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Old October 28th, 2008, 08:45 PM
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Robby's Imaginary Muscleman

Part One: The Mysterious Signs Begin

I couldn’t help it, but every time I looked at my five year old, Robby, I thought of his other dad. Dennis had lasted pretty long after Robby was born, well almost a year is sort of good. I just think he never really wanted to be a father, or, at least, he didn’t want to give up being involved in the Los Angeles gay party scene. Unfortunately, heavy partying and fatherhood do not go hand in hand. I had not even attempted to date in the last four years, because raising Robby had been so much fun and, let’s face it, a lot of work, as well. I was not complaining, though. I loved being a father and I adored everything about my son. One evening, before bedtime, we were busy building castles in the living room with all the cushions from the sofa, every pillow in the house, and a pile of blankets. Robby was having a blast and laughing up a storm. As I noticed him starting to get tired, I also watched his face turn somewhat serious. I could tell he had a question he wanted to ask, so I simply waited, wanting to allow my son to work through whatever was on his mind.

“Daddy?” He asked as we started putting cushions back on the sofa.

“Yes, Captain, my captain.” I replied using what was his favorite nickname that I had given him.

“Will I ever have another dad?” came his question and it caught me off guard. I stammered a little as I tried to think of something to say.

“I don’t know, Robby. Why? Do you want another dad?” I finally answered.

“I just don’t want you to be alone,” he said staring at me with his big brown eyes. Out of the mouths of babes come some of the most profound statements, right? I fought back tears that threatened because of his honesty and his concern for me.

“I’m, I’m not alone Robby. I have you.” I said turning to the task of folding the blankets so my face would not acknowledge how his statement impacted me.

“It’s not the same, daddy, and you know it,” Robby said almost as if he were reprimanding me. “You need someone like the daddies in your newspapers.”

“What newspapers?” I asked turning to him and my heart started to beat quickly.

“The ones under your bed,” he replied innocently.

I felt my face turn a deep shade of red. I had recently picked up a copy of Muscle and Fitness, Flex, and a couple other bodybuilding magazines for some quick “clean” beat off material. I had also slid it under my bed when I was finished, forgetting all about them. I wanted to kick myself for not hiding them somewhere else or, better yet, throwing them away. I had intended to actually read the articles, though. Yeah, right.

“What were you doing under my bed, young man?” I asked jokingly, tickling his stomach in an attempt to keep the conversation as light as possible. I was desperate not to take my embarrassment out on my son. It wasn’t his fault that I found it easy to escape from reality for a few minutes by releasing a load to some picture of a muscle bound guy. I wanted to make sure he did not pick up that there might be something wrong about the magazines – which there wasn’t – at least that’s what I told myself.

“Hide and seek! It took you forever to find me,” he exclaimed triumphantly.

He had no concept that forever had really been about seven minutes. That thought calmed my nerves a little, that wasn’t enough time for him to explore the magazines too thoroughly.

“You need to give one back, cause the pages are glued together,” he said matter-of-factly and I actually could feel my skin turning even redder.

“Yeah, I’ll do that Robby. I guess there was a problem when they made that one. By the way, those aren’t newspapers. They’re magazines. You know, like your Disney magazine.” I was trying desperately to get him on some other subject.

“Oh yeah. Magazine,” he replied. I could tell he was saying the word out loud so he could memorize what it was. My little captain hated getting things wrong. This was a trait he inherited from me. “I picked one out for you.”

“What’s that?” I asked trying to act nonchalant.

“I have my other dad for you,” came the explanation and I found myself somewhat interested and totally surprised.

“Come here, little mister,” I said grabbing Robby and pulling him into my lap as I sat on the sofa. “You have another dad, remember? Dennis is your dad and I’m your daddy. You don’t need anyone else, right? You know that Dennis loves you very much, don’t you?” I looked at his happy little face and watched as he started to smile.

“Yes. But I want someone to love you!” Robby was obviously very pleased with himself.

“Well, you love me, don’t you?” I asked.

“That’s not the same. You need a big man to love you,” he said quickly.

“You are the only big man I need,” I said, again tickling him and becoming very happy as I listened to his high-pitched laughter. I finally stopped poking his stomach and he, again, looked at me very seriously.

“No daddy, a real big man. Really, really big. I asked Charlie if he likes you and he said yes. I got him for you.” Robby truly wanted me to be happy and he thought this is what I needed. I decided it would be best to humor him. I was also a little curious about this Charlie.

