I thought I was doing well until the little brat bit me on the ass. Then I realised I was, in fact, losing the fight. A horrible sense of despair came over me, just as a wave of perspective smacked me upside my face. Shit, I was about to die at the hands of a bunch of preschoolers, none of them even tall enough to legally ride roller coasters at Six Flags. In full sight of half a dozen parents, they were going to murder me. Just when I had started to get this whole parenting thing under control. Life was a vicious battle for survival, even in the playgrounds of Jersey City. Especially in the playgrounds of Jersey City. And just when you think you got it all figured out, it will jump up and bite you on the ass in the form of a three-year-old with crooked teeth.

“Mama! Mama! We’re killing the man with the - with the green hair!”

“Thas nice, Tiara. Watch out for the baby.”

The baby! She was my only hope. If I could only reach the baby, I would be saved. They would never dare to hit a man with a baby. With my last ounce of strength, I limped towards the baby, who was blissfully trying to climb up the stairs to get on the play-structure-jungle-gym-whatever they-call-them-these-days. Don’t go up there, baby. Help me!

It had started so innocently. The brats ambushed me. One minute I was sitting under the jungle-gym-play-structure-imagination-factory talking to Carmen about her two brothers and her two sisters who lived with their mommy and daddy, and her daddy who was more like her brother and who was only THIS big, and her grandma who was the coolest, and Tiara was trying to tell me about her brothers too, because she had a big brother, and I was nodding and laughing and trying to watch the baby and I never noticed that little kid slipping behind me and creeping up like a Special Forces ninja and suddenly he reached out and - PULLED - MY - HAIR!

Can you believe it? It’s not a fucking wig, kiddo, that’s actually my hair and that kinda hurts so leave it alone. I turned around and spread my claws and said “Grr-ARR!!”

That worked for about three seconds. The kid jumped away, shrieking, and I thought it was reasonable to assume that I had won. Then somebody else pulled my hair. I grrarred at her, too, and she ran away screaming. Meanwhile the baby had wandered off towards the slides, leaving me all alone to deal with about a hundred kids who were all discovering how much fun it was to play with my hair.

Soon battle was joined in earnest. They were pulling hair, spanking me, tagging me mercilessly. I was grrarring for all I was worth, poking them in the stomachs, BOO!ing at them and trying to tower over them menacingly. A little corner of my mind noticed cynically that no one was trying to spank Tiara’s seven-foot-tall father as he ambled around the north end of the playground. No, it was definitely open season on little guys with green hair. Anybody over six feet was safe for today.

The field of combat shifted towards the slides, the Axis of Terror exploiting my need to keep an eye on my baby. Soon there were thousands of them, and they were getting braver. Their older sisters were sitting on the sidelines, giving tactical advice. Now they were pushing me and trying to climb up on me. Look, kids, I’m a geek. I don’t work out. I can barely lift my twenty-pound baby. You climb up on me, I’m going to collapse. But of course, they knew that. No tactic was too dastardly for these little Hannibals. I was losing, and they knew that too. I could see them smiling - for some of them, it would be their first kill.

I put all my energy into a defensive drive, a neat little tactic I call the Insanity Defense. I roared at them, flailing about like the village idiot, tagging every one of them in the stomach and wringing their necks. It was working perfectly for a while. Then that teeny little goblin - the worst of them all, the one who started all this hair-pulling lynch mob action - bit me on the ass.

Knowing my doom was upon me, I desperately snatched the baby up just as she was getting her foot on the first step. She gave me a stern look of disapproval, but I didn’t give a damn. She was my protecting angel, and I was safe.

Or not. They stood back for a couple of seconds, then launched another assault. Mothers were shouting not to push the man with the baby, but the monsters weren’t listening to them anymore. They had scented blood, and they weren’t about to let the mothers stop them. They rushed towards me one last time, pulling at my pants legs, smacking my hind parts, laughing hysterically like a bunch of hyaenas. It was The End.

Then I saw it. The Bench. The holy sanctuary, that city of refuge. Tears of emotion, not to mention pain from the savage bite on my ass, welled up in my eyes as I struggled towards the bench. A mother - bless her heart - saw me fighting for the bench and gave me some suppressing fire.

“Come back here, Carmen! Time for the baby’s bottle!”

I spared a glance back over my shoulder and was unspeakably relieved to see that the magic words were having a dramatic effect. The zombies - er, children - were melting back into the unholy shadow of the jungle-gym-play-structure-citadel-of-doom, their claws and fangs still extended with displeasure and blood lust, their nefarious plans foiled for today. Collapsing onto the bench, I fumbled for the baby’s bottle and began to feed her as most of the parents snickered at me and got ready to go home. I started to weep in earnest, inexpressibly happy to know that I was going to make it after all.

Carmen and her little brother, he of the long crooked ass-biting teeth, walked past us on the path with their mother in tow.

“Bye bye! See you tomorrow!”

Yeah, sure, kid. Tomorrow I’ll have some fucking water guns.


The baby gurgled. She loves it when I grrarr. I’m safe with her for now. I try not to think about the confrontation that will come, inevitably, when she becomes one of Them.

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