Bill Cole


The shortened setlist of Mr. groovy toons

 

Opening Song: Frog Legs and Rabbit Feet

As the words tumbled from the performer’s beard, the cluster of toddlers shrieked and wobbled. Kyle Harrington was moving differently than the other boys and girls. While their bodies tended to bob vertically as if riding pogo sticks, Kyle stood in one place, his arms flailing in jagged motions.

 

I Don’t No!

The festivities were taking place in the party room at the Greenville YMCA as a line of moms, dotted with the occasional dad, looked on. They loomed toward the back, distinct but tangential, like the black keys on a piano. Beneath their visible exhaustion they were grateful for the temporary respite. In between pinched conversations with each other, the moms tended to sneak leers at the man entertaining their children.

 

Too Few Shoes Blues

The rest of the youngsters adjusted their movements to the slower tempo as Kyle Harrington’s arms continued whipping the air like he was keeping time with a lawn mower. The others had steadily drifted from Kyle Harrington. Mr. Groovy Toons kept glancing at Kyle Harrington. Shelia kept glancing at Mr. Groovy Toons. Shelia’s young daughter kept right on twirling and giggling.

 

Land of Milk and Cookies

Shelia was not talking to the other moms. Draped in a rather loose fitting denim jacket and matching jeans, she was watching Mr. Groovy Toons, the way his folded knuckles lithely hopped around the neck of his guitar as his baritone lifted through the room. Shelia had always wanted to date someone involved in the music industry. To have a song written about her in which she was likened to a phase of the moon or a theme park ride or an artisan baked good would be a dream realized. Mr. Groovy Toons was tall with broad shoulders and his wooly beard and flannel shirt gave him the look of a lumberjack. The children were swaying like tiny trees losing their balance.

 

People vs. Plants

Kyle Harrington’s head was twisting from one side to the other, clumps of his golden hair flapping in rhythm with the tag on his inside-out shirt. He was grunting with equal parts enthusiasm and agitation. Mr. Groovy Toons was looking at him with concern. He appeared on the verge of stopping his song to address Kyle Harrington’s erratic conduct, but he tentatively kept playing as the other youngsters obliviously frolicked to the music.

 

The Mirror That Wanted To Be A Window (aborted)

“I want you all to have fun here, of course. Let’s just remember to be safe with our fun,” Mr. Groovy Toons announced to his clamoring young audience. He started playing the chords to the next song. Shelia’s eyes followed his fingers as they pushed against the strings. She could only fathom what a sensitive artist type might offer as a treatment for loneliness. Suddenly, Kyle Harrington darted into the middle of the crowd of toddlers and threw a forearm into the throat of another boy who fell to the ground in tears. Mr. Groovy Toons abruptly stopped playing, put down his guitar and sprang to the stricken boy whose mom was already there stroking his head. The guitar, propped at too steep an angle, caused the microphone stand which it  leaned on to topple forward, clipping a little girl on the side of her head. The force of the blow was substantial enough to send the girl barreling into two other children, who on their descent knocked over a third child.  There were now a total of five preschoolers on the ground wailing. Their parents rushed to their aid. Mr. Groovy Toons made his rounds, setting up a makeshift triage for the injured children. Shelia felt something like jealousy that her kid wasn’t one of them. Kyle Harrington’s mother had grabbed her son by the shirt and was screaming at him in a corner, prompting him to wildly sob.

As the other parents converged on their unharmed children, wanting to ensure that the sudden violence wasn’t overly upsetting, Shelia sought out her daughter to convince her to have Mr. Groovy Toons play at her upcoming birthday party.


Bio

Bill Cole is a school psychologist, public school advocate and adjunct professor of developmental psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. His work has been published in EclecticaCalifornia Quarterly and Lowestoft Chronicle. His fiction has also appeared in Highlights for Children Magazine for which he received their Pewter Plate Award as Author of the Month.