On the cork noticeboard affixed to the wall in front of Pictou, a colourful poster was pinned to the hard surface. It was a poster for none other than the school’s annual Talent Show.

“Are you gonna be in it?” a passing pupil asked him hopefully, and Pictou thought. “Well, we all have a ‘hidden’ talent.” That was what Port Hawkesbury always said, anyway. “Really?” the pupil replied, awed. “So you ARE gonna be in it?” “Mmm-hmm, yes,” Pictou agreed. “Alright!” the pupil cheered, and they both rushed off to the Principal’s office to sign up for the auditions.

Finally, the night of the Talent Show had arrived. A large audience had gathered in the school hall, eager to watch the upcoming spectacles. Backstage, the presenter, performers (Pictou included), Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton were waiting for the show to begin. Port Hawkesbury changed Pictou out of his diaper into a pair of white panties. Anxiety cooked inside Pictou, making him feel nervous.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the 30th Annual Pictou Elementary School Talent Show!” The audience’s applause roared as the presenter stepped onstage, bowing down as a welcome. “And now, here comes tonight’s first performer… THE SHOWBOY!” the presenter announced, and the audience’s applause continued as the Showboy made his way on stage. The hall transformed into a cabaret bar with some vividly-coloured lights and vaudeville music, making the Showboy feel in his element as he began foxtrotting and twirling his cane around, with the audience cheering and whistling wildly. “He’s funny,” Pictou commented backstage, his parents watching too.

The Showboy finished his act, bowing down. In his place hopped in a juggler, who astounded the audience with tricks involving bottles. “He isn’t even dropping his bottles,” Pictou remarked backstage.

Next came a dancer in a dog costume, who imitated the Showboy with his vaudeville dancing. “Rather silly,” Pictou critiqued.

“Give it up for the Stilt-Walker!” And a very clumsy one at that. Every time he tried to walk in a straight line, he came tumbling down, and had to get back up again. But the audience seemed to enjoy this, even laughing out loud. “Just plain absurd…” Pictou criticized in all brutal honesty.

The Stilt-Walker had a final embarrassing fall, causing the audience to erupt into raucous, hysterical laughter. With great difficulty, he exited the stage, letting the presenter once again take his place. “And now, here he comes, the one, the only…” The presenter paused for a moment. “PICTOU DENOON!” Pictou perked up at the mention of his name, hearing the audience’s wild applause and cheering onstage. Patiently taking the presenter’s place, he entered the stage, Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton watching from the back.

Pictou just stood on stage, staring blankly into the faces of his eager viewers. As if to indicate that his act should begin, one audience member put his hand out to Pictou, waving. An awkward silence hung in the air, and Pictou’s vacant look only made it even more awkward.

So awkward, in fact, that Pictou’s nerviness made his bladder tickle, causing him to wet himself in front of everybody in the hall. The crotch area of his pants darkened, and the wetness collected into a puddle beneath his feet, releasing a whiff of ammonia into the air. Some members of the audience gasped in shock, while others murmured concernedly or just glared at Pictou in disapproval.

Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton entered the stage, and they both gasped in shock, too. Port Hawkesbury then realized she’d just made a horrific mistake. “Come on, Pictou,” she called him on hurriedly, taking Pictou’s hand and heading backstage with Stellarton.

Unfortunately, on the dash towards the exit, Mr. Marlynross stepped in, stopping the Denoons in their tracks. Pictou’s ammonia stench worsened as he heard the audience booing onstage. Mr. Marlynross caught sight of the dark, moist patch on Pictou’s pants. “That is not a very good thing to do,” he reprimanded Pictou. “No, it isn’t,” Port Hawkesbury agreed, “but Pictou had an accident. He didn’t mean to do it.” Stellarton jotted down some notes in his notebook.

Mr. Marlynross marched even closer to the Denoons, glowering at Pictou. “You’ve ruined this year’s Talent Show,” he told him harshly. “You’re trying to draw attention to yourself, and didn’t give others a chance.” “But it was an accident,” Pictou reiterated, begging Mr. Marlynross. “It was an accident. It’s a fact!” “Hah! As if!” Mr. Marlynross growled.

Mr. Marlynross’ look worsened as his anger heated up inside him, finally erupting into Pictou’s face. “Thanks to your fantastic performance tonight, this year’s Talent Show has been A TOTAL DISASTER!” he blasted Pictou with volcanic fury.

Pictou, Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton stared in bewilderment at him for a moment… Then they dashed out of the school as quickly as they could, coming out to a darkening evening sky tinged with blue and black. “We should get back home,” Stellarton suggested, looking up at the dusky sky. “Yes, yes, we should,” Port Hawkesbury and Pictou both nodded in agreement, and they began to stroll back home into the night, Pictou stinking strongly of ammonia.

