Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another Halloween Story!

This one is from a colleague at work. Perhaps not as morbid as mine, but be the judge.

In Retrospect
By Kristi Garrett

“There is a monster in my closet,” Granny admitted as she handed me the pickles.

I wasn’t quite sure if she was telling me she was seeing things again or that Charlie’s pet guinea pig had gotten loose. It was kind of hard to tell, since she hadn’t missed a beat slathering her frankfurter with mustard and ketchup. The condiments smeared across her cheeks as she unceremoniously jammed one end of the dog into her mouth.

“I’ll take a look after lunch,” I offered, hoping Fred would be home by then so he could look after his mother himself.

As it turned out, Fred called saying he wasn’t going to be home until late, and Granny waited until just after her program ended to announce her intentions.

“Where’s that big kitchen knife?” she demanded as she rifled through the sharps drawer next to the stove. I jumped up to stop her from slicing off a digit.

“Here, let me get that,” I quipped, carefully removing the instrument from her trembling hand.

Sighing deeply, I resigned myself to the prospect of a lengthy, fruitless search mission and headed into her room. Granny trailed behind, holding a strainer poised ready to strike.

I pushed open the door, now somehow fearful of what I might find. ‘Oh, for Pete’s sake. What am I freaking out about? There’s nothing in there,’ I reassured myself as I tiptoed toward the closet.

I listened carefully to make sure I could detect no noises coming from inside. Tick, tick, tick. Granny’s mantle clock made the only sounds.

Sliding open the closet door, inch by inch, I watched for signs of movement. Nothing. Finally, I slammed the door all the way open. All was still and dark inside.

“There’s nothing in there, Granny. No monsters. Coast is clear.”

Not convinced, Granny approached the closet, strainer in hand, and inspected it for herself. She poked at her dresses, moving each faded garment with the end of the strainer. One by one, she lifted the shoeboxes stacked on the shelf. She poked the pile of crocheted afghans stacked on the floor. Satisfied, she retreated and sat on the edge of the bed.

“I was sure he was in there this morning. You must have scared him off,” she said accusingly. “Get out before he’s gone for good.”

“You want a monster in your closet? What, are you cra…”

I was close to losing it with her. Closing the door to Granny’s room, I returned to the kitchen to do the lunch dishes.

“Fred promised me he’d take care of it if his mother got worse. I don’t need this,” I muttered under my breath. I promised myself I’d have a talk with him when he got home. And I’d be prepared.

After a little while, I tiptoed down the hallway and listened at Granny’s door. Heavy breathing. She was napping. I knew Charlie would be home from school soon, and there wouldn’t be time then.

I tiptoed back to the living room and got out the phone book. Flipping back and forth, I found the entry I wanted.

Mental Health Services.

“Just do it,” I told myself. “If you wait, you won’t have the nerve.”

The call took less than ten minutes. I was surprised to see how easy it was.

In less than an hour, a car pulled up out front. A sturdy woman with a no-nonsense look about her emerged, followed by a lanky male attendant. I greeted them at the door.

“She’s just inside,” I said, directing them to Granny’s room.

With surprisingly little fuss they gathered up my husband’s mother and escorted her to the car. The no-nonsense nurse handed me her card.

“You have 48 hours to claim her if you decide to,” she said matter-of-factly.

I nodded and closed the door behind them. I’d explain the arrangements to Fred later.

When my husband came in about eight, he found me in the kitchen, happily chopping vegetables for his salad.

“I’ve got great news for you, dear,” I said, sharing the events of the day with the carefree rhythm of an excited teenager.

When I was finished, Fred stood there, mouth agape, the mail falling from his grasp.

In retrospect, I could have handled things differently.

Nice job, Kristi!

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