Chapter 2 – After Birth
“Good morning,” Mr. Button said, nervously, to the clerk in the clothing store. “I want to buy some clothes for my child.”
“How old is your child, sir?”
“About six hours,” answered Mr. Button, without thinking.
“The baby department is in the back.”
“Actually, I don’t think… I’m not sure that’s what I want. It’s… he’s an
unusually large child. Exceptionally… ah… large.”
“There are large child sizes, too.”
“Where is the boys’ department?” inquired Mr. Button, desperately. He felt that the clerk could see his shameful secret.
“Well—” He hesitated. He was disgusted by the thought of dressing his son in adult’s clothes. If he could only find a very large boy’s suit, he might cut off that long and awful beard, dye the white hair brown, and then manage to hide the secret, and maintain his self respect—and also his respected position in Baltimore society.
But a frantic search of the boys’ department revealed no suits that could fit the newborn Button. He blamed the store, of course—in such cases, the customer is never wrong. They should blame the store.
“How old did you say your son was?” asked the clerk curiously.
“He’s six… sixteen years old.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you said six hours. You’ll find the youths’ department in the next aisle.”
Mr. Button turned away. Then he stopped, smiled, and pointed his finger toward a mannequin in the window display. “There!” he exclaimed. “I’ll take that outfit. The outfit that is on the mannequin!”
The clerk stared. “Why,” he said, “that’s not a child’s outfit. It’s a formal outfit for adults. You could wear it!”
“That’s what I want,” Mr. Button insisted. The surprised clerk obeyed.
Back at the hospital, Mr. Button entered the nursery and almost threw the shopping bag at his son. “Here are your clothes,” he snapped.
The old man opened the bag and looked at the clothes.
“They look kind of funny to me,” he complained. “I don’t want to be made fun of—“
“You’ve made a fool of me!” retorted Mr. Button fiercely. “Don’t worry about how funny you look. Put them on, or I’ll… or I’ll spank you.”
He felt uncomfortable saying that. But nevertheless, it was the proper thing for a father to say.
“Alright, father,” the old man said respectfully, “You know best because you are older than me. I’ll do what you say.”
The sound of the word, “father,” made Mr. Button shiver. “Hurry up,” he said.
“I’m hurrying, father.”
When his son finished putting on his clothes, Mr. Button felt even more depressed. The outfit was ridiculous—dotted socks, pink pants, and a white shirt with a wide collar. And the old man’s beard almost reached down to his belt. He looked terrible.
“Wait!” Mr. Button grabbed a pair of hospital scissors and with three quick snaps, he cut off most of the beard.
He looked at his son. He still had a short scraggly beard, watery eyes, yellow teeth, and an awkward outfit.
But even so, Mr. Button was his father, so he held out his hand. “Come with me!”
His son took the hand trustingly. “What are you going to name me, dad?” he asked as they walked out of the hospital. “Just ‘baby’ for a while? Until you can think of a better name?”
Mr. Button grunted. “I don’t know,” he answered harshly. “I have to ask your mother. I think we’ll call you Demon.”