Curiosity got the best of him. If the tape of the answering machine ran out, then that meant the tape was full which meant, obviously, messages were on it. Okay, so they’re messages people left for my grandpa. Old people leaving messages for other old people. Before he let doubt commandeer is thinking he realized exactly why he was so curious. Maybe his dad’s voice was there. Rolen felt himself longing to hear his voice again even if it was on an answering machine.
While deciding whether or not to go back out to the shop, Rolen’s mind raced with his dad’s voice and everything he used to tell him about sports, girls and life in general. If you tell yourself you can’t then you’re absolutely right. So, stop telling yourself such nonsense. Rolen tended to take that one for granted and was mad at himself for not respecting it. He then remembered something else: Doubt is a car going in the wrong direction, in the dark, with no headlights, heading towards a cliff. Saying can’t…well, that’s an RV full of doubt right there.
Rolen knew he could sneak out of the house…knew he could go get the answering machine…and he knew he could get caught - by a mother that gets extremely angry when woken up.
The restlessness was going to drive him to scream bloody murder and that would surely wake his mom. The sight of her looking like she just dug herself out of a grave wasn’t exactly appealing.
What to do. What to do.
Rolen tossed to one side of the bed before tossing to the other side while trying to justify going out to the shop at such a ridiculous time of night.
Flinging the sheets up and off - and already in his sneakers - he decided to do it. Now the problem was avoiding the creaking steps. Ever since his dad…left, his mom became a very light sleeper. Rolen did too, when he slept. He figured they both had the same reason; maybe it was dad coming in the door.
Rolen had memorized the creaks a long time ago, but it was an aging house and new creaks appeared out of nowhere. Standing still at the top of the stairs, he felt like Indiana Jones trying to step on the right stones in order to make it to the Holy Grail. One wrong move and Zombie Mom barrels out of her room screaming like she’s gargling mouthwash -with foam like a boiling-over pot.
Taking each step one at a time, – he had, briefly, thought about making one big leap – the descent was slow and painstaking for his level of patience which was about as…well, it was pretty much nonexistent. Finally reaching the bottom, he stopped, shoes squeaking on the wood floor, as if he had just come face to face with a rabid wolf. The key! After punching and kicking the air a dozen times and making several indistinct noises, Rolen began his ascent back to his bedroom – but, not without the continuing to mutter under his breath.
Since the stairs creaked going up as much as they did going down, Rolen lost about fifteen minutes. He didn’t have to be anywhere, but he was racing against time. Rolen knew if he got caught it would not go over well at all, but if he got caught at 1:30a.m. it was better than 2:30. He gauged how angry his mother would be based on the time of morning. The former time meant some yelling and zombie-like impressions. The latter meant arms extended, mouth gaped and ready to devour.
His escape record was pretty solid; Roughly fifteen attempts, one catch. Rolen was reminded of that one time. Waking up both of his parents, mom was ready to destroy holding a very heavy wooden bat, but it was dad’s reaction – a tiny, tiny smirk, but a smirk nonetheless, that made Rolen chuckle to himself. I wonder what dad’s escape record was. This thought made Rolen wonder if in fact his dad was on one of his escapes and had simply gotten caught.
With his heartbeat accelerating, Rolen moved quickly passed the top three steps and did a tip-toe sprint down the hall, into his room where he grabbed the key and noticed it was 1:30.
Now back down again.
Rolen inhaled deeply, glanced over in the direction of his mom’s room and saw no light coming from the opening at the bottom of the door. Good to go. His steps were light as he again descended while avoiding the creaks. Rolen was still feeling physically tired, but with all of the planning and thinking, he felt mentally rejuvenated. His feet not so much. Misjudging the step, Rolen’s body thumped on the eighth step and slid painfully and quickly down the remaining ones causing him to land awkwardly on the floor sprawled out like a squashed cockroach.
Lifting just his head, while the rest of his body lay immobile, Rolen stared at the shadows on the wall to see if they changed. Just as he decided to lower his head back down, the shadows changed. She’s up! Lowering his head, he braced himself, but the angry zombie mom never showed. Instead, the toilet flushed, the shadows changed back again. Thank goodness for the sweet sound of the a flushing toilet.
That was Rolen’s last thought before conking out at the bottom of the stairs.