Fran Bailey used both hands to fasten her right earring while she hurriedly descended the carpeted stairs of the Bailey's suburban home. She intended to check on her children, Emily and Roy, before the babysitter arrived. They watched TV in the family room situated off the kitchen in the back of their nouveau-colonial-style house.
Emily quietly sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the television. She wore fuzzy pink slippers and a frilly pink flannel nightgown decorated with light blue flowers. Her fidgety little brother Roy lie on his belly next to her, his hands cupping his buckled cheeks. Images of cowboys and indians adorned his sleepers. The holster attached to the gaudy tooled belt wrapped around his waist cradled a cap pistol; a stethoscope of string adjusted by a wooden bead kept his red felt Stetson in place. At eight years old, Emily considered herself practically a grownup. She believed it her duty to help her five-year-old brother navigate the minefield of life.
The Patty Duke Show projected kinetic gray light onto the children. It was the episode where Cathy takes Patty's place and completes an algebra exam for which Patty didn't study because she spends all her time obsessing over Paul Anka.
A locally produced commercial interrupted Patty's scheme. The nervous owner of a couple of appliance stores, weighed down by a spacesuit, stood in front of a canvas backdrop onto which stars and planets had been badly painted. His popping eyes and stiff grin suggested a lapse of bladder control. Over a soundtrack of cheesy Theremin music he stammered, "Our prices are out of this world!"
Roy sat up, faced Emily and showered her with a spray of saliva as he mimicked the sound of a rocket blasting off. She hollered as soon as Mrs. Bailey appeared.
"Mother! Tell Roy to stop acting like a child and spitting at me!" Then she quickly turned to Roy and snarled, "You're so immature!"
Roy crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue at Emily. Then he flopped back down to his original position. He turned his head and watched over his shoulder while Mrs. Bailey wagged her finger and scolded him. She made a conscious effort to sound authoritative whenever she reprimanded either of her children, but she never quite succeeded.
"You just listen here little man. Stop bothering your sister or I'll send you to bed before Janie gets here." The children had already split a can of Franco-American Spaghetti O's so the threat of "no supper" wouldn't hold water. Plus, Roy had a crush on the sixteen-year-old babysitter. "And if you don't behave I'll just go right upstairs and tell your father and you know how he is when he gets home after a hard day and finds out that you're being an awful little man." She checked her watch, shot a glance at the ceiling and mumbled to herself, "Whatever is keeping him? Janie'll be here any minute". Then she disappeared.
Roy said and did nothing to annoy Emily while Patty's scheme almost succeeded but fizzled out when a nosy classmate got wise. During the closing theme he suddenly jumped up and danced around his sister in the manner of a stereotypical indian circling a victim that's been tied to a stake. He repeatedly shot his cap pistol at the ceiling and endlessly sang/yelled But they're cousins at the top of his lungs. Again, Emily hollered for her mother.
The front doorbell rang, and Mrs. Bailey scampered down from the second floor. She paused in the foyer at the bottom of the stairs and, with her hand on the front doorknob, shouted over her shoulder, "That's it little man! I'm telling your father!"