Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Story #2

.......At first, the disappearances seemed minor. The K'nex motor was likely misplaced. Rick's new Dodgeball Chronicles graphic novel would probably resurface one last time before drowning in a morass of dirty laundry. Dad's bin of old computer parts had fluid content: he never kept an inventory, and the boys were always scavenging parts without returning them. Even Spencer, at twenty-one months, would drag cables into corners and chew on them, like a little electronics vampire.

.......The roomba vanishing overnight was a mystery, of course, though Mom assumed it was just a practical joke.

.......When the universal remote disappeared from the den, however, Rick decided to Take Action.

.......First he established the facts of the case. Of the five people in the family--Dad, Mom, and children Rick, David, and baby Spencer--Rick had been the last person to use the entertainment center. "And I remember putting the remote on the TV, then closing the door," Rick thought.

.......Mom and Dad had a TV in their own bedroom, so they were unlikely suspects. Spencer was just a toddler, too short and uncoordinated to open baby-proofed doors. (Or to climb the entertainment center.) That left David. Perhaps he had snuck out of bed last night and watched Stargate illicitly? (It really was cruel, Rick reflected, for the parents to end a family movie night on an episode cliffhanger.)

.......Dave claimed innocence, though, and since he dropped no spoilers when the boys acted out the story during playtime, Rick reluctantly believed him.

.......Rick began to search for clues. Over the next few days he noticed little things. A kid stool slightly out of place. His screwdriver missing from his backpack. Dad asking if anyone had seen a hammer or an old router.

.......Rick asked Mom and Dad about it, but they were baffled, too. “I wish I knew where the roomba was,” Mom added. “Spencer keeps eating nasty crumbs off the floor.”

.......Rick even grew desperate enough to ask Spencer about the mystery. His baby brother said “bad stoh-oh,” then shoved his fist back in his mouth.

.......“Right,” Rick sighed. “No offense, kid, but you'll be a lot more interesting when you can talk better.”

.......As a precaution, the family began checking windows and locking their bedroom doors at night. After most of the k'nex pieces evaporated one night, David used his electronics kit to wire his room with a burglar alarm.

.......They found it artfully disarmed the next morning. Then Dave discovered his night light, and most of his legos, were also gone.

.......Dad added to the missing items list: some open packages of screws had vanished from his workbench in the garage.

.......Rick began researching gremlins. Dad called a home security company. Mom decided to dig out the baby video monitor from Spencer's closet and set it up in the garage.

.......A few minutes later, Mom's loud “Shriek!” pierced the house. The “men” (all the males except Spencer) rushed up the stairs to rescue her. (Though Dad scrupulously closed the baby gate behind him.)

.......They found Mom standing in Spencer's closet and stammering incoherently.


.......In the center of the closet stood a stroller. A very special stroller. Constructed out of legos, k'nex, and the occasional random screw, the seat padded with books (including the Dodgeball Chronicles), and decked out with accessories like an overhead reading light, it dwarfed the astonishing mess of cables, wires, and loose parts strewn about the floor. Dave yelped when he saw his electronics manual, now dog-eared, propped open in a corner.

.......“But,” protested Rick, “He would have had to open doors. Locked doors. With baby-proof knobs.”

.......Mom gaped. Dad gawked.

.......“He would have had to climb my bunkbed. And the entertainment center. And defeat the baby gates on the stairs.”

.......Mom whimpered.

.......“He can't possibly be coordinated enough to assemble legos and k'nex,” added Rick. “Plus you're always nagging about how they're choking hazards.”

.......Mom stifled a scream.

......“And,” floundered Rick, “I mean...why? He already has a stroller.”

......“Bad stoh-oh,” explained Spencer, pointing at the floor of his room, which was directly over the garage. Then he toddled into his closet and smiled. “Gud stoh-oh,” he added, patting his creation.

.......Mom sat down abruptly, almost collapsing. The circuit boards digging into her backside helped to revive her, though. “Stairs...gate...danger...aaaaaaah!”

.......Desperately, Rick concluded, “And besides...it's impossible!”

.......“Son, you're doing calculus a decade early. Dave taught himself to read at age two. Let's not be too quick to assume what is impossible in this family,” said Dad. Under his breath, he added “Just when I think they really, truly, can't surprise me any more...”

.......Just then, Spencer climbed cheerfully into his stroller, flipped a switch, and began steering it around his room with the universal remote control. “Voom VOOM,” he chortled over the sound of the roomba's cannibalized motor.

.......It is hard to compete with two over-achieving older brothers. Still, Spencer managed to exceed expectations.

.......This would go down in family legend as the moment when Dad fainted.

.......Ignoring both distressed parents, Rick considered the situation, then wished he hadn't. “My stuff!” he exclaimed. “It's probably been in his mouth! Baby slobber germs. Ewwww.” He paused. “And his dirty hands. He's probably even even touched everything with his feet. EWWWWW!”

.......Once again, Rick decided to Take Action. “Tomorrow,” he announced, “I am going to take all my allowance money and go to Home Depot. I am going to buy a creative variety of locks, deadbolts, chains, traps, and alarms. I will mount them as high as I can reach. I will access my room with climbing gear, via the window. And, from now on, I am keeping that door locked.”


Anonymous said...

My favorite character in this story is the inventive toddler, Spencer. I raised his twin over the past 25 years. Well do I remember how a certain Ronald Homer, age 9 months, sat on the living room floor during a big sister's piano practice, which was cheered on by me. Both females were entirely unaware that said Mr. Homer had picked up the yellow kitchen timer and disassembled it. I didn't know babies that young had anywhere NEAR that much small muscle motor control. And that's not even fiction!
The author of this story gets credit for realistic creative writing.
Grandma Homer

Carolyn said...

I particularly enjoyed the "bad stoh-oh" foreshadowing in this story. Excellent literary skill. Although, I think the adoption of Alcatraz motifs in Story #1 was far superior... I did not sense the same level of allusion here.

Jon said...

Awesome!!! I have no idea where you get these ideas... You sure this isn't about one of your friends or something? I want a sequel!

And just in case this is somehow based on us, I want your assurance that this won't turn into some kind of real-life thriller.