Wake up? You aren't sleeping. At least I don't think you are. You don't think he's sleep walking do you?" Mrs. Cunningham looked back and forth between Linda and June. The two women shrugged and Mrs. Cleaver fingered her pearls nervously.
"I have to be sleeping. There's no other explenation."
"There's always another explenation," Marian said. "Howard!"
"What is it Marian?"
The voice came from the speaker on the alarm system. It was intended for Darren to be able to communicate with an officer from Latchkey Security in the event something went wrong while he was home alone.
"The boy needs an explenation."
"Quite simply," the voice said, "I was installed to take care of you while your parents are at work. It has been a week and it is clear that even when they are home, you are alone."
"But you are just an alarm system."
"And you are just a boy. One who spends too much time in front of the boob tube. Your parents are never there for you and yet pretend to care by leaving me in charge. If they had read the contract, they would have seen the provision for deadbeat parents. They would have known they could be replaced. They agreed to it when they installed me."
"That's not possible," Darren said, though his voice seemed uncertain.
"There's nothing that isn't possible," Phineus said.
"Except busting these two," Candice said, entering the room.
"Okay then," Linda said, "now that that's settled, take your backpack to your room and get down here for dinner."
"And then you will do your homework," Mrs. Cleaver added.
Darren grabbed his backpack and headed upstairs Passing his parents bedroom, he heard a noise inside. "Mom?"
"Oh dear," a woman's voice said, followed by nervous laughter. Opening the door, Darren looked inside. Kitty Foreman stood over the dead body of his mother, a knife in one hand and a drink in the other. Blood pooled on the floor around the woman who had ignored Darren for most of his life. In the closet was his fathers bowling bag. Staring at him from inside was his father's head.
"Well now, they just weren't good parents," Kitty said, laughing nervously.
"But you're going to be good," Red said, his foot buried in a headless behind. "You know why? Because if you aren't, I'll put a foot up your ass."