Yesterday, 10pm, I was asleep and the opening of my bedroom door woke me up – my 9 year old daughter was in a panic. “Something’s wrong with Josie!” Josie is her older sister. Like any concerned father I tried to keep my eyes shut, “What?” I murmured. “You have to come down!” she said.
So I said, “ok, ok, go downstairs. I’ll meet you there.”
She closed the door and went downstairs.
Five minutes later: “Daddy! You have to come down!”
So, ok, I woke up, put my pants on (when I’m home I wear the same pants every day until they are so frayed that no Laundromat will even touch them). I went downstairs. In Josie’s room, she’s lying around reading a book.
“What seems to be the problem here?”
Both kids pointed at her wall. There was an insect, frozen in fear at these two enormous giants that had been yelling at them. The insect was about twice as big as an ant but maybe smaller than a bee.
“Look!” they yelled.
In 2008, Josie once sent her then 6 year old sister into the kitchen. Her mother and I had been screaming at each other. Actually, I was probably the one doing the screaming. My throat, lungs, heart were raw. Everything was raw to the bone and within days we’d be separated forever.
“Daddy,” Mollie said back then in 2008. She was so tiny, a little girl with nothing but orange hair surrounding all over her. Sort of like “The Thing” in the Addams Family TV show when I was a kid. “Daddy, Josie wants to know if you two are getting a divorce.” Her sister had sent her in. Josie was nowhere to be found. They were so scared of the yelling, the fighting, the uncertainty of what would happen to them. What would happen to us, to me, to their lives, so little and unprotected by the two adults yelling. I didn’t know what to say to her. She was trying to smile but all there was was fear.
And now again, Mollie on her mission for her sister who was three years older than her.
“Ok, ok,” I said, and then I started yelling, “I see the seriousness of this situation here. There’s a living being one- ten thousandth the size of you guys and it happens to be motionless on the wall. I think I might be the only one on the planet brave enough to handle this situation.”
Their room was a mess. Comics, clothes, books, pens, crayons, shit all over the place. I walk into their bathroom, which posed a much greater threat since someone or both of them had just used it and everything in their bodies must’ve have exploded out. It was as if they had eaten diseased moose for dinner and diarrheaed it all out. Then they decided that Mollie, the younger one, would immediately get me to kill a probably already dead insect that was on the wall next to Josie’s bed.
I got the Black Raid. I sprayed the insect. It fell to the floor. “It’s still moving!” Mollie said. I got toilet paper and picked up the insect and flushed it down the toilet.
Josie finally spoke, “now that side of my bed smells like insect repellant.”
“Listen,” I said, “what you just observed was probably the bravest act in mankind that you two children will ever observe. I just destroyed a monster that was maybe threatening not only your sanity but your lives.”
“Daddy,” Mollie said, “aren’t you supposed to be asleep now anyway. Why are you talking so much?” My use was done.
“I can’t believe the act of bravery you two just observed,” I said. And then using the Black Raid container as a fake microphone I began to sing into it, performing various ballads from different Broadway shows. This would be a warning to them in the future. Don’t wake Daddy up!
When my musical repertoire was exhausted, I went back upstairs. It was pitch black in the room. Claudia was only half asleep – not moving but woken up by all the noise. She slurred in an accent I still can’t place after knowing her for two years, “what’s going on down there?”
“I just killed a furry, repulsive monster approximately 7000 times smaller than me.”
“Mmm,” she said, “that’s nice honey.” And she fell asleep.
She was in the middle of the bed. Men don’t get the middle of the bed. One of these days I will find out what the middle of the bed feels like. I’m sure it would feel like there was balance in my life, that I was warm and protected and that every side of me was forming itself into a shape that would comfort me and hold me. But Claudia always ended up in the middle.
I couldn’t sleep. I had just killed that furry little monster. It was dead now. And within 100 years, more or less, the 4 human monsters in this house will almost certainly be dead as well.