Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Creatures Under the Stairs

Bill Cosby was on the television holding his magic pen and teaching the young boy who was watching him, that arithmetic and geometry are fun and easy. Of course, no one watched Picture Pages because they wanted to learn how to do math. They watched it for that pen called Mortimer Ichabod and all hoped that they, too, could have such an amazing pen that would change their lives forever.

He was perched in front of the TV, laying on the red-orange carpet that had small unidentifiable stains from years of snacking children and family meals.

"Come here, son!" the booming voice called from the other room called.

He hesitated as Bill had just started drawing a new picture and Mortimer Ichabod had miraculously just come alive to playfully explain what was going to be drawn. Again the voice summoned him, but this time with a little more agitation and urgency.


He stood up, watching the TV as he reluctantly left left the room and entered the brown carpeted hallway. He stepped under the glass chandelier that always seemed to be missing some of its dangling crystal ornaments.

Not knowing where the voice was coming from, he looked towards the front of the house, only to hear a noise coming from the opposite direction. It was his father. He had just opened the basement door that was just off of the main hallway and next to the kitchen.

His father smiled and the boy ran to join in on the job, whatever it might be. His father told him that he needed some help straightening up the always messy and terribly frightening basement. The boy was not pleased, but was still happy to be "helping dad".

The two slowly descended down the narrow wooden stairwell and into the damp and cold foundation of the pre-WWI house. This was the boy's second time to brave the basement and he was scared, but confident, that it would be okay. The stairwell seemed to go on forever as each new step revealed a new diary entry that had been etched into the crusted and flaked grey wall by the houses previous owners.

They reached the bottom of the steps and without thought, they boy stepped out onto the cracked dirt-covered cement floor. The stairs led to the center of the busy basement. He looked around as if he had stepped onto a martian planet.

After a dramatic 360 degree survey of the basement, he took a step forward in the only direction he could go. There were stacked boxes of all shapes and sizes and the closer he got to the piles, the stronger the odor of decay became.

"Can you help me with this?" said his father who had noticed that the world of the basement was slowly overwhelming his three-year old son.

The boy eagerly pranced to the arms of his father and with one swift movement, he was on his shoulders and being directed to retrieve the out-of-reach pliers. He reached thoughtlessly to the dark corner of the shelf and felt the tool.

"Closer!" he impatiently asked his father as his initial comfort was wearing thin.

He made his final lunge at the tool and when he did he felt something touch his hand. He frantically pulled his hand back and looked at it. Nothing was there. Whatever it was had gotten in and out in under a second.

Luckily, he retrieved the tool on the next attempt and was returned to the ground where he promptly and tightly hugged his fathers leg. He didn't know what had touched him and he didn't want to know.

"Are you okay? We're almost finished. We just need to find our old sword for the costume party."

"What is a costume party?" the boy asked in his little, but powerful hoarse voice.

"You know that we dress up in funny clothes at Halloween, right? Well, a costume party is where you dress up in funny clothes and go to a friends house."

The boy was satisfied with the explanation and had a reinvested interest in finding the sword. His favorite movie was "The Sword in the Stone" and he knew that he also possessed the same power that Arthur did in that classic cartoon. The two of them looked for the sword for some time; cautiously sorting and resorting empty box and after empty box.

Finally, the boy spotted it leaning against the water heater. He wanted to prove his bravery to his father by going into the dark area of the basement and being the one who found the sword. He walked confidently up to the heater, slid around the side of it and grabbed the sword by it's decorative handle. Just as he was about to proclaim victory, his eye got a glimpse of the back of the water heater.

He screamed, dropped the sword and immediately ran up the stairs crying in search of his mother. No one could explain what he had seen and the boy was too young to elaborate on what happened that day in basement.

Several months passed since that incident and all seemed to be going well again. While the boy was always suspicious of what really goes on in the basement, he chose to ignore it and focus on being a now four-year old young man.

One day in early fall, the boy got dressed all by himself. He picked out his white turtle neck, red pants and blue shoes. He was so proud and was truly convinced that he was growing up. He went to show off his super cool freshly picked-out clothes to his mother. She wasn't overly impressed, but appopriately reactive. The boy didn't let it get to him. He was on a high and wanted the whole world (his family) to know that he was a growing up.

