“I Love You Stinky Face” is a vividly illustrated bedtime story that shows how the unconditional love of a mother can be tested through the relentless questions of her little boy, who in his mind turns into a variety of creatures.
“But Mama, but Mama, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that my name was Stinky Face?”
“Then I would give you a bath and sprinkle you with sweet smelling powder. And if you still smelled bad, I wouldn’t mind, and I would hug you tight and whisper in your ear, ‘I love you, Stinky Face.'”
Owen awoke that morning with the glare of yellow sun stabbing through his Thomas the Tank Engine curtains. Thomas’ face was illuminated like the gilded stained glass of old cathedrals. The faces of Thomas and Percy and Sir Topham Hatt were all brilliant shades backlit by the morning, yet their vacant stares cast a coldness into the room.
He stretched and buried his eyes in the pillow, gently shuffling his feet back together under the covers. He rubbed his eyes and felt something different. Black fur had coated his hands and the rest of his body sometime in the night. He arose with a start. The immediate pulse of adrenaline shocked the sleep from his body and he was aware of many sounds and smells. Owen looked at his hands and feet, all paws now. A jet-black tail streaked with white protruded from his jammy bottoms.
Just then, footsteps sounded in the hallway and he heard his mother’s voice approaching quickly. The handle to his bedroom door turned.
“Good morning, baby,” his mother called. “Can I get you some breakfa-” Before she could finish the sentence, she let out a shriek. “What the hell!” she cried. She slammed the door shut again.
“Carl!” she called for Owne’s father. “There’s a god-damned animal in Owen’s room.” The heavy footsteps of his father came bounding up the stairs. There was a intense conversation in the hallway.
“But it’s just me!” Owen tried to call out. But only squeaks resonated in the room. “It’s your little baby Owen!”
The door opened again, more carefully this time. His father, armed with a hockey stick and a large cardboard box, side-stepped into the room.
“Daddy, help me!” Aiden tried to squeak. He ran up and hugged his father’s leg. “I dreamt I was a skunk and now it came true.” His father swung the hockey stick, striking the creature that was once his son in the snout.
No plea of Aiden’s helped, no plea was even understood; however humbly he might turn his head, his father merely swung his stick more forcefully. When Aiden turned to cower from the next blow, his tail lifted and sprayed the room with a heinous secretion. His father cried out blindly and retreated back to the hallway.
His parent’s conversation outside of the room was muffled again. Aiden could only hear the words “Go get my gun.”