Garden City, NJ, sometime in the early 1940s

Radios lie.

It's not nice to lie.

Lying's a sin, isn't that so Miss Edith? Our mummy used to wash out our mouth with soap when we lied.

The radio needs to have its nasty mouth washed out with soap.

Big thick yellow lye soap.

That will teach the radio to lie!

It told me that there was a nice little boy.

This little boy sounded like fun, like lemondrops and slingshots, leeches and red hot pokers.

Miss Edith tells me she wouldn't like this little boy because mean little boys like this mean little boy likes to break dollies - she didn't want him to poke out her eyes and set her hair alight.

I told Miss Edith that it sounded like great fun, like ground glass in the sugar bowl and thumbtacks in papa's slippers.

Miss Edith became very cross and refused to speak to me.

So I asked my dark star about this mean little boy.

My dark star said, "Sod off, we don't need a kid."

I threatened to cry.

"Outside of dinner? No runny nosed brats Dru, I mean it!"

I turned on the radio and the mean little boy was on.

His granny took him to a sigh-chi-a-trist. Miss Edith says that's a head doctor. Miss Edith tells me that the head doctor looks inside your head at all the whirring clockworks clickity-tickity. If the whirring clockworks are all broken clank-clank, the head doctor fixes them.

I don't want to go to the head doctor. I like being this way.

The head doctor was supposed to an-al-ize the mean little boy.

The mean little boy showed the head doctor what was what.

He did everything the head doctor told him not to. He drove the head doctor crazy.

Good for you, mean little boy!

I think the mean little boy must be my little boy - and my sweet William's.

He has to be.

He never does what he's told, just like my sweet William.

Unless he feels like it, just like my sweet William.

And then he makes you sorry you asked, just like my sweet William.

Yes. He simply must be ours. I just don't remember when I gave birth to him, is all.

Which means the mean little boy is lost and all alone without his mummy.

I hear him crying all alone in the dark. Mummy's coming!

I told this to my dark star and he said, "Pet, it's only the wireless. It's make believe!"

I don't believe him. I don't think he wants his little boy back. I think he's jealous that I love the mean little boy more than my dark star.

Bad papa, bad papa Spike! Miss Edith is very cross with you!

Don't worry bad little boy, mummy's coming. And when she finds you, we can get up to all sorts of lovely tricks together.

We'll break windows. We'll sprinkle rat poison in the cocoa with little marshmallows. We'll hide a bear trap in our Spike's side of the bed! We'll look like angels when asked, "Who did this?"

Mummy's coming!

We'll set fire to policemen. We'll pour cat urine into the baptismal font. We'll eat up all the biscuits! We'll say, "Not us!" when asked, "Who did this?"

Mummy's coming!

We'll refuse to take a bath. We'll flush our Spike's favorite woolen topcoat down the loo. We'll mail boxes of poisonous snakes to people who vex us. We'll shake our heads "No." and smile when asked, "Who did this?"

Mummy's coming!

Your papa will teach you how to smoke, which is what all bad little boys do, smoke. It's a filthy habit that smells vile, but it's what bad boys do, smoke. Won't that be nice? I know this because our Spike smokes a whole big box every night because he is exceedinglly wicked. I love him like the moon, but it makes our lair smell nasty.

I slipped out and went looking for my little boy. He must be frightened all alone.

I know because I can hear him crying

I looked everywhere with Miss Edith who was nice to me again after I boiled her feet for being so cross.

Miss Edith can be very reasonable once you let her know who's the mummy.

We looked in the park.

We looked in the school.

We looked in the cemetary.

The mean old sun came up. Miss Edith and me hid in the sewer and ate rats for our tea.

We got our dresses dirty.

We smelled terrible but we didn't care. We could still hear our mean little boy crying.

Our Spike came and found us after sundown.

He yelled. He yelled a lot.

Mean old Spike!

I cried. I cried a lot.

Poor sad ripe wicked plum!

So he kissed me and gave me a nice fat diabetic to eat.

Then he cleaned me up. Then I cleaned Miss Edith up.

Then he turned on the radio.

My mean little boy was on the radio again.

He was stealing pie. He got caught. He threw it out the window. He hit the neighbor with the pie. The neighbor was quite cross.

I said, "Let's go get our mean little boy and bring him home. He misses his mummy and daddy."

My dark star said, "Pet... oh pet. I'm sorry, but the mean widdle kid is a lie."

I said, "That's a lie! He's our little boy and needs us, his mummy and daddy!"

My dark star got all funny sad. I don't like it when he gets all funny sad.

I sat on his lap and held Miss Edith up for him to kiss.

Kissing Miss Edith makes my Spike cross, but this time he didn't yell. He said, "Pet, plum, we have no mean widdle kid. He's the voice of some old geezer what's named Red Skelton."

Then he kissed me and was very, very, very, very quiet for a long, long, long time.

"No," I said, "He's our little boy. I just don't remember having him. I think I must have put him down for a minute and somebody stole him like you would pretty things for your Drusilla."

"Pet, the mean widdle kid is a lie. It's just wireless."

"No!" I said, "You're jealous! You don't like our baby! Did you lose our baby, William? Because if you did, I shall be very vexed indeed!"

My dark star got loud mad. Then he stopped and held me tight for a long time, "Pet, things like us don't have babies." He gave me a kiss on the ear.

"I had you." I kissed his ear

"It's not the same." He kissed my other ear so that it would not get jealous

"But I hear him crying for me, for us! He's all lost and alone out there!" I kissed his other ear so that it would not get jealous.

"Pet, he's a grown man." My dark star handed me a magazine from the floor of the pretty little house he'd stolen for me, "Here's his picture."

This made me sad, "Our mean little boy is a lie?"

"Yes pet, he is a lie."

"Oh."

Bad radio! Bad bad radio! Bad bad radio to lie to me, telling me that I have a little boy who cries for his mummy all lost and alone.

The radio must be punished.

I threw it into the bathtub - splash!

It made blue sparks. All the lights went out in our stolen house.

All the lights in the houses around our stolen house went out.

I washed its mouth full of tubes and wires out with yellow soap.

In the dark.

Nasty old radio! It won't lie to me again!

But I can still hear my mean little boy crying for me.

Why is that?