Kid Joey curled up around his pillow, his Cars comforter all the way up to his ears, cocooning him among his Pixar wheeled friends. It was morning already, and the sun had tried to sneak in and wake him up early, but somewhere in the back of his mind he knew it was Saturday and he didn't have to go to school, so the sun would have to do without him for another half hour or so. He sighed contentedly.
Not much later, Kid Joey threw back his covers and went to the bathroom. He always had to go there first thing in the morning. Always. He hadn't wet his bed since he'd been a very little guy, and Mom had gotten him his first big boy underwear - with Cars on them, naturally.
He went to shimmy his underwear down, and said, "Wait. What?" His Mom had just got him Cars underwear, they had them in his size, and another size larger, so he was cool until he turned about nine, if he didn't grow too much more, he'd thought. But what the heck had happened to them? There were little roadways still pictured on them, but all the cars were just…
Too weird to think about, Kid Joey thought, flushing the toilet. He yawned and washed his hands, because Mom would just send him back to do it anyway, and then padded down the hallway into the living room where Rosie and Kato were sprawled on the sofa watching Scooby Doo. Joey sat on the loveseat and smiled when Kato's tail thumped on the sofa nest to Rosie's leg.
Joey patted the loveseat and Kato crawled down from the sofa and came over for a morning hug and belly rub. Joey happily obliged him, and then realized he was hungry and went into the kitchen. Hmm, he thought, opening the cabinet for a bowl to make cereal. There were some new red bowls, one of which he carefully placed on the table and went for the cereal. He didn't notice that the bowl had a chip in the edge, just where his Cars bowl had had one.
He took his cereal into the living room and sat watching Scooby Doo with his sister and their furry pal until he polished off the last bite, then he took his bowl and spoon to the sink. Then he decided to get dressed so he could go over to Mrs. Levy's and hunt down his pal WHIP for some kind of adventure or other.
Inside the door he flipped on the light, and it was then that he noticed it: Just like his underwear, the comforter had roads and lettering, but no cars. No cars on his cars blanket? What the…?
He ran into the living room and said in a rather panicked voice, "Rosie! Come into my room for a minute! What happened to the cars? Where did they go?"
"What's cars?" Rosie asked, looking puzzled.
"My Cars blanket - the cars are missing!"
Rosie dutifully followed her brother into his room, wondering what was wrong with him as he gestured for her to look at his blanket. "Yeah, so?" she said. "It's your blanket."
"Where are the cars, Rosie?"
"If you tell me what that is, I'll help you find it," Rosie said, agreeably enough.
"Cars!! Cars! You ride in them, four wheels, engine, windows, vroom, vroom, vroom!" his ever-loudening voice said, as panic settled into him like a blanket of lightning.
Rosie shook her head, truly not understanding what her brother was talking about.
"Vroom, vroom?" She said, completely confused.
"STOP MESSING WITH ME, ROSIE!!" he shouted, and Daddy turned into the room.
"Hey, dudes!" He said in a hushed voice. "Mom's trying to get some extra sleep today, keep it down!"
"Dad!" Kid Joey said, a little more quietly, but not much. "Rosie is messing with me! She won't tell me what happened to my Cars blanket and my cars underwear, and my cars bowl!" That last one occurred to him as he listed all the things he'd found wrong since he'd woken up.
"What do you mean, Joey? There's your blanket, and you have underwear on under your robe, right? I'm sure your bowl is just fine…or did you break it?" Dad said.
"I didn't break anything! Where are the cars? Where did they all go?"
"What are cars?" Dad asked, looking at least as confused as Rosie, and that never happened! Daddy knew everything!
"Cars! Cars!" Joey shouted again, and Daddy started to get on his angry face. He'd asked Joey and Rosie to quiet down. Well, actually, Rosie hadn't been raising her voice, just Joey. Now he was on the verge of hysteria again, and climbing up onto the chair next to his window. He threw open the curtains and gasped. He turned, still on the chair, and shouted, "Dad! Where's your car?"
"My what?" Daddy asked, and Joey froze for a moment. "Your car? Your dream-car! You know, black with tinted windows, your car!!"
Joey jumped from the chair and dove past Rosie and squeezed past Daddy out his bedroom door and out into the living room. Dad and Rosie followed him as he threw open the front door and ran out, robe and all, to look around. There was not a car on the entire street. Not one.
"Where are they all? Where are all he cars?" Joey yelled.
Then he wheeled back around toward the front door where Dad and Rosie stood, gaping at his bizarre behavior.
"It's not April First, right? This is no April fool's joke, right?"
"It's October, Joey. You need to calm down."
But Kid Joey wasn't calm. For the first time in a long time he was more freaked out than his sister, who was usually the more emotional one of them.
He ran in the house and out the back door. No battery powered car in the yard. No remote control car inside the back door charging.
Back in his room there were no Matchbox cars, no HotWheels, no model cars, no car designs on his curtains or wall clings. No cars anywhere.
"Wait a minute! If there are no cars, how do I get to school? How do you get to work?" Joey asked his dad, now in the kitchen fixing himself an egg sandwich.
"We walk. It's not that far."
"But you're a plumber! How do you get to people's houses?"
"With the horse and cart, how else?"
"Horse and cart?!" Joey said, and then tilted his head, not believing his ears. "Seriously, Dad. Where are all the cars?"
"I seriously don't know what you're talking about. But you need to go brush your teeth if we're going to make the horse show in time."
"Horse show? Why would we be going to a horse show? We always go to the car show on Saturd…" Kid Joey's eyes got really wide, and little tears began to fill them up, so upset was he at the thought that there really were no more cars.
Daddy knelt before him and hugged him tight, trying to make him feel better, but he kept crying and crying. What would he do without his cars? He liked playing car race games on Daddy's TV. He loved the car shows on Saturday mornings. He loved his Matchbox cars! This was terrible!
"Daddy, we have to move somewhere where there are cars again! We have to go wherever they are!" He took Daddy's face in his hands and pleaded with him, please, to go where the cars are.
And suddenly, Daddy shook him a little and said, "Joey! We are going where the cars are, but you have to get up right this minute and get your sleepyhead butt ready to go! Hurry up!"
Joey looked at his blanket - Cars. He lifted the blanket up and looked at his underwear - Cars. He hurried into the bathroom to pee and saw his Cars towel and his Cars toothbrush.
And just before he hurried to the front door where Daddy waited for him, he slurped down some milk out of his Cars mug.
"Whew!" he sighed climbing into Daddy's car. No cars. What a horrible thought! He clicked his seat belt and ran his hands over the inside of the car door and the seat, sighing in both joy and relief. It would be a good day.
Any day when he went for a ride in the car was a good day.
TD - 10/20/2015