Short Story By: Lorraine Dinguskins
Warning: This week Mr. Schweickert assigned every Heritage Herald staff member an insane and quirky article title that we had to back-fill, hence the fever dream articles that are going up this week. Sorry in advance.
There was not a single soul in the land of Hogsville that didn’t know the baby’s name. The rumors engulfed the town at lightning speed, with crying parents sympathizing, and teenage kids mocking. The culprit of all of this attention you may ask? None other than Hubert Landsoplop, the baby boy with tender feet.
Mr. and Mrs. Landsoplop always knew there was something different about the offspring they carried ever since the 4-month mark of Mrs. Landsoplop’s pregnancy when young infantile Hubert kicked her insides so hard she was left hospitalized for weeks. It was after the third mighty kick in the intestines that doctors started to worry. It wasn’t until that one fateful ultrasound they discovered just what made baby Hubert so different. There, plastered across the ultrasound, was a clear cut picture of their child, but something about it was wrong. The illuminated screen revealed the monstrous sight. Feet. That was all they could see–monsterly, swollen, enlarged feet. A medical mystery seemed to have been bestowed upon Mr. and Mrs. Landsoplop, who were desperate for answers on the sight of their son’s atrocious looking metatarsals. They brought out every trained professional they could, yet the infant with the enlarged feet remained a mystery. Miserable and defeated, Mrs. Landsoplop decided she had no choice but to birth the baby and hoped he came out with somewhat less disgusting looking feet. And that brings us to today, to the gossip-filled town of Hogsville, on the very day Mrs. Lansoplop went into labor.
With Hogsville being a town of roughly 2,000 people, news spread fast, and there wasn’t anybody who didn’t know everybody. A town where if you don’t know what you’re doing, somebody else always does. So it was no surprise to Mrs. Landsoplop that when she opened her front door, she saw the crowd of nosey neighbors peering into her window and staking out on her yard. Knowing there is no way to keep the birth of her infamous baby boy a secret, she allowed her bonehead of a neighbor to drive her to the hospital. As she peered back at the rear of her car, she was less than shocked to see the line of Hogsvillians racing down the street on their tail, waiting to see the birth of the mysterious baby boy with gigantic, inflamed feet. On the way to the hospital, Mrs. Landsoplop thought it smart to call her husband at the farm and let him know this baby was coming, and it was coming now. After three rings on the line, Mr. Landsoplop seemed to have read her mind, frantically answering and racing to the hospital, anxious for the arrival of the baby with the mutant feet.
The Hogville County Hospital was met with a stampede of Hogsvillians that bright summer morn’ with cars racing to find parking spots, and old women giving their wise tales of birth all the way up to the maternity ward. When entering the emergency department, there was not a single eye that wasn’t on Mrs. Landsoplop, the woman carrying the boy with the nightmarish feet. Judgmental and sympathetic stares were met, and doctors hastily ushered her down the crowded hallways via a gurney. Mrs. Landsoplop could briefly hear the murmurs and shouts of those who followed her behind the sea of doctors and nurses, but the pain of birth murmured their insensitive nosiness to a quiet hum. Soon Mrs. Landsoplop could see was black, along with the terrifying scream of her husband beside her, “Holy mother of Feet!”
The infamous baby was born that day, October 12th 2020, at 12:45pm with 10 fingers, and 10 very angry looking toes. After hastily blacking out, Mrs.Landsoplop awoke to the sound of murmuring outside her door. “What do you think she’s going to do with it?” One said. “No way that thing will ever be able to walk,” she heard a teenage girl mock. “It’s not her fault her baby was born with such hideous features, we should do something for that poor mother.” She briefly heard the mother’s reprimand. Mrs.Landsoplop was beyond familiar with such inappropriate banter coming from the folks of her hometown, and she refused to let the talk get to her. Right now she wanted to see those piggies. Groggy and dizzy, Mrs.Landsoplop slowly unpeeled her ironclad eyelids and rested her gaze upon her husband across the room, holding the newborn child. As she made her way over to the child, she just about shrieked in horror at the sight of her poor child’s feet. Red, oozing, and as large as ever, lay her poor baby boys’ feet. The shrieking of his wife woke Mr. Landsoplop, who quickly tried to tame the panicking mother. “How could this happen to him?,” she bellowed. “How will our baby ever be able to walk?” Mrs.Landsoplop cried. Mr. Landsoplop comforted the distraught mother, reassuring her they’d find a way, and it was during that heartfelt moment the door was busted open by their dumb-as-nails neighbor.
