The year was 1997. Chumbawumba was Tubthumping all over the music charts. The English Patient won best picture despite boring the ever loving shit out of audiences everywhere. Bill Clinton was running around the Oval Office with his pants around his ankles, shtupping everything that moved.
Meanwhile, a perpetually picked on, completely unpopular, chubby little eight year old boy named Buford sat on the floor of his Momma’s trailer playing video games while stuffing potato chips into his face hole.
“Buford,” said a younger, somewhat hotter Roxy. “Quit yanking your joystick stick and go outside. Run around the park a few times and blow the stink off ya.’”
“Can’t, Momma,” Buford said. “I’m about to beat the high score on Karate Fighter 7.”
Roxy blew cigarette smoke all over the room with little concern for the safety of her son’s lungs. “I told your daddy not to get you that machine. You’re going to rot your brain! Go outside and make some friends!”
“But no one likes me, Momma!” Buford said.
“Because you don’t got nothing interesting to say, son,” Roxy said. “Maybe if you’d stop being a little doofus and…”
Ding dong. An excited Buford turned off his game and ran to the door. He opened it only to find…
In his pre-mayor days, Beaumont Dufresne was younger and more physically fit, but he still had a cigar in his mouth and a martini in hand. He set a small cardboard box down on the coffee table and picked up his young son.
“Well howdy, boy,” Beaumont said. “Gee whiz, you’re gettin’ bigger than a bull elephant. What’s your Momma feeding you?”
“Chips!” Buford proudly declared as his father put him down.
“Boy, you know I only try to feed you good food,” Roxy said. “You’re the one whose always rootin’ through your Momma’s purse, takin’ all my money to go to that Burp N’Blow store on the corner to buy junk.”
Beaumont took Roxy’s hand and smooched it. “My sweet.”
Roxy took her hand away. “Don’t you ‘my sweet,’ me. Your check was late.”
“Yeah, well, I doubled it, didn’t I?” Beaumont asked.
Beaumont took a seat on the couch next to Roxy as Buford stared at the cardboard box on the table.
“Can I open it, Daddy?” Buford asked.
“Why, sure you can,” Beaumont said.
“Beaumont,” Roxy said. “You’re spoiling the boy. All he does is wreck his brain on that video-ma-jig you got him and now what?”
The boy picked up the box. He could feel something moving around inside. His eyes lit up. “Is it a puppy?”
“Maybe,” Beaumont said. “Maybe something better.”
Buford shook the box. Whatever was inside, it let out a high pitched, “Raarga!”
The boy was beside himself with eagerness and anticipation.
“Go on now,” Beaumont said.
Buford set the box down on the table and lifted the lid. Inside, a teeny, tiny baby alligator scurried around. It was no bigger than an average lizard.
Roxy shrieked. “You have got to be shitting me, Beaumont!”
“What?” Beaumont replied. “You said the boy doesn’t have any friends!”
“And you think that thing is gonna get him any?” Roxy asked.
“Oh my God,” Buford cried as he picked the little beast up. The baby gator fit easily into the palm of the boy’s hand. “I love him so much, Daddy!”
“I’m glad, son,” Beaumont said.
“Where in the hell did you even get that thing?” Roxy asked.
“I stopped at a red light,” Beaumont said. “There was a guy on the corner with a bucket of them, selling them for a dollar a pop. They seemed cute. Figured the boy would like one.”
Roxy puffed on her cigarette. “You ever think about what will happen when that thing grows up? It’ll be too big to live in the trailer!”
Buford playfully wagged a finger near the baby gator’s mouth. The baby gator snapped at it to no avail.
“I don’t know, Roxy,” Beaumont said. “If he becomes too much of a pain in the ass then flush him down the toilet. Do I have to think of everything?”
“Oh sure,” Roxy said. “I gotta be the parent around here. I gotta be the one who’s the bad guy, making all the tough decisions to raise him, putting my career to the side while you’re out there selling cars, raking in money hand over fist.”
“Your career?” Beaumont asked.
“I could be pulling a double shift at Big Ray-Ray’s right now if I didn’t have to watch him,” Roxy said.
Beaumont stood up. “Roxy, I swear, that trip to champagne room with you was the worst mistake I made in 1989, even worse than when I went to see Turner and Hooch because some idiot told me it was a good movie. It wasn’t. It was two goddamn hours of Tom Hanks and a dog that was smarter than he was.”
“You don’t mean that,” Roxy said.
“About Turner and Hooch?” Beaumont said. “I surely do. Tom Hanks is a hack and his film career is destined to fizzle out any day now.”
“I meant the champagne room,” Roxy said. “You know it was nice and…”
Roxy patted Beaumont’s knee. “…it’s not too late for us to be a family.”
Beaumont headed for the door. “You know I’m a free bird, baby! Stop tryin’ to clip my wings!”
As the door slammed, Roxy turned her attention to Buford. The boy was gently stroking the baby gator’s tiny head with his finger.
“Buford,” Roxy said. “I don’t think you ought to get too attached to that little critter.”
“I love him, Momma,” Buford said as he kissed the baby gator. “Every day I’m going to love him and hug him and kiss him and feed him bugs and snakes and rats and whatever else baby gators eat and I’m gonna call him Skippy.”
Roxy sat back on the couch. “Aw shit.”