"Any man who hates dogs and babies can't be all bad." Someone once uttered that famous line concerning W. C. Fields. I personally agree with that statement, dogs and babies can be a thorn in the side, however, this story's about the latter critters. Let me tell you why I hate babies.

It all started one Thursday afternoon when this oddball couple came knocking at my door and when I say odd, that's putting it lightly. The man was some kind of geezer with thick-rimmed black glasses and a hunchbacked posture, but the scariest thing about him was the mouth. It was the largest thing you've ever seen, wide-open in a grin that would've put the Cheshire Cat to shame. As for his younger wife, she couldn't stop drooling. Every time she opened her mouth, only nonsensical babbling would come out...and more dribble. The geezer did all the talking, since his was the bigger mouth.

Anyways, the freaks made me an offer: if I would babysit their kid Friday night, they would pay me a hundred smackeroos. Now I wasn't too fond of babies to begin with, but me? I'm a working kinda guy, and that was an offer I just couldn't resist. So come Friday night, I went to their place across the street.

My first order of duty was to check up on the baby and get him a clean bottle while at it. I felt strange from the moment I walked in and I had the feeling that the house grew darker the closer I was to the baby's room. I even thought I saw something moving on a hallway shelf, though it was too dim to be sure. Then I opened the door.

Now I knew there was something wrong. A blast of hot air smacked me in the face, it was a sauna in there, and once my eyes adjusted to the dark, I could see the room was practically half a football field's length. A murmur and a low chuckle rose from the distance. At this point, I was sweating, and it took all the effort I could muster to keep me going; I needed that dough bad. Just who were these people anyway? some rich psychos who somehow disguised their house to look smaller on the outside than the inside? And the heat bath? Were they wanting me to babysit a cooked corpse? As for the chuckle...I kept going.

The walls seemed to bulge outwards as I moved forth and the floor progressed upwards like a hill. I spotted a humble crib at the top and I crept there with bottle in hand. I looked in.

A head the size of a pumpkin looked back at me, set on a squat body. Arms bristled with muscle and the baby's beady red eyes burned into my skin. "I'll take that," said the baby in a brusque voice, snatching the bottle out of the air as I dropped it. He took one gulp, then violently threw it against the wall, destroying it. "This is milk, I hate milk! Whaddya think I am, a mama's boy? I need ninety percent proof booze!"

My feet did the talking.

"Hey!"

I was fifty feet away when he bent the crib bars and came scrambling after me on all fours. The floor opened beneath me and I had a good fall. An unseen force floated me back up and thrust me hard against the ground. I sat and leaned back on my butt, dazed.

"Listen chum," said the baby as he approached me, "I'm boss tanight and if ya don't like it, I could do this to you." He took a cute teddy bear and a moment later, it was gone, after he had spewed out a purple acid from his mouth. "Watch me make 'em disappear! Ok, pretty boy?"

My lips trembled, I opened my mouth, and cried.

Some time later, we were sitting in my car, me behind the wheel, my red-eyed boss in the passenger seat, puffing a magic dragon. "When I say stop, you stop and deliver the goods, a six-pack to be exact," he instructed between puffs. "And if I ever find out you've snitched to my parents that I've been drinking underage, it's curtains for you."

We were now in the seedy part of town. The headlights beamed on a low rundown bungalow. With half the neon letters malfunctioning, it read "Beer and Liquor."

"Right turn, right turn!" came the baby's voice, "then stop. Jeez, almost missed it, ya fool. Now go get 'em."

So I entered the sleazy joint, picked up my beer, and reluctantly went to pay.

"ID, sir," asked the clerk. I fished through my wallet and took out my state ID. I was walking away when I heard "s'matter? you look like you've seen a ghost."

"Go soak your head," I told the clerk.

"Good job, minion," my boss said as I shut the driver's door, "I bet yer proud of yerself. Well, the party's just begun. I say we do something fun, like rob a joint. The First National Bank will serve my purpose well."

For the first time since the crib, I gawked at him, aghast. "But the police!"

"Police, foleese, what are you? chicken? With me around, ya won't haveta worry about any damn copper. Git movin', pretty boy!"

The trip progressed quicker than I had hoped and before long, we were parked aside the bank.

"You do the heist and this time, I'll do the driving," he said as he shoved me off the driver's seat. "Just pretend like you have a gun, those idiots git scared by the slightest hint of nothin' these days. Break a leg, boy, before I do it for you!"

I felt sick in the stomach as I rose from the pavement and I had no choice but to enter the bank. I bided my time once inside and wished there weren't so many people around. I couldn't think of anything grand to do, so I went up to the first teller I set eyes on. She was a buxom young woman, standing there behind the counter, and I say to her "um, like, s-stick 'em up," shoving my index finger against the interior of my shirt.

The dame takes one look at me and laughs. "Right, and since when do gun barrels have fingernails? Any dolt can see the impression that long fingernail of yours is leaving."

"But you don't understand, if I don't leave with anything, my boss will kill me! You must let me have at least something. I'll pay you back, honest. Ah, who am I kidding."

"So tell me Prince Charming, what's your name? Our bank would love to know, and the law too. Just who is this 'boss' anyway?"

Just then, the main entrance explodes into a great commotion, the noise reaches the piercing level, and the doors burst open. There, racing through the middle of the bank, like a demon on wheels, is a baby carriage I'd never seen before, and standing atop that baby carriage, like the commandeer of a chariot, waving his arms to and fro, is my boss.