“Pictou Denoon, Port Hawkesbury Birchwood and Stellarton Bridges-Drummond,” the Denoons’ nurse called, interrupting Port Hawkesbury’s train of deep thought. She arose from her seat, and with Pictou and Stellarton tailing her, she followed the nurse down to Dr. Kenningham’s room. The Denoons each took a seat while Dr. Kenningham went to close his door, then he sat back down at his desk. “Hello again,” he greeted the Denoons. “Hello, Dr. Kenningham,” the Denoons greeted him back.

“Dr. Kenningham, I think Pictou may have a bladder problem,” Port Hawkesbury told the doctor, feeling concerned. “Well, how old is he?” the doctor asked her. “Six.” “At that age, he should be able to use the toilet,” the doctor assured her.

Port Hawkesbury still wasn’t convinced… “Please could you examine him? In private?” “Alright.” Dr. Kenningham picked Pictou up and lay him down on a bed, drawing the curtains. He pulled on a surgical mask, brandished a scalpel and removed Pictou’s pants and underwear. Dr. Kenningham fed Pictou a sleeping pill, and speeded up the anaesthetization by slotting an oxygen mask onto Pictou, breathing in the gas until he lost consciousness.

With Pictou safely sedated, Dr. Kenningham sliced his bladder area open and began to examine the interior. Outside, Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton waited with anticipation. Dr. Kenningham examined Pictou’s bladder muscle structure, taking hold of a ligature and squeezing it gently. Even sedated, Pictou felt pain – short, but strong and sharp, pain. It was then that Port Hawkesbury came to a sudden realization: Pictou was born breech. “Did… did that damage Pictou’s bladder?” she wondered, feeling more concern.

Dr. Kenningham stitched up the incision on Pictou’s groin, replacing his scalpel and removing his mask. He pulled Pictou’s pants back up, opened the curtain, picked Pictou up and returned to his desk. “Port Hawkesbury.” On hearing her name, Port Hawkesbury leant towards the doctor to hear better. Then, silence.

“It isn’t good. I am very sorry to tell you this, but…” Silence again.

“Your son is severely incontinent. There’s nothing we can do. He’ll always be that way.”

Port Hawkesbury stared at him in dismay. Tears began to well up in her widened eyes as she began to sob softly. Slowly, but somehow suddenly, she poured out waterfalls of tears, streaming down her face like rainstorms. She gasped as she sobbed uncontrollably, feeling a deep twinge inside.

Burying her face in her hands, Port Hawkesbury wailed noisily. “He’ll never be able to go to the toilet!” “He’ll have to learn to live with it for the rest of his life,” Dr. Kenningham told her solemnly. Port Hawkesbury shed more waterfalls of tears. “My boy!” she sobbed hysterically. “Why? Why did this have to happen to us?” “It’s purely chance,” the doctor replied, which only increased Port Hawkesbury’s crying a notch. Stellarton jotted Dr. Kenningham’s advice down in his notebook.

Hearing so much bad news was too much to handle for Port Hawkesbury. “My boy,” she sobbed, picking Pictou up. “My beautiful little Acadian Canadian Boy!” Dr. Kenningham only shook his head slowly and sadly. “Goodbye,” he murmured to the Denoons, but only Stellarton bid farewell. “G-goodbye, Dr. K-Kenningham,” Port Hawkesbury sobbed, and the Denoons left his room, leaving the hospital and strolling back home. Port Hawkesbury couldn’t stop crying as she held onto Pictou.

Pictou relieved himself in deep slumber, dampening his bed, pants crotch and duvet. The stench of ammonia caught Port Hawkesbury’s attention, and she picked Pictou up to take him to the bathroom. Port Hawkesbury lay Pictou down on the changing table, and noticed the damp patch around his crotch. Beginning to sob, she removed Pictou’s damp trousers and panties. She wiped Pictou’s backside with a toilet tissue, tears rolling down her face as she disposed of the used paper and slipped Pictou into a fresh, dry diaper.

Picking Pictou back up, Port Hawkesbury re-entered his room and tucked him back into bed, sobbing sadly as she shut the door behind her. Pictou didn’t seem bothered by his wet bed, because he slept through the night peacefully again.

“Stinko,” a pupil taunted Pictou as he strolled down the corridor. “Smelly,” laughed another. “Pongy boy!” a third teased him nastily. Pictou felt ashamed at being taunted by his fellow pupils.

As Pictou continued down the corridor, so did the jibes. “Stinky Pictou!” One pupil stuck his tongue out at Pictou. “Nah-nah-neh-nah-nah!” “So, that’s your hobby, eh?” asked another student mockingly. Now Pictou’s shame was cooking into anger.