“Oh yeah? Charlie, you say? And where did you get this big man named Charlie?” I asked smiling at my son.

“Cereal box!” he yelled, laughing.

“The cereal box? I hope it was, at least, from the Fruit Loops box. Well, where is he, this Charlie? I’d like to meet him. I don’t see him anywhere. Is he hiding?” I carefully teased, not wanting to take the chance I might make Robby think I didn’t believe him.

“You can’t see him yet, daddy. You don’t believe.” Robby said strongly.

“Oh, I understand. So, it’s going to take some time. Well, I can wait. You let me know when he’s ready to meet me. By the way, what does Charlie look like?” I asked, glancing at my watch and noticing it was time to get ready for bed.

“He’s bigger than you. He has black hair. He has lots of muscles. He eats a lot. He goes to the gym all the time. He doesn’t wear a shirt. He’s like Superman.” Robby ticked off all of Charlie’s attributes and I must admit that the guy did sound kind of yummy.

“Well, you tell Charlie that it’s time for the Captain to go to bed. Time to brush our teeth,” I said scooping Robby into my arms and heading upstairs to his bathroom.

“Charlie, we’re going to bed now. Come brush your teeth!” Robby yelled as I carried him from the den.

Once inside the bathroom, we began our pre-bedtime ritual. We first washed our faces and then began to brush our teeth. I reached for our matching SpongeBob electric toothbrushes and was shocked a little when I saw that there was a third toothbrush in the cup holder. All three were similar. I clearly remembered only buying two. For a split second I was confused, but then I realized that maybe Dennis had brought one over when he visited . . . what was it, two months ago. I started to get angry at the thought of Dennis not taking any interest in Robby’s life unless I forced him to, but all those thoughts were interrupted.

“Charlie likes SpongeBob, too!” Robby said, pointing to the extra toothbrush.

“Well that is very convenient!” I said, still slightly confused.

“What’s con –vee –neeiant?” asked Robby. I paused, this was not the time to try and fully explain.

“It means that it’s very cool.” I answered and we began to brush our teeth.

Once we had both peed - something that could take forever - we went into his room and I read him three of his favorite books. Robby usually wanted to continue reading more books and even complained when I said it was time for lights out, but tonight he simply said “okay” when I said it was time to sleep. I got the distinct feeling he wanted me out of the room. We quickly said what we were thankful for on that day and asked God to take care of everyone we knew. Again, Robby usually took the opportunity to list everyone he had ever met and then some, but tonight he used the generic “everyone,” then kissed me, and pulled the cover up to his chin.

“Nighty-night, Captain,” I said as I turned out the light, made sure the night light was on, and then pulled the door almost fully closed – I always left enough space so I could easily look in and he could be protected by the extra light from the hall.

“Night, daddy. Charlie says nighty-night, too. He says he likes you.” Robby replied, not looking at me, but staring directly at the rocking chair in the corner of his room. I glanced over and could have sworn that the chair was moving. I blinked a few times and then backed out of the room.

“That’s wonderful, Robby. See you in the morning.” I answered.

So Robby had his first imaginary friend. I definitely needed to talk to someone about what to do. Was it odd that his imaginary friend was someone for me? I think it was. I found myself getting really angry with Dennis, for some reason. I felt that if he were more present in Robby’s life (and mine) this would not have happened. I made a mental note to give Robby’s doctor a call tomorrow – and my therapist. Hopefully, one of them would be able to give me some advice.

I had gone back downstairs and collected the blankets and extra pillows. I came back upstairs to replace them in the hallway closet when I heard talking coming from Robby’s room. I felt a deep fear as I suddenly realized there were two voices and one was obviously an adult. I put the blankets and pillows down on the hallway table quickly and pushed open Robby’s door. My heart was beating hard as I prepared to fight off the intruder. Robby turned to look at me as soon as the door opened. I glanced around the room and saw, immediately, that there was no one else there.

“Who were you talking to Robby?” I asked and could hear the fear in my own voice. I hoped I was able to hide it from my son, though.

“Charlie,” he replied.

“But who’s voice did I hear?” I asked, trying hard not to freak out. Robby glanced over at the rocking chair.

“Charlie’s” he replied again, staring at me blankly.