He decided that he would go to the bathroom that was one the first floor. This was out of the protective field of the warmth and security that the second floor bathrooms offered. This, and that his mother was still upstairs at the time, would certainly prove that he was a big boy.

He walked to the door and confidently turned the glass doorknob. It squeaked open and he stepped in. The bathroom had a sink, mirror, toilet and bathtub. He peered at himself in the mirror, especially proud of the selection of his red pants. He turned around and squarely stepped up to the toilet fully prepared to take his first solo poop in that bathroom.

Just as he reached for his pants button, he happened to look in the bathtub. He was face to face with that creature that he had seen months before. He was paralyzed with fear. Too scared to scream or move, he just sat there, hoping that the creature would move on. It didn't. It just sat there. The boy couldn't take his eyes off of the grotesque beast.

It was huge. It's legs were long and had sharp spikes growing in all directions. It's face looked like that of a crustacean, but with razor sharp teeth protruding from it's hard reptilian-like shell. It was worse than any nightmare.

The boy finally decided to try and escape. He slowly to one step backwards, but the creature took one step closer. Each step of retreat was met with an aggressive advance. Just as he was about to turn and run, the creature attacked. Without any notice or warning, it jumped what seemed like 100 times it's body size and landed right on the boys red pants.

The screams and cries for help had his mother in the bathroom within in a few seconds, but she was too late. The creature had already attacked and retreated to a dark crevice in that hell bound bathroom. He tried to stop crying long enough to explain, but he simply could not.

His mother knew what had attacked him. She, too, had been face to face with the hideous creature. He asked her why it had attacked him. She thought, but could not figure it out. She had seen the beast before and had not been harmed. Something must have triggered the creature to attack, but what?

His mother contacted the police, called the university and even checked the encyclopedia. Soon, it became clear: It was attracted by the color of his pants. Just like sharks can smell blood, this creature could see it and must have thought that his pants were actually a big pool of blood.

Years and years past, and the boy was very conscious about what color he wore, but even more so, he was always very aware of his surroundings when in a basement or bathroom.

He never had another encounter with this creature until one day, when he was seventeen, he was in yet another downstairs bathroom. He had just finished using the restroom and had stood up. There before him was the beast. He frantically checked to make sure he was not wearing any red. He wasn't. He was sure that he would be safe. He laughed to himself, but it was too soon. The entire room was red! He remembered what happened last time and this time he was not going to wait to attacked this time. He turned and ran out of the room hoping to avoid an all out, all direction assault that was sure to come.

He was out of breath and scared, but confident that the room would have to be locked up forever. He decided to refer to the Internet. What he discovered there would shock him.

They weren't attacked to blood or the color red! He thought that it must be a mistake, but after referring to many other sites, he realized that he had been lied to his whole life. He was angry and shocked, but in time, he got over it. When he saw these creatures, he just ignored them.

After all, they could not hurt him.

However, it was this sentiment that got him in trouble. It was this sentiment that landed him in the mouth of one of these giant creatures.

Lesson: Don't lie to your kids because it's easier to explain than the truth.

RIP "Little Boy in the Red Pants"

*** For the record, in no way do I actually think that fibbing about the red pants was negative. It had been a long-running joke in our family.***


Mom said...

Being theMom who liked to tease...hee hee... and look at what a funny guy you you will tease your kiddos too!

I would have taken care of that "weird bug" (camel back cricket) anytime he tried to mess with my GWEE, red pants or red room and all!!!

Goose! said...

Hey- I think you accurately depicted these horrible creatures! Isn't it amazing how they find you wherever you go.....have they found you in Korea yet? They found me in VA, and they've already tracked me down in Cincinnati. I CAN'T SHAKE THEM!!!!! Oh- and, by the way, the way your story ended was completely INaccurate. If you recall, I was in the kitchen when you came running out of the bathroom in Franklin screaming like a girl. When you recounted what you saw and said, "...AND THE WHOLE ROOM IS RED!!!" I was the one to break the news to you that Mom had been repeatedly and voluntarily lying to you all these years.....THEN you went on to counseling.....and the whole bit to forgive her for that and move on.... ;)