Then I was carried again: bundled warm inside Daddy's scratchy
wool coat, and cold night on my face. But it was okay. Daddy carried me to the grey house, up the porch, to the screen door coloured like morninglight under the lamp still burning in the middle of the night.

We were being watched. Like a statue on the porch railing, a tiger of a golden-eyed cat, warming his paws under him.


Momma had to press the door-bell again.

Light shone in the side-window. The curtain moved. I stared into a grown-up eye staring out at me. A steelie eye, kind of like Daddy's. Uncle Roger let us in his house, without saying a word. Daddy's little brother looked older than him. His standing-up pillow hair almost white, like Albert Einstein after he stuck out his tongue.

Daddy kept me in his arms. The living-room waited dark just beside us -- sleeping teevee, couch, and furniture --and shadows I wouldn't look into. I guessed Daddy didn't like it in there. He and Momma and Uncle Roger talked under the light just inside the front door. I understood enough of what theysaid to know I didn't like Uncle Roger.

" -- Just think, Jack -- You're NOT covered in green jelly guts. And where would you get what you could only call a combat knife at one-fifteen in the morning? Under your pillow? In case the conqueror worm shows up in your kid's room? You all saw what you saw because you were all in the same not-really-awake place -- You KNOW that's how the thing works."

"Yeah -- fell alseep watching Chronicles of Riddick. Just remembered."

"Good movie. Explains the knife."

"Yeah. Like you, and Bazooka Joe."

Uncle Roger looked past me, only for that moment. "Ba'zooka." -- Daddy and Uncle Roger said together, like friends sharing their secret password. A tiny smirk flickered over Uncle Roger's mouth.

"You shouldn't have come here."

"I know."

"Separate paths."

"I know."

"Roge -- You wanna explain it so grown-ups might get it?" -- This woman in white socks and pink terry robe standing on the stairs behind Uncle Roger was not smiling.

And then a little girl in a night dress yellow as morning appeared behind her, managing the stairs like a mountaineer, testing her barefooted descent one carpeted step at a time. That tiger-cat there too, following her down.

The little girl's Momma held her back. "Let's start with intro's, Roge."

Uncle Roger turned halfway, looked over at his little girl -- "Kat, these are your Auntie Cindy...your cousin Steven...your Uncle Jack."

Kat's Momma still not smiling: "Good to see you boys talking again."

My Momma also mad: " -- Or is the story -- you haven't talked to crazy Roger in years, Jack? -- Not even sure where crazy Roger lives?..."

"It's crazy just the same as being a liar -- And I'm Shelly -- As Roge has neglected to tell me...and this side of the family the truth, he's also neglected to tell you who I am."

"We were keeping both families safe." said Daddy.

"And I'd like t'know exactly safe from what."

"Same here."

"Mea culpa. Really. Everybody -- " -- Uncle Roger staring at me again -- "It's late. Kids need t'get their sleep. We can talk this out over breakfast. Jack -- Holiday Inn."

"Saw it -- yeah." -- And Daddy turned, as if about to run out the door.

Both Mommas stopped him in his tracks. It was ugly, as only two angry Mommas in pjs in the middle of the night could make it ugly. Between them, deciding they would stay -- and me and the little girl Kat -- and Daddy and Uncle Roger would go to the Holiday Inn. And because they had set their teeth in nicely, naturally the Mommas wouldn't let go.

Then I saw something. Directly by Daddy's feet. This side -- in the yellow light. That tiger-cat hunched down -- tip of his tail twitching -- nosing into that shadowy living room. Some long darker thing snaking around under the sleeping teevee.

Kat, the little relation, sneaking up -- to see what tiger-cat was seeing.

Afterward -- after my embarrassing and kinda stupid yelling -- and Kat squealing "CLICK! -- All gone!", chasing after tiger-cat into the
living-room after Uncle Roger clicked on the light -- the grown-ups called a truce, sat Kat and me down on the couch, went to the kitchen for that coffee grown-ups always like.



"Why're you scared of the dark?"

"Not the dark. Something in the dark."


My brain only sleepy mush. Daddy's scratchy big coat warm around me. Yellow lamp burning very nicely by the couch. Two cats. Tiger-cat sitting with us. The other one playing kinda noisily, somewhere I was too tired to look.

I felt safe.

As I started falling -- and let myself -- I thought I heard Kat giggling.

"Silly! -- Nice monsters here!"

The End

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