TITLE: B is for Babysitter
SUMMARY: Phillip and Jamie learn how to deal with their babysitter.
TIMELINE: Season 3
WRITTEN: January 2003
ARCHIVE: the list archive, anywhere else please ask.
DISCLAIMER: Scarecrow and Mrs. King is owned by Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions, but the original portions of this story are copyrighted to the author. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.
FEEDBACK: Yes! I'd love to hear what you didn't like, but mostly what you did!
THANKS: Thank you to my wonderful betas: Daphne, Angie, and Becca. Special thanks to Miriam, for helping me give this a semblance of a plot and whose extensive betaing could warrant co-authorship.
NOTES: Being the "kind" author that I am, I'm sharing my Aunt with Phillip and Jamie for an evening. Any resemblance between Mrs. Williams and my Aunt is purely intentional.
"You're awful dressed up tonight, Mom," Jamie commented, looking up from his book of acrostics when his mother entered the family room.
Amanda ran her hands down her legs, smoothing out invisible wrinkles in the silky fabric of her skirt. "Thank you, sweetheart."
"Where are you going, anyway?" Phillip asked, putting down his comic book and sitting up straight on the couch.
"Another documentary premiere," Amanda answered quickly, as though it wasn't too important. But the slight blush to her cheeks made Jamie suspect that they weren't getting the full story.
Amanda took in the messy room where she stood and shook her head. "Boys, it looks like World War III happened in here. I want you to straighten it up, before Mrs. Williams gets here."
The boys groaned simultaneously.
"Aw, Mom, not Mrs. Williams!" Jamie rolled his eyes.
"We don't need a babysitter, anyway!" Phillip announced loudly.
"Oh, yes, you do!" Dotty vigorously nodded as she stepped from the stairs and joined them in the family room. "The last time you two were left home alone," she waved her hands in the air, "I came home to a flood, a fire, and the remains of what may have once been food."
Jamie grinned, remembering the fun they'd had that evening. "They were chili bombs."
Dotty raised her eyebrows. Jamie ducked his head, but continued to smile.
"The flood was an accident, honest!" Phillip protested though a mouth full of potato chips. "And it didn't leave the bathroom. And the fire was so we could burn our victims at the stake."
Seeing his mother's horrified expression, Jamie clarified, "They weren't real, just clay tied to sticks."
"And that is exactly why Mrs. Williams is coming over to baby-sit you." Dotty shrugged into her brocade jacket. "Now, we'll be getting a full report, so don't try to pull anything on Mrs. Williams. Have a good time." Dotty breezed out the door, leaving behind a strong smell of perfume.
Phillip scowled and muttered, "Ol' Mrs. Gives-Me-the-Willies." Jamie stifled a giggle and nodded in agreement.
"Come on, fellas, cheer up," Amanda said softly, picking up her beaded evening bag. "Mrs. Williams can't be that bad."
"Oh, yes, she can," Phillip answered matter-of-factly.
"She's terrible!" Jamie added miserably.
Amanda tsk'ed her tongue disapprovingly, the way that mothers do. Jamie wasn't surprised when she broke into her lecture about behaving. "You be nice to her. It was very kind of her to agree to watch you tonight. I don't want to hear that you two were giving her any trouble. Is that clear?"
"Yeah, okay, Mom," the boys mumbled resignedly.
Amanda smiled, showing that she was satisfied, and put on her coat.
The front door opened, blasting the house with a breeze of the cool, damp air that carried the scent of rain mixed with an old woman's perfume.
"She doesn't even knock," Phillip hissed to Jamie.
"One of these days she's gonna fly in here on a broomstick!" Jamie replied.
Phillip nodded morosely. His jaw was clenched tightly and the potato chips he'd been holding were now fine crumbs.
"Knock, knock, knock!" A high pitched, cheerful and yet whiny, voice came from the entryway.
Phillip lowered his head and began to bang it silently against his palm, evidently unaware that the grease and chip crumbs were now being transferred to his forehead. Jamie considered mentioning this to him, but decided that his brother just didn't care at the moment.
"Hello, Mrs. Williams!" Amanda greeted the older woman with a cheerful smile. "It's so nice of you to agree to baby-sit the boys on such short notice."
Jamie shook his head in amazement. How could their mother seem pleased to see that old witch? `Well, Mom doesn't have to spend the evening with her like we do,' he decided, scowling.
"Hello, Amanda," Mrs. Williams answered, with a saccharine smile. She shrugged out of her voluminous purple coat and dropped it on one of the kitchen stools.