“Oh you poor thing! It isn’t too late to set him up for adoption,” the old woman bellowed. This ignited a fire in the pit of Mrs. Landsoplop’s stomach. How DARE she make that suggestion to her about her own kid? How dare she think he would love him any less for his tender feet? In a fit of rage, Mrs. Landsoplop exploded, the words tumbling out of her mouth without her brain giving consent. “Listen here you pathetic excuse of a neighbor, I’m sick of you and everybody else treating my child like he’s some sort of monster, like he’s something to be ashamed of! I bet you I’ll have him walking by 13 months, and if I’m wrong, you can tease me all you want, but until then, you go stick your nose into somebody else’s’ business.” Mrs.Landsoplop heaved in deep and rushed breaths after exerting so much effort into her yelling. She finally looked up into the eyes of her provoker and saw the disgusted expression that was painted across her face. Old ugly eyes wrinkled in distaste, mouth turned downward into an aging frown, she uttered just barely above a whisper, “You have 13 months, Lansoplop. 13 months to prove your family isn’t as much as a disgrace as I know it is.” Tears of anger brimmed Mrs.Landsoplops eyes, and in a broken yell, she exclaimed for her neighbor to leave the room now, before she did something she might regret. But there was only one thing on Mrs. Landsoplop’s mind. Justice. Justice for her little boy, for her family’s name. She was going to get this baby to walk if it’s the last thing she ever did.
It had been 48 hours since the agreement was put into place with Mrs.Landsoplop’s neighbor. In those 48 hours the husband and wife decided that their baby boy would be named Hubert, and baby Hubert was going to be the fastest walking 13 month child the town of Hogsville had ever seen. Mr. and Mrs. Landsoplop set off to do everything in their power to get this child on the right path to walking.
The first 4 months of having baby Hubert consisted of a lot of core-nutrient nutrition, to help strengthen and build the little babies fragile body if he was going to walk they had to build the strength in those inflamed feet. Coupled with nutrition was lots of leg bouncing, after copious amounts of research, the Landsoplops learned that bouncing your baby on your lap helps build the muscles in their legs, so as you can imagine, there was lots of that going on. Whenever they weren’t bouncing the baby on their legs, Hubert was sitting in his bouncy chair, constantly working his leg muscles.
It was around 5 months when baby Hubert began to start crawling, which was a huge relief to Mr. and Mrs. Landsoplop who were beginning to get concerned their baby would never make any progress. It was in the next few months that the two parents really had to gear up to speed up the process. They thought of everything. They made up games, bought her a push toy, assisted her walking standing up, they even tried to turn balancing into a game. They constantly praised his efforts of standing, and never forced him too far to a point of tantrum; however, the Landsoplops’ began to get anxious over their deadline. They were now 8 months in and they couldn’t get him to stand for more than 2 seconds. But nonetheless, they persisted. They even paid for a physical therapist for the young boy, desperate to not mess this up and become a disgrace in their hometown.
It was on a Saturday night, November 2nd, at 2:35am when they heard screams. Horrible heart-wrenching screams that were coming from the crib down the hall. In a rush, the mother raced down the hallway with the father trailing behind. What they saw inside that room changed their lives forever. It was baby Hubert Landsoplop, walking across the room. Red tender feet and all. He wasn’t just walking, no, he was running, running to his mother in the dark of the hallway. That night every member of the Landsoplop family cried tears: the parents being happy, and Hubert’s tears being from the pain of walking on his tender feet. But it didn’t matter to them because now they knew they could march straight up to their neighbors and tell them that their very own baby boy was walking, atrocious feet and all, at just 9 months old.
After expressing their exciting news to their condescending neighbors, the news spread like wildfire. The Landsoplops’ were being congratulated left and right. Apologies were being spewed from those who ever made fun of the little boy, and it seemed somehow the tables had turned. The Landsoplop’s name was cleared and instead of constantly being the center of attention for their son’s tender feet, they were the center of attention despite their son’s tender feet. The Landsoplops’ pesky neighbors never said another word to them ever again, and were forced to idly stand by as the parents of the son with swollen feet were praised. The citizens of the town agreed to never be so quick to judge and butt into other people’s business, converting the once drama-filled town into one of unity. And that’s the story of how a baby boy with tender feet’s first step brought the town of Hogsville together.