This is Fred.
Fred is a skeleton.
Fred lives with us now.
Fred is a friend of the family.
He used to live at Target, where I took Quinn to buy (more) Halloween decorations. Halloween, as it turns out, is the new Christmas when it comes to decorating our house which means Christmas is the new “holy-shit-its-balls-out-bananas-up-in-this-illuminated-like-Vegas-on-acid-gingerbread-abode.” I can’t wait!
Anyway, we saw Fred, who at the time was just an unknown plastic skeleton heaped in a pile of other unknowns. He was meant to be an outside decoration. Maybe sitting on chair, bony hand raised in salutation, or maybe crouched on a tree ready to lunge at the school kids who walk by. (Which will do wonders for our newly minted kindergartener’s social game. “You want to play with the kid whose mom dropped a plastic skeleton on your ass? Umm, no.”)
But, nope. That was not to be Fred’s fate. Quinn yanked him off the shelf and no sooner was a friendship borne.
“I love him,” Quinn said.
“That’s fine,” I said. “Love is love. Put him in the cart.”
“He’s almost the same size as me.”
“Eh, your body types are similar, but you’ve got a good four inches on him.”
“I’m going to carry him,” Quinn said, putting Fred’s arms around his neck. “Let’s go Fred!”
Yes, beat feet, Beetlejuice! I had purple lights and giant plushy spiders and maybe a pair of upended Frankenstein boots buy. Let’s go, kids!
Quinn carried his skeletal friend around Target. They held hands, put their arms around each other’s shoulders, pushed all of our groceries, Halloween decorations, and $582 worth of subliminally selected merchandise I didn’t know I needed, but now can’t live with out, aside so I could push them in the cart like they were two-bit councilmen up for re-election in small town Forth of July parade.
“What’s this guy’s name?” I asked.
“Fred,” Quinn said. “Definitely Fred.”
While I loaded the bags into the trunk Quinn buckled Fred into the backseat.
“Fred wants McDonald’s,” Quinn said. “He’s never had it before.”
“Oh, unfortunately Fred doesn’t have a stomach so I’m afraid it would just fall out.” Which, come to think of it, is what happens to people with stomachs who eat McDonald’s.
When we got home, Quinn brought Fred inside, straight past the porch chair I imagined him sitting on, past his acquaintance whose body parts we planted on the lawn, past the Happy Meal Bart must have picked up for his lunch while he was out running errands.
“This is my room,” I heard him say. “This is your room too. This is my box of action figures. This is where we keep the Legos. You can sleep right…here.”
They hung out together the rest of the day. They Face-timed my parents, watched three episodes of Peppa Pig, even took a bath together. Fred hit the 25% off mass market Halloween decoration lottery with this kid. That floppy mess of plastic was practically beaming when he got out of the bath more likely because Quinn washed him with my luxury, salon-grade, for color-treated hair mask. But whatever.
Oh yes, Fred may have been dead but he was living the life.
Until the incident.
Never good. Nope. Never. That’s when my fight or flight instinct takes over and I run for the front door.
“You have to help Fred!!!”
Oh, it’s Fred! Fred I can handle. No offense, Fred, but at least there won’t be blood.
Quinn ran down the hall with Fred in one hand and Fred’s right arm in his other hand.
“It just came off!” Quinn said, handing me Fred’s appendage.
“I can fix it!”
First rule of parenting 101: Never say “I can fix it” before you’ve properly assessed this damage. Fred’s arm was toast. It was a clean break ripped right out of the socket. I saw my future and it involved another trip to the seasonal section of Target. And maybe a chevron throw pillow. And an acacia wood server. And an artificial succulent in a brass pot. And a bed for Puppy. And new booties for me. And a bathing suit for Quinn in case Bart ever enrolls him in swimming lessons. Goddamnit, Fred! Couldn’t you keep your hands to yourself?
Before I could say “get your shoes on” Quinn had Fred propped up on a kitchen chair.
“Know what’s scarier than a skeleton?” he asked. “A ONE ARMED SKELETON! Fred’s the coolest!”
Wow. Good attitude, kid. Not today, acacia wood platter. (But definitely another day. You’re gorgeous.)
The next day Quinn introduced his buddy Maddex to Fred. I heard “Cool” and then “MOMMMMMMMMMMMMY!”
Both boys ran down the hall brandishing one of Fred’s arms.
“Now we each get a skeleton hand!”
Then they ran off to slap each other with their new hands.
He’s had a rough 24 hours.
Fred can’t itch his nose or eat a bowl of cereal.
Fred needs rest.
Also, someone should have told Mommy that Fred was resting on the couch before she sat down.
Uh oh, Fred.
Know what’s scarier than a skeleton with no arms?