100 Murrey Road. The yellow, 2 story, 4 bedroom home with the fenced in backyard and the patio with the grill. Two trees stand tall just beyond that back fence right before the twisty turny cul de sac sidewalk. The bushes and flowers in the front yard. The concrete path with a little step before it winds up from the driveway to the front stairs. On that little step where we used to put out peanuts for chippy - the chipmunk that lived in their gutter. Walk up those steps and through the front door leading right to the landing where the inside stairs split between the first and second floors. Follow the black railing on the right side all the way up to where a narrow hallway will be on the left side, an open living area on the right with a huge window showing the street outside. The christmas tree used to go there every christmas. Directly in front of you, the kitchen; that’s where you’ll find me.
A young child, maybe 6 or 7 years old, being hyperactive and so easily distracted. Tablecloth, spoons, the window with it’s lacy white curtains, the extra chair in the corner she just has to sit in for no reason at all. On the table, a backpack and papers; so many papers. An older woman at the stove oblivious to the rambunctious behavior of that little girl. Pause for just a moment when the little girl pauses. Can you hear it? The low rumbling of a motor? That’s the garage door opening up.
Quickly, efficiently, and like something out of a nija movie, the girl dives for cover seeking shelter under the large oval shaped kitchen table. The long flow of excess tablecloth is to be her shield. He’ll never find her here; where what, to most normal adults, most normal people, would just be a kitchen table with a pretty decor, is, to her, a military bunker just before a major battle. In side her safe shelter no one can touch her, no one can hurt her, no one can find her.
She lays down against the cold tile floor like a military sniper. Peering out from under the small opening between tablecloth and tile she imagines what it would be like to catch the enemy in her sights. A headline reading: American sniper takes down bad guys. One shot, two shots, three; she takes them down. Wait, did you hear that? A click. The rumbling, which had since ceased, begins again. This time the garage door is closing. The excitement begins to build. Will he find her? Will he know she’s here? Does he have any idea, any idea at all?
Go back to the landing. Now look down the stairs. To the right, that big room with the 2 couches and the recliner facing a TV set propped up against the stairs - He loved that recliner. He used to sit there all the time to watch his horse races on that old box TV; that’s the living room. The little square foyer connecting the bathroom, a bedroom, and a narrow little hall leading to the backyard which they have designated as a laundry room. See the short little hallway to the left? That’s the side door. It leads into the garage. If you watch you’ll see an old man with a white combover walk through it.
Observe him: How he takes off his black coat and hangs it up in a little closet to his right. Take notice to the way he saunters to the stairs and stands at the bottom looking up. Don’t worry, he won’t see you; you’re not really here. Now listen.
“Yoo-Hoo!” as he calls up the stairs to tell his wife he’s home. That was his signature call; the indication that he was home. If you heard it as much as I did you’d have his voice memorized too.
Look back up into the kitchen. See that little girl squirming under the table? She hears him too. He walks right past you on his way up the stairs. “Is Kaitlyn here?” He says when he notices the papers. Hear the suppressed giggle from under the table? He does but pretends he doesn’t. “Where is she?”
“They picked her up and left her stuff.” The old woman responds to him. The giggling gets louder.
“Wait a minute….” He bends down and pulls up the cloth shield. “I found you!”
The “NO! I’M NOT HERE!” scream loud enough for the neighbors to hear across the cul de sac outside.
She loves to play games and hates to do homework. Can you see her crawl out the back end of the table? She won’t sit for anyone else but him. He sits next to her and coaxes her through the work laid out before her. All lord knows how many pages. He doesn’t mind helping her through it or forcing her to. It will get done before she goes home no matter how long it takes. That’s the thing about him: if he loves you he’ll never give up on you, no matter how difficult you are.