The insults just kept coming. “Stink-tou!” “Pant-wetter!” “Eh? That’s your talent, eh?” another pupil asked Pictou sarcastically, which caused his anger to boil over into fury.

Pictou was about to enter his classroom, when Gabarus, Morganville and Culloden blocked the way, looking down at Pictou’s pants. “Let’s see what you’ve got under there, stinko.” “Alright, go on,” Gabarus and Morganville encouraged Culloden, sneering.

Culloden suddenly tugged Pictou’s pants down, revealing a fresh diaper, causing Pictou to gasp in shock. “Hey! Everybody, look!” he called out to the other pupils. They all gasped too… which then turned into nasty laughter and jeering. Pictou glimpsed around, then he turned to the crowd with great humiliation, gasping again. “Diaper boy!”

Pictou could only gaze in shame at the jeering crowd, and Culloden could only chuckle. “Good job, Culloden!” Gabarus praised him in his familiar Scottish-Canadian trill, and Morganville smirked as if in agreement with him. Pictou shook his head in disbelief and sighed as he bore the brunt of the incessant taunting. “Stinkface!”

In the darkest of the night, Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton were steeped in deep slumber, when Port Hawkesbury suddenly began to toss and turn, breathing heavily. She began to have a nightmare.

“Pictou! We’re home!” Port Hawkesbury called out as Stellarton locked the front door. The Denoons ascended the stairs, Port Hawkesbury continuing to call out for her son. “Here, dear Pictou!” she hollered. “Here, my little sweetheart!”

The Denoons reached Pictou’s room. “Here, little-” When they opened the door, Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton both gasped in shock. They simply weren’t prepared for the horrific sight that lay in front of their very eyes…

Pictou lay stomach-down on his bed, curled up into a lifeless, bloody ball. Blood covered his entire cadaver – his face, clothes, hair, hat… Even the little golden star-shaped badge on his hat was splattered with blood. Beneath him, a puddle of blood drenched his bed an ominous shade of red. In fact, Pictou’s entire room was splashed with blood – the floor, door, and the walls, which were covered with bloody splotches. Port Hawkesbury’s eyes began to well up with tears, beginning to sob. “No!” she screamed, rushing over to Pictou. “No, no, NO!!!!”

Bursting into hot tears, she began to bang on the wooden frame, shedding more tears with each noisy thump. “NO!!!!” she screamed out loud, “My little one! No! NO!!!!”

Stellarton wrote in his notebook. “Pictou died.” With a flash of white light, Stellarton’s notebook smeared and dabbed itself and the pages inside with lashings of Pictou’s blood.

Another flash of white light teleported Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton to a cemetery, where the black skies above poured rain and thunderstorms. Laying down bouquets of flowers at a gravestone obscured by the darkness, Port Hawkesbury made the Sign of the Cross, sobbing softly, her tears blending with the driving rain. His notebook becoming soaked from the heavy rain, Stellarton jotted down some notes on today in his notebook.

Suddenly, a flash of lightning illuminated the gravestone, followed by the deep rumble of thunder. Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton both gasped and stared in shock at the message on the gravestone.

PICTOU DENOON, 1998-2004.

Port Hawkesbury had a sudden realization: the gravestone was that of her much-beloved son! Gasping in shock again, she began to cry at the top of her voice. “NO!!!!” she wailed hysterically, the turbulent rainstorm pouring buckets on her face, lightning crashing, thunder rumbling.

Jolting awake from her nightmare, Port Hawkesbury gasped and breathed heavily. She scanned around herself, then looked straight again. Port Hawkesbury stared out for a moment… and she began to cry miserably, tears streaming down her face. Stellarton was soon woken, and he turned to Port Hawkesbury. “Whatever’s the matter?” he asked her in French. Port Hawkesbury sobbed. “Pictou,” she replied tearfully. Stellarton stroked her tenderly to comfort her.

The Denoons arose from bed and entered Pictou’s room, crouching down at his bedside. Pictou awoke to see his parents, making Port Hawkesbury shed even more tears and worsen her heartbreak. Pictou gazed at Port Hawkesbury. “Mom. Don’t cry,” he comforted her, reaching out to her. “Here I am.” Port Hawkesbury sobbed. “My little dear.” Stellarton turned to see his six-year-old son. “Sweetheart.” He jotted some notes down in his notebook. “Please, don’t cry,” Pictou asked of Port Hawkesbury, touching her. “I’m here, Mom. Here.” Stellarton looked on with sympathy as he watched Pictou console Port Hawkesbury, her crying continuing.