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My wife doesn’t get to see her cousin, Bree, who lives in Texas, very often. This past summer while we were in Ankeny, Iowa, Bree was visiting her sister, Kelly, in Runnells, just southeast of Des Moines. A mere 30 minute drive - we went down to visit.
A cookout was planned for dinner. Kelly diced potatoes, sliced mushrooms and other veggies to roast in the oven. I boiled the brats in beer, Melissa put her special touch on the baked beans and Kelly’s husband, Kris, stood by, ready to man the grill. The team effort paid off as we ate well. Very well.
Night time came. With the promise of a trip to an amusement park the next day, the kids had to go to bed a little early. Kelly and Kris said goodnight to their daughter, Jadyn, and son, Jax, sending them off to bed. Bree sent her son, Max, to bed, then seemed to prepare for battle.
A combination of being in a house that was not his own, adults still being up, additional company in the house, and the anticipation of the amusement park the next day, would cause any nine-year-old boy a good bout of insomnia. Such was the case for poor young Max. Telling him to go to sleep that night was as ineffective as it would be on Christmas Eve. Shortly after being put to bed, Max reappeared in the kitchen.
Bree took Max back to bed again; then again, and again. On the last trip to the bedroom, Bree issued the final warning: “If you don’t stay in bed this time, you’re not going to Adventureland, tomorrow!” Max must have taken her seriously, as he didn’t return to the kitchen again.
The adults congregated around the kitchen and dining area, enjoying cold beers and good conversation; telling stories, catching up, and reminiscing about the old days. All the while, my mind was distracted by an upcoming business meeting. It was the kind of business you would rather conduct in your own home, but that wasn’t possible tonight.
As my tummy grumbled, Melissa announced, “Hey! The Perseids meteor showers are going on.” Then suggested, “Let’s go out on the deck to watch for them.” “Good idea!” I replied with sincere enthusiasm. The adults made a line and marched single-file, through the door, out to the deck...all except me. I lagged behind, anticipating a moment alone.
Everyone was outside. The kids were all in bed; even Max, who hadn’t been seen nor heard from in nearly thirty minutes. It was quiet time; this was my chance. I headed for the board room, so to speak, around the corner.
I pulled the door closed, pushing the button to lock the handle and turned on the fan. I checked to assure the necessary paper work was on hand to conduct such a meeting. Everything being in order, this meeting could be kept short and I would be able to adjourn, rejoining the company without anyone even noticing my brief absence. I turned around, prepared to take my seat and call the meeting to order.
Just then the vanity door flung open violently, slamming into the wall with a loud bang! A high pitched, frightful, shrieking, “RRRArrrhhh!” came from the cavity of the cabinet, where there was thumping and commotion going on.
“This house is possessed!” I thought to myself, nearly jumping out of my skin. I screamed like a girl! “Sweet Lord Jesus, save me!” I cried out, looking toward the heavens for refuge.
Suddenly, something wiggled and slithered out from the cabinet. It was like watching a fast forwarded movie of a caterpillar awkwardly emerging from it cocoon. It would turn into the monster that was to devour me! The creature stood upright. It was skinny; bone white; wearing nothing but a pair of black brief underwear. For a moment I thought it might be Batman without his cape, mask, leotards and super-hero boots. The creature lunged toward me, laughing hysterically in my face, it taunted, “I got you! I got you Tom!”
I immediately denied it, “You didn’t get me! I knew you were in there all the time!” He responded with shrilling laughter, “No you didn’t! I got you good!” Before I could retaliate, the white creature threw the locked door open and escaped running away, down the hall, laughing, “I got you! I got you...”
I heard his feet thumping on the staircase. He was going to retreat to his bed before his mother found out he was up again. He had committed his heinous crime, then fled the scene and he was going to get away with it. Where is the Justice?
Still in shock, I stood there, breathing heavily; my heart racing. I thanked the Lord for saving me from the accident that could have easily happened. Since I no longer had to go, I buckled my belt, washed my hands and joined the rest of the adults on the deck. I told the others what had happened, and we all enjoyed a good laugh.
Pointing to the sky, someone said, “Wow! Look at that one.” Someone else declaring, “There’s another!” Meteors zipping across the sky offered entertainment to all, except me. My mind was still on the conference room where a business meeting should have been held, but was abruptly cancelled.
My thought was, “You better watch your back, Max Meyers! I’m not going to forget this! Revenge will be mine!” Instead, I smiled conceding to his victory.
“Well played, sir. Very well played.”
Tom can be reached at Facebook.com/tom.palen.98