Volume 11, Issue 1: Pictura
Pookies II: Night of the Young Marrieds
Bekah Merkle, Nathan and Rachel Wilson
East "E" street was soggy. The road was muddy, the windows were fogged, and we three were cooped up in the house. We knelt on the couch, peering killroy style through the foggy glass at what was shaping up to be a pretty poor evening. Viewing from the outside, the objective observer would have seen three small faces pasted to the window in a fruitless attempt to attain to the great outdoors by osmosis. No doubt this would have been amusing. However, to those of us on the inside, laughter was out of order. The Wednesday night "young marrieds" Bible study was fast approaching, and we who were ineligible attendees, required something to occupy us.
It wasn't all mom's fault. She hadn't made it rain. But she had specifically, in terms impossible to misunderstand, prohibited our mucking about in it. Ah, the tapestry of fate! The powers that be had moved Zorro to Tuesday nights. And the patristic powers that were greater had forbidden us from watching its replacement, The Dukes of Hazard. The youngest among us had recently voiced her complaint against this state of affairs, asserting confidently that there was nothing the matter with The Dukes of Hazard. She added that if she were the one calling the shots, we would not only watch it always every night, but we would watch the Smurfs always every morning. This insurrection was promptly quelled, and her boisterous objections were soon replaced by loud sniffings. It was indeed a hard time for youth.
We knew that within ten minutes we would be shut up in the end of the house that included among its many attractions its possession of the bathroom. The only other two things it included were the parental bedroom and the room where the two females in our ranks bunked. In happier times, such evenings would have been spent lounging on the bed of our parents watching the exploits of the masked man who knew no fear, dashing about on the finest of steeds, Toranado. We would have settled for two boys dashing about in the General Lee, but this open mindedness of ours made no difference in the sight of the authorities. We must find something equally amusing, and double quick. Soon we would be given our marching orders and then sent off to enjoy ourselves in the five square feet that made up that end of the house.
"Front and center!" our father summoned us. We knew the time had come. With a lethargy that can only be seen in children on a rainy evening when they are staring deep into the eyes of boredom, we turned to face our father and our doom.
"Troops, you need to find something productive to do quietly in the girl's room."
"Can I be in my room? I'll just be quiet and play with legos." This proposition was echoed by the remaining two.
"We can all be in there. We'll be real quiet." It was a desperate attempt and we understood its almost certain failure. For the male portion of our home had no bathroom.
"Nope," spake our father "We don't want you to have to prance through the Bible study in need of a bathroom. Just stay in the girls'. If you're quick you can take some legos into their room."
We knew our fate. The struggle against it had been brief. We had kicked against the goads, but they hadn't even noticed. Sorrow was the emotion of choice.
At this point our mother entered the living room to clean up what remained of the brief struggle, finishing off any hope we had for an evening of pleasure. "Make sure you're quiet. And if you have to go to the bathroom, be discreet. Turn the sink on or something so we can't hear your every activity."
She guided us toward the dungeon, telling us to leave the door open a crack, so as to prevent us from getting too daring in our activities. On one such previous occasion we had amused ourselves by trying to get around the room without touching the floor. This game had led disruptively to joyous shrieks, intense shouts, and more than one crash, closing dramatically when the smallest of us fell off the doorknob. The parental authorities were not amused, at least as far as we could tell, although we had some reason to believe they found it funny in private.
Once we were in our figurative birdcage, with our figurative wings clipped, and our very literal morale low, we decided to make paper airplanes until a better thought occurred. The craft drawer revealed blank paper, crayons, and one and a half bungee cords. We methodically folded a few misshapen craft, and began tossing them about with an exuberance that comes with clinical depression. We could hear the general hubbub that is the preliminary to your average Bible study. The living room sounded like the happy land that it was. But from us there came not a sound. Martyrs do not make sounds.
It was early in the proceedings when we received our first maternal visit. The Bible study's opening prayer had come and gone. We sat in the middle of the bedroom floor holding our planes, gazing with longing eyes into the hall. The voice of our father came to us quite clearly as he asked Charlie if he would mind reading the first five verses. There are some things best left undone, and the launching of an airplane down the hall was one of these things. The plane left the hand of the middle-born on a nonstop flight to the hall closet at the opposite end-but something came up. For some reason, maybe pilot's heart failure or some other such catastrophe, the plane took a right, immediately followed by a sharp left. After its first turn we could not track its path. But we knew when and where it had arrived when Charlie quit reading and laughter reached us in our quarters. Thus, the maternal visit. From this acorn sprang something big. Mom suggested an alternative to our air traffic control game. Since we couldn't watch Zorro, she recommended that we play Zorro. Quietly.
