Posts Tagged ‘house’

People Shouldn’t Play with Knives

Posted: July 23, 2014 by writingsprint in Between Lee and Erica
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Eighth and Last Part of “Between Lee and Erica”

He was stoned by now. Baked. Flying. He couldn’t remember the last time he abused himself so good. He’d smoked the joint all by himself long before he left Kristen’s room. In this state he had managed to return to the house, let himself in and almost decapitated the dummy, whose remains were still left by the door. He looked around the living room, trying to fix his priorities again. Check Erica’s room, that was one, but he couldn’t concentrate on what the others were.

Greg’s room was in the back. From the street, he’d seen that the lights were out and his air conditioner was on. Erica’s room was closest to the stairs.

Her door was closed. Without hesitating Lee opened it and walked towards the bed. Empty. If he was wrong she would have been pissed as all hell. He knew he wouldn’t be, but even if he had been, he wouldn’t care. He was stoned, that was his excuse.

Lee walked back out and closed the door. He leaned back against it, tying his hands around the doorknob to stay balanced. The next door, Greg’s, was a lot harder. Greg was like Walt. Not as fun, but he had the same look in his eyes when he talked. Like he could see right through him. His vision hazed over as he stood up again. Lee ambled down the hall, avoiding the spots that were creaky without even thinking. If he’d been clean, he doubted he could have done it.

The door to Greg’s room was closed. He could hear what they were doing. The sounds were almost too low to hear between the door, music from inside, and the air conditioner. They were taking their time. He wished they were playing some Doors music to get him fired up. No, she wanted bass. Rhythm. He stood outside, numb from the drugs, but feeling a mixture of disbelief and amazement. Lee stood there for a long time. It couldn’t be as long as it felt. He was still flying, so it wasn’t long enough for him to lose it. His fists tightened as he heard Erica come, a sound he had only heard in his imaginings for several months. He needed something to hold. Something to do. There was no way he could just stand there and listen. Lee’s hands searched his pockets and pulled out the knife.

Lee smiled at it and poked it into the wall. He pulled the point back out and poked again. He was flying faster now. Tap-tap on his hands, just enough not to prick the skin. Tap-tap on the wristband of his ancient watch, just enough to snip off a piece of the leather.

Lee ambled back down the hallway. No creaks again, but this time he didn’t care. This was more fun than listening outside the door. Tap-tap on his hand, just hard enough to push a calus inward a little bit. Tap-tap-tap on the door to his own room, and a paint chip dances to the floor. It looked like a falling star in the middle of a spinning wooden whirlpool. Tap-tap-tap on his pants leg, just enough to break the threads.

Lee looked at his pants leg venomously. It didn’t want to rip. He walked into his room and dropped into his closest chair. He started working on the tiny near-rip. He’d make it bigger by the end of the night, jabbing bit by bit. He didn’t feel the first time he cut his leg, or the second.

More Than Housemates

Posted: July 22, 2014 by writingsprint in Between Lee and Erica
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Part Seven of “Between Lee and Erica”

I woke up on July 5th with a nagging headache and a dry mouth. There were still stains of grass and dirt on my knees and arms from 4th of July volleyball. I chuckled. Mild hangover. I needed Gatorade. I began to sit up, then Erica sighed in her sleep and nudged closer.

I dropped back into the pillow. Erica. Only the rest of the night was obscured by alcoholic fuzz. Around 11:50 Erica walked into my room. Drops of sweat beaded her forehead and her arms, and matted her tank top to her body. The straps to her bra showed on her shoulders, and Erica didn’t look like she could care less. Her angrily folded arms made it harder for her to walk straight under the beer she’d drunk.

What had made her angry…a crack that someone made at the 4th of July party. About me being all that stood between her and Lee. A backrub to make her feel better had led to more.

I looked at the lines of her sleeping body under the sheets. The appealing curves of her neck and her legs. Erica had the natural, willowy silhouette that sweat and toning would only improve. During the night I found a new tattoo. She said it was her first one, actually, a tiny bouquet of roses, encircled by thorns, that was tattooed just inside her right breast. It was hidden again now. I leaned my head back against the wall.

I remembered…Erica’s eyes were rested on me. Her eyelids were half-closed, her smile only a promising turning up at the corners of her mouth. Her smile broadened. She nodded slowly. One hand played with her hair, and the other tugged at my fingers. I couldn’t remember what I said, but she snorted an amused laugh. By then we were almost whispering. Her legs and mine were already intertwined. Her foot was stroking mine.

