By JULIE SMITH | Published: January 7, 2010

Discovery Joebot shouts, “Enemy! Enemy! Fall in!” The Darth Vader Robotic Arm waves and points towards the toy box. In a methodical cadence, toys start forming lines like ants rearranging their chaos into some kind of order. Chivalry is dead - male toys march triumphantly forward while female toys trail in a tribal retreat.

Joe smiled at his wife sleeping next to him. Crumpled nightgown, furrowed brow and the pillow firmly hugged between her breasts gave a stark contrary image. Cathy was his optimistic queen. Always bright, practical in bedlam, a so full of unconditional love for their two children, it often frustrated him. How could anyone be so good, all the time? She groaned in her sleep, fingers twitching and lips moving in imprisoned sleep.

He got slowly out of bed keeping his eyes on her face. He slipped on a robe and headed towards the kitchen. They were going to be alone for the next two days; thank God for Cathy’s parents offer to baby sit. Joe cooked breakfast softly singing the Mickey Mouse Club song. Cathy came in smiling, fanning her hands through her black hair. A sensuous smile crossed her face. “Why didn’t you wake me up?”

“I did. Eu d’Breakfast a la cholesterol.” A crashing sound came from the twin’s bedroom. “What?”

Joe got up and went down the hall. He opened the door and looked around. A lamp had fallen over on Karen’s bedside table, the curtain puffing in and out in front of the open window. He walked over and looked outside. Dead calm. He felt something stirring in his gut like when he ran under helicopter blades just before take off. He put the lamp back and closed the window, locking it securely.

“What was it, Joe?” Cathy asked with concern.

“Just the wind. Curtain knocked over a lamp. But there ain’t no wind,” Joe replied.

The beautiful day went by quickly. The zoo, of course was a hit. At first it was eerie without the Karen and Craig…all the parents with their kids and questions – millions of questions needing adult answers. “Why is the monkey pulling his you-know-what? Why is the elephant’s nose so long?” They laughed and got into the spirit of timelessness – no rush – just enjoying now. Two hours at the primate’s enclosure seemed like minutes. One hour at Farmer John’s Animal yard petting the donkey, goats, pony and baby pigs, convinced them they needed a dog to complete the family. Tomorrow they’d investigate.

The next morning Joe got the newspaper and coincidentally read ”Lilly’s Plea” about an abused mixed-breed dog ready for a new home after weeks of veterinary care. A few phone calls later and a ride to the pound; it took only three minutes for the mutt to pick out Cathy. Paperwork done, adoption completed, they took Lilly home. Joe went to the pet store and bought all the needed paraphernalia.

The night was full of expectation. Would Lilly sleep on her bed in the laundry and would she cry if the door was shut? They left the door open and put a luxury bed on the floor with a few toys. She lasted 30 seconds and was wagging at the entrance of their bedroom.

“Come on in, Lilly,” Tom whispered softly. She walked to the foot of the bed, ears back in submission and lied down.

Sometime in early morning a soft growl woke Cathy. She listened as Lilly’s rumbling larynx turned into a threatening howl at sounds of clanking metal and tinny voices. Lilly took off. Lights on, Joe and Cathy eyes jutted out like large marbles as they followed her. She stopped in front the twin’s room and Tom threw open the door. He whimpered, “Oh my God.”

All the toys were out of the box, acting out a bizarre, ten-ring circus in a battle of the sexes. In one corner a massacre was in full swing; a Nerf N-Strike Vulcan7 was shooting at five Barbie dolls. Right next to Vulcan 7 was a Leggo guillotine ready to behead a Dance Around Dora doll. “This isn’t happening,” Cathy mewled and cried “Look!” as she pointed to Craig’s bed. Kermit and Elmo were tickling Little Miss Piggy while squeals of raucous laughter emanated from her runny nose. Meanwhile, Lilly was barking aggressively at a stuffed black bat which was singing the theme song from Disney’s ‘It’s a small world.’ Joe blinked at the bat and thought the black furry thing didn’t fit in - it wasn’t a part of either child’s personality. He’d never seen it. But nothing fit. This is so friggin bazaar, so nutsville – so weird!

Lilly lunged at the bat, sinking her teeth into its throat, paws giving purchase as she ripped the head off, then attacked the wings. Joe grabbed Cathy and shoved her out the door and slammed it shut. Thirty long seconds later as Joe and Cathy sat shocked and pensive on the hallway floor, silence replaced the cacophony. They both looked at each other and then heard a bark. “Lilly!” Cathy screamed. Joe opened the door to retrieve the dog and let out a gasp. All the toys were back in the box or cupboard…except for the shredded bat. Lilly’s tail was wagging as she came over and put her head under Joe’s hand. Cathy looked in and started crying, leading her out of the crazy room into the kitchen.

It only took three hours to move the twin’s furniture and clothing into the guest bedroom. It took only one hour to gather the toys and burn them to white ash. It would take many months and moving but the fear would always be there. It took only one minute for Lilly to kill the black bat.

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