After she had gone, we began to work on the casting of the roles. The eldest insisted that she be the tamale woman from episode twenty-one. She immediately began the pirouetting around the room and singing "Hot, hot tamales." This was not quiet, so the other two made her stop. In high dudgeon, she took a trip to the restroom. While in there, she brooded. Zorro was not a fun game to play unless one could pirouette and sing about tamales. We didn't even have a secret passage to make it realistic. If anyone had been in there, they would have spotted the little black rain cloud that hovered over her honey tree almost immediately. We had no black steed, we had no tamales, or even a concept of what they were, and we had no secret passages down which to dash. Or did we? This opened up a whole new range of thought. Supposing we did have one. We must, in fact. Ours was an old house, dating as far back as the early seventies. And everyone knows that old homes have secret passages. Add to this the fact that our house was so small that there must have been hidden square feet somewhere, and jump to the obvious conclusion.
Our representative in the bathroom began casting her eyes about for the inevitable entrance. In Zorro they always pushed buttons, pulled books, or revolved the fireplaces. No buttons were apparent, any book in the house had been placed there by one of our own, and the wood stove was out in the living room with the Bible study. As dashing as we were, we would not dream of sprinting into the study and attempting to revolve the Blaze King. Such an action would indubitably be the end to more than just our game of Zorro. With these options eliminated we were forced to break new ground. We must discover things that even the man in the mask would have overlooked. But we were up to it. After all, we had time on our hands and an extremely limited square footage in which to hunt.
There was the trap door in the ceiling of the hall. We had never been up there, but we were told that it led to the attic and nothing more. This would have suited our purposes just fine, but it happened to be eight feet up in the sky, and in plain sight of those young couples seated by the front door. We could hardly hope that they would not inform our mother if they witnessed an attempt on our part at entering the hall ceiling.
It was at this point in our musings that things began to move. The three of us had reunited in the bedroom. Two of us reported on the impossibility of obtaining the attic, but the eldest bore much bigger news. It seemed that while she was in the bathroom she hadn't actually been using the facilities. She had brooded, true, but this brooding had not been her sole occupation. She had sought, and what's more, she had found. After climbing under the sink in an unproductive venture, she had turned to exit the realm of the plunger, and her eye lit upon a clue. This clue the three of us must investigate. So as not to appear suspicious we traveled singly to the bathroom in fifteen second increments. No one could possibly have suspected.
Upon the arrival of the last member of our band, the eldest began her story. The youngest did not follow her ballad, and the male was too busy listening at the door to see if anyone was coming to give her the attention she desired. But when these obstacles were overcome, it was agreed upon by all three of us that the news was indeed big. There was a small cabinet by the door in which were stored towels and towelish things. This cabinet consisted of a door about three feet off the ground and beneath this door set in what seemed to be the wall, was a raised panel. The intriguing thing about this panel was that on each side of it was a nail bent over its edges. It seemed reasonable to us that these things were there to hold the panel in place. But even better, they had been painted over with the same attempt at creamy yellow paint that encoated other portions of the bathroom, so the nails were obviously meant to be a secret. Secrets are meant to be kept, so all three of us immediately told the others to shhhhh. Worry crept into our hearts. Could the Bible study hear us? Had we given everything away? At this the eldest promptly turned on the sink to cover up our dirty deeds. Producing a pair of toe nail clippers from a drawer, the middle-born began work on prying back the southern nail, while the eldest oversaw the operation and the youngest kept everyone quiet. The sink ran on. The nail was turned! Oh Joy! The clippers were handed to the eldest, who began work on the second nail, while the youngest kept keeping everyone quiet and the male crept across the bathroom and quietly turned on the fan. As the eldest struggled over the clippers, they kept making a little clunk, which elicited a loud shhhhh from the youngest. The second nail finally turned. We held our respective breaths. Six small hands grasped the panel and pulled. As it pulled away from the wall, it gave a squeak which at that moment seemed deafening. It was but the work of a moment for the smallest of us to rush to the bathtub and turn on the shower full force. She rejoined the other two, and we all three gazed into the depths of the small black opening. There was a brief altercation about who was to be the one to crawl in. Since the male had already nominated himself Zorro, the girls had to give in to him. He bent down, and inserted his head and shoulders into the hole. Suddenly, three hearts were in three throats. Someone was rap tap tapping upon the chamber door.
"Kids," came the voice. The boy in the hole began a futile attempt at a reverse squirm but seemed to be pretty well lodged. "What are you doing?" At this point desperation set in; the eldest turned on the hair dryer
"Nothing," she cried. The youngest found this insufficient.
"We're being discreet!" she hollered. But for the fan, sink, shower, and hairdryer, there was silence.
The door opened, and the male sneezed.