Amanda picked up the garment and hung it up it the closet, oblivious to her guest's sudden frown. Returning to Mrs. Williams' side, Amanda quickly ran through the usual instructions: where her mother was going and the number she could be reached at, what time her mother would be home, acceptable snacks for the boys, emergency numbers posted on the refrigerator, and bedtimes.
Phillip winced at the last one. Jamie guessed that he'd been hoping Mom would forget to mention bedtime. 'So much for seeing that cool zombie double feature on 'Chiller Thriller Theater',' he thought with a rush of disappointment.
Amanda came over and kissed the boys goodbye and then left.
Mrs. Williams' smile instantly disappeared. She looked around the family room in disgust.
Jamie felt his stomach drop out of his body. Mrs. Williams wasn't tall; he was a good two inches taller than she was. But somehow she still managed to make him feel the size of a mouse. Though she wasn't terribly old, her short, curly hair had gone gray and the dye-job did little to cover it. Her dark brown eyes, slightly magnified by her glasses, had an evil glare that reminded him of a witch. When shespoke, Jamie was positive he felt a draft.
"This house," Mrs. Williams commented, wrinkling her nose in distaste, "is a pigsty. You would think that with both your Mother and Grandmother here, the house wouldn't be a disaster area. There's just no excuse!" Her attention snapped to the boys on the couch. "Well, don't just sit there. Where do you keep the cleaning supplies?"
"Mom just told us to pick up our stuff. We don't have to clean." Phillip picked up the remote control and began channel surfing.
"I didn't ask what your mother told you to do. I asked where she kept the cleaning supplies. Now, go and get them." Mrs. Williams's voice took on a sharp pitch.
Phillip gave an exaggerated sigh and went to the kitchen to fetch the cleaning supplies.
Mrs. Williams's icy stare transferred to Jamie. "Phillip, pick up your things."
Jamie remained seated, pretending to be fascinated by the dirt under his fingernails.
"Phillip, I told you to do something." Mrs. Williams placed her hands on her large hips.
"Phillip is doing something," Jamie answered carelessly. "I'm Jamie."
Mrs. Williams clucked her tongue disapprovingly. "Yes, well, who-ever-you-are, pick up the trash on the floor." She looked as though she were about to say more but instead switched her attention toward the stairs. "Phillip! Hurry up with those cleaning supplies!"
"I'm right here." Phillip stood scowling in the kitchen entryway, holding up a caddy filled with various cleaning chemicals, rags, and a toilet brush.
"Let me see…" Mrs. Williams mumbled as she poked through the items while Phillip was still holding the caddy. She pulled out a container of cleanser and the toilet brush, then took the caddy from Phillip and handed him the cleanser and brush. "Clean the toilets."
Phillip's face flushed with anger. His knuckles were as white as the toilet brush handle he was clutching. He bit down on his lip and spun towards the bathroom.
Mrs. Williams turned her attention to Jamie, who was watching TV, completely enthralled by a scene of the A-Team rounding up a man-eating tiger. "Jimmy, I thought I told you to pick up the trash on the floor."
"My name isn't Jimmy, it's Jamie, and I did," he answered, not taking his eyes off the screen. He wished some man-eating tiger would come along and eat Mrs. Williams. Of course, it would probably spit her out. He was willing to bet that she didn't taste good.
Mrs. Williams stooped down and plucked a sock off the floor. "Then what," she said coldly, standing between Jamie and the TV, "is this?"
"Umm," Jamie pretended to be puzzled. "A sock?"
Mrs. Williams clicked off the TV. "I want you to pick up the rest of this mess, and then vacuum and dust."
"Mom never makes us," he began in protest.
Mrs. Williams cut him off. "Yes, well, I'm not your mother. And I want you to clean up this mess."
Phillip returned, smelling strongly of bleach, "Bathroom's done." He set the cleanser on the counter and sat on a kitchen stool.
"Good, clean the kitchen."
Phillip's jaw dropped. "That's not fair!"
Mrs. Williams folded her arms across her chest. "Life's not fair. And have you had your fruit today?"
Phillip shook his head in confusion. Mrs. Williams took it for a "no."
"You haven't?" Her voice rose to an irritatingly high screech that reminded Jamie of fingernails on a blackboard. "Inexcusable," she muttered, padding into the kitchen. Jamie followed.
She opened the refrigerator door and rummaged through the vegetable crisper. She emerged holding a bag of carrot sticks and grabbed two red apples from the fruit bowl on the counter. "I would think that your mother would be more concerned about your health. Growing boys need lots of fruits and vegetables." She lectured, handing Phillip an apple and some of the carrot sticks.
"Grandma is very concerned about our health!" Jamie went into
"Yeah, and so is Mom," Phillip added. "She won't let us put sugar on our sandwiches."