She leaned her face close and nudged my nose with the tip of hers. I could remember the smell, the sweaty, summer musk of her. She peeled off her shirt as my hands cradled her buttocks and pulled her down on top of me. I wanted her, and I didn’t care if it made Lee angry. I could handle him. He had disappeared with one of his groupies during the fireworks show at the Point. The last time I’d seen the two of them was as Erica leaned back against me, to use me as a seat for the fireworks.

Did I Ever Show You My Knife?

Posted: July 21, 2014 by writingsprint in Between Lee and Erica
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Part Six of “Between Lee and Erica”

A few nights later we were upstairs, watching TV in the main room again. The movie tonight was The Lost Boys. It was one of Erica’s favorites. She sat in her papasan, with her sketch pad and the movie to enjoy. Lee liked it for its music. He sat on a couch that I remembered we used to keep down in the basement at the fraternity house. No joints tonight; I was sipping beer again, and for a change so was he. Lee was downing his faster, I guess because they weren’t what he really hurt for.

Out of the blue, towards the end of the movie Lee asked, “Say, Greg. Did I ever show you my knife?”

I looked at him. His eyes were a little glazed, but he didn’t have the soft, uncoordinated body language that I was used to seeing in someone who was drunk. Lee sat completely still, like a spring. “Knife? No. I didn’t know you had one.”

“Hang on. I’ll get it for you.” Lee handed me his beer, got up slowly and walked out of the room. The floor in the hall only creaked a little as he walked over it. Maybe drunk, he knew where the quiet spots were. I put my beer down on the floor.

“What’s that all about?” I asked in a low voice. Erica shook her head. I don’t understand either, in other words, but I was thinking of her words on the porch.

The hall creaked again. Lee came back into the room and handed it to me over his wrist. Your basic folding knife, small blade, say only three inches long. Catch guards on the side, though. This wasn’t like my Swiss Climber; it was made for business. I took a dollar bill from my pocket and skimmed the blade lightly across the top. I whistled. A thin string of paper stuck out from the edge. “Sharp weapon, monsieur. You don’t use that for cheese, do you?” I handed it back to him.

“Just a little toy of mine.” He tapped his palm on the top of the blade.

“Tell you what,” I said. I groaned as I got up. “Wait a minute.”

I went to my room and came back with a small black stone. I handed it to him. “It’s not exactly a toy. That’s a piece of cold lava from near Mount St. Helens. A friend of mine bribed a forest ranger to bring back a piece.” Which was a complete lie—my parents bought it in a souvenir shop in Hawaii—but I wondered how he’d take it. Having Vince as a roommate had taught me never to be intimidated by someone else’s show. This bullshit with the knife was just that—bullshit—and I wanted to give him something in reply. Sort of like how kids compared scars to see whose was the best.

Erica resumed drawing. Lee tapped his knife on the stone and handed it back to me.

“Want another beer?”

Lee put his empty bottle off to the side. He nodded.

I walked past the papasan on my way to the beer fridge. The emotionless look in her eyes said enough of what she was thinking: now you know what I mean. I half-smiled.

Getting Reacquainted

Posted: July 20, 2014 by writingsprint in Between Lee and Erica
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Part Five of “Between Lee and Erica”

I spent the next week getting reacquainted with the city and getting to know my new job. Lee tried to hold a party at the house every Saturday, even if it was just a barbecue or a few VCR movies. The first night’s party lasted a little past 1 a.m. The neighbors complained, the cops drove by, we all had a good time. It wasn’t as if the stereo was loud enough to cause trouble anyway. The house did get a good test of how many people could rumble up and down the stairs before the boards cracked, and I was kind of honored to see that Erica and Lee kept an eye on near beer spills and collecting the empties.

During the party I had a chance to ask Erica about the drawing of Lee’s feet by the doorway. The answer began with the phrase, “Oh…that,” followed by a pause. That was the first bad news. Erica became still and expressionless as she told me. Lee had a thing for not-so-subtle hints. It wasn’t that he was dumb, but he preferred the direct approach. He wanted to sleep with her; he’d been like that ever since they started living under the same roof. One day, he was getting out of the shower and barely tried to hold his towel up. Nothing frontal, but that wasn’t the point. Lee had a bathrobe.

