Saturday, February 09, 2008

'Little Runt'

As I stride through the kitchen, I pound my feet on the tiled floor to scare the little runt. He lets out a slight gasp of fear that spills in from the utility room.

“I know you’re in there kid, I can smell ya!”

That, and I can see him through the crack in the door. I know he’s carrying a weapon, so to avoid injuring myself in this assassination attempt, I stick my hand around the door, press the gun up against his head and pull the trigger without an instant of hesitation.

My executed target springs from behind the door in disgust.

“Se├ín! That’s cheating! I can’t shoot you if I can’t see you!”


You’ve already been acquainted with my little brother, so allow me to expound on why he seeks my company in so aggressive a manner by telling you about what we got up to on Thursday while I was babysitting him.

A few weeks ago, he came into the possession of a sizable arsenal of Nerf weapons that fire foam darts. Since then, no man (regardless of age) has come into the house without picking one up and enthusing about how cool they are. Last Thursday, I finally got to indulge in an hour-long shootout with these non-lethal hand cannons.

The way it worked for the first half hour involved my little brother running away, me catching up, him jumping out from behind some obvious cover and offloading all his darts at my feet, over my head, or to the left and right of me. Out of ammo, he would then dance on the spot, avoiding my shots with an almost precognition-like efficacy. Eventually though, it became clear that he wasn’t faring too well going toe-to-toe with a creature three times his size in close quarters combat, so he decided to mix it up a bit.

“I’ll go hide, and you come find me and shoot me”, he proposed.

This variant on Hide and Seek with extra violence didn’t really turn out the way he had hoped, owing to his lack of imagination as to where he should hide. I found him behind a door because I could see him through the crack. I found him under a table because his legs were sticking out (as he faced away from the only door I’d enter). I found him behind a curtain that was bulging in a conspicuous manner. After I blindly shot under his bed and heard “ow”, I knew we’d be resetting again. He was 4-0 down, and needed to step up his game.

I went through the rigmarole  of wandering downstairs and counting to twenty while he secured a spot for himself, but I was interrupted after ‘12’ with a triumphant “I’m ready” that unmistakably came from upstairs. Laughing at the manner in which he essentially gave away his position, I trudged up the stairs. From this point on, I cleared all of the rooms in a manner Jack Bauer would, pressing my back against the wall, spinning into the room, and checking the corners with exaggerated sweeping motions. The main bathroom was empty. So was my sister’s room. As was the hot press [pay attention yank readers - it’s a small roomish-type thing in an Irish home where clothes, towels and bed linen are placed for airing, right next to the immersion heater]. I could’ve sworn that his voice came from that corner of the house, but I continued with my search.

The spare bedroom was devoid of any seven-year olds, as was the other. I was puzzled. I wandered into the room that belonged to this elusive genius and saw no trace of him. I stood at the doorway of my father’s room and made the usual racket that would flush him out, but he wasn’t there. Was he up on the third floor? It certainly didn’t sound like it. Regardless, I had a quick check up there, forgetting any Baueresque theatrics. I was thoroughly puzzled.

I began to think it possible that he had moved from one room to the other, and could have snuck downstairs, so I went back to the ground floor, and looked in the usual spots, including the conservatory that would surely scare the bejesus out of a seven-year old in its current state of darkness.

I had failed. I stood at the foot of the stairs and shouted up:

“I can’t find you. I give up. You can come out now.”

“I don’t believe you. You’re trying to trick me”

He was upstairs! Undoubtedly so. I ran up to where the voice came from.

“Hello?” I called out.

“Can you not find me?”

I spun around, completely disoriented. Few things are more unnerving than the disembodied voice of a seven year old who is haunting you. I simply couldn’t fathom where he could be, and desired to end this round as soon as possible.

“I give up. I’m not trying to trick you. You win”

“Okay – you go and hide, and I’ll come and get you when you say ‘ready’”

I still hadn’t a clue where his shrill voice was coming from.

“Just count to twenty and then come find me”

“No. I’ll come when you say ‘ready’”

Not wanting to argue any more with the spirit of my little brother who had seemingly bonded with the house, I complied. I stashed myself in the coat-press under the stairs and bellowed that I was ready.

I heard him scream ‘okay’, but nothing happened for a few moments after. I shouted ‘ready’ again, in case he misheard me, and again only heard ‘okay’. A few more moments passed, and then I heard him shouting at my sister.

“Sarah! Can you come and get me? I’m very high up, and I’m a little afraid of heights.”

Upon hearing these words, (as you’d expect me to) I leapt out of my hidey-hole, and up the stairs to help him out.

“Don’t worry, I’ll get you” I called out.

“Don’t shoot me!” he pleaded. I still had no idea where he was.

“I left my gun downstairs”

“Do you promise?” The conversation wasn’t helping me figure out where he needed to be. Was he behind the drywall? In the attic?

“I promise, just tell me where you are!” I shouted towards where I thought his voice was coming from.

“I’m in the hot press”

Son of a bitch! I did a quick 180 and poked my head into the seemingly empty hot press, looked up, and sure enough, there he was! Before I actually helped him, I laughed hysterically (out of relief that the house hadn't in fact eaten him) and took a photo.


“Get me down! I’m sweaty!”

He wasn’t lying. He almost slipped out of my hands as I lowered him from the shelf that was almost seven-feet from the floor. He stood on the ground for a few minutes panting, his glowing red face an indication that he wasn’t exaggerating how uncomfortable it was up there.

I only wish this was the first time I had been outsmarted by a seven year old.


cait k. said...

too cute.

Siobhan said...

Another absolutely brilliant story! It even made me reminisce on my own childhood, funningly enough the hot press was also one of my favourite places to hide, and like your brother it had to be the top shelf always, the others weren't enough! I will never forget the heat, but it was worth it, as winning the game of hide and seek or getting out of housework was priceless!