"So what's worse?" she said. "For Carol and Josh to think we're caring for a helpless infant for a week? Or for them to know that their teenage brother has been magically turned into a baby? You can keep quiet around them, or you can answer all their questions about what it's like to be a baby. Your choice."
What would be worse? Randy thought. He hated the idea of pretending to be a baby, and he hated the idea of Josh and Carol-- especially Carol! -- knowing that he had been shrunk to baby size. No, they would end up showing him off to their friends, and then everybody would hear about his predicament.
"All right Mom," he said. "I'd rather just play along. Just don't embarass me, okay?"
"Honey, I'll try not to," she replied.
There was a knock on the door. It was Carol. "Mom, aren't you done yet?"
"Just a second!" Mindy called, then turning to him, said, "You know, if you're afraid you'll give yourself away, I have something that used to quiet you down. I bet you won't like it."
"No, I bet I won't,"said Randy.
His eyes widened, then narrowed, when his Mom brought over a pacifier. "When you feel you're about to talk, chew on this!" she said brightly. "It doesn't taste that bad, Randy-- open wide." He rolled his eyes, but knew he would have to chew on something-- his teeth were starting to hurt. So he accepted the pacifier, for now.
Playing with his twin sister and 11 year old brother wasn't quite as bad as he had dreaded. He tried his best to ignore the chatter from Carol, who seemed less like a 16 year old and more like a little girl playing with a doll. It wasn't just what she said, finding it necessary to tell him again and again that he was "so cute"-- but the way she said it, in a whiny way. He would have crawled away, but when she didn't have him on her lap, she held him by her on the sofa, adding, "No no, baby, you'll fall and get hurt!" The more she got on his nerves, the deeper he bit into the pacifier. Carol found every aspect of him to be adorable, even when she cleaned drool off of his chin. Today was Thursday, and Mom would be off again tomorrow, but then what? Would Carol be his babysitter? He decided not to think about it.
After what seemed like hours, Josh came into the room, a signal that it was 5 o'clock. "If you're watching Dragonball Z, I'm leaving," said Carol, for whom the novelty had worn off. Randy wanted to say, "It's about frickin time!" but mumbled as he bit more into the pacifier. Josh still liked action cartoons, and he wouldn't freak out over a baby.
To Randy's surprise, Josh actually started talking to him as if he expected an answer. "Like Dragonball Z? Me too!" he said, flipping through the channels. "My big brother's name is Randy, just like you. Too bad he isn't here."
For some reason, Josh never had mastered the concept of the numbers on the remote. If his show was on channel 48, he would push the button 40 times to get there, with plenty of stops along the way. When the show finally came on, Randy didn't mind that Josh was explaining all the characters and the plot. It was a different perspective, seeing his 11 year old little brother in the role of a big brother-- and Josh was a nicer big brother than Randy had ever been.
When the show ended, Josh went channel hopping again. "Let's see what's on Nick!" he said. Randy could have gotten there in a nanosecond, but Josh took the long way around. Rather than going down from 48 to 44, he clicked upward through every other channel. As the premium cable voyage continued, the door opened and both boys turned. "Dad!" Yelled Josh, running over to their father. "Dad, did you see the baby?" he asked excitedly, trying to pull his father to walk over to the couch.
"I did earlier today," said Dad. "Take me on over there."
"The baby's name is Randy, just like our Randy. Did you know Randy's gone to camp? I didn't even know he was going. He never said nothing about it," said Josh in that confusing way of his.
As his Dad reached out for him and lifted him into the air, Randy dropped the pacifier from his mouth. Dad smiled as their eyes met, and then switched him around to ride on his shoulders. Randy was sure he had enjoyed this once, but that was before he had a fear of heights. "Let's find your Mom!" said Dad, and they started out to the patio. Oh no, thought Randy-- in his enthusiasm, Dad was about to give the whole secret away.
---TO BE CONTINUED----