The first thing I noticed was the lack of boise (no, not the capital of Idaho, but a portmanteau of boy and noise). Lately, Aidan and Peyson have been outside playing when I come home. I join the fun, which leads to much squealing and delight (the boys too!). However, this particular evening, it was quiet. A little too quiet.
I unlocked and opened the front door, but was not greeted by the usual loud chant of "Dad-DEE! Dad-DEE! Dad-DEE!" I called out but received no answer. I ventured down the hall to the boys' room but found my second bit of unusual: their door was locked. I picked the lock with a thick fingernail and poked in my head. No family. I tried the remaining rooms in the house, finding one other oddly locked interior door. No one. I checked the backyard. Not a peep.
I recrossed the kitchen, heading back to the front door. When I stepped into the den, an unfamiliar something caught my attention. It was on the couch, staring at me. In the next nanosecond, I relived all the horrors of every jungle story, rain forest legend, and tangled nightmare ever written, told, or experienced. My heart leaped into my throat; my pupils narrowed; my hackles raised; I crouched, ready to flee or fight. The five stages of grief would have to wait: I had an enemy to kill and a family to avenge. And I'd left my machete in the other room.
Then, the sun shone through the window, birds resumed their cheerful song, and time quickened to its normal pace as I realized the beast was stuffed. But hadn't I seen it lick its lips? My family was still missing in action, but I knew they'd not been devoured by the life-sized plush leopard. A lap around the neighborhood later, I found them: safe, sound, and happily uneaten. They'd been at a neighbor's house with the cell phone—much like the patient predator—in silent mode.
We've agreed that, in the future, a note will be left on the door.
|photo by Aidan Rackley|