“I’m sorry I asked,” I told her. Then she added that what really made it stupid was that he didn’t have any trouble attracting girls. Lee was a little crazy. If it was sex he wanted, there was a pack of groupies he could choose from. I followed that thought—not an easy thing after my fourth beer—and concluded that if it wasn’t sex, it had to be love. I rolled my eyes.

“What’s that for?”

“Nothing.”

Erica and I sat on the porch for a while after the last guest finally left. Lee was upstairs, listening to his music. Erica said that just sitting around mellowing out wasn’t his scene unless he had something to smoke with it. I’d smelled the rotten, fruity smell coming from his room an hour before the party, but not once since then. He was probably almost clean by now.

I was massaging Erica’s shoulders. It was something I used to do when I was flirting with her, sort of a friendly get-to-know-you-move. She breathed out as I loosened a tense spot. I grinned. I knew that her eyes were closed just from the way she tilted her head back.

“Good hands,” she said slowly. She straightened up a little. “I didn’t know how much I missed this.”

Erica hadn’t talked to me like that since we were seeing each other. Substance was given to something that I’d thought about when I realized that we’d be housemates. It was something that I wanted, in the back of my mind, but that I hadn’t thought of seriously until now. The moment began to change. “You don’t sit too much,” I replied. “That’s the beauty of being an artist.” I worked a little lower, closer to her spine. “Programmers need this all the time. Y’sit all day, you ruin your back.”

“Forget my back. You’re going to spoil me.”

I leaned my head against the back of hers. That could be fun. She laughed, rested her head on my shoulder, and kissed the side of my face. Out of the corner of my eye—next to her head there was barely any other way to see—I saw that the lights in the upstairs hall were on.

I leaned closer and kissed her mouth. Besides her breathing and the sounds we made, I could still hear Jim Morrison crooning to the sixties from Lee’s room.


Lee sat at the top of the stairs, looking down across the living room. He could see the porch. She laughed, rested her head against Greg’s shoulder, and kissed the side of his face. Then he moved and they made contact.

He nodded his head angrily. It wasn’t like Greg did it to spite him—he could’ve been a lot more upfront about her if he wanted to. And Lee knew better tail than Erica. It was just that he didn’t like to not have something that was right in front of him.

Lee went back to his room and shut the door.

No Limits

Posted: July 19, 2014 by writingsprint in Between Lee and Erica
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Part Four of “Between Lee and Erica”

I helped Lee clean up the downstairs after we all got our acts together. Erica went to meet some friends down at the Point—Point State Park—which left me alone with Lee, and my first chance to see where we stood with each other. Lee cranked up the Doors while we sloughed our way through the living room. With the exception of the dummy, which wasn’t going anywhere, it was all a matter of picking a mess and moving on.

“You listen to ’em?” Lee asked, nodding to his boombox. Just on the radio, I told him. I wouldn’t have called myself a child of the sixties. I recognized the more obvious songs, like Light My Fire, Hello I Love You, and Break on Through.

I found Erica’s studio away from campus where the dining room would have been. Again, nothing that a thief would want. Sketches and paintings were tacked to corkboards all over the wall. I stepped on two nubs of charcoals that she left lying under newspaper that she used to cover the floor. Force of habit, that. There wasn’t much to the rug worth saving.

Erica had definitely been busy. I’d seen her studio on campus earlier in the year, but what I saw here showed much more thought. I thought of Lee, and the way Erica had talked about him, and I picked up some of him in her most recent drawings. Another habit: she kept her newer drawings on the left side of the room. The latest were taped to a plywood board, current projects at eye level, the rest farther away. The images got lonelier and darker, the closer to today that they came. A pale woman looking down, close-up and arms folded, with a man staring at her in the near distance. A really beat-up looking wolf, in shades of dismal gray, with a trail of miles behind him in the snow.

There was one that I couldn’t quite grasp. A towel was dropped around someone’s feet. The legs were thin, not muscled, with hair on them, and I thought they could be Lee’s. The bare feet were facing a closed door with shadows in the light coming from underneath.

I returned to the living room. Lee and I talked for a while about the brothers at the fraternity, but it didn’t get very far. I asked him about the music then. He tried to explain about Morrison, the Doors, what it all meant. Breaking through the limits in your mind.

I walked through the studio and dumped two more glasses into the kitchen sink. They stuck out above the water level. “I guess it’d make more sense if I did drugs.” His only reply was to look at me. He took it personally. I explained, “Erica always told me that I’d never be an artist until I learned to see beyond the real world.”

