Smallingsby Big Thinker
As I was walking down the hallway toward the "dorm" I was stopped by Doctor Monroe.
"Hey," I replied. Monroe was one of the few people I worked with who had accepted me from the very beggining. Being a teenage prodigy meant I took a lot of crap from people. Monroe was a breeder, though, and I wasn't around her a lot.
"I heard that you got one of Chanchez's patients transfered to you. A real troublemaker by all accounts," she said.
"I'd be a troublemaker too if I had to deal with that old goat," I said. I didn't like Chanchez because he was a psychiastrist and I was a psychologist. He didn't treat the little ones as people, but as animals who needed nothing more than to be medicated.
I work with smallings: clones genetically engineered to be five inches tall at adulthood. For the first twelve-years of their lives they live in group homes, and are then adopted. They are not pets, but are treated as members of the family. I work as a pyschological counselor at the largest home for smallings in America, and am one of the few experts in smalling pyschology.
"This new patient, what's his name?" asked Monroe.
"Jason," I said. "But he refuses to answer to it."
"What do you think is wrong with him?"
"I'll have to find out. I don't trust Chanchez's case file."
"Well, I got to go. A batch of infants is set to come out of incubation this morning," she said.
I walked into the dorm room and pressed a button on the wall. Instantly a huge planel slide-up revealing a wall of tiny rooms, each with a glass wall facing out that opened up. At the sight of me the tiny boys stood up and yelled greetings at me. Some of them were rude, but I smiled at them regardless. I looked at my clipboard and saw that my patient was in the room marked five.
"Hello, Jason," I said, opening the door. He was in a room by himself, sitting on the floor. Each room contained two miniature beds, and a button used to call for assistance.
The smalling ignored me, so I reached my hand in to pick him up. Smallings are used to being held and handled so it wasn't a big deal. He did however seem rather limp in my hand. I took him over to a desk and sat him down on a small pillow before closing the wall.
"Well then," I said, "Why don't you and me get to know one another, Jason."
He looked up at me quizically. "Why?"
"Because I want to help you," I said, glad he had at least spoken to me. He sat up on the pillow Indian style.
"You mean you want to train me to be a good little smalling so I'll be adopted," he said.
"No, not at all. I want to help you so that you can be happier."
"The only way you can do that is if you have an enlarging machine," said Jason.
"I see, you wish you were a regular person," I said.
"No, I like who I am," I said. "But it would solve a lot of my problems."
"Tell me about your problems."
"Take me outside to the recreation area and I'll think about it," Jason said.
"Alright, Jason," I replied.
"And don't call me Jason. I like to be called Nick."
I picked him up again and put him in my shirt pocket. I thought that might lighten him up; smallings love riding around in pockets and looking out.
The recreation area was outside. It was a series of large tables connected by a series of bridges for the smallings to cross on. A normal person had to duck under them to move around the area.
"What do you wanna play?" I asked.
"Just sit me down somewhere, I'll find something to do," Nick said.
I did as he told me and he ran off amongst all the others playing games, or other recreational activities. A smalling I'm particularly fond of, named Joey, ran across one of the bridges and over next to where I stood.
"Hey, Doctor Sean," he called up at me. I smiled, picked him up, and sat him on the palm of my hand. Joey was an adorable tiny boy with lots of brown hair, and a smile much too big for his size.
"Guess what," he said.
"It's my turn to go home with you," he said. The smallings get to take turns going home and staying a few days with the staff members. It gives them an idea of what its like to be in a real home."
I ruffled Joey's hair with one finger. "Did you think I'd forget that?"
"No," he laughed. "I rented that movie you like and everything," I said. "Now, listen, I'm with a patient, so why don't you go play."
"Okay," he said, and I put him down.
I found Nick over playing soccer. He wasn't very good, and kept messing up.
"Hey, why don't you learn to play," said one of the other players. Nick shot him a look, and the boy shut-up. I was starting to understand Nick a little better.
"Nick," I said. He didn't respond. "Nick," I said again. He didn't respond. "Jason," I said this time. Still nothing.
Finnaly I reached down and grabbed the soccer ball. "Come on, Jason," I said. "Let's go."
"I wanna play," he said.
"I promise I'll bring you back when our session is over." I picked him up and went back to the dorm room.
"What do you want from me?" he asked.
