“Fetch the stick boy! Fetch the stick!”
Three months later, skippy had grown to the size of a bulldog. He and found Buford had become fast friends, frolicking throughout the trailer park courtyard, playing fetch the stick.
With a retrieved stick between his jaws, Skippy waddled back to the steps leading up to Roxy’s trailer, where Buford was sitting next to his father, who was enjoying an ice cold beer.
“Damn, that thing is growing like a weed,” Beaumont said.
“He sure is,” Buford said. “I’ve been feeding him tacos and soda pop and ice cream and frozen pizzas and rats and I think he might of ate the neighbor’s cat, Daddy. Either that or Fluffy got one look at Skippy, got scared and decided to not come around here no more.”
“Well,” Beaumont said. “Your Momma’s been ragging me about it. Saying he’s been eating all her furniture and biting her…uh…customers.”
“Aww, I’m still training him, Daddy,” Buford said. “But he’s a good alligator. Really, he is.”
“Whatever, boy,” Beaumont said as he swigged his beer. “Just be sure to whack it in the head with a shovel if it ever gets outta control.”
Buford scratched Skippy’s scaly head, causing the creature to emit a joyous, “Raarga, raarga.”
The young man pulled the stick out of Skippy’s mouth and tossed it into the courtyard. “Fetch, boy! Fetch!”
Skippy waddled after the stick once more in hot pursuit, going as fast as his little green legs would carry him.
“Daddy,” Buford said. “Can I come live with you?”
Beaumont crushed his beer can and popped the top of another. “The hell would you wanna do that for? You don’t like your Momma?”
“Oh, I love Momma alright,” Buford replied. “It’s just that, well, she’s always bringing all these fellas over for shirtless wrasslin’ classes.”
“Yeah,” Beaumont said. “I imagine that could be annoying.”
“And I know women are like empowered now and all and I should support her career as a shirtless wrasslin coach, especially ‘cuz without her all those men will never how to wrassle without their shirts on…”
“God damn, boy,” Beaumont said. “You sure do talk a lot.”
“It’s just whenever all those wrasslers come over, Momma makes me go to my room and stay there all night listening to music on my headphones and I don’t even like music all that much,” Buford said.
“Probably to drown out all the noise from all that wrassling going on,” Beaumont said.
“I know,” Buford said. “But I don’t mind wrasslin sounds. I watch wrasslin on the TV all the time. The Rock is my favorite wrassler. He’s gonna be a big superstar one day.”
“Son,” Beaumont said. “If anyone ever hands over a red cent to see that giant lummox in a feature film I will eat a whole heaping helping of crow.”
“Anyway Daddy,” Buford said. “Momma says you got a big ole fancy house and I bet it would be real nice to live there.”
Beaumont blew a raspberry. “Pbbbht. Boy you gotta be kidding me. Sorry son, but your daddy is an important man. I got all kinds of deals and hustles going on. I can’t just drop my business to change your diapers and feed you and do all that woman’s work your Momma should be doing.”
“I’m toilet trained, Daddy,” Buford said. “Like, for years now!”
“Bah,” Beaumont said as he swigged the beer. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Skippy returned and dropped the stick at Buford’s feet. “Raarga.”
“Belly rub time!” Buford shouted.
Skippy rolled over on his back. Buford tickled the beast’s slimy undercarriage all the while saying in a tone that adults usually reserve for their babies, “Who’s a good boy? Who wants a belly rub?”
“Sakes alive, son,” Beaumont said. “I honest to God thought you’d of killed that thing by forgetting to feed it or stepping on it or sitting on it or accidentally dropping it down the garbage disposal or casting upon it one of the fates you bestowed upon your other pets but damn it, maybe you’re starting to grow up and get some wits about you.”
“I love Skippy, Daddy,” Buford said. “I love him to much to forget to take care of him and he’s so big now I could accidentally step on him and he wouldn’t mind.”
Buford swigged some more beer. “Tell you what, boy. If you still don’t like living with your Momma by the time you start high school, then you can come live with me.”
“You mean it?” Buford asked.
“That’s a better guarantee than I’ll ever give any of my customers down at the Slightly Used Car Emporium.”
“Why do I have to wait until high school?” Buford asked. “‘Cuz Momma will be lonely if I don’t stay awhile longer?”
“Nah,” Beaumont said. “I just figure by then I won’t have to clean up after you or do any of that child rearing shit.”