Fudge was a the sink. He stood on his stool, lathering his hands with three inches of suds. “Hello, you must be Bert,” he said in his best Sesame Street voice. “My name is Ernie. Glad to meet you.” He offered me one of his sudsy little hands.
“Roll up your sleeves,” I told him. “You’re making a mess.”
“Mess… mess… I love to make a mess,” he sang.
“We know… we know,” I told him.
I ran my hands under the faucet and dried them on my jeans.
When we got to the table, Fudge arranged himself in his chair. Since he refuses to sit in his booster seat, he has to kneel so that he can reach his place at the table. “Pee-tah didn’t scrub,” he said. “He only rinsed.”
“You little…” I started to say, but Fudge was already yapping away to my father.
“Hello, I’m Bert. You must be Ernie.”
“That’s right,” my father said, playing along with him. “How are you, Bert?”
“well, I’ll tell you,” Fudge said. “My liver’s turning greem and my toenails are falling off.”
“Sorry to hear that, Bert,” my father said. “Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.”
“Yes, maybe,” Fudge said.
I shook my head and piled some mashed potatoes on my plate. Then I drowned then in gravy. “Remember when we took Fudge to Hamburger Heaven,” I said, “and he smeared the mashed potatoes all over the wall?”
“I did that?” Fudge asked, suddenly interested.
“Yes,” I told him, “and you dumped a plate of peas on your head too.”
My mother started to laugh. “I’d forgotten all about that day.”
“Too bad you didn’t remember before you decided to have another baby,” I said.
“Baby?” Fudge asked.
My mother and father looked at each other. I got the message. They hadn’t told Fudge the good news yet.
“Yes,” Mom said. “We’re going to have a baby.”
“Tomorrow?” Fudge said.
“No, not tomorrow,” Mom said.
“When?” Fudge asked.
“February,” Dad said.
“January, February, march, April, May, June, July…” fudge recited.
“Okay… okay…” I said. “We all know how smart you are.”
“Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty…”
“Enough!” I said.
“A, B, C, D, E, F, G, R, B, Y, Z…”
“Will somebody turn him off?” I said.
Fudge was quiet for a few minutes. Then he said, “What kind of new baby will it be?”
“Let’s hope it’s not like you,” I said.
“Why not? I was a good baby, wasn’t I, Mommy?”
“You were an interesting baby, Fudgie,” Mom said.
“See, I was an interesting baby,” he said to me.
“And Peter was a sweet baby,” Mom said. “He was very quiet.”
“Lucky you had me first,” I said to Mom, “or you might not have had any more kids.”
“Was I a quiet baby, too?” Fudge asked.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Dad said.
“I want to see the baby,” Fudge said.
“You can’t see it now,” Dad said.
“Why not?” Fudge asked.
“Because it’s inside me,” Mom told him.
Here it comes, I thought, the big question. When I asked it, I got a book called How Babies Are Made. I wondered what Mom and Dad would say to Fudge. But fudge didn’t ask. Instead, he banged his spoon against his plate and howled. “I want to see the baby. I want to see the baby now!”
“You’ll have to wait until February,” Dad said, “just like the rest of us.”
“Now now now! Fudge screamed.
Another five years of this, I thought. Maybe even more. And who’s to say that they aren’t going to keep on having babies, one after the other. “Excuse me,” I said, getting up from the table. I went into the kitchen and grabbed my Adidas bag. Then I stood in the soorway and called, “Well, I’d better be on my way.” I dort of waved good bye.
“Where is Pee-tah going?” Fudge asked.
“I’m running away,” I told him. “But I’ll come back to visit. Someday.”
“No, Pee-tah… don’t go!” Fudge jumped off his chair and ran to me. He grabbed my leg and dtarted bawling. “Pee-tah… Pee-tah… take me with you.”
I tried to shake him off my leg but I couldn’t. he can be really strong. I looked at my mother and faather. Then I looked down at Fudge, who gave me the same look as Turtle when he’s begging for a biscuit. “If only I knew for sure what the baby would be like,” I said.
“Take a chance, Peter,” Dad said. “The baby won’t necessarily not be like him either,” I answered.
Fudge tugged at my leg. “I want an interesting baby,” he said. “Like me.”
I sighed. “If you think it’s going to sleep in my room, you’re crazy,” I told Mom and dad.
“The baby will sleep in here,” Mom said. “In the dining area.”
“Then where will we eat?”
“Oh, we’ll think of something,” Mom said.
I put my Adidas bag down and tried shaking Fudge off one more time. “Okay,” I said. “I’ll stay for now. But when the baby comes, if I don’t like it, I’m leaving.”
“Me, too,” Fudge said. “Sam got a new baby and it smells.” He held his nose. “P.U.”
“Who wants dessert?” Dad asked. “It’s vanilla pudding.”
“I do… I do…,” Fudge yelped. He let go of me and climbed into his chair.
“Peter?” Dad said.
“Sure, why not?” and I sat down at the table too.
Mom reached over and tousled my hair. This time I let her.
Next superfudge part 3.