"Why do you like to be called Nick?" I asked.
"I don't like Jason. Its just the name they gave me when I was born."
"Everybody's name is just the one they gave them when they were born," I said.
"I don't get to decide anything," he said. "I should at least get to decide what people call me."
"Yeah," I said. "You should if you want to," I said. "I'll tell you what. I'll see about getting your name changed if you really want it." I started to stroke his back with one finger, but he pulled away.
"Stop it," he said. "I know you don't really want to help me."
"Are you this suspicious of all regular people?"
"But we like you little guys," I said. "We just wanna take care of you."
"You want us as pets," he said. "That's what we are to you, talking hamsters."
"You know that's not true. You're like children to us."
"I don't wanna be your child," he said.
"I hate to tell you this," I laughed, "but you are a child, regardless of your size."
"Yeah, and I'm always gonna be treated like one, too. That's why I don't wanna be adopted."
"You might like it," I said. "You don't like it when you go home with the staff members?"
"I never wanted to," said Nick.
"You've never done it before?" I said, shocked. "You mean you've never been outside the home?"
"Nope." I couldn't believe it.
"What if I could take you home? Would you go?" I asked.
"Why should I."
"Maybe I could show you you'd like it. Living in an actual home, doing things outside of here."
"I don't know," he said, though I could tell he was considering it.
"Let's make a deal," I said. "You go and spend a few days with me, and I'll make sure that your name is legally changed to Nick."
He contemplated it a moment, look at me with eyes of suspicion, and then said, "Yes."
"Alright," I said. "I'll be back at the end of the day to take you home with me."
I was pretty busy the rest of the day, but I had to make time to track down Doctor Rayburn, my boss. Nick's main caregiver had already okayed me to take him home, but I needed Rayburn's approval, since I still wanted to take Joey. Someone told me that Rayburn had gone to the nursery to see the newborn smallings that had just been born, so I headed to the medical side of the complex. The complex, or Smalling Institute as it's really called, is divided into two halves. On one side is the home where I work, and on the other is the medical facility were the smallings are born.
"Hey, Earl," I said to the security guard.
"Hey, Doc," he said. "What you doing on this side?"
"I'm looking for my boss, Doctor Rayburn. He in there?"
"He that guy with the long white beard?"
"Don't care for him much," said Earl. "Kinda snooty. Ain't like you, Doc."
"It okay if I go in?"
"Sure, go right ahead," he said. I walked down the hall toward the nursery.
"Hello, Doctor." It was Doctor Monroe. She smiled and asked, "Here to see the infants?"
"Might as well while I'm here," I replied. "But I'm really looking for Doctor Rayburn."
"Oh, he's over in the observation area," she said. "I"ll take you to him."
The observation area was just the standard window looking in on the nursery, like in any hospital. Rayburn was standing there stroking his beard.
"Hello, Doctor Rayburn," I said.
"Hello, Sean," he said. I'm perfectly fine with my colleagues calling me Sean. But I never told Rayburn that he could call me that, he just did. It was his subtle way of not taking me seriously.
I looked in the nursery window at the batch of newborns. It was just like any normal hospital nursery, just miniaturized. Since the babies are so small and fragile we have smalling nurses help take care of them.
"They're beautiful," I said to Monroe.
"Yes, they are," she smiled. Monroe was a genetic engineer. It was she that reconfigured the smallings DNA so they'd be like this.
"How many are there?"
"Twenty-three were taken out of the incubation chambers today," she answered.
"Really, that many?" I said.
"Yes. Well I've got to get back to work," she said. "Good bye."
"Good bye," I said. Rayburn just stood there gazing in at the tiny wonders, which for at least the moment I was content to do, too.
At last he asked, "How many of Doctor Chanchez's patients have been transfered to you?"
"Eight," I replied. "I had a session with one today."
"Don't worry," he said. "I'll make sure that their medication is maintained." I might should have mentioned that Rayburn, like Chanchez, is a psychiatrist. The only real difference between us is that he has a medical degree and can prescribe medication.
"If I deem it a fit option," I said.
"Don't tell me you're thinking of taking them off it?" he said.
"If I deem it a fit option," I repeated.
"You don't have the authority to make that call," he said. "You're nothing but a psychologist."
"Yes, and they're are my patients," I said. "And if I feel that all they need is therapy, then that's my call."