He snapped his fingers. “That’s it exactly! No inhibitions. See everything.”

We started tossing cans into a plastic trash bag. Things loosened up again. Lee grinned, fiddled with a toothpick in his mouth, and sang along with Morrison during the refrains. I got a kick out of it. I’d known several druggies at college. Lee seemed harmless to me.

A Scary Friend to Have

Posted: July 17, 2014 by writingsprint in Between Lee and Erica
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Part Two of “Between Lee and Erica”

Grass sprouted up through cracks in the walk that led to the porch, and paint cracked and peeled from the door. The lamp posts closest to the house were hazed with dim morning vapor. The porch showed welcome signs of home: a few empty cans of beer sat on the wall and on an old, rusting table. A pack of cigarettes sat next to one of them.

I sat on the porch in sneakers, sweatshirt and an old pair of white shorts. The neighborhood was slowly waking up with the sun. I wore sunglasses so I could watch it rise. I put my feet up on the wall and leaned my head back, taking in the cool, wet breeze on my face. I was looking forward to summer mornings in Pittsburgh again. No matter how stifling the day would get, the air would cool out by dawn.

I got a better look at the living room on my way outside. It was a mess, beer bottles and ashtrays here and there. The floor was covered with a spotty, patched rug. Sprawled on the couch, dead to the world, Lee must have made his way down sometime after I went to sleep. A long-dead Marlboro butt was suspended between his sleeping fingers over an ashtray on the floor. The ashes threatened to drop into the carpet. Not that it bothered me; it was his turn to clean downstairs.

I frowned. Who told me that, Erica or Lee?

The woman of the house walked outside. She always woke up early too, and we had originally met over an early-morning raid of the fraternity house refrigerator. She pawed at rebellious strands of hair that refused to go the way she wanted to. She gave up and dragged over a chair to sit down. Erica was barefoot, tanned legs reaching down past cutoff jeans and the baggy plaid shirt that she slept in.

“Look who’s alive,” I said.

She smiled. “Hi.” She put her bare feet up on the wall next to mine. A bracelet hung around her ankle, just below the little tattoo of a tiger. “You disappeared last night.”

I shook my head. “I didn’t go anywhere. You passed out.”

She rubbed her temples. “Man, do I feel rocky.” She held up her hands for my coffee. I shrugged and gave it to her. “Thanks,” she said. She drank, and her mouth curled down in distaste.

“Don’t drink coffee?” I asked. Erica shook her head. I hadn’t thought so. “Why’d you ask for it?”

“Just something to drink.” She shrugged and smiled mischievously. I shook my head. Erica held the mug in both hands, to warm them up. She looked back inside the house, to where Lee slumbered.

“He’s a wild one,” I said.

“I’m surprised that you guys got along so well.” She held the mug against her cheek. “I thought you’d be ready to move back out after you saw the dummy in the living room.”

I shook my head. I had to admit that the dummy looked even more frightening in the daytime. “Nah. Vince was crazier than that. Remember him?”

She laughed. Vince was my first roommate at the fraternity. He liked to punch trees and used salt to sterilize the cuts it gave him. I looked back at Lee. He showed signs of stirring. “He’s all right. A lot of it’s show.”

“A lot of it’s not.”

“Why did you live here then?” I countered. Erica always used to enjoy a good fight.

“Walt,” she replied. She nodded towards the living room window. “It was all right until he started becoming an jerk. I’m already looking for someplace else to live.”

I remembered seeing the classifieds on the floor of her bedroom on the way to drop off my bags. The one thing not to like about winning a good fight, whoever did, was the silence that came afterwards. I fidgeted. The morning was too good not to enjoy, but I needed something else to say. Erica handed me back my coffee and yawned. “He’s like…the kind of friend who’s good to have…who you’d rather not have. Know what I mean?”

She cut off. Lee walked outside, stretching. I looked up and asked him how he felt. “Fine,” he said. “No creaks.” He almost tried to puff on the butt, which he’d forgotten to drop, then flicked it into a bucket of sand. He looked around, then found the unfinished pack on the table. “Y’got a light? That’s right, you don’t smoke. I’ll find one.” He looked at Erica. She made a tired, sighing sound and dropped lower in her chair. I looked away.

