We still lived in the basement, but now I had two thirds of a long skinny room to myself. No more sharing with David.
The back third contained storage shelves holding everything from assorted camping gear to a million canning jars. Mom strung a curtain along a curtain rod of bailing twine to hide the shelves.
Dad painted my outside-wall (made of cement blocks) a pinkish-tan. He couldn’t paint my other walls because they were studs, only sheet-rocked on the hallway side.I enjoyed scaring others, but was a big fraidy-cat myself. Especially at night all alone in the dark, with the moon shining a beam on my head to let the monster know where I was.
At night, I pushed tight against the studded wall on the far side of my twin bed, with my blanket covering my head like a babushka. I left a little peep-hole around my eyes, nose, and mouth so I could breathe and see anything sneaking up.
In addition to clothes and comic books, Barbara Kay (my cousin) and her brothers gave David and me their unwanted stuffed animals, and they had a ton of them. I placed two super-sized animals under the covers next to me. Excellent body-doubles. An intruder, vampire, or monster would attack them first, giving me time to yell and wake up Mom and Dad.
For additional peace of mind, I created an early warning system by pulling out random bureau drawers to block the narrow passage to my bed. The metal teeth of two potholder-looms waited on the floor in front of my doorway, I mean literally a doorway because I had no actual door.
One night, I cried out in my sleep from a nightmare. Mom and Dad drew straws to see who had to get up this time. Half asleep, Dad made his way in the moonlight to comfort me. Stumbling through my doorway, he stepped on the sharp barbs of a defense-loom with his bare foot.“Jump’n crimmers,” he yelled, hopping on his unpunctured foot. “Jeezum-cripes, what in tarnation?”
His loudness woke me up at the same moment he banged his shin into my pulled-out drawer. He turned on my light and limped to my bed. He couldn’t find me.
“Dag nab it! Where the heck are you?” he asked in a voice sounding more irritable than concerned.
I poked my head out from among the decoys. Mom ran in to see what the thumping and hollering was about.
Dad warned, “Be careful, she’s got booby traps all over the con-sarned place.”
My early warning system made a lasting impression on more than Dad’s foot and shin, since he retells this story frequently. And each time he rubs his foot and shin during his narration.
Lesson learned: Better safe than sorry. I was safe, Dad was sorry.
Now it’s your turn: Did you ever set booby traps?
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