“But were you making his voice? It sounded different from yours.” I said, stepping a little into the room and glancing around a second time. I was beginning to feel a little crazy.

“No, daddy.” Robby was looking at me as if I had two heads.

“Well, it’s time for bed. Tell Charlie that you have to go to sleep.” I said, grabbing the door again.

“Yes, daddy. Time for bed, Charlie,” he said as I backed into the hallway. “Daddy?”

“Yes, Robby,” I replied, sounding a little too frustrated.

“Charlie says you have a nice butt.” Robby answered.

I was dumbfounded and also wanted to laugh out loud. I could not believe this was coming out of my son’s mouth. Where had he learned this kind of talk? I was sure he got it from daycare. I was going to have to speak to Miss Emma about this. She was a great teacher and would know exactly what to do.

“Well, that’s really nice. You thank Charlie for me. But, remember, we don’t use that word unless we’re in the bathroom. That’s bathroom talk, remember?” I said trying not to laugh.

“Yes sir,” he said. “G’night.”

“Nighty-night.” I replied and returned to the task of taking the blankets and pillows to the closet. I decided at that moment it was a “glass of wine” night. If I was hearing voices, I definitely needed something to help me sleep. Still, as I uncorked a pinot noir in the kitchen, I could not shake the fact that I had really thought I heard two voices. I grabbed the latest New Yorker and sat down on the sofa in the den. I started thinking about vacation spots. I obviously needed a break. It was then I remembered the magazines beneath my bed. I ran upstairs and hid them on a high shelf in my closet, not wanting to discard them just yet. I think there were a few more jerk-off sessions to be produced by those pictures. Who knows, maybe one of the guys was named Charlie.
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Old October 28th, 2008, 10:02 PM
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Londonboy you have the best settings for your stories. Always very original and always atypical for the topic of the stories on the forum. Can't wait to see the next chapter.
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Old October 28th, 2008, 10:07 PM
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Rather interesting storyline you're setting up here. Would be interesting to see the imaginary man become real
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Old October 28th, 2008, 10:32 PM
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Wow, sounds like a great setup. I can't help but smile about the kid, this kinda stuff always gets me. (I'm kinda eager to eventually be a dad.)
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Old October 28th, 2008, 11:31 PM
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interesting premise...
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Old October 29th, 2008, 12:59 AM
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This was just so lovely and sweet! I can't wait to read more!
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Old October 29th, 2008, 02:13 AM
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Another beautifully established premise with pitch perfect character development, all in under 2500 words. You are an amazing writer. Once again, thank you for sharing your work here on the forum.

O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Last edited by Poor Horatio; October 29th, 2008 at 02:28 AM.
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Old October 29th, 2008, 04:17 AM
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Totally perfect! I'm hooked!

xoxo

Richard
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Old October 29th, 2008, 05:11 AM
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I agree with Red, this is a very interesting story line you are going with here. Refreshingly new!
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Old October 29th, 2008, 05:17 AM
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Out of the mouths of babes...

Londonboy,

Another thoroughly original premise from you!

I really enjoy your stories- you obviously draw on a lot of sources, whether it's Arthurian Legend (American Muscleman in London) or "Mr. Mom", [or, perhaps, "The Turn of the Screw"??] as here -- your stories are always original, well-written, contain realistic dialog and interesting plot lines.

Keep up the good work!


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Old October 29th, 2008, 06:39 AM
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Londonboy, I, as always, am completely intrigued by this setup! I can't wait to see where you take this, particularly how Charlie materializes. Congrats and don't make us wait too long for the next installment!
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Old October 29th, 2008, 12:57 PM
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What a cute premise. You write a type of unrealistic fiction that I thoroughly enjoy: A fully realistic setting with one little (but thoroughly present) quirk.
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Old October 29th, 2008, 05:12 PM
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Thanks!

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I'm loving this story and I'm excited about sharing more of it with you. Poor Horatio, thanks for catching and sharing the reference for Captain. Mdlft, thanks for thinking that my inspiration comes from such great places (especially Turn of the Screw - I wish I was that good!). I think you'll see my main inspiration with the next chapter. Once again, thanks for always journeying with these stories, everyone. It's my complete pleasure to share them with people that will appreciate them. I hope to not disappoint.

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Old October 29th, 2008, 10:45 PM
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Just read this, and I will definitely tune in for Chapter 2. :-)
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