*The usual disclaimers apply. Thanks to Annette for the initial idea and to Cheryl for plot and some wonderful brainstorming ideas. Technically, Barney didn't come out until 1992—but I fudged a bit—the idea was too good to pass up. Scarecrow and Mrs King is the property of Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Enterprises and Barney is the property of the Lyons Partnership--no copyright infringement is intended. All other characters and situations are the copyrighted property of the author and may not be used without permission. Enjoy :) *

Of Paint and Purple Dinosaurs—Part Two

Saturday, September 14, 1991

10:00 AM

"Daddy, sing!"

"Daddy's driving, munchkin," Lee told her. It was hard enough to concentrate on the road while listening to that tape playing at nearly full volume.

"If you're happy and know it 'tamp your feet," Jenna sang. "If you're happy and know it 'tamp your feet, 'tamp 'tamp!" Jenna kicked her car seat for emphasis.

"Sweetheart, you don't have to actually stamp," Amanda told her.

"If happy and know it face will surely sow it," Jenna continued to sing cheerfully, not caring if she missed or even mangled a few words in the process.

Lee ran a hand back through his hair, blowing out his breath in a whoosh. They'd played this about a thousand times now—hadn't she gotten tired of it yet? He pulled the Taurus up to a stoplight. A man in a convertible pulled up beside him—young and good-looking, a blond woman cuddled next to him—rock music blasting from his radio—Lee could remember a time when that used to be him.

Then he glanced over at his beautiful wife seated beside him. Looking in the mirror, Lee could see their daughter in the backseat, dark eyes shining as she sang.

Suddenly he didn't envy that other guy at all.

"Pease Daddy—pease sing with me?" Jenna's tone was plaintive. Lee gave an inward groan as the all-too-familiar tune filled the car.

Might as well. Taking another deep breath Lee started to sing. "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family—" Amanda's hand reached over, taking his free hand and giving it a squeeze. "With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won't you say you love me too."

SMK SMK SMK SMK

Lowe's Home Improvement

Alexandria, VA

10:30 AM

"Jenna, just look at this color okay?" Amanda knelt beside Jenna, her arm around her as she showed her the color sheet. "See the lavender—now that's a really beautiful color, don't you think? And it would make your room look so pretty."

"Want poople, Mommy," Jenna's voice quavered. "Bawney." Her little finger jabbed at the bright purple. "Want dis."

"Sweetheart, lavender is poople—I mean, purple," Amanda told her. "It's just a little lighter, that's all."

"No, poople! Poople!" Jenna's voice rose slightly, echoing throughout the store. Lee and Amanda exchanged glances. Jenna didn't throw fits very often but when she did—

"Hey, munchkin," Lee knelt on the other side of Jenna. "What do you say that we get the lavender for your paint and then we can get other Barney stuff to go with your big girl room, huh?"

Jenna's eyes grew wide. "Bawney 'tuff?" She repeated.

"Sure," What the hell was he saying? At this rate he'd never be able to get that purple dinosaur out of their lives. "Lots of Barney stuff. Listen, we can get a Barney lamp, Barney bedspread—even Barney sheets."

'Crazy—I must be crazy for even thinking this—'

"Bawney seets? Weally?"

"That's right." Lee told her. "Barney sheets. You can have Barney everything, munchkin—we just need to pick this lighter color right here for the walls. Okay?"

Jenna smiled. "'Kay Daddy."

SMK SMK SMK SMK

Bed Bath and Beyond

11:20 AM

'Oh you are special, special, everyone is special…' the song kept looping through Lee's mind —he didn't seem to be able to get it out of his head. Amanda stared at him curiously.

"What is it?" He asked.

"You were humming."

"Humming—" Oh God—and Lee hadn't even realized. What if he ended up doing that at work? Francine had once given him flak about singing the Winnie the Pooh song—if she ever caught him singing Barney songs he'd never hear the end of it.

"Okay," the salesman said as he led them into the back corner of the store. "This is our kid and toddler range. We also have bunk beds if you're interested. "

"No bunk beds," Lee told him. "Just regular beds."

"That's fine sir," the salesman replied. "Well, here you have just a standard twin bed—removable side rails, of course. And then over here you have the Disney Princess bed—that's very popular with the little girls."

"But I'm not little," Jenna insisted stoutly, looking up at them. "I'm big."

"Sweetheart, of course you are." Amanda said.

"We know you're big, munchkin," Lee told her. "Just be quiet now."

"'Kay."

"And over here is our Sesame Street Monster bed," the salesman continued. "Which also comes with the standard—"

"Monsters?" At that word Jenna shrank back against Lee. "No monsters."