Welcome to the House

Posted: July 16, 2014 by writingsprint in Between Lee and Erica
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Part One of “Between Lee and Erica”

My mouth opened slowly, and I wondered if walking in here had been a good idea after all. There was a dummy propped up in one of the chairs that faced the door. It wore old, faded jeans and a torn sweatshirt with sharp, thin holes that could only be knife gouges, and red spraypaint bled from each hole. Crumpled newspaper stuffing poked through. The face wore an earring, shades, and a backwards LA Raiders cap. Its mouth was open in a mock scream. A paper sign was taped to the criminal’s neck: you scum fucking robbers this is what we’ll do when we get you. The only light in the room came from MTV on a boxy, old black-and-white television set. The effect was ghastly. I started towards a lamp as I blinked away shadows of rapid-fire rock video.

Someone came downstairs behind me. “Lee? Is that you?”

The first things that I noticed about him were his build, his hair, and his cigarettes. Lee was lanky. A baseball bat that looked stronger than his arms was balanced between his hands. He had long hair, and I could see the squarish bulge of a cigarette pack wrapped up in his sleeve. Walt had told me that smoking was a natural part of Lee’s image. Within a week, I wouldn’t be able to picture him without a pack of cigarettes close by.

“You must be Greg.” He put the bat down and we shook hands. I thought I smelled something around him. I recognized it; he’d hadn’t been smoking from the pack.

“What’s with the dummy?” I asked.

“We got robbed two weeks ago,” he said. He shrugged the boniness of his shoulders. “No big deal. They took a beer sign out of the back window. It didn’t even work.” He looked around. “Is your stuff outside?” I showed him my bags by the door. “Cool. Come on upstairs. We’ve got cable on.”

“Don’t you watch downstairs?”

He looked at me. “We got robbed two weeks ago.”

“Oh. Right.” They kept whatever wasn’t worth stealing downstairs, in case the house was broken into again. That made sense. Lee took the bat and one of the bags and I followed him up. On the way, he added that thieves usually stayed to the ground floor, where they could get in and out in a hurry. “Right,” I said again. I wasn’t paying attention. The boards on the stairs felt uneven. I stepped on impromptu nail heads that stuck out of the wood.

I dropped off my bags and followed Lee into the main room upstairs. The upstairs TV was better than the other one. Erica sat on the floor. In the light, I could see that both of them had reddening eyes and flushed cheeks. Erica’s clothes had the rough-tumble look of a beatnik’s, complete with peace signs and song quotes from U2. Her hair still looked the way it did when she dated Walt, like a dark-haired Sammy Hagar, and it was something I’d always made fun of her about. “Hey you,” she said.

“Hey,” I replied. It was good to see her again. Walt, my best friend, had moved out two weeks ago. He used to date her, and she and I had gotten closer when they broke up. I was moving back to the city because of my new job. It worked out: they wouldn’t be jilted out of a summer’s worth of his share of the rent, and I would get a place to stay until I was financially stable. I looked over my housemates. Poverty wouldn’t be so bad.

Lee handed me a beer. It was cheap, a local brew, but pretty good stuff. My nose wrinkled as I sat down in a papasan. “Sorry,” Erica apologized. “I was smoking in that chair before you came in.”

“Do you smoke it?” Lee asked.

“Greg doesn’t smoke anything,” she answered for me. We exchanged looks with each other. That was her running gag on me: my refusal to try marijuana.

Lee and I got to know each other while he and Erica shared tokes on a joint. He was on leave of absence from one of the local colleges. He’d transferred out of Duquesne, and was doing design work for a company that made money counting machines. It came down to taking it easy or finishing college. “Had to twist my arms over that decision, right?” he laughed.

I laughed along, killed off another two beers and let the night drift. Some random cult movie was on TV. It looked like the one about a rock and roll singer who was kidnapped by a street gang. Erica climbed into the chair with me after a while. What the hey; we were still friends. She slouched against me and lay her head back on my shoulder.

Lee said, “She’s like a cat after body heat.”

“Fuck you,” she replied. “You smell like shit.”

Lee and I grinned. He finished off the joint; by now he held it in a pair of tweezers. “Well, that’s it for me.” He shook my hand again. “Welcome to the house, man.”

Where Were They?

Posted: July 31, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
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'Stare' by Mikko LagerstedtWhere were they?

Jack lay on the floor of the rug by the door. They’d been gone for hours. Why did they have to go without him? He wasn’t worried that they wouldn’t come back. Not really. So far, they always had. When he was little he’d been afraid they would never come back again, not ever. That had been more than he could bear.

