“Who’s the dirty rat?” — Tommy Udo, Professional psychotic gangster.

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“Mrs. Deutsch? Can I talk to you?”

“Of course, Mr. Al. What is this about?” Freddy’s mom asked.

“Well, we’ve had a complaint from one of our long time residents. Your son’s pet alligator bit the ankle of an elderly woman yesterday, just outside the lobby, so we really can’t let him walk his pet through the lobby, near the guests. We really don’t even allow pets in the hotel, so Freddy will have to keep his little friend in the room or give him away. I’m so sorry, Freddy. You know that I like your Little Al, too.”

“All right,”  Freddy’s imaginary childhood friend,Tommy Udo, said from somewhere above (perhaps on the second floor landing), “Who’s the canary that made it so my pal here can’t take his baby croc for a walk through the lobby anymore?”

“It’s a caiman!” whispered Freddy, at the ceiling. His mother looked at him strangely.

 “Who’s the lousy rat?” continued Udo. “Me and my friend, Mr. Colt wanna talk with the stool pigeon. We’re pals ain’t we, Freddy?”

Freddy repeated, “Who’s the lousy rat?”

“Rat?” Al the clerk asked. “Does Freddy watch many James Cagney movies, Mrs. Deutsch? Where did you learn to speak like that, Freddy? Listen, son, I’m not allowed to tell you who it was that made the complaint. Your ‘Little One….'”

“Give the kid a f…n break with that ‘Little One’ name. He’s only six!” said Udo, from the second story.

“Button up, Udo!” Freddy shouted up at the ceiling. “There’s already enough heat down here.”

“Huh?” they all said.

“Little Al is getting to be a big gator, and you two almost gave one of our 85-residents a heart attack. Did you know that little Al took a piece of her ankle off? So no more ‘dinosaur walks’ Freddy,” the desk clerk said with a pointed finger. “Listen, I’ve got to get back out front. Sorry to bother all of you. Good day.”

* * * *

When Freddy slept that night, he was visited by his imaginary personal raven-haired pagan goddess friend. Bettie Page wore the same leopard-skin bikini that she wore on Uncle Louie’s ‘holy shrine’ pinup calendar.

“Wow! We alligators sure have fun in Florida!” said the lucky, smiling reptile who was about to turn Bettie’s tanned c tush into its favorite chew toy.

In the vivid airbrushed dream, the alligator was still poised to bite, as Bettie talked to Freddy in breathy Goddessese.

“Freddy, you must learn how to express yourself through the fine art of letters. Ask your brother Bob to teach you.”

Freddy could swear that he smelled his goddess’s delicious peanut butter and jelly perfume.

Bettie spoke to him almost every day.

“Freddy… your big brother … knows… dirrrrrrrty … words.”

“Dirty words? Like soil? Mud?” Freddy said out loud in his sleep. “What do you mean Bettie?”

When Freddy awoke that morning, he followed the advice of his goddess, and asked his brother Bob to teach him how to write a letter.

“Bettie told me that I should learn how to write. She told me that last night,  after she dropped her bath towel….again.”

“Who? She what?”

Mom turned from the stove and said to Bob, “Bettie Page, is the girl on the calendar wearing the leopard-skin bikini — with the alligator biting her tush. Freddy also thinks that she’s his imaginary friend.” Damn that Uncle Louie.

Bob said, “Huh?”

Freddy whispered in his ear, “Bob! I need to learn how to read and write.”

In the Goddess Bettie’s exact words, Freddy wanted to say, “Big brother! Bwana Devil! I must learn how to express lofty platitudes and reveal my deepest feelings and my most secret desires and inner thoughts to the world.”

Instead, he whispered, “I can barely scribble ‘See Spot run’ using my broken Crayolas.”

“Huh?” said Bob.

Next, Freddy needed to find out who had complained to Big Al about Little Al.

Freddy could hear the voice of his other friend, the murderous Tommy Udo, above, on the second floor, “Tell dat lousy stool pidgin in no unsoitin toims exakly—”

“Zip it Tommy! I’m warning you!”

“Huh?”

“Bob,” whispered Freddy, “is mom listening? Good. Listen. I need to write a dirty letter to the fink.”

Freddy heard Tommy Udo say, “… Then we’ll push the old bat’s wheel chair off of the landing on the second floor and snap her old turkey neck. Heeheeeeheeeeeeheeeeeheeeeeeheeeeeheeeeee. Ain’t I your best pal, Freddy?”

Freddy turned to Bob and said, “Tommy said that I want to make certain that the stool pigeon who ratted, uh, fibbed on me, knows that I’m really, really mad and… sniff… made me cry! Then we’ll push the old bats’s wheelchair off of the landing up on the second floor and snap her old turkey neck. Heeeeheeeeheeeeheeeee….”

“What?”

“What’s a stool pigeon? My pal, Tommy, said that ‘the old fossil sung like a canary and may know a few other tunes.’ What does he mean?”

“Do I know this Tommy?” brother Bob asked. “Is he your friend?”

“Tommy also said that I should ‘leave notes, as a warning, just to make sure that all the other geezers know that I mean business.’”

The message was clear. Bob knew what his little brother was asking for and offered to teach him to “write his ‘favoritest’ word.”

* * * *

“It is a very powerful word,” said Bob. “I guess. Almost as powerful as doo-doo. Certainly more powerful than pee-pee. The older kids say it all the time. They usually say it when they are mad.”

“What does it mean?”

“I dunno, but it’s also called a ‘dirty word.'”

“What’s a ‘dirty word’?”

“I dunno, but Mom scolds me whenever I say it, so it must be a bad word.”

“Oh, I get it. A bad word like poopy. It’s worser than poopy?”

“Worse than horse poopy!”

“Worser than Frankenstein poopy or elephant poopy?”

“Yeah, even worse than tyrannosaurus poopy!”

“Worser than brontosaurus poopy?”

“Yeah even worse than house-sized Godzilla poopy!”

“Wow!”

“It’s easy to write. Gimme your crayon. Here’s how you write it… F-U… “

******

(In the words of Freddy’s third bestest imaginary friend, Boris Karloff)

Within in one hour little Freddy had become a mathter (master) of Crayola calligraphy, writing thith magical and powerful word with the thkill, color, and beauty befitting an illuminator of medieval texths.”