New short story everyone! I hope you enjoy! Please Share it with those whom you think will resonate with it, and thanks for the support!
The Monster in Blue
“M-Mama?! Maaaamaaaa?!” The feeling of dread started to rise within Booker. He swiveled his head from side to side, looking throughout the crowded department store. Mama was supposed to be right outside of the changing room, but she was nowhere to be seen. In his hands, Booker held a bright red shirt and dark blue pants that were perfectly suited for his first day of kindergarten. He pulled them closer to his body, trying to find some comfort in the soft fabric.
Booker picked out his new clothes all on his own. He was so proud. Mama smiled at him earlier when she saw his new ensemble.
“Those look great! I’m sure all the girls will swoon, big guy.” She chuckled a little as Booker made a disgusted face.
“Girls are gross, Mama!” he exclaimed. “They have cooties and are always talking about boring stuff.”
“Well, Booker, I’ll remember that when you start begging them for dates,” she replied. “Now go try those on,” she said, pointing towards the changing room. “I’ll be right here when you get back, okay?” Booker nodded and walked away, thinking to himself that he would never ask an icky girl out on a date. He stowed the thought away and entered into one of the tiny stalls, eager to see how he looked in his new clothes.
He saw his reflection in the mirror and loved what stared back at him. The bright red shirt matched his toy train at home, and the blue jeans made him look like a construction worker. He knew that he had to have them. Mama would probably get them once she saw how cool they were. He stretched for the door handle and slowly made his way out of the small room. Mama was standing outside with her back towards him, looking at other boys shirts.
“Mama, Mama!” Booker chanted.
She turned around, took one glance at her boy, and started beaming. “Booker, you look so handsome!”
“Mama, I picked them out all on my own, and I think I look awesome! Can we get these, please?” Booker could hardly contain himself.
Mama nodded. “Of course, baby! Big boys who can pick out their own clothes deserve to get what they want. Now go back in there and change, and we can go home, alright?” Booker shook his head in agreement and did just that.
But when he came out this time, Mama wasn’t there.
Booker knew he had to go find her, but he wasn’t sure where to begin. He started to think it would be smart to retrace his steps and walked away from the changing room, back towards the endless rows of clothes racks.
Mama didn’t seem to be by the stack of dark blue pants. Nor was she by all the bright red shirts.
Booker started to worry. What if he couldn’t find Mama? How would he buy his great new clothes? But more importantly, how would he get home?
Just then, an idea came to him. He thought he might be able to look underneath the maze of racks to try and spot Mama’s shoes. After all, they were her favorite pair, so he’d be able to recognize them anywhere! He slowly bent down to look below the rows of clothes, but he didn’t see Mama’s lime green shoes. There were only white and black shoes. And one yellow pair with red polka dots that Booker didn’t like very much. He stood back up and decided to keep going through the store. Mama had to be close.
The courageous boy walked away from the clothes towards the makeup. Mama always enjoyed her lipstick, though Booker had no idea why. It just made her lips red. What was so special about that? He shrugged and journeyed up and down the long cosmetics’ aisles. There were many women eyeing all the newest girly stuff. Some men were there too, but they didn’t look like they wanted to be there. Booker pushed past them all, staring up at the gigantic shoppers. Some looked down and smiled at him. Others made mean faces.
No Mama here, either.
Booker breathed a heavy sigh. He didn’t know where else she could be. She said she’d be waiting for him, but she wasn’t there…
Maybe she got hungry and went to get something to eat.
Booker moved beyond the makeup and made his way towards the food court. He felt himself clutching his new clothes harder as he tried to shake a growing sense of loneliness. He knew Mama would give him a big hug when he found her. That would make him feel a lot better.
He continued to dodge around the droves of people, following his nose towards the smell of cheesy pizza and greasy fast food. The neon lights of the food court always made Booker hungry. He wanted to get a tasty hot dog and cover it in mustard. It might even come with fries and a big, fizzy drink; the orange flavored one was his favorite. But just as he could almost taste the delicious food in his watering mouth, somebody brushed past him and brought him back to the present.