He’d lain there while they got ready to go. They had it down to a system. Whenever they went out at night, they started talking in more urgent voices around 3:00. The kids had to get home or they had to finish what they were doing. Some of them took showers or baths. Sometimes Jack got lucky and it meant they were going over to the grandparents’ house, with their old, creaky house and the different smells and corners to check out. When they started putting on different clothes or makeup, that was the giveaway. That meant they were going out to dinner, the movies, or something else fancy. No dogs allowed.

Jack had a system, too. As soon as they started showering or changing clothes, he lay in the middle of the first floor where they could see him. Usually someone would walk by and give him a scratch on the back. They told him what a good dog he was. He always liked that. He wanted to make sure they knew that he knew that something was up. He would watch they go back and forth. He would get ready to watch them go, take a quick nap, then guard the house for the rest of the night. If they took him along, it was best thing ever!

They usually came back smelling like someplace with fancy food. Other times they smelled like popcorn and sugary drinks. Other times their shoes smelled like stale beer or cigarettes. Ugh.

Maybe they would come back with leftovers. Once they came back with doggie ice cream and biscuits like he’d never tasted before. He still remembered it: buffalo wing flavor for dogs. Jack licked his chops thinking about it.

But there were no leftovers, yet. Jack sighed. First they had to come back.

They sure had been gone a long time. He’d waited long enough that he started to feel that old fear that they wouldn’t come home. It scratched at the edge of his ear, a fly that he tried to shake away.

Jack’s ears lifted up. He thought he heard the car.

I once knew someone who had a gift with photography. She would take a friend’s picture, usually when they weren’t expecting it, and the picture was always the essence of who they were.

What is it about black and white photography that turns any moment into passionate art? Even a picture of a dog!

Tonight’s picture is called “Stare” by Mikko Lagerstedt.

Clue by Candlelight

Posted: July 29, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
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A little something besides scifi today.

Lightning broke outside. The thunderclap made Kevin jump. “It’s all right, dude,” I said.

“I know. I just hate how it surprises me.”

The power went out about half an hour into the storm. We were playing Clue by candlelight. I sat at the Ballroom; my wife Lynn sat by the Hall; little Kevin sat by the Dining Room; and little Emily sat by the Billiard Room and the Library.

“It’s your turn,” Lynn said to me.

I laughed. “Right.” I rolled a 3 and moved three spaces.

“Colonel Mustard walked with trepidation toward the Conservatory door,” Emily said. “Through the windows, the lightning flashes showed trees whipping in the wind. There had been a struggle when Mr. Boddy died…”

“You’re creeping me out!” Kevin said.

“Me too,” I added.

Everyone laughed.

“You’re not creeped out, are you?” Emily asked.

“Little bit.” More than a little bit. Lynn and I made eye contact. She knew.

The wind blew up outside. Branches scratched the upstairs windows. Every time I heard that, I waited to hear the old tree break and come crashing into the house. Worse, the power was out. The sump was off. The basement hadn’t flooded, but the water was rising.

Emily rolled. Miss Scarlet moved into the Billiard Room.

“Colonel Mustard… in the Billiard Room…”
“I’m never going to make it into that Conservatory!”

“… with the Lead Pipe.”

“He wouldn’t be walking with trepidation if he was the killer,” Kevin said.

“He could be pretending,” Emily said, unperturbed.

“Or he could be schizophrenic,” Lynn supposed.

“Eww!” Emily cried.

“A psycho! Awesome!” Kevin cried.

“You have been watching way too many detective shows. Besides, I’m too genteel to be a psycho.”

“Maybe you’re a gentle psycho,” Kevin said.

“This conversation is sick,” Emily observed.

“Killing me softly… with his song…,” Lynn hummed.

I handed my Lead Pipe card to Emily. It was Lynn’s turn to roll.

Another flash of lightning lit up the house. Kevin moaned. I rubbed his shoulder. The shadows in our faces and the living room rafters above us looked like an eerie photo negative. Another crash of thunder rolled over the house.

Lynn stopped moving Miss White. “Did you hear that?”

“What?”

“That clatter.”

We all listened. It sounded like metal hitting the side of the house when the wind blew. “Damn it. I think the gutter’s coming loose,” I said.

“Dad gathered his bungee cords with trepidation…,” Kevin said.

“Very funny, kiddo.”