|Photo credit: John Wagner/Hallmark|
by Stacey Graham
For eight years, we lived in a townhouse community. I watched as young families moved in, popped out a few kids then moved onto bigger and better living arrangements. We were building our own house but were content to stay on our tiny block in a rural northern Virginia village as my husband traveled to construct the house himself after work and on weekends as the neighborhood always provided a constant source of kids and gossip.
I met my neighbor, Betsy, in my nightie and clutching a bat.
I like to make a good first impression.
One warm summer night while my husband was out of town, I awoke around midnight to the sound of fluttering in my bedroom. Not being too alarmed as large bugs in Virginia are more common than teeth in some regions I rolled over and went back to sleep until it tried to get my attention by attacking my face. Remember the scene in the Wrath of Khan where they stick a bug in a man's ear? Yes. Like that. Did I mention I was seven months pregnant with my fifth child? My mattress was never the same, just sayin'. Smacking myself around the head and shoulder region repeatedly, I valiantly fought off the horrid thing and rolled off the bed making my way on the floor to the bedroom door. Turning on the light switch, I grabbed my child's baseball bat from the hallway and faced the beast. All seven feet of him. Okay, maybe it just had seven feet. Whatever. It revved its engine and I knew it was coming for me again so ran out of the room and locked the door behind me. Stop looking at me like that. You know you would have done the same.
With my husband out of town and my only other option was to wake my eleven-year-old daughter to kill the bug, I determined that bothering my new neighbor, Ben, was the answer. Waddling next door, still clutching the bat, I knocked as quietly as I could while trying to cover my fanny in the night breeze. The door opened to Ben's wife, Betsy, who looked only mildly concerned. Apparently she's seen all this before. Sheesh, Virginians...
"There's a BUG in my ROOM and it's HUGE and will eat my braaaaaaaaaaaaain!" I pointed to my disheveled hair as a visual aid. "I'm your neighbor, Stacey, where is Ben?!"
"He's asleep." Grabbing the bat from my hands, Betsy crossed my lawn and went straight upstairs into my room without another word. I followed, staying a healthy distance away from the woman with a weapon, her other hand now holding a towel from the bathroom.
"Stay here and don't wake the kay-ids." Her southern drawl only made me feel more stupid. A belle was going to beat my bug. Closing the door, she readied herself for battle. I pressed my ear against the wood, waiting for screams of terror - a thump of a body hitting the floor after the bug had attacked - anything to give me a reason to call 911. Nothing. Not a peep.
Minutes passed. I had to pee.
More minutes passed. I finished peeing. I was pregnant. Wha?
Out of the stillness, a crack of the bat came from my bedroom. At last! Victory?
The door opened, revealing Betsy holding something wrapped in a towel - but not wiggling. "I'll just take this out; don't you worry yourself anymore, okay?" I walked her downstairs and opened the front door. "You're not afraid of mice, are you? Cause then you're on your own." I nodded, there are some things a woman should never be expected to handle alone, fuzzy creatures that eat your eyeballs apparently at the top of both of our lists.
As the years passed and many many margaritas, gallons of milk and birthday cakes changed hands over the deck separated by only a whisper of air, Betsy and I never talked about our bug adventure. When we finally moved away to our new house, my thoughts were not of the memories we shared nor the promises of future bar-be-ques, I wondered who would have my back in a zombie apocalypse? Betsy's on my team, they'd better man up before starting anything with that belle.
Stacey has quite a collection going of children and zombies at her house. To find out which is which, please visit her blog and The Zombie Dating Guide (dang it, I gave it away, didn't I?).