This was no time for food. It was time to find Mama.
Booker marched towards the many tables strewn around the area, looking intently at all of the grown-ups’ faces. Everybody looked nice, but nobody really seemed to pay attention to him. They were lost in boring adult talk, which always seemed to put him to sleep. Why don’t grown-ups talk about fun stuff? He thought about asking some for help but wasn’t sure what to say.
“I can do this on my own,” Booker mumbled to himself. He was on a mission, after all. Big boys don’t need to ask for help. They can pick out clothes and find Mamas on their own.
After a few minutes, Booker had scanned all of the tables in the area. Mama wasn’t anywhere to be seen. He started to sniffle. He was scared that he wouldn’t be able to find Mama.
What if she was gone for good? The thought of never getting to play cars with her or eating her delicious spaghetti was starting to get to him. She would always come into his bedroom with Daddy and kiss him goodnight. Sometimes, she would even read bedtime stories. Booker loved the scary ones because he never felt afraid when Mama was reading them, and they always turned out okay in the end. In the morning, Mama would make tasty food for breakfast. His favorite was French toast and syrup. They never stood a chance when a hungry Booker was around. He devoured them easily and would ask for more. Mama always smiled and whipped up a fresh batch. There was no need to worry when Mama was on the case.
Booker buried his head in his bright red shirt, trying to hide the tears. Mama was gone, and he couldn’t find her. Unable to control it any longer, Booker started sobbing.
Suddenly, the boy felt a hand on his shoulder. “Hey buddy! What’s the matter? I don’t like seeing a nice kid like you crying.”
Booker looked up and froze. He became frightened at what he saw. In front of him stood a tall, muscular man dressed in dark blue clothes. His black belt held all sorts of things, just like a superhero. On his chest was a shiny, golden star that flashed in the light. Booker’s eyes fell to the man’s right side; there was a big, heavy looking gun by his pocket. The boy quickly looked down at the floor, unsure of what to do next.
The man crouched down to meet Booker at his level. “Hey, it’s okay. I’m a police officer, and I can help you out, kiddo. My name is Officer Mike. What’s yours?”
This was it. Booker knew that he was in big trouble. He had seen people like Officer Mike on TV. Every evening, Booker would play with his racetrack while Mama and Daddy watched the news. Booker never wanted to watch, but he sometimes glanced up if the story was interesting. Lately, he would see officers shooting at people just before Mama turned the show off. She told Daddy how it wasn’t right for Booker to be watching the violence.
One night, after seeing another person shot, Mama called Booker over to her and had him sit on her lap. “Booker, baby, I need you to listen to Mama right now, okay?” He nodded. She continued, “Honey, there’s something you need to know about this world.”
“What’s that, Mama?” Booker asked.
“Sometimes, certain people do bad things.”
“Like the cops on TV?”
“Yes, Booker. Just like them. And sometimes, in order to stay safe, you need to be careful around those people if you ever come across them. See how your skin color is different from a lot of those officers?”
“Uh huh,” Booker replied.
“Well, you need to watch yourself around them. Do you understand?”
“Should I be scared of them, Mama?”
“No, sweetie. Not all police officers are bad, but some of them may treat you poorly because of your color. Do you see the difference?”
Booker pondered what Mama said for a moment. “Sooo… some of the officers are nice, and some are like the scary monsters in the bedtime stories?”
“Sort of, honey. I know you’ll get it one day. But for now, promise me you’ll stay away from the monsters in blue, okay?”
“Okay, Mama!” Booker cheerfully said.
None of that past cheer was present with Officer Mike.
Booker shook in place as he became more terrified by the second. He remembered what Mama told him about the monsters, but how would he be able to know which ones were the bad guys? This officer was White just like the ones on TV. Booker felt uneasy.
“Hey, it’s alright. What’s wrong?” Officer Mike asked.
He knew he couldn’t look the cop in the face. Booker knew what would happen if he did. The monster might pull out his gun and shoot him. He saw how many Black people were killed every night. Booker didn’t want to be on TV like that. If Mama were here, she’d know what to do. But she wasn’t, and Booker started to cry even harder.