"You're nothing but a young upstart," he said.
"Sir," I said, starting to lose it, "I am nineteen; that might still seem young, but I'm not the sixteen-year-old kid I was when I came here. I'd appreciate a little more respect."
"Don't you have patients to attend to?" he said, brushing me off.
"Yes, I do," I said, before turning around and leaving.
I realized I hadn't ask for his okay to take Nick and Joey home with me. Oh, well, I wouldn't technically be breaking any rules by doing it, so I figured why'd I need his approval anyway?
I left to pick-up Nick and Joey and take them home with me.
I picked up Joey first and then headed to Nick's dorm. I pressed the button and the panel slid up revealing the row of rooms.
"Time to go," I said. Nick already had a bag packed and everything. He tried to hide it, but I sensed a trace of excitement about him. I couldn't imagine what it must have been like for him to have never left the complex before, even if the complex was so huge to him.
I sat the car carrier down on the desk and sat Joey inside. He had done this before so already knew the drill. On the outside the carrier looked like a green lunchbox made of hard plastic, with two small portholes looking out.
"What's that?" asked Nick.
"It is the thing you ride in during the drive," I said. "You set in one of the chairs and fasten the seatbelt around you."
"It protects you in case of an accident," I said.
"What kind of an accident?" he looked baffled.
"A car accident," I said.
"Driving in a car is dangerous?"
"Not if you're careful," I said.
"You're careful, aren't you?" he asked, nervously.
"Look, Nick, I know this is new to you, but you've got nothing to worry about," I said. "I've never had a car accident in my life. Nothing is gonna happen to you." "You promise you're careful?"
"Joey's been with me before, and he's not scared. You wanna be shown up by a little kid like that?"
"No way! Let me in the stupid thing," he said. I had realized that Nick thought of himself as something of a tough guy.
I put him in and asked Joey to show him how the belt worked. After that I walked out to the parking lot and got into my red SUV. In the passenger seat I slid the seatbelt through the slot in the back of the carrier and tightened it securely.
Twenty minutes later we pulled up in the parking lot of my apartment building. I saw my mother and my eleven-year-old brother, Ronnie, unloading groceries. They lived in the apartment right below mine.
"Hey, honey," said Mom.
"Hey, jerk," said Ronnie.
"Hey, punk," I replied, tossling his hair.
"Who ya got with ya?"
"Joey and another smalling named Nick," I said.
"Ya brought two?" said Ronnie, surprised.
"Let me see," he said. I opened the carrier.
"Hi, Ronnie!" shouted Joey. He and Ronnie had become buds the last few times I'd brought him home.
"Hey," said Ronnie. "Who's the other little fellow?'
"I'm Nick," said Nick.
"Pleased to meet ya," said Ronnie. He stuck his pinky into the carrier so Nick could shake it. Nick however didn't understand and just stared.
"Well, I'm gonna go ahead and take these two upstairs," I said. "You should come up later, Ron."
"Bye, honey," said Mom.
My apartment was completely equipt for smallings. Along every wall was a walkway with a railing that allowed the smallings to go from one room to another. However, it was usually easier and faster just to carry them. Each room had a small table connected to the walkway, with smalling furniture on it. In my bathroom there was a tiny door built straight into the wall near the countertop. Inside was a fully functional bathroom.
"This place looks different than home," commented Nick.
"It should," I said.
"Hey, check this out," said Joey. "Doctor Sean, where's the remote?"
"Right here," I said, sitting it down on the table next to him.
"This is really cool," said Joey.
"You've heard of television, haven't you?" I asked Nick, since there aren't any at the home. Personally I think it would be a good way to expose them to the outside world, but Rayburn doesn't.
"Yeah," he said.
"Watch this," said Joey, pushing the power button.
"Cool," said Nick, as the TV came on.
"I like this show," said Joey. "It has a guy named Joey in it and he's really funny. What's it's name, Doctor Sean?"
"'Friends'" I said. Just then I heard the phone ring in the other room. "I'm gonna go answer that. You two stay here and watch TV."
I went into the other room and looked on the caller I.D. before answering the phone.
"Garvin Studios?" I read aloud. I had heard it before, but couldn't recall exactly where. "Hello?"
"Hello," said a woman's voice. "Is this Doctor Sean Rockston?"
"This is he," I replied.
