Saturday Morning Madness


Butter melts good on a frosted raspberry pop tart, but there was no sign of Bobby at the breakfast table. He had gotten up at seven-thirty, had a few bowls of Sugar Pegs and enjoyed two hours of cartoons in a glucose-induced coma... but as usual he had snuk out to the shed to tinker with his newest mystery project and was late for breakfast proper.

Rayna was ready for the Saturday morning ritual, kicking her footy pajamas under the table and pouring a good gallon of maple syrup across her mountain of scrambled eggs.  

Dad was in his paper, pretending to read basketball scores in order to avoid conversation with the family. Mom called out the back door: “Bobby, get inside for Saturday breakfast!”

“Bobby’s bad,” said Rayna, wrapping a Fruit Roll-Up ‘round a buttermilk biscuit.

“Bobby’s going through a very difficult time for a young boy,” thundered Dad from behind the Times, “I’m just glad he’s doing it in the shed instead of his bedroom.”

“Oh, Frank,” Mom shuddered, repulsed, “he’s only eleven.”

“That’s old enough,” Dad continued, face immersed in headline, “if memory serves I started at seven.”

“Started what at seven?” asked Rayna, her salivary glands squirting in her mouth.

Dad blinked behind his newspaper. “Shaving.”

Ruffy- the shaggy family dog, found a forgotten waffle corner on the floor and gobbled it before anyone noticed.

“I still don’t see Mystery Boy,” added Dad.

Mom got up to grab the sausage and called through the screen again. “Bobby Allen Anderbrook- get your ass inside this instant!” She spotted Mr. Cullen clipping his hedges next door and put her hand to her mouth, humilated.

“Mr Cullen’s out there, isn’t he?” Dad must have somehow sensed it because his face was still buried in Sports.

“Yes,” Mom whispered, mortified, “and he must think I’m a terrible mother.”

“I think he hates the lot of us,” said Dad, snatching a slice of bacon back behind his newsprint wall.

Bobby came bounding in through the back door as Mom sat down at the table. “Wash up, Bobby.”

He laid a small metal control box on the table and zipped to the sink, scrubbing his greasy fingers. Mom eyed the electro-contraption and its protruding antenna.

“What in God’s name is that?”

Bobby needed six paper towels to dry his hands. “Just something I’m working on, Mom. It’s what I’m building in the shed.”

Dad whipped the paper down, giving Bobby a dirty look. “You’re not making an explosive, are you?”

“Nope,” answered Bobby, taking a seat. He added three scoops of Strawberry Kwik to his whole milk.

“Good,” said Dad, drawing his newspaper curtain back into place.

“What are you building out there?” Mom wondered.

“Educational,” Bobby barked between bites of cinnamon roll, and that was the end of the discussion.

“I know what he’s building,” Rayna beamed, showing off her missing front teeth.

“Silence!” shouted Bobby, and Dad’s paper was down again.

“What the hell are you yelling about? It’s an explosive, isn’t it?”

“No, no,” Bobby assured, petting Ruffy from his chair. “Science fair.”

“That’s only half the story,” Dad shot back. He closed his paper, folding it up.

“I think you should tell us the truth, Bobby.” Mom was using her Mom voice.

“It’s a simple voltage converter,” Bobby lied, dunking his danish in his cocoa, “ideal for the business traveler on overseas assignment.”

“Horseshit,” said Dad, and he meant every word.

“I know what he’s building,” sang Rayna, grinning like a pumpkin.

“Traitor!” Bobby’s wandering English accent kicked in, and was just as suddenly gone.

“Bobby, I need you to be honest with me.” Mom looked like she had to make poo.

“It’s a binary bit-blitzer.” Bobby shoveled marmalade on his fried egg.

“Techno-babble!” accused Dad, pounding the table so hard he toppled the Eiffel Tower of French toast.

“I know what he’s building,” teased Rayna, knocking back a shot of Hawaiian Punch.

“Nemesis!” shouted Bobby, as angry as he’d ever been.

“Tell us, Rayna,” said Mom, “tell us what he’s building.”

“Bobby’s building a robot!”

Mom started laughing, and even Dad grinned a little. Bobby’s face went beet red as Rayna giggled melodically.

The boy shot his sister a dirty look. “I’m going to have you deported.”

“What’s his name, son? Your robot?”

“I don’t want to tell you because you’ll just make fun.”

“Come on, Bobby,” Mom’s smile was fading, “what’s his name?”

“His name is Robby.”

Mom burst out laughing, and even Dad joined in with a hearty sarcastic chuckle. Bobby burned.

“You named your robot Robby?” Dad was easily flabbergasted.

“Yes,” said Bobby, “but not for the reasons you think. His name is Robert, Jr. I call him Robby for short.”

Mom was hysterical. “You named your robot after yourself? What is he, your son?”

That was when Ruffy- a lifelong Francophile- leapt up to the table to snatch a croissant, knocking Bobby’s control box into his water dish on the floor. The box shorted out, electricity buzzing from the bubbling liquid.

“Ruffy!” Bobby bent down and grabbed the box, which dripped water onto his lap. “You ruined it you dog idiot! Now I can’t control Robby!”

“Serves you right for building a robot,” smirked Dad.

“You reap what you sow, Bobby,” added Mama smugly, “this is karma.”

Robby the Robot came crashing through the screen door, shattering the wood with his seven-foot frame.

“Kill mode… kill mode…” The knobs and switches on his chest were blinking wildly, and as soon as Ruffy ran up to him Robby hauled back with his iron leg and kicked the beast into the living room. Ruffy- airborne- said goodbye with his eyes.

“Kill mode… kill mode…” Dad stood up, furious.

“Now wait one minute Mr. Robot,” Dad said, throwing his napkin into the hash browns.

Robby slid open the junk drawer and pulled out Dad’s service pistol. He pointed it at Mom and fired, blowing her brains onto the kitchen table.

“Just who do you think you are?” asked Dad, clearly peeved. “I’ve got a good mind to re-write your programming and sell you for scrap metal!”

Robby fired twice more, putting one bullet in Dad’s throat and one in his neck. Dad sat back down, in his chair, genuinely dead.

By this time Bobby had opened the emergency service panel on Robby’s control pad and switched him back to the Idle setting. Robby dropped the gun, and stood obediently in place.

There was an awkward moment as Bobby surveyed his dead parents, and Rayna looked at her older brother in genuine fear.

“If I were you,” said Bobby, “I would get upstairs and start cleaning my room.”

She leapt to her feet, knocking over her chair, and ran towards the stairs.

Bobby picked up a plate from the table and held it up to Robby.

“Pop tart?” 


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