“Big guy, are you alright? Can you hear me okay?”
Booker never did think to ask about what happened to the people the monsters shot. Did they have funerals like everyone else? But if monsters killed them, they must do it for a reason. Mama said he would understand one day. What would they do with the bodies?
“I can help you if you’d like.”
Booker’s tummy started to rumble. He was really hungry. If only he had something to eat.
“Are you lost, big guy?”
That’s it! The monsters! They kill all those people because they’re hungry. They eat them! Booker was horrified at the thought and sobbed harder. He shook uncontrollably. All he wanted was Mama…
“It’s alright.” Officer Mike went to hold Booker’s hand.
“P-PLEASE DON’T EAT ME!” Booker shouted.
Some of the grown-ups in the area turned to look at Booker, confused about what was going on. Officer Mike laughed. “Kiddo, I’m not going to eat you! What would make you think that?”
“W-Well,” Booker started, “you might be o-one of the m-monsters in blue I see on TV. And they e-eat the people they kill… right?” Booker looked Officer Mike in the eyes to see if he would tell the truth.
Officer Mike smiled. “Listen kid. I’m not sure what you saw on TV, but I’m not a monster in blue. If I was one of those, I’d probably look more like this!” He made a silly face, and Booker laughed. Officer Mike then said in a funny voice, “Now I look like a monster in blue, right?”
Booker smiled. “Yeah, you do!”
Officer Mike wiped the few remaining tears from Booker’s face. “What’s your name, kid?”
“That’s an awesome name. How come you’ve been crying, Booker?”
“I… I lost Mama, and I can’t find her.” Booker paused for a minute. “Can you… can you help me?”
Officer Mike nodded. “Of course, Booker. That’s what I’m here for. Let’s go back towards the entrance. They have a big microphone they can use to call for your Mama.”
“Whoa, really? And the whole store can hear?”
“You bet! Now, grab hold of my hand, and I’ll show you the way. Don’t let go, okay?”
Booker nodded and grasped Officer Mike’s hand. His grip was firm but gentle all at the same time. Booker knew Officer Mike wasn’t a monster. Monsters aren’t strong like Officer Mike because they’re scared of simple things like bright lights and hugs. Booker walked confidently with the tall man towards the front of the store. Something within him gave him hope that he would be able to find Mama. He was so excited to tell her about all the adventures he had going through the clothes racks, braving the makeup aisles, exploring the food court, and meeting Officer Mike. She would be so proud.
Soon enough, Booker saw the familiar front doors to the store. He looked over at the desk that lots of workers were behind. Officer Mike pointed to one of the nearby comfy looking chairs. “Have a seat there, okay Booker? We’ll find your Mama in no time.” Booker nodded and practically jumped into the large armchair. He sank into it and wished he could take it home along with his new clothes.
He heard Officer Mike tell the workers what happened, and they spoke into the magical microphone that everyone in the store could hear. But what if Mama wasn’t in the store? She wouldn’t be able to find Booker if that was the case. He was still worried but found some comfort in Officer Mike coming over and sitting next to him. They waited for a long time.
In the distance, Booker could hear the familiar sound of Mama’s favorite shoes. He turned towards the noise only to see the usual green hue he was used to. Jumping up out of his chair, he ran to Mama.
“Mama!” he yelled excitedly.
“Booker, baby!” she said through tears and a smile. She squeezed him tighter than she ever had.
“What happened, Mama?” Booker asked.
“I’m so sorry, honey. I got a call from the office and stepped away for a minute to get better reception. I must have missed you come out, and then I got worried and looked everywhere!” She kissed him on the forehead. “I’m so glad I found you!”
“It was thanks to Officer Mike!” Booker said, motioning towards him.
Mama went over to Officer Mike and hugged him. “Thank you for finding my Booker.”
“It was my pleasure,” he said with a smile.
“Maybe the TV doesn’t always get it right,” Booker whispered.