The monster got away. I had walked up to the store out on the state road, and I was gone for a couple hours. It had never been a problem before. He would always sleep during the day, but sure enough, when I got home, the latch was busted, and the monster was gone.
It’s a curious predicament. I don’t suppose I really had any obligation to keep the monster locked up. He wasn’t licensed or anything. I was just lucky enough to figure out how to keep him, you know? If you figure out how to solve a problem, you have a moral obligation to do so, right? You can’t just leave problems lying around.
And I didn’t really mind taking care of him. He was more like a pet. You might have been really scared of him if you saw him, especially since he would sneak up on you at night, like when you were dreaming, and make a noise or push something over, and then, when you were lying there staring into the dark trying to see if there was anything there, he would stare back.
I was lucky enough to have been told how to handle such a situation. Years ago, my dad told me to look at the monster with my eyes crossed and the monster would be disarmed, and, sure enough, that’s what happened. He smelled terrible, and his fur was caked with what I hope was mud, but when I looked at him with my eyes crossed, he started rolling around on the floor like a kitten.
It wasn’t difficult to domesticate him, as long as I acted like an idiot. The eyes thing was my dad’s trick, but I figured out that making faces and falling down had the same effect. One time I acted like I got my arms and legs tangled up and landed in a heap; the monster turned so fast he hit his head against the wall and passed out. I was actually worried that he had hurt himself! Ha!
It was several months before he started staying at my place. In the beginning, he’d just come by at night and leave before the sun came up. Then I realized he was sleeping in a little depression in the woods back beyond the tree line, during the day. I think I walked right by him a few times before I realized that’s where he was sleeping. The first time I caught him sleeping in the house, I almost tripped over him. He was in a heap, half under the dining room table.
I made a place for him in the shed. It was nice! I put an old cable rug down, and I swept out all the cobwebs. I put his name on a piece of wood and put it over the door. He seemed to take to having his own place pretty well. I didn’t have to coax him in there. It was his place.
As long as I was there, I didn’t feel the need to lock the door on him. Occasionally, at dusk, I’d see him lumbering around in the back lot toward the fence, but he never went far.
And I don’t know why I latched the door that day. I had left him sleeping a dozen times before, and he had always stayed where he was. I don’t know if he ever woke up when I was gone, but he always seemed to be in the same place when I came back. Maybe he wasn’t sleeping as soundly as usual that day. Maybe he was flinching in his sleep. Maybe he was dreaming.
I’m not even sure I knew there was a latch on the door before that day; the wood was old and rough from the weather; the latch wouldn’t have secured the door from a strong breeze much less from a ferocious dream monster wanting to be free. It was stupid to try to restrain him. So stupid.
How did he get in the house in the first place? It’s not like closed and locked doors kept him out. For all I know, he just materialized out of thin air, under my bed or in the shadowy area down the hall.
Whatever. He’s been gone for a while now. I just figured I’d better let you guys know. If you see him, tell him I left the door open.
For next time: “The Authority Song.”