“Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! Pi…no! Not that one! Keep going, keep going, keep going…”
The boy bit his lower lip and scrunched his eyebrows, as the Wheel Of Opportunity (WOO) started to slow down.
It was a typical friday night at home for this 10-year-old boy and his parents.
A “modern day approach to parenting” was the official response the boy’s parents gave whenever a teacher, or another parent asked what the Wheel Of Opportunity was.
That response was often met with a blank stare and an “Ohhh.” The kind of “Ohhh” that is said at the back of the throat while the head tilts upwards. The little boy’s parents had received this response enough times to know they were being judged and that no one knew what they meant by “modern day approach to parenting.”
One parent once replied with “…but that’s what iPads and video games are for!” The little boy’s parents did not laugh.
The Wheel Of Opportunity was divided into eight sections. Each section had a punishment, or a reward, written on it. If the little boy was good during the week, then there would be more rewards than punishments on the WOO, come friday night.
The only catch was, no matter how good the little boy was during the week, at least one of the eight spaces would be a punishment. His parents figured this would teach him that life isn’t always fair, even if you are on your best behaviour.
Hence, a “modern day approach to parenting”.
The WOO was slowing down and for a second it looked like it was going to land on one of the two punishments on the board – “Listen to a CD of Dad’s choosing”.
This couldn’t be happening, the little boy thought.
Just last week he had landed on that very punishment and his Dad went into his selection of CD’s and pulled out musical stylings from the Australian soft rock duo known as, Air Supply.
The little boy almost wished he had lost his air supply during that punishment.
All week, he couldn’t get the phrases “I’m all out of love” and “Making love out of nothing at all” out of his head. He didn’t want to admit that he was slowly starting to like them.
And just when it looked like the WOO would stop, it kept going and landed on “Choose Your Own Bedtime”.
“YESSSSSSS!!!!!!” the boy screamed, startling the birds that were observing from the other side of the patio door.
He couldn’t believe it. He finally landed on the one thing he had wanted ever since it made it’s debut on the WOO two months ago.
The boy decided that he was going to stay up all night. His “bedtime” would be the next night. His parents laughed and said, “We’ll be surprised if you last until 1:00AM” and went up to sleep.
It was now midnight and the thunderstorm that was promised on the six o’clock news was just rolling in.
The little boy stayed down in the basement, sitting in his bean bag chair, watching television.
The light from the television illuminated the room, as did a lamp that sat on the table beside him.
With a bag of potato chips resting on his stomach and a remote in his left hand, the little boy had never been so at peace. So in charge. So grown up. He flipped through the channels and came across a horror movie.
It was an old horror movie – the kind that flashes its title at the beginning, but you can’t really read it because it’s in a font that is the next level up from cursive.
The little boy was about twenty minutes into the movie and hadn’t been scared once. He was so proud of himself. He wondered why his parents had never let him watch one before.
And then a loud crack of thunder hit. The room went black. Almost immediately, the power returned. The television was back on, as was the lamp.
The little boy was spooked. There were now potato chips all over him, his bean bag chair, and the floor.
The little boy jumped again – almost as high as an Olympian.
This time, the noise came from the main floor of the house. The little boy thought about building a blanket fort and hiding, but didn’t. This was his night. This was his reward. He wasn’t about to have anything ruin it.
The little boy was smart. He knew which direction noises came from (even if his teachers never wrote that on his report card, he liked to think they would if they could). This one had come from the laundry room. He was sure of it. So, that’s where he went.
He got up to the main floor and was a bit surprised his parents weren’t looking for what caused the large bang, too. Did they not hear it? Did they not care?
It was up to him to solve the mystery. He walked into the laundry room and nothing looked out of place. He opened the first cupboard – nothing. He opened the second cupboard – nothing. Behind the third cupboard – a pair of underwear. He slammed the door shut.
Surely, the pair of underwear didn’t cause the large noise. He kept looking.
The closet was the only other place to search. He opened the door slowly, just like an actor in a movie does when they are convinced a bad guy is hiding behind it.
Inside the closet was a bar for hanging jackets and a shelf directly above it, which he couldn’t reach. He didn’t need to; he saw what happened.
On the floor inside the closet were pieces to the old vacuum, which were kept for sentimental value.
The metal broom, the brush that attached to the end of it, and a hose extension.
The little boy quickly turned into Jessica Fletcher and deduced that these items must’ve fallen off the shelf, ricocheted off the inside of the door, and then landed on the ground.
It would explain the noise, and it gave the little boy a chance to use his favourite word – ricocheted.
“Reee-ko-shayyy’d”, he would say. Just like his father taught him. His mother always rolled her eyes whenever the two of them had bonding moments like this.
The little boy left the items on the floor, just in case they fell again. He wouldn’t admit to himself that he was too short to reach the shelf.
If his parents asked him in the morning what the loud bang was, he would say, “It was nothing”. And then they would ask him to “define nothing” – just like every parent is instructed to do.
But that would be in the morning. He still had a full night ahead. He had a smile on his face that said, “I am so smart, s-m-r-t” as he made his way back down to the basement.
It was quickly wiped off when he sat down and heard all of his precious potato chips break beneath the weight of his body.
“I seem to be in a crumby situation”, he chuckled to himself – another phrase he had learned from his father.
Half an hour later, he fell asleep. It was 1:30AM.
The next morning, he told his parents about the old vacuum pieces in the laundry room closet and how he solved the mystery of “the loud bang”.
His parents looked at him without expression.
Finally, his father said something.
“Uhhh…we threw out that vacuum two months ago.”
Without saying a word, the little boy raced to the closet in the laundry room. This time, he opened the door much faster than any character in a movie ever would.
He immediately looked at the floor.
The vacuum was gone.
“But it was here, I saw it! The pieces fell from the shelf, reee-ko-shayyy’d off the inside of the door, and then landed on the ground.”
Finally, his mother spoke up.
“Son, there is no shelf in that closet.”
Woo (no pun intended)! This is the first time I’ve ever posted a piece of fiction on my blog. Hopefully, you enjoyed it! And if not, read it again until you do.
Want more? Here is the official sibling (not a sequel) to this story: It Was Probably Nothing.