"Doctor Rockston, my name is Sandra Cooper, executive producer of The Elise Garvin Show," she said. "We're doing a show concerning smalling psychology, and were wondering if you would be interested in appearing?"
"Could you be a little more specific on the topic of the show?" I asked, only vaguely interested.
"The main topic we wish to address is the effect of the smallings isolation from the outside world, prior to adoption," she said. "We also wish to discuss several issues concerning the adoption process."
"Are you sure that's all?" I asked. I had seen countless talk shows on the ethics of the smallings genetic engineering, and wanted to make sure I wasn't being lured into anything.
"I assure you, it is," she said.
"I'll have to get approval from my superiors, but I'll consider it," I said.
"I need to confirm all the guests for the show within the next two days," she said. "Is there a number I can you reach you during the day?"
"Just call the office down at the Smalling Institute and ask to be connected to me," I said.
"Okay, goodbye," she said, and hung-up. Suddenly, I heard a tiny scream from the other room, and rushed to investigate.
The scream had come from Nick. On the table where I'd left him and Joey, was my brother's big green parrot, Oscar! The bird was sitting on the table, squawking and violently fluttering its wings. Nick was still on the table hiding behind a tiny couch, and screaming hysterically.
"Get that thing outta here!" I yelled to Ronnie.
Ronnie, who had Joey in one hand, roughly grabbed Oscar by the wing with the other hand and tossed him to the ground!
"What's the matter with you?" I yelled at Ronnie.
"I'm sorry," he said. "He fluttered off my shoulder and on to the table. I didn't mean for it to happen."
"Just get that thing out of my apartment, and don't bring it back," I said.
Nick was still hiding behind the couch, so I picked him up and craddled him in my hands. He was shaking and tightly hugging my index finger.
"It's okay," I said, patting him with my thumb. "It's gone." He didn't say anything.
"Is he hurt?" asked Joey, sitting on a coffee table.
"Just scared," I said. "He'll be fine."
"That bird was scary," said Joey.
"Y-yeah, it was," said Nick. "Put me down, I'm alright." He had recovered his composure and didn't want to appear weak.
"Are you okay?" I asked, again.
"Put me on the table with him," said Joey.
"No," Nick said sharply. "I mean... no, I want you to take me to the bathroom, so... I can change into my pajamas."
Nick didn't want Joey to see that he had wet his pants. Oh, well, I probably would have, too.
The rest of the night was uneventful. Joey and Nick watched television and had dinner. About nine-thirty my mother came up and we talked for a little while. "Ronnie really does feel awful about what happened," she said.
"I know it was an accident," I said. "But there’s no room for accidents when it comes to smallings."
"I’ve been meaning to have a talk with him about that bird, anyway," said Mom. "The landlord’s been complaining about the noise it makes."
"You know that show, Elise Garvin?" I asked.
"Oh, yes. I love her," said Mom. "She seems so smart."
"Yeah, well, her producer called and asked me to be on the show," I said.
"How nice. Are you going to do it?"
"Haven’t decided," I said. "I’ll have to get permission anyway."
"Well, I better head back downstairs," Mom said. "I promised to fill in for a friend at work tomorrow."
“Bye, Mom,” I said. She kissed me on the cheek and left.
“Alright, guys,” I said. “Time for bed.” I turned the TV off.
“Do we have to?” whined Nick.
“You’ve already stayed up a half hour later than at the home,” I said. “Besides, I’ve got a really big surprise planned for tomorrow.”
“What is it?” asked Joey.
“Yeah, what is it?” added Nick.
“It’s a surprise, but I promise you’ll both love it,” I said. I carried them into my bedroom and sat them down on my nightstand. I only had one tiny bed sitting out, but luckily I kept a spare in one of my dresser drawers. I then went to the bathroom and got ready for bed.
When I came back Joey asked, “Hey, Doctor Sean, tell us a story.”
“I don’t think I know any that Nick would like,” I said. “He’s a big kid.”
“Come on, Doc,” said Nick. “I’m sure you can make one up.”
“Wait here,” I said. I went to my bookshelf and got a book I thought they’d like. “How about I just read one to you?”
The book I read from was a collection of short stories by Mark Twain. After about ten minutes Joey fell asleep, but Nick asked me to finish reading it.
“I liked that story,” he said.