Jumping down at my feet, he glares at me, red-faced (and red-eyed), and bellows "the hell are ya doin'? You shoulda been done ages ago. Now you've gone and made me haul my ass outta the car just ta help you. Let's do this bank job already!"

A gray-clothed man wearing a fedora walks up and interjects "who the bloody hell is that mutant? your dwarven partner-in-crime, all dressed as a baby? It's loonies like you we should throw in the sanatorium!"

"I am a baby," boss growls, "and you'd better learn to respect your youngsters, you old fogy!" With that, he lowers his bulbous head into a headbutt against the man's knee.

He staggers once, then falls flat on the ground.

This causes an uproar. "It's a freak, a monster! Get those schmucks!"

I jump in. "Wait, stop! You don't want to do this. Please, let me explain!"

The first muscle man faced me as boss slipped away. We were about to exchange blows when the big baby hovered a good seven feet in the air on his baby carriage. Everyone stopped in their tracks. He cried "we've wasted enough time putzing around, let's do this thing," and the hot rays emanated from his eyes.

They poured into the lining of the bank vault. Metal drizzled like ooze and plopped like pudding on the floor. The bank was filled with shrieks and screams as people dove for cover under desks and tables. He wasn't entirely accurate and so a poor soul running by was crushed as a ceiling board fell. Gradually, the vault hatch swung open.

"C'mere, pretty boy." He handed me two trash bags. "Start making with the taking and don't make me wait!" I took them hastily and started cramming them with greenbacks. "And in case any of you don't know who's boss yet," he swallows his cigarette, slowly wipes his lips with the back of his hand, and pulls a tommy gun from his diaper.

The bullets sprayed against the ceiling and a chandelier came loose, falling to its death. Most of the people still there fled at this point and for the first time since the baby arrived, the bank was eerily quiet.

He only just then noticed the teller dame, her blonde curls peeping above the counter from where she hid. "Hey toots, how 'bout you and I go play some time? I can be a real playboy ya know."

"No thanks," she lifted her eyes above the counter, "I'm kinda busy this week."

"Whatever you say toots, but you gotta admit, I'm the greatest heister of them all."

"Well, I could say you're the scariest skinhead I've ever met," she laughed weakly.

I stumbled out of the vault right then, two bags bulging with goodies, one slung over each shoulder. "Alright, now we make our getaway," I heard my boss say, and we both bolted for the entrance. We slammed through the doors and were greeted by the wails of multiple sirens.

"Git behind the wheel, quick!"

"But boss, I thought you were driving."

"I've got coppers to toast, just toss those in the damn car and step on the gas."

I shoved the money bags between us and had the engine up and running just as the first squad car came tearing around the corner. We shot out ahead and were speeding down the avenue with buildings a blur on either side.

"Time to use the ol' typewriter again," my boss laughed cruelly as he lifted his tommy gun. Perspiration flowed freely across my brow as I saw him lean out the window from the corner of my eye. I heard the keys chattering away on his typewriter.

Apparently, his aim was off, and bullets pelted tires, sending the police car behind us screeching to a sudden halt, right smack into a fire hydrant. "I'm almost tempted to have you drive slower," he remarked.

"You kidding? We'd have the city's whole police force on us in no time."

"Shaddup or I'll make you disappear without even looking over my shoulder."

Four more of the law men's cars met similar demises when we finally got away and parked by the house.

"Ok," I said, leaning against the front door once inside, "I'm gunna call it a night and do nothing more."

"It ain't over yet, chum. Now that we're high on booze and green bills, you have to play a game with me."

"Whoops, look at the time, gotta run." I turned to walk out the door when he revealed a spoon.

"Ya wanta know what I can do with this spoon? No you don't, and I'd rather not say either. But I'll tell you this: if you walk out on me, I'll take off an arm and leg of yours, tie them together, and beat you alternately with yer own hand and foot. How's that for a quarterstaff?"

He was puffing away at a magic dragon while he paced the living room carpet. "Let's see. You could help me find out how many hours it takes for me to become the city's kingpin, establish illegal trafficking in laughing gas. I know! we'll start our own homemade circus! You could be a hated mime and I'll be a psychotic rampaging clown."

At that moment, the front door flew open, and the horror of horrors came in. It was the baby's old man and his wife! The gray-haired one immediately sighted the still-smoking dragon in his son's mouth, stepped forward, and grabbed it. "So," he began, "fixing yourself for asthma I see. Charles, how many times must I tell you not to smoke?"

"But Dad, I've hardly been doing it any, honest."

"And you've probably been frightening the neighbors again too. There'll be no supper for you, young man. Go to your room and don't make me send you through a portal to the plane of eternal boredom."

"I just wanted to have some fun!" cried the baby, banging his fists on the carpet as the drooling mom dragged him by the legs.

"I understand you've had a most unpleasant evening," his father said, reaching into his wallet. "That kid, always testing his boundaries. An extra fifty dollars should do the trick."

"Keep it, old man," said I, and charged out the door, flying like a bat out of hell.

That's how the nightmare ended. Well, not quite. It didn't take long for the police to nab me and now I spend my days behind bars with a real skinhead, but believe me, he's a much better playmate than a certain someone else.

He knows where I live. Here at the county jail, that is. I'm pretty sure he does. My guess is he'll pin me for not warning him how late it was. "Couldn't glance at yer watch, pretty boy. Had to weasel out with my parents, pretty boy." Where's the Federal Witness Protection Program when you need it?