Peter lived in an old shoe in an alley, nustled next to his ma and pop.
“Ma!” he cried one day. “Why do we have to live with this bottle of pop?”
“’Cause I said so,” replied his mother. “Now go do your panhandlin’ exercises! It’s only a week t’ your 13th birthday and then you’ll be a real panhandler. How excitin’!” She shook both fists in the air as she left. Ma did that sometimes when she was really fired up over something or when she was having one of her fits. Peter usually had the right to be worried on either occasion.
But Peter didn’t want to be a panhandler. He wanted to be an explorer or a giant monster with seven heads that breathed fire and crushed cities. He wasn’t sure which one yet. The monster had been a long-time dream of his, ever since he was little. But now Peter had been punched with the realism in life, and he was thinking exploring the world might be a little closer in his reach. It’s rather depressing to give up on one’s dreams, but Peter’s family didn’t have any money to dream big. More than likely, he’d have to go into the family trade.
When Ma had left for work, Peter talked to the only one who listened in these situations: his pop.
“Pop,” he said, “I know you got no ears, but I’m going ta tell you—I’m not happy here. I wouldn’t be any better a panhandler than you would, and at least you got a flashy label.”
Pop didn’t say a thing.
“Fine. I guess I’ll do what I have ta. Maybe I’ll start today, make Ma proud. What d’you think?”
Pop didn’t say a thing.
Peter sighed. Pop was just this cold presence in his life. He was always there, watching him, but he never did any real parenting or nothing.
“Later, Pop. I’m off to work, be man and all that.”
Peter left his alley, and when he rounded the corner, he saw an anvil falling down on his head. Peter had always been taught that in situations like these, he should look at things realistically. So Peter did just that. “Well,” he thought, “this is the end of me.” And the anvil came crashing down.
Peter woke up in a room with an old man, sitting in a rocking chair. He had a rabbit as a butler, except the rabbit stood on two legs, twitching its whiskers its little butler outfit. The rabbit really creeped Peter out.
“Am I dead?” Peter asked.
“No, boy. Mild concussion. You’ve got a thick skull, there.”
“Who are you?” Peter asked.
“I’m your pop. Don’t you recognize me?” Peter couldn’t see any of the distinguishing glass features in the man’s droopy face, but he nodded anyway. He didn’t want to make this man feel bad, especially if he was his pop. The rabbit cocked its head and Peter felt like he had sour stomach. He tried to focus on a mole on the man’s chin so he wouldn’t have to look at the rabbit butler.
“Peter, what’s the problem.” His rocking chair creaked slowly, back and forth. When he leaned forward, Peter could see his liver spots.
“I want to be a explorer, or a city-eatin’ monster, but the only thing I can do is panhandle.”
“Habberdashery!” the man exclaimed, and Peter jumped. “Just because you only know how to panhandle, doesn’t mean you can’t do that and explore, too! What was the other thing?”
“A city-eatin’ monster, sir.”
“Oh. Give that up. That’s stupid.”
Peter frowned and nodded.
“Now I want you to go back and run away from home.”
“Really? What about my mom?”
“Well, what about her? I’ll take care of her.”
“But you’re just a—!” The old man stopped rocking and the rabbit’s whiskers twitched violently. “Okay, sir. I’ll run away from home.”
“But how do I get back?”
“Well, Flopkins here has to put his magic teeth back into your anvil wound.”
Flopkins sprang over and started hissing. Peter screamed as the rabbit sunk its teeth into his skull.
Peter woke up in a cold sweat on the side of the street. He had some money in his coat pocket, though the change had fell through the hole. Even more, he didn’t have a head wound at all! Had he never been hit by an anvil in the first place? Or can rabbit teeth really heal broken skulls? He wasn’t sure, but he figured he had to get moving. He wanted to be in the next city by his birthday.