Jake had been under the car for at least an hour before he began to hear movement from within the house. Some running water, a flushing toilet. A few minutes more of quiet followed by two loud thumps directly over head. He smiled. The boys were definitely awake.
Fiddling around a few more minutes, Jake got to a good stopping point where he could safely put his tools away and not worry about the twins finding a gasket on the floor and deciding it would make a good Frisbee. Satisfied that all was protected, he rolled out from under the car and dutifully retreated to the small shower stall in the rear corner to wash up. No grease monkeys allowed in Mrs. Monica Thorne’s house, no sir. She had make that one hundred percent crystal clear prior to agreeing to his marriage proposal.
Scrubbing shampoo in his hair, he stopped short, hearing a blood curdling scream from inside the house. Panicking, he raced out of the stall, grabbing half a blanket draped over some bikes to wrap around himself as he took the steps up to the laundry room two at a time. Horrible visions of the twins missing fingers, or the baby playing with an outlet, or one of the girls slipping in the bathroom filled his mind. He flew through the kitchen and skidded into the family room where Monica was pressed against the wall, broom in hand, a horrified expression on her face.
“Monica, babe! What’s wrong? Who’s hurt?”
She pointed towards the area rug with the broom and gasped hysterically. “I have smashed that thing five times! It should be pulverized! It’s a mutant! It won’t die! It’s a zombie cockroach! Kill, now! Jake, kill!”
Realizing there was no imminent peril, Jake took the rare opportunity to observe his normally practical, confident wife (who consistently made raising six well adjusted children look easy) have a complete and total meltdown over a bug that dared to exist on her floor.
“Honey, it’s just a bug.” He took the broom and began whacking at it as it scurried across the floor. The damn whack! Thing whack! Just wouldn’t whack! Die! Whack! Whack! Whack!
“It is a zombie cockroach!” At this point Monica was standing on the sofa cushions, bouncing back on forth on her feet. Whack! Whack! Whack!
“Got ’em!” Jake straightened up triumphantly. He smiled up at Monica, laughter in his eyes. Raising his free arm high in salute, he made a mock bow towards his wife. “Your dragon is slain, mi lady.” Monica gave him a rueful smile as she began to realize just how ridiculous she was being.
From the top of the staircase, they heard the giggling of twelve year old girls. Jake suddenly remembered that Briana had a sleepover last night to celebrate her birthday and now five tweens were staring at him, shampoo in his hair, dripping wet, with half a blanket just barely covering him (but thank God it was in fact covering him!).
“Um, Monica?” Immediately understanding she dashed into the guest bedroom and grabbed a bathrobe and towel for him. Tying the bathrobe, he noticed something on the rug that made him stop in his tracks. “Um, Monica?”
“I– I– I hadn’t gotten all the grease off me yet… When I was killing the cockroach…” Jake raised a trembling hand to indicate the splattered grease setting ever deeper into Monica’s carpet.
Monica sucked her breath in as if she was looking at bloodstains on the floor. Bloodstains would’ve been easier, Jake thought ruefully. Monica could get bloodstains out of anything…
Behind him, Monica stood breathing deeply for a few minutes, intent on her thoughts. Finally, she nodded her head and began moving furniture off of the area rug. “Alright then, no big deal,” she announced cheerfully. “Jake, grab the other side of the couch and help me move it back please.”
Jake dutifully moved to the couch looking confused. “What are we doing babe?”
“The way I figure, that zombie cockroach could have carried God knows what diseases that are now splattered all over this rug. I’ve been looking at a different pattern at Pier One for a few months now. This decides it.” With a heave, they moved the last piece of furniture from the rug, and rolled it up.
“There! With the carpet tightly rolled and bound, all that needs to be done now is get it out of the house! You do that and I’ll start cooking up breakfast?” Monica wrapped an arm around Jake and nudged her nose against his cheek.
“Hmm… what’s for breakfast?”
“Scrambled eggs, bacon, Briana mentioned something about French toast last night…”
“Agreed! Extra eggs for me please! I’ll do disposal, you do breakfast.”
Half an hour later, Jake settled at the head of the large farm table, looking around at his family. His smallest daughter in her high chair beside him, the twins playing with their fire trucks, Andy — the brains of the family — frowning intently over a crossword puzzle, and Jake Jr, trying desperately to impress Briana’s friends as she tried in vain to make him get away. Monica carried a huge platter of scrambled eggs to the table with a smile. Jake sank into his chair, enjoying every bit of the cacophony that made up his Saturday morning.
“Junior! No one cares about what you saw Old Man Perkins doing!”
“Mom, what’s an 8-letter word for ‘natant ‘?”
“What does ‘natant’ mean?”
“Either swimming or floating, check your surrounding clues to figure it out.”
“Junior, I said Go A-way!”
“But I want to know why Old Man Perkins was doing that! Tell us Junior! Pretty please!!!”
“He was just walking around the football field, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with a skunk. Nobody ever knew why…”
In response to: Starts here, ends there, and some crazy s**t in between.