"But the monsters in Sesame Street are friendly," Lee reminded her.

"That's right," Amanda added. "Remember Grover? And then there's Cookie Monster, and Elmo—lots of nice monsters." Jenna just kept shaking her head.

"No monsters, daddy—no."

"Okay, we won't get a monster bed." But even with his reassurances Jenna kept her distance from the bed, dark eyes fearful—as if she expected a monster to jump from underneath at any moment.

"Any other beds?" He asked the salesman. "Any—" he lowered his voice, not wanting Jenna to hear in case the answer was no. "Barney beds?"

"Any what beds, sir?" The salesman asked.

"Barney." Lee said, slightly louder this time.

Now the salesman looked confused. "I didn't quite hear—"

"Barney!"

Now everybody heard—passersby stopped to stare—Lee felt the heat rising in his face.

"Oh, Barney," the salesman said as comprehension dawned.

"Bawney?" Jenna repeated.

"Unfortunately we don't have a Barney bed," the salesman replied. "However, we do have Barney sheets, curtains, bedspreads—everything for your Barney needs."

"Yay!" Jenna cried out.

The salesman's grin widened. "If you'll just follow me, please—"

SMK SMK SMK SMK

4247 Maplewood Dr.

4:45 PM

"That's the last of it," Lee placed the roller back in the tray. "I can't actually believe we got it all done."

"Yeah, well, we all pitched in together," Amanda replied. "You and me, Mother and Jamie—even Jenna helped."

"She was very helpful." Lee stared down at the newly assembled bed where his daughter now lay, thumb stuck in her mouth, sprawled across her new Barney bedspread. Lee's old Virginia Phys Ed t-shirt covered her small body completely—the shirt itself now dotted with dried lavender paint. Bending down he lifted her slightly, folding down the Barney sheet and bedspread so he could place her underneath the covers and tuck her in. Jenna stirred slightly but didn't awaken.

Good night, sweetheart," Amanda's hand brushed Jenna's cheek. Bending down, Lee kissed her forehead.

"Love you, munchkin," he whispered.

"It does look nice, doesn't it?" Amanda said. "I think the lavender was a good color choice."

"Yeah, it was." Lee agreed. Only one thing marred the occasion—and as he turned his head he could see it just about everywhere.

That large eternally grinning dinosaur.

It smiled at him from the curtains, the dresser, Jenna's bedspread—the lamp, her nightlight—even her new wastepaper basket was dotted with images of Barney. The compromise they'd made so they wouldn't have to paint the room that horrible purple grape color, Lee thought—had it been worth it after all?

"Oooh—I am so sore," Dotty walked into the room, rubbing her shoulder with her hand. "And I'm a mess. I think I'm going to soak in a nice warm bubble bath, have my milk with Galliano and hit the sack early. You did get the Galliano, right?"

"Oh mother," Amanda put her hand over her mouth. "We're so sorry—we completely forgot. Lee?"

"Yeah, I'll go get some," Lee replied, he bent down, his lips meeting Amanda's briefly—with the promise of more to come later on.

"I'll be back soon, Mrs. Stetson," he told her. Leaving Jenna's room he went downstairs.

"You're stu-u-pendous!" The Barney doll cried out.

"Very funny, Jamie," Lee replied.

As Lee went out the door he could hear his stepson's laughter.

SMK SMK SMK SMK

Lee whistled as he came out of the ABC store, Galliano in one bag and a bottle of champagne in another. He and Amanda could have their own little celebration later tonight, he thought; a nice dinner, maybe a little champagne—and from there on, who knew? Still musing over the possibilities, he got into the Taurus and started the engine, when his eyes fell on a white cassette in the passenger's seat.

What could it be? Lee turned the cassette over in his hands. He couldn't make out the words on the cassette casing—much too blurry. A little traveling music certainly wouldn't hurt. Lee popped the tape in as he put the minivan into drive and pulled away from the curb.

"I love you, you love me—we're a happy—"

"No—oh no." Pulling up to a stoplight, Lee ejected the tape and tossed it out the window into the street. He watched with grim satisfaction as the thing was crushed under the wheels of the bus in the next lane.

But then Lee pictured Jenna—the smile on her face when she sang—the way her eyes lit up.

Her eyes—looking up at him—so much like Amanda's eyes.

Next he pictured the expression on his daughter's face if he had to tell her what had happened to her cassette.

Lee knew exactly what he had to do.

Swearing softly under his breath he made a legal u-turn at the next intersection, heading in the direction of the music store.

The End