Wednesday, August 23 2023

basement monster

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Hey Reader!

Hope you're staying cool out there in Chicagoland. They said the temperature is supposed to reach a hundred today. It's days like these that make you grateful for the modern marvels of air conditioning. I wonder what an early farmer or a frontiersman would think if he saw me drinking a hot cup of coffee in an artificially cooled office.

I knew the heat was coming, so yesterday after lunch I went for a long walk. Most days I do a single lap around my block, but when I'm really ahead in my work I like to walk a little further north of my neighborhood to Lancer Creek where a paved walkway follows a run-off creek, crowded by trees and dense prairie grass.


I sat at this bench for a few minutes - not because I was tired, but because I was gaining on the woman in front of me, who also went for a walk. I sat down on the bench to swiftly disarm that awkward moment where you either have to pass a stranger or slow down and act like you are pre-ocuppied with something.

It was so muggy that the shade from the trees felt no different from direct sunlight. Cicadas screamed over my head.


I've been trying to take more time to notice the plants around me. I found what looked like tiny grapes on a vine that wrapped around the tree. The leaves looked like they were disintegrating, leaving behind a delicate web of dry brown fiber.


The Lancer Creek path leads all the way to a high bridge that looks over a big concrete runoff well bordered by rocks. Like all the other parks around here, the whole scene is smothered by thorny, weedy native prairie plants. I stood there at the highest point of the bridge for another minute, taking in the exciting conclusion to my long, hot walk through Lancer Creek.


The path exits onto a quaint neighborhood street, where the next turn takes me to a busy road. Feeling the full brunt of the summer sun radiating off the nearby asphalt, beads of sweat fell down my back as I trudged by the funeral home, the taco bell, the burger king, and finally the Jewel Osco strip mall just before our street.

I finished out the workday, and since we're still rich with leftovers, I didn't have to worry about fitting in a grocery store trip or cooking. So I took a nap in the basement. I woke up to the sound of Miles and Rodney's feet thumping through the kitchen.

I don't know why, but I suddenly had the silly urge to make monster noises. Still buried under a thick blanket on the basement couch, I took a deep breath and growled. The thumping feet above me stopped in their tracks. I growled again, this time, putting adding a little more snarl to the sound. I crept a little closer up the stairs to the closed door so they could really hear it.

I kept this game up for at least twenty minutes. When I finally came upstairs, I found that Miles and Rodney had retreated into the safety of a blanket fort they built in the bedroom hallway.


Rodney adamantly rejected the possibility that the sound they heard came from a real monster, and he never wavered. "I know when you're lying," he protested. "You make that suspicious voice when you're lying." His stubbornness just invited more teasing.

The basement monster gave us plenty to talk about during dinner. Between slices of pizza, we debated whether or not we heard a lochness monster, or a bigfoot, or slenderman, or even choo choo charles.

Have a great day today. Stay cool, and watch out for monsters.