“Me too,” I said. “Now, you need to get some sleep for tomorrow. Friday’s my day off, so we’ll spend the whole day together.”
“Goodnight,” he said.
“Goodnight, Nick,” I said.
The next morning I got up early to cook breakfast while the boys were still asleep. I heard a knock at the door and answered it to see Ronnie standing there.
"Since when do you knock?," I asked.
"I wasn't sure you'd want me coming in," he said, afraid to look me in the eye.
"You're always welcome, Ron. It's that bird that isn't," I said with a smile.
"You're not mad anymore?"
"Nah, I've cooled off," I said. "In fact I was wondering if you'd like to go with me and the smallings today."
"Where you going?"
"Big and Small Horizons," I said.
"Cool!" he said.
"Go get ready. I wanna leave in about an hour."
I went back to the bedroom and woke Nick and Joey up. "Time to eat."
"Forget food," said Nick. "What's the surprise?"
"Impatient, aren't we?" I said. "Well, I guess I'll tell you. We're going to Big and Small Horizons today."
"What's that?" asked Nick.
"It's this really cool place," said Joey. "We went there one of the other times I was here."
"It's an amusement park," I said. "They have lots of fun rides and games and things like that."
"Rides?" said Nick.
"Yeah, they're really fun too," I said. "There's the big park that's designed for big people, and there's the little park for smallings."
"Is Ronnie going with us?" asked Joey.
"He is?" said Nick.
"Yeah. That's okay, isn't it?" I asked.
"He's the reason that bird almost got me," said Nick.
"He didn't mean it," I said. "And the bird's not coming with us."
"Are you sure he didn't mean it?" said Nick. "Because I've heard stories about how big people kids can be really cruel."
"Ronnie's not like that," said Joey. "He's my friend, and yours too."
"I guess I don't care if he goes," said Nick, a tad reluctantly.
"Good," I said. "Now, let's go eat."
As we were eating Ronnie came back, all ready to go.
"Hi, Ronnie," said Joey.
"Hey," Ronnie replied. He croutched down by the table where the two smallings sat eating. "Hi, Nick," he said. Nick ignored him.
"I really am sorry about what happened with Oscar," Ronnie apologized. Nick still ignored him.
"It's okay, Ronnie," I said. "Nick knows you're sorry. He's just not in the mood to forgive right now."
"I really wish he would."
"It's time to go," I said.
"I'll carry them to the car," said Ronnie. He put his hands out, and Joey jumped right on, but Nick refused.
"I think I'd better carry him," I said. Ronnie took Joey downstairs, a little hurt.
"I understand you're mad," I said, holding him up close to my face.
"I'm not just mad," he said.
"You wouldn't understand," Nick said. "You can't know what it was like for me when that thing was attacking me."
"It wasn't attacking you, Nick. It just fell off his shoulder. It probably didn't even know you were there."
"Still, it could've killed me," he said. "I felt so scared, so helpless. And it was just a small animal. This world is full of things like that; things that make me feel helpless, and pathetic."
"You're not pathetic, Nick," I said. "And you're not helpless as long as there are people like me around to make sure that you're not."
"The truth is, I'm scared of this world," he said. "Everything about it. That's why I didn't want to leave the institute."
"You're safe with me," I said. "There's nothing to be frightened of."
"I know that I'm safe with you, Doc," he said. "You seem different than the rest; like you can understand. But it's the rest of the world that I'm afraid of."
"Nick, one of the biggest lessons in life, is that you can't hide from it," I said. "Unless you want to go on record as the oldest smalling in the history of the Institute."
"What about you?" he said. "Could you adopt me?"
"I'm flattered that you'd want me to," I said. "But I don't meet the age requirements. Besides, you deserve a real family."
"Wish I knew what it was like to have a real family," Nick said. I felt the light bulb go on in my head.
"Nick, my boy, you just gave me an idea," I said.
"We'll talk about it later," I said. "Right now let's go have some fun at Big and Small Horizons."
TO BE CONTINUED... -6-
To say that the park was crowded would have been a severe understatement. It was two weeks before summer vacation ended, and people were pouring in to have some fun while they still could. Not every family there had a smalling with them, but a large percentage did.
"Here, Ron," I said, "you can carry Joey, but stay close to me." I took Joey out of the carrier and handed him to Ronnie. Once at the entrance I flashed my season passes and walked through the gates.