Mrs. Williams snorted as she laughed, "Oh, yes, that's very health-conscious, isn't it? Here." She handed Jamie the other apple and the remainder of the carrot sticks. "Eat these, then finish your chores."
She sauntered out of the kitchen into the family room.
Phillip stuck his finger in his mouth and pantomimed gagging. Jamie started chuckling and actually gagged on a piece of carrot. He coughed a few times and gulped a glass of cool water, still trying to fight laughter.
"Take smaller bites! You're young gentlemen, not wild animals!" Mrs. Williams called from the living room.
"Calm down, it wasn't that funny." Phillip whispered as Jamie downed a second glass. He looked around the kitchen, which aside from a few dishes in and near the sink, looked clean. "You know, we've got a problem. If we don't think of something fast, Mrs. Williams will have us wasting a perfectly good Friday night with housework." He stuck a
carrot in his mouth. "Ahh, what's up, Doc?" he asked in a nasal whisper.
Jamie started coughing again. "Chores," he croaked. "So, what are we gonna do?"
Phillip glanced out into the family room, where Mrs. Williams was lying on the couch, reading one of Dotty's romance novels, and shrugged. He looked down at a particularly long carrot with irritation and then grinned. Assuming an exaggerated fencing posture,
he jabbed at Jamie with a carrot stick. "Touché!"
Jamie jabbed back with his own carrot stick, making contact with his brother's shirt. With an exaggerated look of agony, Phillip clutched at his heart and gave a dramatic, fatal collapse on the kitchen floor, his feet twitching in his final death throes. Unfortunately,
his large sneaker thumped loudly against the cupboard under the sink.
"What are ya'll up to in there?" Mrs. Williams yelled.
"Eating our fruits and vegetables and cleaning," Phillip yelled back. He climbed to his feet and stuck out his tongue in Mrs. Williams' direction. "I know what I'd like to do…" he mumbled, taking a huge bite from his carrot sword and dropping the apples into the fruit bowl. "But then we'd have to move to another country and change our names, and Mom wouldn't be too happy with us either." He continued to munch thoughtfully.
"Maybe if we were really bad, she'd never come back," Jamie suggested.
"Nice try, Dorkbreath, but then we'd have to deal with Grandma," Phillip grabbed a cloth from the sink. "I don't want to have to explain it to her, do you?"
"No." Jamie shook his head regretfully. "Anyway, we'd still be stuck with her tonight."
"Maybe we'll just ask Mom to not have Mrs. Williams babysit us anymore." Phillip wrung out the cloth and dropped it back into the sudsy water.
Jamie snorted. "Oh, yeah, I can see the end of that conversation now!" He held his hand to his head, pretending to have phenomenal psychic powers. His voice rose high into a crude impression of a girl. "Now, boys, Mrs. Williams is a sweet lady. If she comes across as a little harsh sometimes, it's probably because she's a little lonely, but that's no reason to be hard on her."
"Shh, she'll hear you!" Phillip made a face at his brother.
Jamie held his breath, waiting for Mrs. Williams' petulant voice. When it didn't come, he huffed out a sigh of relief. `Apparently the old witch is too busy with Grandma's book to be paying attention to us. Some babysitter.' Jamie's lip twitched into a smile.
"If she's lonely," Phillip continued in a loud whisper, wiping down a plate, "it's because she drives everybody away. Two minutes with her and you'll crawl to the asylum and say `admit me, please!'"
"I don't know," Jamie said slowly. "Mr. Williams is married to her."
"The man must be the bravest on earth." Phillip nodded his head solemnly. "He deserves a medal. You know, one of those purple heartache thingies."
There was snoring coming from the living room now. Jamie peeked out and motioned to his brother to join him. Mrs. Williams had fallen asleep on the couch, the book resting open on her purple and orange floral-patterned, polyester shirt.
Phillip grinned, giving him the thumbs up sign. "I think I know how Mr. Williams does it," he whispered.
"Oh yeah?" Jamie hid the rest of the carrot sticks in the bottom ofthe refrigerator. "How?"
"He spends a lot of time in his tool shed, and only comes
in when she's asleep." Phillip explained, with a wink.
"That's terrible," Jamie commented.
"Are you kidding? It's genius!" Phillip hissed. "That's a smart man! You'd better learn the tricks of the trade, Dogbreath, or you'll never make it." He peeked again at Mrs. Williams. "Come on, let's make like Mr. Williams and sneak up to our room while we've got the chance." With exaggerated stealth, he tiptoed out of the kitchen and motioned for his brother to follow. "Be vewy quiet," he whispered, pressing his finger to his lips. "We're hunting Mrs. Williamses."
"Yeah," Jamie whispered back. "And we sure don't want to catch one."