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Tommy was supposed to be cleaning his room.

Though his mother had scowled and threatened, he hadn’t been in his room more than fifteen minutes before he tired of sorting through dirty and clean clothes, toys that needed to be put away, and trash that needed to be tossed. He kicked a pile of stuff out of the way so that he could actually see the stained carpet and plopped his butt onto the floor, leaning back against his bed as he stared sadly at the mess spread before him that he was somehow supposed to clean before the end of the day.

However, his boundless little boy energy couldn’t be contained by despair for long. Sticking out of one of the piles of belongings, he spotted some of the whip-like branches he’d pulled from the weeping aspen out front the afternoon before and snuck past his mom. Idly, he grabbed one and entertained himself for a few minutes by lashing at things across the room from him. Even that couldn’t take his attention away from the disaster area he was contained in for long, and he sighed heavily as he began to tie knots into the branch.

This quickly led to another idea. It took him a few minutes digging through piles of stuff, but he eventually had a small pile of what seemed to be treasure before him. There were several chicken bones, two from drumsticks, one from a chicken wing. There was also a partially-intact fish skeleton with spine and head still attached as well as a ragged slab of bone that was probably from a steak or pork chop. In addition, he’d dragged out the rest of the aspen branches and laid them carefully beside the bones. His materials gathered, he got to work.

It took him a while and he said a few words that would have gotten him a spanking if his mother had heard, but eventually he had the bones tied together with the branches in such a way that it stood up without wobbling too much. The fish skeleton was the centerpiece, held up by a tripod of the two drumsticks and the unidentified bone with the wing sticking off the back. “You are Sam. Statue Sam,” Tommy declared proudly.

“Oh, am I now?” the statue whispered back.

“Yes. It sounds good. And that’s what the neighbor’s cat is named and I got some of the bones from him,” the boy explained.

“Mmm, a cat. Excellent..,” Sam hissed, his empty eye sockets seeming to squint thoughtfully.

Before Tommy could ask what Statue Sam meant by that rather strange comment, his door creaked open and there was a shriek. “Thomas Sylvester Johnson! How many times do I have to tell you to stay out of the garbage? Get to work on cleaning this mess up!” his mother declared. She disappeared momentarily from the doorway but returned within seconds with a large black trash bag with which she gingerly scooped up Sam. With that, the door was shut behind her and Tommy could hear the metal lid of the trash can being slammed down outside moments later.

Sadly, Tommy got back to work--albeit with many distractions. Very little ended up by being done that day, but the next morning his mother gave up and sent him out to play while she tried to clear a path through his room so he could at least get to his bed and closet without breaking his neck. Or perhaps it was so she wouldn’t break hers. He wasn’t quite clear on which it was.

He casually walked out to the tree out front and leaned against it. Though he tried to look innocent, he glanced around furtively for ten minutes or so. When there was no sign of his mom rushing outside to see what he was doing, he snuck to the side of the house where the trash can was kept. He dreaded trying to get the snug metal lid off of the cylinder that was nearly as tall as he was. Fortunately, it was slightly ajar and he was able to open it easily enough. After dragging a cinder block to it, he was able to look down inside quite easily.

Though he expected to have to do a bit of digging to retrieve Statue Sam, the bone-and-branch creation was right at the top. “Oh, there you are! I’m so glad you’re okay. My mom’s mean, taking you away from me,” Tommy exclaimed happily upon seeing his friend intact.

“Get me out of here, Tommy,” Sam said in his low, rasping voice.

Tommy did so and they had a grand time playing in the back yard that day. He told Statue Sam all sorts of stories and never once did his friend tell them they were stupid or to try to make more sense. Sam just nodded and hissed and said, “Very good, Tommy.” When he heard his mom coming out to call him to dinner, he quickly hid Sam in the shadows under the deck and meekly went in.

As he was brushing his teeth, his mom was called to the phone. When she came back, she looked a bit serious as she asked, “Tommy, have you seen Mrs. Adams’ cat? She says you usually play with him every day, but she hasn’t seen him for the last day or two. Have you?”

Tommy shook his head, and since he knew nothing, was quickly put to bed.

The next day, when he was sure the coast was clear again, he pulled Statue Sam from his hiding place and went to play some more. After some merry chatting on his part he asked, “Statue Sam, have you seen a cat? His name is Sam, like yours, like I told you before. I like to play with him too, but Mrs. Adams can’t find him now.”

“Yes, I’ve seen him. The night before last,” Sam smacked his jaw bones together.

“Oh, good,” Tommy smiled, reassured, not noticing the strange, malevolent gleam in the empty eye sockets.

The summer days passed into fall. Sam the cat wasn’t the only family pet to disappear in the neighborhood. Though Tommy missed Sam at first, he soon forgot the feline in his delight in his creation, Statue Sam. The statue became more fun every passing day. He became less tottery and was even able to stump around on his three mismatched legs, his bony wing flapping wildly for support and his jaws clattering together with the movement. He even seemed to get bigger, so much so that Tommy was no longer able to keep him under the deck without him being seen. He had to be relegated to the bushes at the very back of the yard.

One October afternoon, a very excited Tommy rushed out to play with Statue Sam. “Oh, Statue Sam, guess what! It’s almost Halloween and I get to dress up! I’m going to be a skeleton so I can be just like you. Isn’t that neat?” the little boy gasped out, almost tripping over his own words in his eagerness to tell his story.

“You’re going to dress up. Like a costume. Hmmm...,” Sam hissed thoughtfully.

“It’s going to be so fun! I’m going to go trick-or-treating and get all the candy I can carry and I’ll sneak some of it into my room so my mom can’t make me not eat all of it. She thinks I’d get sick but I love candy so much, how could it make me sick? Isn’t this so exciting!” Tommy squealed.

“I have a better idea,” Sam said.

“What is that, Sam?” Tommy asked curiously. Statue Sam rarely mentioned that he had ideas, he just listened to Tommy’s.

“I’m going to dress up too. For...Halloween.”

“What are you going to be?”

“A Tommy!” the fish head snarled as he stumped forward, jaws parting and snapping down before the boy could scramble to his feet. No one heard the screaming.

This is dedicated to MSKing, as it was one of our typically strange conversations that gave me the idea for it. As she also edited the story, any grammatical errors are entirely her fault. Yes, I'm aware that it's cliched. Nevertheless, I'm amused. That's all that matters.

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