"You want me to carry you?" I asked Nick.
"I think I'd rather stay in the carrier for now," he said. "Just until we get to that special area you told me about." He was nervous because of all the people around us.
"Whatever you want," I said.
We headed to the center of the park. Like most eleven-year-olds Ronnie kept wanting to run off whenever he saw something that struck his interest, but I kept him close.
"I wanna ride that thing with the loops," said Joey.
"Rollercoaster," I said.
"Yeah," he said.
"What's that?" asked Nick. He was still in the carrier, but I had left the lid open.
"That's the regular-sized one up there," I said, pointing to the huge coaster.
"Whoa," said Nick, as a group of screaming people went through the triple-loop. "They have one of those our size?"
"Yep," I said. "You gonna try it?"
"Oh yeah!" he shouted. The kid may have been scared of our world, but he wasn't short on guts when it came to stuff his own size. I already knew that.
We sat the two smallings down at the entrance to the smalling park and told them to go ahead.
"We're gonna go rides some rides," I said. "We'll be back to pick you up later.
"You're leaving us?" asked Nick.
"You'll be okay," I said. "Everything in the little park is smalling-size, and there are guards all around."
"It's cool," said Joey. "We'll have a great time. I'll show you where everything is."
"Okay," said Nick. "Let's go."
They ran off toward the rollercoaster. Me and Ronnie decided to do the same toward its normal-sized counterpart.
"What's wrong with him?" Ronnie asked.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Nick. What's wrong with him? I mean, he has to see you, a shrink. Doesn't that mean there's something wrong with him."
"He has issues," I said. "But we all do. He just needs a little bit more help with his. And don't call me a shrink."
"Shrink, shrink, shrink," he said. I head-locked the little punk and gave him a noogie.
"Don't worry about Nick," I said. "You and him will get to be friends eventually."
"He's only gonna be with us another day or two," said Ronnie.
"I don't know about that," I said. "He may get to hang around a lot longer."
THREE WEEKS LATER...
Oh, and I did the Elise Garvin Show. However, I think I'll choose to discuss that disaster at a later time.
I was walking down the hall right after my meeting with the board, feeling ecstastic over the decision, when Doctor Rayburn approached me. He looked furious.
"Why was I not aware you were to address the board today?" he demanded.
"I'm not sure," I said. "It was on the agenda."
"Why did you not come to me for approval before you made your purposal?"
"Because, you're head of the pyschology deparment, and this falls under the jurisdiction of special projects. Check with Doctor Maven, she approved my purposal," I said, cooly. He was about to explode.
"This project is ridiculous," he said.
"Apparently the board doesn't think so," I said. "The concept is similiar to that of a theraputic foster home."
Nick had given me the idea. It would be kind of like a foster home for smallings. Ones like Nick who had issues with going out into the world would be introduced slowly in a family situation, and helped to work out their issues before they were actually adopted. The board called me innovative and gave me their unanimous approval.
"How do you plan on going about this?" he asked. "You don't meet the age requirements to care for the smallings."
"Doctor Monroe and her husband have graciously offered to fill the role of foster parents," I said. "My job will be to act as the live-in family therapist."
"This idea is ridiculous," he said again.
"No, Doctor Rayburn, it's just never been done before. Which, to a man like you, is the same thing."
"Watch your tongue, young man," he said. "I'm still your superior."
"Actually, I will now being serving as full-time therapist and supervisor for this project," I said. "Meaning I no longer work for you."
He gave me an angry grunt and then turned to walk away.
"Oh, Doctor, wait," I said. "There's something I always wanted to say to you." I couldn't help myself, I felt like a high school student getting the better of his principal.
"What is it?" he asked.
"I think psychiatrists suck."
Preview of my next story:
It started harmlessly enough. A campout for big and little brothers. However, the closest thing Tommy had to a big brother was his weird foster brother Ty. Ty hardly ever uttered a word, and suffered from total amnesia. Or so he claimed. Tommy is convinced that Ty is keeping secrets. Like why does wear all of that strange jewelry? And why do his eyes seem to glow in he dark?
Suddenly, Tommy and the others find themselves sucked into another world. A place full of bizzare creatures and strange powers. And it appears that Ty is at the center of it all.
And, let's just say that in this world, Tommy and friends look at things from a slightly... lower point of view.